Mad as a March HAIR!
The crocuses are out and I am really noticing my increased energy levels that the lighter mornings and spring sunshine brings. Cats are definitely venturing out again after their winter hibernation indoors and I have been seeing them getting into all kinds of scrapes in the last couple of weeks!
Day length is actually very important to cats, as in other animals, and triggers the release of various hormones which affect breeding cycles, activity levels and of course hair growth. Have you noticed that you need to hoover more in the spring? This is due to increased shedding that occurs at this time of year, making way for new undercoat to come through. Fur grows faster as the days become longer, and slower in winter.
Shedding of fur is also activated by grooming activity. As we all know, cats are fastidiously clean animals and can spend up to 30% of their day keeping their coats neat and tidy. As cats keep their hairbrushes in their mouths, it is inevitable that they end up swallowing a fair bit of fur. This is normal, and for most cats, the fur will pass through their stomach and guts and be passed in their stools with no great excitement. If shedding is excessive or the cat is over-grooming for any reason, he or she will ingest an abnormal amount of hair. This may result in regurgitating hairballs, constipation or even a matt of fur causing a blockage in the stomach or intestine. Contrary to popular belief, ‘coughing up’ a hairball on a regular basis is not normal! If this is sounding familiar, I would urge you to book him or her in for a consultation so we can find out exactly what is going on…
Cats with very dense fur or long hair, will benefit greatly from regular brushing or use of a specific de-shedding tool, a furminator© to help remove dead coat. This will reduce the amount of hair swallowed by your cat and also prevent matts of fur from forming, which may be uncomfortable and hard to remove. (furminators© are available from the clinic in a variety of models, to suit your cat’s coat).
Some cats are very sensitive to the constipating effect of fur. These cats may respond to feed supplements, e.g. Lax-a-past (a yeast flavoured paste) or Royal Canin Hairball diet, with added psyllium. Do come in and ask us for advice on which products would be most suitable for your cat.
Over-grooming is most often caused by itchy skin. The number one cause of this is fleas, which is a whole blog subject in itself! Needless to say, we can provide excellent advice and stock very effective products to keep these under control.
Lastly, as with us, cats are what they eat: they turn a huge amount of the protein and fats that they eat into fur and so a good quality, balanced diet is essential for a glossy coat, with a rich colour. Black cats especially need to eat high levels of the amino-acid needed to make the melanin pigment which makes them black. Have you seen black cats that have turned a reddish brown colour? This is due to a lack in dietary tyrosine and is reversible if these cats are fed a better quality diet. Diets lacking good quality fats will cause dull and scurfy coats. Supplementing with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and vitamin E may reduce shedding and improve coat condition. Again, we are more than happy to suggest suitable diets or supplements for your cat.