Last summer, during the height of shedding season, I brushed enough fur off my house tigers in one sitting to create the cat-hair monster pictured below.
Then things got worse. Temperatures stayed above 100 degrees for weeks, in what became the hottest Kansas City summer on record. The insane heat may or may not have been a factor, but my cats were shedding at an alarming rate, leaving my clothing and bed sheets perpetually covered in a downy layer of gray and white. The couch became strictly off-limits to anyone wearing dark pants, and billowy floof balls skidded across my wooden floors like tumbleweeds.
As shedding season begins anew and I stare down the likelihood of yet another steamy summer, I’ve started plotting my defense against cat hair, the most insidious of household foes. Here are five tips to help us all survive high-shedding season.
This seems like a no-brainer, but its importance cannot be overstated. This is especially essential if you have a long-haired cat, as they are prone to tangles and mats. When incorporated into a routine, regular brushing can be an enjoyable experience for cats and their humans. My mom, for example, brushes her Maine Coon mix, Athella, every morning while she’s drinking her coffee. Brushing removes dirt, spreads natural oils, and keeps your kitty’s skin clean. It also removes loose or excess hair.
If your cat hates being brushed, anecdotal evidence indicates that a lint roller can be used. You could also try vacuuming your cat, as illustrated in the video below, but be aware that this cat is almost certainly in the minority; in fact, he might be the only one who likes it.
A diet rich in vitamins and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids helps reduce shedding by moisturizing your cat’s skin. Your vet can recommend foods rich in these nutrients, or you can check the label for ingredients like salmon or flax. Wet food is even better for your cat’s coat, as it does not contain gluten, corn, or soy, which can cause allergies in some cats. It also helps your cat stay hydrated.
Most pet stores also offer vitamins or fish oil supplements in the form of soft chews or gels that can be mixed with food. If your cat is in good health, however, there should be no need to add a supplement. Always check with your vet before supplementing your cat’s diet.
Shockingly, the world is filled with people who don’t like being covered in cat hair at all times (or perhaps they are allergic to our feline friends). When one of these sad, sneezing individuals visits your home, she will appreciate it if you’ve covered your couch to protect it from hair accumulation during prime kitty-lounging hours. Your favorite black pants will thank you, too.
Mysterious Purr Padds, available at most pet stores, work great for protecting furniture. They are lightweight and easy to remove and store, and they’re made of polyester fibers that absorb warmth and trap dander, hair, and dust.
Another option: Get your kitty a bed of her own. She may or may not use it, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
The key to staying on top of cat hair is making cleanup quick and easy. Otherwise, if you’re anything like me, you’ll ignore it for days — weeks, even — and tell yourself it’s not that bad. Then one day, a well-meaning friend (or worse, your mom) will come over and ask if you’ve ever dusted, ever, in the history of ever. Perhaps this friend will even pick up a baseball-sized clump of hair off the floor and hold it at eye level, pinched between thumb and forefinger, as though handling a stinking corpse.
To be honest, you didn’t even notice that clump anymore. Perhaps, in some vague "Wilson the volleyball" sense, it had become a comforting companion.
To which I say: Do not befriend the clumps! The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser handheld vacuum works great for furniture and is easy to use and to store. Swiffer dusters will easily pick up accumulations on window sills and shelves. And every self-respecting cat owner should have ready access to a lint roller. I have one in my apartment, my car, and my office. I use all regularly.
You know what they say: If you can’t beat ’em, turn their hair into finger puppets. Check out the book Crafting with Cat Hair by Katsori Tsutaya for the specifics on how to harvest, store, and clean your cat’s fur before turning it into felt, which can be used to create a variety of crafts, such as coin purses, mittens, and pincushions. It’s so much fun you’ll want high-shedding season to last all the way to Christmas!
Well, maybe not — but the crafts do make one-of-a-kind gifts. (Just remember those sneezing cat-allergic folks we discussed earlier, and maybe give them a popcorn tin instead.)
How do you deal with shedding season? Let us know in the comments!
Check these out for more on how to weather high-shedding season: