4 Easy Ways to Help Reduce Your Cat's Shedding by up to 90%
(Post updated: 02-19-21)
What cat parent doesn't want to reduce their cat's shedding? Loose cat fur is kind of annoying. How does it get in the refrigerator anyway? It seems like we're always having to vacuum and use a lint roller. Petting our kitties gives us a handful of fur that goes flying everywhere.
Or, maybe you have a slight allergy to cat dander and end up sneezing when the fur gets on your face.
And how about those frequent, yucky fur balls. It can't be fun or pleasant for cats to be hacking up big, dry logs of fur. Besides, dry logs of fur are not natural or healthy. They're a sign of dehydration.
Improve your cat's coat to reduce the excessive shedding
Shedding is a natural process of old, dead hair falling out. So, we can't stop cats from shedding altogether, but it can be significantly reduced to a healthier level. The main reason a cat will shed excessively is due to an unhealthy coat. Emotional stress will also cause excessive shedding. This article focuses on improving your cat's coat and overall health to reduce excessive shedding caused by an unhealthy coat.
What to expect when your cat's coat improves and shedding is reduced
→ The most obvious is going to be less fur everywhere.
→ You can vacuum and sweep less often. Like maybe twice a week instead of nearly every day.
→ It may reduce sneezing in the humans sharing space with cats.
→ The frequency of fur balls being hacked up decreases. Cats should produce only one to two fur balls per month.
→ Fur balls will contain more liquid and less fur. This is kind of a downside for us to clean up, but much healthier and easier for your cat.
→ Less fur ingested during grooming may minimize digestive disturbance.
→ You can happily pet your cat without getting a handful of fur. And go in for a nose snuggle without your face getting coated in fur. You'll still get some fur, but a lot less.
→ Your cat will just plain feel better!
#1 - Use a de-shedding tool
Regular brushing is necessary to reduce shedding and fur balls in cats. But cats also have a thick undercoat that a regular brush tool doesn't remove. A de-shedding tool is designed to remove thick undercoats of old fur. The tool is especially helpful when summer approaches, and cats start shedding their winter coats.
The de-shedding tool removes a lot of undercoat fur, so be sure to have a trash can on hand. It removes so much fur, you'll wonder how there is any fur left on your cat when you're done. 🙂 Removing the undercoat really helps to reduce shedding.
A de-shedding tool distributes skin oils to condition the coat and help with dandruff.
All brands claim to reduce cat shedding up to 90%.
How to use a de-shedder
Manufacturers recommend using a light touch. However, my cats like it firm. They get goofy, rolling around and making funny sounds.
--The first time using one, start with a light touch to get your cat accustomed to the tool.
--In the beginning, you can use the tool once per week for several weeks.
--During summer when your cat is shedding his or her winter coat, use it two times a week for two weeks.
--After that, once every two weeks should be enough.
--And continue to use a regular brush on a weekly basis.
Where to buy a de-shedder
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a very small affiliate commission if you purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). It is a great way to say thanks if you find my information helpful for you and your cat and it helps keep Cats Gone Healthy website running to support health conscious cat parents. I personally use, or have used, any products I recommend.
You can purchase a de-shedder tool from your local pet store, Chewy.com, or Amazon. There are some customer reviews that say the rake scratches and irritates skin. I have never experienced this with my cats.
I purchased the FurBuster by Bamboo at a discount store for $15 a number of years ago. Pet supply stores sell a name brand, Fulminator, for $30+. My $15 de-shedder works just fine. The different brands all look similar, so don't worry too much which brand it is. Unless it's really cheap, then it's probably not a good choice. I honestly wouldn't go for one less than $10-15.
The blade size you want to use for an average-sized cat is going to be around 1.67" to 2" wide. Any wider will be too long and probably uncomfortable for your cat.
Here is a nice one with two blade sizes available on Amazon. The longer blade is useful if you have a dog to use it on. Chewy has two cat-sized de-shedders, but they were out of stock at the time of this update.
#2 - Mackerel and sardines - canned or as a fish oil supplement - to help reduce cat shedding
Mackerel and sardines are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which are beneficial for cats just like they are for humans! The fatty acids are good for the skin, fur, allergies, eyes, heart, and immune system. Omega 3 Fatty Acids also have anti-inflammatory effects.
