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Do Calico Cats Shed?

There are so many cat breeds out there to choose, from long-haired to short-haired to absolutely-no-haired. The breed can often determine how much shedding you should expect and how much maintenance may be involved in caring for your cat.

One of the questions we were asked recently was whether or not calico cats shed. This is a very interesting question and one we wanted to delve into a little deeper to give you a much better overall understanding.

So, do calico cats shed? The amount a calico cat will shed varies by its actual breed. ‘Calico’ is not technically a breed, but refers to a type of color patterning which is seen in several cat breeds. The coloring of the cat does not determine how much it will shed; this is determined by individual breed.

Below, we’ll take a more detailed look at this question and talk about the different factors to consider when trying to determine whether a cat will shed.

Calicos and Shedding

Calico is a name used to describe the color variation and patterns seen on a cat’s coat. It does not directly correspond to the breed and therefore it can be very difficult to say whether a cat of calico appearance is likely to shed a lot. You can usually determine the level of shedding by breed type.

As you would expect, long-haired cats are generally more high-maintenance and require much more grooming than some of the shorter-haired varieties, whereas cats with very little hair (almost bald), such as the sphynx or peterbald, require much less maintenance and do not shed.

Short-haired cats are usually a mixed bag in terms of shedding and maintenance. This is where good research usually comes into play. Breeds such as the siamese and Bombay shed very little, whereas other short-haired breeds such as the Chartreux tend to shed almost as much as some of the longer-haired varieties.

Cats that have undercoats tend to shed far more than those that don’t, which can be so hit and miss with short-haired breeds.

As you can see, ‘calico’ has very little to do with the shedding process and therefore should not be used as a guideline for how much a cat of this appearance will shed. It is the breed, hair type, and length that are important.

So What Is a Calico Cat?

‘Calico’ is not technically a breed of cat. There are many different breeds of cats that can be referred to by this name.

‘Calico’ refers to the colorings and markings of a cat in a similar way we would describe different types of prints such as “zebra print” or “leopard print.” It is the way of describing the visual appearance of the cat in regards to color and markings/patterns on the coat.

Calico prints, random patches of orange, white, and black, are probably one of the most interesting and unique markings around. Cream and grey patches are also common. You will find that all calico cats, no matter what shade, are tri-colored.

The calico fur patterns come in three basic patterns. These are calamanco, caliby, and tortoiseshell and white. The standard calico, a calimanco, has large, solid patches of black and orange on a mostly white pelt.

The tortoiseshell and white cat is another variation where the patches are less solid and more mottled together. Basic tortoiseshells are not actually calicos because they do not possess a tri-color pattern. However, if your tortoiseshell has white patches or a white belly, it is considered to be a calico.

The caliby variety is a combination of both calico and tabby. You can pick this type out from its large orange spots of a standard calico mixed in with stripes similar to a tabby’s markings.

To recap, calico refers to the colors and markings as opposed to being linked with any particular breed. The color of a cat does not determine how much a cat will shed. However, some cats with more noticeable and lighter colors may appear to shed more because their hair is more visible on your couch.

Why Do Cats Shed?

Most cats you will come across will shed to some degree. Some breeds are prone to shedding much more frequently and heavily than others, particularly those breeds with an undercoat. Shedding is a completely normal process and should be expected regardless of whether you have a short or long-haired cat.

There are several reasons why cats shed that we will discuss in more detail:

  • Season
  • Health-related issues
  • Fleas
  • Nutritional reasons
  • Anxiety and stress

However, shedding may not be associated with any of these reasons. Anything on earth that has any kind of hair will shed due to a variety of natural biological reasons, from follicle breakage to balding. We’re pretty sure we don’t have to tell you that this means you, too. So try not to be too hard on your fluffy friend!


Most shedding will occur according to the season. You should expect your cat to shed heavily during these key times. Over the winter months, you will notice your cat has a thick, warm coat to keep them snug and cozy. However, come spring, they will be preparing themselves for the summer months.

At this time, you will notice lots of shedding since your cat is removing the thick winter coat. This is completely normal, however, you should expect some extra maintenance and grooming will be needed on your part to manage the shedding process.

Health-Related Issues

Sometimes shedding occurs as a result of health-related issues. If you think your cat is shedding more fur than usual, pay a visit to your vets for treatment and to rule out anything nasty.

Some infections can cause unexpected shedding as well as allergies and reactions to medications. Make sure you visit your vet if you are worried.


Fleas can be a real pain in the neck for any owner (and kitty) but are very common in cats, particularly those that spend considerable time outside. You must take care of fleas for both your and your cat’s health.

Fleas and other parasites are a common cause of cat shedding. Flea bites can cause skin irritations and cats will often scratch and pull out their fur to feel more comfortable and less itchy.

Always ensure you have a good de-fleaing program in place as a preventative measure. If you are unsure of what to get, pay a visit to your vet, who will always be happy to provide helpful information and treatment when necessary.

Nutritional Reasons

A cat’s diet is very important. When a cat has an unhealthy or poor diet, it can present itself in many forms and shedding is high up on the symptoms list. When a cat’s diet does not meet its dietary needs, the hair often becomes dry and dull, which can cause the hair to fall out much more easily.

It is surprising how much hair can be lost through poor nutrition. Always ensure you are feeding your cat a good quality food that is high in protein and free from unnecessary fillers (this is my favorite brand for my little cat).

Anxiety and Stress

Stress and anxiety can often be key causes of hair loss. If your cat feels nervous, anxious, or particularly stressed, you may notice that they start shedding excessively. This is definitely a cause for concern and it is important to get to the bottom of why this is occurring.

Some of the main reasons a cat may be experiencing these symptoms are:

  • A change in environment (such as moving homes)
  • A new cat about town (or even in the household)
  • Illness
  • A change in routine (maybe your routine has changed)
  • A lack of key resources
  • Poor handling
  • Separation anxiety (more common in dogs than cats, but still possible)
  • The presence of a new baby
  • Visitors to the house
  • Homebuilding work (renovations)

This is not an exhaustive list, but it may give you some ideas to consider if you feel like your cat is shedding due to stress and anxiety.

Do Cats Shed Their Fur All Year Round?

Yes, can do shed their fur all year round. This isn’t to say that they will be shedding consistently for a full 12 months, but it does mean they can shed at any time. You should expect a small amount of fur removal day to day, in particular when you are brushing or bathing your cat (if you can get them in the bath, that is).

You should expect major shedding to occur at set times throughout the year. For example, in the spring you should expect to see heavy shedding since your cat is trying to get rid of their winter coat ready for the warmer summer months.

The fur will start to grow back again during autumn and get ready for the winter months when your cat will need a thicker coat to keep themselves warm.

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