What Age Does A Cat Start Shedding?
When it comes to cats, one of the most common concerns for new cat owners is how much they will shed.
Cat shedding is a common nuisance for pet owners, but it is perfectly healthy for a cat to shed his or her hair.
However, the amount of shedding depends on a number of factors and differs for every cat. Luckily, kittens start shedding at less than a year old so you have some time to enjoy a kitten with little to no shedding. It’s also important to note that some older cats might need help grooming as they get older.
If you notice your kitten is excessive shedding, that can be a problem caused by a number of health issues including anxiety-induced over-grooming, skin conditions, and even allergies. We will dive deeper into in those issues. But the most common allergies in cats are environmental, fleas, and food.
Why do cats shed?
Before we start talking about kittens, it’s important to understand why cats and kittens shed.
Healthy cats shed their hair all the time. Shedding is natural temperature control, so cats will shed more during the warmer summer months and less during winter. Like humans, losinf hair is natural and grows back on it’s own.
Cats will tend to shed their “winter coats” more common in the spring and summer, and shed less in the winter and fall as they start preparing their winter coats. Outdoor cats lose more hair when the seasons change.
When do kittens start shedding?
When kittens are born, their fur is extremely soft and almost duckling like. But do kittens shed? Their kitten duckling-like fur falls our during their adolescent phase as their “adult fur” starts to come in. The adolescent phase usually begins at around six months.
Until then, a kitten’s fur is shorter and softer than adult fur. Like people, cat hair grows from skin follicles. Unlike humans, cats have compound follicles, which means they can grow as many as 15 hairs from a single follicle. Humans can only grow one from each follicle. Which is why humans shed much less than cats do.
As kittens lose their soft fur to make way for adult cat hair, it can look like an excessive amount of hair is falling out. But finding dust bunny-like balls of downy fur around your house is normal for kitten owners. That won’t last long. Kitten fur will be replaced by courser hair by the time your new adult kitten is six to eight months old.
Kittens typically don’t start shedding until six months old. So if you notice your kitten starting to shed earlier than that, consult your vet.
Once they reach six months old, the amount that they will shed will depend on a number of factors. Shedding depends on the breed, age, hormones, diet, and even health of the cat. If shedding results in visible bald patches, seek veterinary attention.
What causes excessive shedding?
If you notice your cat starting to shed more than normal, then they could be excessively shedding. Excessive hair loss may be a sign of illness or stress.
While it is normal for kittens to start shedding at an early age, a condition known as congenital hypotrichosis will cause kittens to be born with little to no hair and eventually be bald by four months. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for this condition. If you do notice your kitten has this condition, sometimes giving them sweaters or shirts can help keep them warm, especially in the winter.
Other causes of early hair loss include issues such as parasites or ringworm. Kittens are more likely to pick up diseases because of their underdeveloped immune systems. So if you notice any signs of excess shedding at this age, contact your veterinarian.
Do older cats shed?
Like we mentioned earlier, the amount that cats shed depends on their breed, the weather, and other factors.
If you notice your cat is starting to lose more hair as they get older, they may have a hormonal imbalance. A common hormone imbalance is feline hyperthyroidism, which can cause excess shedding.
Older cats are also less likely to groom themselves as often as they used to. So brushing and grooming by owners is especially important as the cat’s hair continues to shed naturally. It is important to start brushing your cat at least weekly to get them used to a comb and the feeling of being brushed. Cats shed throughout their life, and there is no non-shedding breed.
Should I groom a kitten?
We just said it is important to groom your cat weekly to get them used to the comb. But is the same true for kittens.
Cats are known for their self-grooming, but owners may need to take care of those hard-to-reach places. Daily brushing will remove dead hair that can cause matting and tangles. As someone caring for cats or kittens, start a grooming routine when your feline is a few months old, before shedding starts, to get them used to it.
Create a positive experience by brushing the kitten while gently alternating with soft petting. Calm and positive talking and offering treats will help kittens associate brushing with positive feelings.
The idea is to earn the cat’s trust, rather than achieve a thorough groom. Brushing should be a calm experience, not playtime.