As Russia’s native forest cat, the Siberian is known for having a full, fluffy coat that helps them survive in the unforgiving climate of their homeland, Siberia. This kitty’s playful, affectionate, and friendly personality makes it desirable among fancy cats; however, the same coat that helped this cat thrive might give you pause as a homeowner. As cat parents know, with a cuddle-friendly coat comes great responsibility. Do Siberian cats shed? Do their coats require a lot of maintenance? What about your clothes? Will they ever be hair-free with a fluffy kitty in the house? We cover all this and more.
Siberian Cat Coat
The Siberian cat’s coat reflects the environment in which it developed. This breed sports a very dense, medium to long coat triple coat, with a ruff around the neck and a full, bushy tail—perfect for a chilly climate.
The Siberian’s luxurious, thick coat is composed of three layers:
- Guard hairs: The outermost coat is made up of guard hair. These long, stiffer hairs extend over the awn hairs and protect the rest of the fur from moisture. This helped them remain dry and warm even in harsh conditions. Along with repelling water, guard hairs block sunlight, protecting cats from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- Awn hairs: Awn hairs make up the Siberian cat’s middle coat. Awn hairs are shorter than guard hairs and longer than the downy hairs of the undercoat. Awn hairs regulate body temperature and make the coat denser, offering additional protection from the elements.
- Undercoat: Also called down, the undercoat consists of soft, fluffy hair that provides a cat insulation for warmth. The undercoat causes some coats to mat if it’s not groomed regularly.
The texture of the hair varies from soft to coarse, with the hair thickening to curls on the belly and britches in some cats. Despite having a thick, long coat, the Siberian’s coat is resistant to matting. Still, like all domestic cats, regular brushing will help keep your cat’s coat in tip-top condition.
Do Siberian Cats Shed?
It will come as no surprise that, yes, Siberian cats shed. Like all cats, Siberians shed fur to remove damaged hair and release oils onto their skin’s surface. Like humans, Siberian cats have a four-stage hair growth cycle:
- Anagen: The growth period. During the anagen phase, new hair grows in quickly.
- Catagen: A transition phase for hair. During this part of the cycle, fur stops growing because it has reached full length.
- Telogen: Considered the resting period, during the telogen phase, hair neither grows nor falls out.
- Ecogen: Shedding occurs during this stage. Existing hair falls out, making room for new hair to grow.
While many factors affect the shedding cycle, cats with dense, multi-layer coats like the Siberian will experience two periods of heavy shedding. Seasonal shedding happens in the spring and fall, allowing the Siberian to have a light coat during warmer months and a heavy coat when it’s cold outside.
Indoor Vs Outdoor Cat Shedding
Both indoor and outdoor cats shed their fur periodically; however, the frequency of shedding will vary between the two. Indoor cats that spend their time in an environmentally-controlled home shed their coats more regularly. For example, suppose your cat is always inside and experiences cooler temperatures in the summer, thanks to the air conditioner, and warm weather in the winter due to heaters. In that case, they will become physiologically off-balance, causing them to shed consistently. Alternatively, outdoor cats shed less because they are in tune with seasonal changes.
Various factors affect Siberian cats shedding, including location, nutrition, and even stress. For example, have you noticed that when cats are stressed or frightened, they shed more rapidly? A trip to the vet could mean furballs flying all over the exam room. Shedding triggers include the following:
- Season: Cats will shed more during certain seasons, especially those cats who have thicker coats to protect them from snow and rain.
- Location: A cat’s geographical location will affect how often they shed. Warmer temperatures trigger shedding, so those kitties who live in warm environments will shed more frequently.
- Living Environment: Rapid shedding is a normal physiological response for cats when they are stressed or scared. Cats that feel unsafe or uncomfortable typically shed more. When cats are stressed, those hairs that are in the resting phase are activated through a muscle—called arrector pili—that is attached to the hair follicles. It is believed that when the muscle contracts, it cause the hair to stand up and quickly release all of the telogen hairs set to be shed. This is also why your cat sheds so much at the vet.
- Nutrition: Just as with humans, diet and nutrition play a significant role in overall health, as well as hair, skin, and nails. Not receiving a proper diet will weaken your cat’s coat and cause it to lose its shine. Malnutrition can also cause excessive shedding. Feeding your cat a low-protein diet or proteins that are harder to digest (i.e., plant-based proteins) can lead to hair loss. While a nutrient-dense diet that includes healthy fats will reduce shedding, a poor diet will lead to increased shedding.
- Health: A cat’s overall health will play a role in the quality of their coat. Sickness, stress, and poor nutrition can trigger shedding.
- Genetics: Genetics affect the frequency of shedding. Some breeds are prone to more shedding than others. The Siberian cat sheds moderately, and while you can take steps to reduce and control shedding, some felines are simply prone to heavier shedding.
- Age: As cats age, they tend to groom themselves less, leading to additional shedding on your furniture and throughout your home.
Should I Be Worried About My Cat’s Shedding?
Cats naturally shed daily, allowing their skin and fur to remain healthy. Still, if you notice the following symptoms alongside excessive shedding, there may be something wrong:
- Bald spots
- Biting, chewing, or scratching the skin
- Cuts or sores
- Frequent self-grooming
- Increase of hairballs
Contact your veterinarian if your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, as they could indicate an underlying health problem. Your vet will determine the cause of the shedding and create a treatment plan for recovery.
Causes Of Excessive Shedding
For cats losing hair beyond the natural shedding cycle, it’s best to seek guidance from your vet. Various conditions cause excessive shedding:
- Allergies: Food and environmental allergies can trigger itchy skin, causing your cat to scratch their skin more than usual. Eventually, this scratching can lead to hair loss and other skin problems, such as cat dermatitis. Allergies can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. If possible, eliminating the trigger of an allergy attack is the best option.