The reason for using mackerel or sardines, as opposed to other types of fish, is because they have lower mercury levels than other fish. Mercury levels are lower along the ocean floor where mackerel and sardines feed.
Canned Chub Mackerel vs. Mackerel:
Chub mackerel is a bit lower in mercury than non-chub mackerel. The only chub mackerel I can find is by Chicken of the Sea. All brands have rather high salt, but you're feeding it only 1-2 times per week.
Make sure the sardines are unflavored and packed in only water. Sardines can often be found in a salt-free version, making them a better choice than mackerel. Avoid sardines packed in oil, mustard, hot sauce, etc., for obvious reasons!
Allergies to Fish:
Some cats are allergic to fish. Allergies show as itchy skin, watery eyes, diarrhea and may include throwing up the food. Discontinue use of the mackerel or sardines. Also check your store-bought cat food, as many of them contain fish.
Choose green lip mussel oil instead as a substitute for mackerel/sardines.
Tips on Feeding Canned Mackerel/Sardines:
Sundays are a special day for my kitties. It's Sardine Sunday!
Here's how I prepare it.
-- First, drain off the liquid into a small food storage container.
-- Scoop the fish into a bowl.
-- You can mash the fish up a bit. Or, with sardines, you can leave them whole for a more prey-like meal.
-- Add half the juice back in, plus an equal amount of water. I add water to the can to "rinse" it and get all of the bits out.
-- Then keep the other half of the juice for a mid-week treat that my cats love.
Not all cats are crazy about mackerel or sardines, and those cats may eat only part of their meal. My cat Tiger likes the fish, but not enough to eat all of it. He's more likely to eat mackerel and sardines when it's mixed with another food. This way, he's still getting the benefits. I think that he just doesn't like the strong fish odor enough to eat it as a stand-alone meal.
Fish Oil Supplement: In place of feeding canned mackerel or sardines, Fish Oil as a supplement from mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, is a great supplement for our pets. It comes in liquid form or capsules. Capsules need to be punctured and squeezed, and this is messy! Liquid fish oil with a dropper is much easier to use and measure. I've more recently begun using fish oil supplement daily on my cats' food, and noticed even more improvement in their fur: softer and less shedding. I didn't think it could improve anymore, but it has.
In liquid form.
If you buy a larger bottle (more than 2 oz.), they usually don't come with a dropper. Some come with a bottle cap or a pump. Pumps are also very messy, especially when you need only a tiny amount for a cat, as opposed to a full pump for medium-large dogs. Just pour some from the original bottle into a smaller dropper bottle for easier, less messy use. This method also reduces the number of times you're opening the original bottle, which in turn reduces oxygenation/rancidity of the oil. Keep bottles refrigerated.
Make sure the Fish Oil is wild caught mackerel, anchovies and/or sardines for lower mercury content.
I really like Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet because it has barely any odor. Some brands of fish oils have very strong odors, which many cats don't like. It comes in a 2-oz bottle with a dropper with measurement markings. Nordic Natural oils are distilled for purity and derived from wild anchovies and sardines in Norway. The dosage for my cats is 1.0 ml per day. This comes out to 12 drops per day. I mix in 6 drops on each of their two meals per day. Since I started using this oil, I feed them canned sardines and mackerel with less frequency. On the days they get the canned fish, I don't give them the Nordic Naturals oil. I also like to skip one day per week of giving the fish oil.
#3 - Digestive enzymes
Enzymes are vital to the good health of all living creatures. Naturally occurring enzymes are found in raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and animal products.
Long before there was so much emphasis on the convenience of processed cat food and long before many cats spent most of their time safely indoors, cats hunted their food and were fed table scraps. Their prey was raw flesh, bones, organs and glands, which provided enzymes.
But what about cats on a commercially prepared cat food of canned or dry kibble? These processed foods are produced using very high heat. The heat destroys naturally occurring enzymes in the original source of the food. Which means cats on processed foods aren't getting the enzymes vital for thriving health. Their pancreas produces some enzymes. However, the pancreas enzyme production rapidly declines as cats age.
