Is your cat one of the low shedding cat breeds? If not, I know what you’re going through. We love our fur babies to pieces, but sometimes, all that hair can be a bit too much.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could buy / adopt cats that don’t shed? Unfortunately non shedding cats don’t exist, any cat with hair will shed.
However I have good news for you, there are some cats that shed less than others. Having a low shed cat breed means less cleaning around the house and who wouldn’t appreciate that? Cats that shed the least also require less cleaning and grooming of the cat itself, let alone the house they share with you. There are a number of low shedding cat breeds but before we get into that, let’s understand how a cat’s fur coat is grown and the various types of hair that comprise your kitty cat’s fur coat.
Cat Hair Types
Hair is a key component of the Integumentary system* of a cat that prevents damage to the cat skin and helps with body temperature regulation.
*The integumentary system is comprised of skin, hair, claws, glands and nerves. It basically provides a barrier to protect the cat’s insides from dangers it may encounter externally to its body such as disease and injury.
Depending on the cat breed, a cat can have a number of different types of hair covering its body.
The first hair layer is the undercoat known as ‘down hair’, this includes very short, thick, dense hair next to the cat skin. These are the shortest and most numerous hairs closest to the cat’s skin. Down hair is a good insulator and keeps the cat warm during chilly weather by cutting heat loss. Some cat breeds only have down hair such as the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex cats.
The secondary or intermediate hair layer is called ‘awn hair’; this hair is a bit coarser than down hair but is still pretty soft. It has the dual purpose of protecting the down hair underneath and providing further insulation for your beloved pet cat. It is the most visible hair and, generally speaking, the tips tend to be flatter and a bit darker than the rest of the awn hair.
The guard hair is the topmost protective layer on the cat’s coat. These are the longest and thickest hair layer and are usually straight. Guard hair protects the underneath coat and keeps the hair dry in snow or rain. This outer hair layer retards water and determines the cat’s color, pattern, and shading.
The Vibrissae or whiskers are thick, large hairs that are present around a cat’s mouth, nose, eyes, cheeks, and forelegs. These tactile hairs are sensory tools which aid the cat in seeing in the dark and detect an object’s size and texture.
Ok, now that we understand the different types of hair that comprise a cat’s fur coat, let’s look at the cat shedding cycle.
Cat Shedding Season
In the wild, cats generally shed their coats twice a year; once in the Spring to remove the denser undercoat, and again in the Autumn in preparation for growing-in the new winter undercoat.
When a feline sheds, it is to remove the dead fur, which will cause skin irritation if it doesn’t fall out. Shedding is a normal process and is a sign of a healthy cat.
The amount of shedding your feline produces is mainly determined by the ‘photoperiod’ they experience, that is, your pet cat’s exposure to light.
Since domestic cats are exposed to a combination of natural daylight and artificial light, they don’t really experience changing hours of daylight with any consistency like a wild cat would be exposed to. As a result of this, domestic cats, and in particular indoor cats, tend to shed hair throughout the year rather than just twice a year. Domestic cats which are both indoor and outdoor cats will still build up their coat for winter, so tend to shed less hair in winter and will shed more hair as we head into the summer months. The good news is, it won’t be as heavy a shedding as their outdoor counterparts.
Is your cat losing hair, more so than you’d expect? Let’s look at how to reduce cat shedding.
Although we cannot stop our cats from shedding completely, there are ways to reduce the amount of hair being deposited around our homes.
- Rule out medical issues – Excessive shedding in cats leading to bald spots on their bodies can be caused by parasites, dermatitis, or allergies. Seek veterinary attention if this appears to be occurring.
- Regular brushing – to help reduce shedding, use a cat shedding brush and thoroughly go over your cat’s coat at least once a week (long-haired cats may need more).
- Diet – some shedding issues can be diet-related. Inferior dry foods that contain a lot of filler such as corn, and by-products, can lead to a dry, dull coat that sheds a lot. Try switching your pet to high-quality food that is low on fillers, high on protein, with added Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. You may also consider adding wet food to your cat’s daily diet. Canned food generally contains eight times more moisture than dry food, which will help hydrate your cat and its coat.
- Plenty of Water – hydration is vital for keeping both your cat’s coat and general health in top condition. If your feline is reluctant to drink enough water, try using a pet water fountain. These units continuously circulate the water through a foam and carbon filtering process. In turn, it removes chlorine and any other impurities, keeping the water from becoming stale.
Now that we understand why cats shed hair, let’s look more closely at which cats shed the least.
Low Shedding Cat Breeds
Check out our list of the top 8 cats that shed the least below:
So that is our top 8 low shedding cats but what about a hairless cat?
Have you considered getting a cat with no hair? Have you heard about the Sphynx cat breed? Now I know getting a hairless cat seems to go against the very idea of owning a cat as one of the reasons we like our cats is patting them right? Feeling the softness of their fur as you pat them and listening to them purr, is that not heaven? How could you forgo that? Well, have you ever touched a Sphynx? You may think that’d be icky, but it’s skin feels like a chamois or really soft suede. So give it some thought.
You and a Low Shedding Cat
If you have the time and dedication required to look after a high maintenance cat then by all means choose whichever cat tickles your cat fancy, however, if you want a cat that requires less grooming and cleaning, not to mention less cleaning of the home you share, then a feline companion that is a relatively non-shedding cat or even a hairless cat breed is the cat for you.
Whichever way you go, be sure to do your research to ensure your new feline friend is compatible with your lifestyle. Once you determine which purebred is right for you, find a reputable breeder or rescue organization from which to adopt your new BFF.