- Anxiety: Shedding is a physiological response to anxiety in cats. Big-time causes of stress include children, sickness in the family, home renovations, home relocation, neglect, loneliness, and travel; however, there are many overlooked causes of anxiety and stress. If you notice your cat is acting anxious, consider any small events that could be causing anxiety (e.g., dirty litter box, litter type change, loud noises, improper handling, punishment, new furniture, rearranging furniture, boarding, owner work-schedule changes, or not having access to hiding places). Talk to your vet about tools to support an anxious cat, including prescription and over-the-counter sedatives.
- Dehydration: Dehydration leads to poor skin health. If your cat isn’t getting enough water, they may be more likely to experience excessive shedding. You can test for dehydration by gently pulling up the skin on your cat’s upper back. The skin should snap back quickly. If it falls back into position slowly or stays peaked, your cat is likely dehydrated. Dehydration is a serious issue, so if you suspect your cat is dehydrated, seek veterinary care promptly. The vet will administer IV fluids to rehydrate and restore electrolyte balance.
- Infections: Skin infections by bacteria or fungus—like ringworm—can create inflammation and hair loss.
- Malnutrition: Feeding your cat a well-balanced diet is crucial for a healthy cat and preventing excessive shedding. If your cat’s coat is dull and patchy, it’s a good sign that they aren’t getting all the necessary nutrients. If your cat is losing fur and isn’t sporting their normal, glossy coat, seek advice from your vet. Along with quality protein, consider adding healthy fat like fish oil to your cat’s diet.
- Parasites: External parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites can make your cat itchy, leading to excessive scratching and eventually hair loss.
- Pregnancy: Just like in humans, hormonal changes can increase hair loss. While a cat is pregnant and lactating, they may experience excessive hair loss. Shedding will likely return to normal levels once the cat has finished lactating.
- Thyroid Disease: Along with weight gain and lethargy, hair loss and matting can signal that your cat has hypothyroidism. Alternatively, those cats with hyperthyroidism will appear to have greasy or matted hair, causing hair loss. Other signs of an overactive thyroid are an increased appetite, weight loss, hyperactivity, and increased thirst and urination.
Remember that some cats, like Siberians and Persians, will naturally shed more than other breeds.
How To Control Shedding
The absolute best way to control shedding around your home is to brush your cat daily. Brushing will pick up loose hairs before they reach the floor. While there’s no way to stop a cat from shedding, there are additional ways to control shedding:
- Maintain a cool temperature in your home to minimize excess shedding. Cats tend to shed more when it’s warm, so a cooler home will keep shedding at bay. Keep your cat inside when it’s super hot outside. This will prevent overheating and will control shedding.
- Give your cat a once-a-month bath using feline-safe shampoo. Baths will eliminate grease buildup that contributes to matting and will remove any loose hairs before they end up as tumbleweeds rolling across your floor.
- Keep your cat hydrated. Use a cat water fountain to encourage more drinking. Regularly wash your cat’s water bowl or fountain to prevent bacteria and debris buildup.
- Invest in air purifiers and a quality vacuum to cut down on hair throughout the home. Try a cat grooming vacuum that functions as a deshedder, brush, and vacuum, making brushing and cleanup a breeze.
- Schedule regular checkups with your vet to keep your cat happy and healthy. Note any physical or behavioral changes with your cat that may be contributing to excess shedding. Fixing any underlying health issues can control excess shedding.
Although cats groom themselves, you can help remove loose fur and dead skin cells by having a regular brushing routine. Brushing reduces the amount of fallen hair around your home and provides many other benefits to your feline:
- Brushing minimizes the likelihood that your cat will develop mats or hairballs.
- You’re more likely to notice any changes in your cat’s skin caused by parasites or infections before it becomes severe.
- A brushing routine will give your more bonding time with your cat. When brushing your cat, keep extra treats on hand to reward your kitty for good behavior. Eventually, your cat will associate brushing with praise and rewards and will be more likely to sit still during grooming.
To Make brushing as quick and painless as possible, follow these grooming tips:
- Gather the equipment you need before you begin grooming your cat. A metal comb work well for longhaired kitties like the Siberian who need detangling. For serious shedding, try the FURminator brush.
- Before brushing, check your cat’s skin for bald spots, bumps, or wounds. Brushing with these symptoms can irritate the skin further.
- Using a gentle hand, brush your cat’s coat in the direction of the hair growth.
Give your kitty plenty of praise so your cat with associate grooming with a positive experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Siberian Cats Hypoallergenic?
Despite their long, beautiful coats, Siberian cats shed less hair than many other longhaired breeds and are considered by some to be hypoallergenic. While not scientifically proven, many people choose Siberian cats for being hypoallergenic. While there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat, some Siberians produce less of the Fel-d1 allergen.
How Can I Stop My Cat From Shedding?
Shedding occurs naturally in cats and is essential for healthy skin and fur. There’s no way to completely stop your cat from shedding.
Why Is My Siberian Cat Shedding So Much?
Many conditions create excessive shedding in cats. It’s important to contact your veterinarian if you notice that your cat is shedding more than usual.
Siberian cats make excellent companion kitties. They are friendly, affectionate, playful, and absolutely adorable. While considered moderate shedders, you should expect your Siberian to shed year-round, with shedding peaking during spring and fall. All cats molt, and shedding is crucial for overall health for cats with dense coats. Looking for less-noticeable shedding or a cat that requires minimal maintenance? Consider a cat with shorter hair, like the Sphynx or Russian Blue.