The result of no enzymes in a cat's food
Over time, cats develop:
-- Poor digestion
-- Dry, rough fur
-- Excessive shedding
-- Frequent fur balls
-- Low energy
-- Faster decline of their organ function--kidneys, liver, pancreas
-- The pancreas works overtime trying to produce more enzymes, which increases the risk of serious health problems
-- Faster decline of their health and metabolic functions
How digestive enzymes help improve health
A cat's health can be greatly improved by adding digestive enzymes made specifically for a cat's gut.
Digestive enzymes can help:
-- Reduce shedding and, in turn, the frequency of fur balls
-- Improve skin and fur (making it thicker and shinier)
-- Clear up skin allergies
-- Reduce stool odor
-- Protect organ function
-- Improve and protect overall health
The best brand of digestive enzymes
My favorite brand is by Dr. Goodpet, for these reasons:
-- No fillers or unnecessary ingredients, just straight digestive enzymes
-- Nearly tasteless
-- Nearly odorless
-- Best price for the quality
-- Best price for the amount
-- A very small amount is needed per serving
On dry food, put a teaspoon of water on the food to help the enzymes stick to the food. Otherwise, the enzymes will fall to the bottom of the dish and probably not get consumed. Please realize digestive enzymes with dry food will have pretty limited results. That's because of how difficult it is for cats to digest dry food to begin with and due to the lack of moisture in dry food.
#4 - Feed canned food, homemade cooked food, and/or raw food
Even though this is last on the list, it is the number one way to improve the coat and reduce shedding in cats. I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again. Dry cat food (aka kibble) is just unnatural for cats. They are obligate (true) carnivores, and carnivores eat raw prey. For them to thrive, they need moisture in their food. A bowl of water alongside their dry food is not a substitute and will never replace the lack of moisture in dry food.
Canned food is a much better choice than dry kibble. Well-balanced homemade cooked food is even better because it is less processed than commercial canned food. Many cat parents have taken it as far as feeding raw meat, which is the best because it's the most natural food for a cat.
Whether feeding canned, homemade, or raw (or some combination of them) rather than dry food, cats have healthier, thicker, glossy coats that shed much less. They have more energy, free-flowing urinary tracts, a stronger immune system and better organ function.
Imagine if you ate only dry cereal or crackers every day, every meal.
You would probably feel pretty crappy. Maybe not right away, but after some time.
That's because most of the time, the effects from the toxic load go quietly unseen as they accumulate over time.
A diet of dry food causes a chronic low level of dehydration, which strains the kidneys. When cats are thirsty for water, they are already dehydrated (same goes for us). Genetically and physiologically, cats are prone to kidney disease. Feeding dry food adds to the problem by putting stress on the kidneys. Health conscious vets, and knowledgeable conventional vets, recommend canned food for treating kidney disease.
A crucial note about homemade cat food
Homemade cooked or raw food must have proper ratios of meat, bone or bonemeal supplement, fat, and organs. Please don't just try and wing it without a recipe. Cats have very unique and specific needs. Without the proper ratios, they can quickly become deficient and very ill. But don't let that stop you. It's really very easy to make your own healthy cat food that you can feel good about feeding your cat with the added bonus that it reduces shedding.
The best cat foods
There are many canned foods to choose from, and you want to choose good ones without unnecessary fillers and cheap ingredients. Having said that, according to Lisa Pierson, DVM, the cheapest, lowest quality canned food is a far better choice than any dry food, no matter how natural or pricey that dry food is.
Here's my list of the healthiest, best cat food, which includes canned foods for you to choose from.
To reduce excessive cat shedding by up to 90%, improve the coat and overall health.
1 Use a de-shedder tool every two weeks in addition to weekly brushing.
2 Feed canned mackerel or sardines one to two times per week, or use a fish oil supplement (Nordic Naturals is my recommendation).
3 Digestive enzymes to replace the naturally occurring enzymes destroyed from high heat used in the preparation of commercial dry and canned cat foods.
4 Feed canned, homemade cooked, and/or raw food.
And your cat's fur can be thicker, healthier, and glossier with much less shedding!