Cats tend to shed more when they are stressed. It is their normal physiologic response when they get anxious. This happens because a cat’s muscles tense during times of stress and the follicles of some hairs are released.
Why do cats shed when they are stressed?
The hairs that cats shed when they are stressed are called telogen hairs. Telogen hairs are in those in the resting phase of the growth cycle.These are hairs that will eventually come out when a cat rubs itself against something.
The shedding actually happens when the tiny arrector pili muscles, which are attached to hair follicles, are activated when a cat is stressed. When they contract, it causes the hair to stand on end. The telogen hairs, which are primed to be shed anyway, are released in the process.
When to worry about excessive shedding?
The sudden loss of hair is usually not harmful and your cat’s hair will grow back normally. However, there are circumstances where it becomes excessive and a vet should be consulted especially when the cat shows the following behaviors:
When your cat constantly grooms itself and bites and scratches its hair while shedding. This can be caused by fleas, food allergies or the environment.
Cats showing aggressiveness may feel threatened. Your cat might be excessively shedding because it is generally disturbed and feels unsafe.
If your cat is shedding along with random urine accidents, it may be a sign of a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, diabetes or bladders tones.
What causes stress to cats?
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. The cold rush that they feel when placed on the examination table can also be uncomfortable.
New Family Member
The addition of a new pet or baby into the house is exciting but from a cat’s perspective, it can cause a lot of disruption in the form of new sounds and smells, changes in routine and other changes. For confident cats, they will find this interesting but for others it can cause them stress.
Cats like to be in a familiar environment because it helps them feel safe and secure. When they go to a place they have never been before, it causes them to feel anxious. Just rearranging furniture at home can also make them feel stressed and lost.
How to avoid stress and excessive shedding?
As a cat parent, you want your cat to stay happy and stress-free. This is not only beneficial for the wellbeing of your cat but for your good disposition. To avoid stress and shedding, here are some suggestions you can follow:
1. Vet visits usually cause stress to cats. When it’s time to go to the vet, bring your cat’s favorite blanket and toy so it feels familiar and safe. When a cat feels familiar in its surroundings, it feels calm and comfortable.
2. To lessen the stress, practice positive reinforcement training. Introduce changes slowly in its routine and always give rewards when the cat gets used to the changes.
3. When your cat becomes anxious and shows signs of stress, always reassure it with your presence and affection.
4. A proper and balanced diet should be provided to your cat to avoid skin allergies. You can consult with your vet for recommendations especially for cats who are sensitive to some food, grooming products and environmental irritants.
Shedding is normal for cats yet they often shed more when they are stressed. Although this is considered their usual response, there are instances where the shedding is excessive along with other symptoms of stress or other health conditions.
Image: istockphoto.com / Zarifa