Have you noticed that your cat sheds too much hair when you visit the vet? How about when you have a guest at home and you find those random clumps of cat hair everywhere? These might be signs that your cat is under a lot of stress.
Cats tend to shed more when they are stressed. You do not have to worry as this is a normal physiological response. The same goes when they are afraid or even surprised. But there are instances where the shedding is excessive, so you also have to be wary about those to ensure the health of your cat.
In this article, we are going to talk about why your cat sheds more when he is stressed. At the same time, we are also going to discuss the common stressors of cats. Further, we will tell you certain instances where you should worry about the shedding.
There is a lot to cover, so keep on reading!
Why Cats Shed When Stressed
The shedding that happens when your cat is stressed is perfectly normal. The hairs that shed are called telogen hairs and these are the hairs that are in the resting phase of the growth cycle.
Therefore, these are hairs that will eventually be shed by your cat once he scratches himself or rub against something.
How does stress shedding happen? It is believed that there are little arrector pili muscles that are connected to the hair follicles. In turn, these muscles contract when your cat is stressed, which makes his hairs stand on end.
In the process, the telogen hairs which are no longer strongly attached, fall off.
So the next time you visit the vet and see that your cat shed a lot of hair on the examination table, you do not need to fret as there is nothing wrong with your cat. Once he calms down, the shedding will eventually stop.
It is only through positive reinforcement training that your cat will learn to not get stressed with the trips to the vet.
Why Is My Cat Stressed?
It is important to know what stresses your cat so that you can train him or her to not be so anxious about certain things or situations. In finding out the source of stress, you can do positive reinforcement training which will lead your cat to associate the stressor to a positive experience.
Take a look at the possible stressors.
1. Vet Visits
For cats and other animals, nothing beats the anxiety that they feel when they visit the vet. There is nothing more stressful than being held and poked by people they do not know.
At the same time, the cold rush that they feel when they are placed on the examination table is uncomfortable.
2. New Family Member
This can either be a human or an animal. Cats, just like dogs are creatures of habits. Therefore, if there is a new person or an animal in the household, they can react in a number of ways.
A lot of times, they just withdraw from attention, but other times they may take on aggressive behaviors such as playful scratching and nipping.
3. New Environment
Cats tend to have a designated safe space in their home, so when you move out to a new home, they will feel stressed and lost. Add to that the shuffling of moving boxes and the rearranging of the furniture. Your cat might feel unsafe for a while, but he will eventually come around.
4. Disruptive Behavior
This one can depend on the type of cat that you have. But if you have a cat that does not appreciate the noise and other loud sounds, then you will notice that he will constantly be stressed.
The same goes when exposing your cat to an environment with a lot of sounds, like a park or busy roads.
When To Worry
There are also those times when the shedding is excessive. This can be brought about by extreme stress and other external factors. These are the things that you should observe if your cat sheds too much.
If you notice that your cat does not only shed but also constantly grooms himself paired with biting its hair and even scratching it, this can be a sign of allergies. This can be due to fleas, food, or the environment.
Wet Hair Clumps
You might find random hair clumps that are soggy and sticky. When this happens, observe if your cat constantly licks himself. There can be gastrointestinal issues. The hair clumps might have come from vomit due to nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
Overall Hair Loss
This is extremely troubling especially when you see that there are areas where there are no longer hairs on your cat. This can be a sign of scabies as the mite that infects your cat embeds itself in the skin.
When you notice that your cat is shedding excessively while he displays aggressive behavior, it can mean that he feels threatened by something or someone.
This is no longer just about anxiety and stress, in fact, your cat is shedding too much as it is generally disturbed and he feels unsafe that he needs to exhibit aggressive behavior.
Is your cat’s shedding paired with random urine accidents? This is a sign of a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, diabetes, or bladder stones. You might also notice that hairs around your cat’s genitals will fall off completely as he is always scratching that area to relieve pain.
A little stress and shedding from time to time is okay, however, as much as possible, you want to have a stress-free cat. This is not only good for the health of your cat but you as well for your peace of mind. Here are some tips and tricks that you can do.
- When going to the vet, bring your cat’s favorite blanket so he or she can feel safe. If you do not have a blanket, you can bring his or her favorite toy. Having this familiarity will help calm your cat.
- Even when your cat is already stressed, never fail to reassure him that you are there and that he is safe. You can ask the vet if it is okay for you to touch your cat while he is being examined.
- Practice positive reinforcement training to lessen the stress of your cat. If you find something that stresses him, slowly incorporate the stressor in your routine, and always give rewards and affection when he does not get stressed.
- Give your cat a proper and balanced diet which will help him to not be susceptible to skin allergies.
- Give your cat enough space to calm himself down after a stressful situation. This will help in building up trust which can improve his reaction when exposed to the same situation.
Do pregnant cats shed more? Yes, this is due to hormonal changes. You may notice that your cat will shed more on her belly and this is because this is where her kittens will nurse. The shedding will calm down when the lactation period ends. Consult your vet if you think the shedding is excessive.
My cat sheds when left outside, what should I do? First, check if your cat got a skin infection. If that is not the case, he is exposed to too much sunlight which causes shedding. So when your cat goes back to a cool area, old hairs will be shed again, as secondary hairs will grow for insulation.