Spring is a popular season and for good reason: the weather is warming up, the green is starting to reappear outside, and people and pets alike can finally emerge from their homes to explore the outdoors and take in the warmth. It's also a time to knock out some serious cleaning inside our homes - particularly for cat owners.
Just as humans go through cycles, so too do cats - especially with shedding. In fact, cat hair shedding is actually tied to the amount of light that their fur is exposed to. Indoor cats will shed more consistently but in smaller amounts because they're exposed to artificial light in addition to natural light. The overall hair growth and shedding processes occur in three stages: active growth (anagen), transition (catagen) and rest (telogen). Learn more about cat shedding processes here.
What's important to understand is that cat hair shedding can be managed more proactively with a few simple steps for both your cat and your home. Here are a few ideas and recommendations on spring cleaning tips for cat lovers.
Getting Your Cat Ready for Spring
First on our list of spring cleaning tips for cat lovers is dealing with shedding. While there are cat breeds that don't shed much, all cats shed in some form - whether lightly or heavily. In fact, shorthair cats shed just as much as longhair cats. The fur is simply often more noticeable for longhair cats than it is for shorthair cats. It's also a natural part of thinning out their winter coats. While shedding will make your cat feel better, it can add a layer of both dander and frustration to your household.
As you live with your cat, you'll get a sense for what's normal and not normal in terms of shedding as you go about your normal cleaning routine. When more hair starts to show up, consider brushing your cat more frequently. A brush, comb, mat remover, or grooming glove used for a few minutes every day will help collect dead hair in a single sitting rather than finding it all over your home. It's important to note that unusually high shedding may be a sign of a bigger problem, such as a skin disorder, stress, or some other cause. In these situations, consult a veterinarian to help you determine the cause and solution.
And while it'll likely be an unpleasant experience, you should also give your cat a bath from time to time as well to keep her skin, undercoat, and main coat fresh and clean. Learn more about how to give a cat a bath here. Taking these steps as spring approaches will help expedite your cat's shedding process and also keep her feeling great.
Spring is also a time when unwanted insects start to arrive - ticks and fleas, in particular. If your cat is permitted outdoors, it's critical that you take the necessary precautions to both protect your cat's health as well as your home. Fleas and ticks can affect humans, too, and the last thing you want is to have your cat suffering as well as your household.
These pests can be difficult to get rid of once they're a problem, so take action now with flea and tick control medications or collars to protect yourself and your cat. Also, consider treating your lawn with an appropriate insecticide applied by a professional pest inspector or lawn care company. Treating your yard in addition to pet-focused treatment will help prevent infestation on an ongoing basis.
Get Your Home Spring-Ready
Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to get rid of the excess in your home and do some deep cleaning. By moving furniture, appliances, and other larger objects in your home, you can remove cat dander and fur that has collected in the unseen spaces of your home over the colder months. Cat hair is notorious for floating around and collecting in small spaces, so deep cleaning is important to make sure you catch it all.
One of the biggest collectors of cat hair and dander is furniture. Different fabric types will retain and show fur more than others. If your cat is young enough, consider training her to stay off furniture as much as possible by providing her with a cat bed, climbing tower, or other pet-related furniture that's meant to be used by your pet. Cleaning these items is often as simple as vacuuming them or throwing them in a washing machine. For furniture that has pet hair on it, many vacuums now come with pet hair attachments that make removal a breeze. For more difficult hair, products are available for either covering furniture or applying a sticky surface for removal. Learn more about dealing with cat hair in your home and on furniture.
Also, consider adding an air purifier to your most frequented living spaces. While your HVAC filter can help with catching pet dander, it shouldn't be relied on as a sole solution. An air purifier designed to catch and remove pet dander will help your most used living areas remain odor-free and allergen-free faster. A number of products are available that use electronic air filtering technology as opposed to HVAC filters to further refine the quality of the air in your home. Learn more about indoor air control here.
Remember, Cats Have Allergies, Too
With spring comes a plethora of allergens from the outdoors. These allergens affect more than humans - they can quickly inflict suffering and frustration on your dog and cat, too. Just as with humans, allergens like pollen can affect breathing and skin indoors and outdoors. One example of a cat allergy related to allergens present in the air is Atopy - an itchy disease that can get worse as your cat ages. A great spring cleaning tip for cat lovers is to keep a close eye on how your cat is breathing and how her skin appears.
If she starts to show any signs of weepy eyes, sneezing, or itchy ears with small red spots in the bald areas in front of the ear, it's important that you take steps immediately. Often, allergens and irritations like this can lead to overgrooming, potential hair loss, and more. Your veterinarian will be able to assist with allergy testing in cats as well as any potentially larger issues like hair loss or skin disease if needed.