Cats

The 7 Best Cat Foods For Shedding Control

Jun 12, 2021

The 7 Best Cat Foods For Shedding Control

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The best cat food for shedding is a highly digestible, species-appropriate food that helps to keep your cat’s digestion running smoothly and includes vital minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids to support healthy skin and a vibrant coat.

We recommend Ziwi Peak Mackerel Recipe Canned Cat Food as the overall best cat food for shedding. It’s a carnivore’s dream packed with species-appropriate nutrition and free from added carbohydrates, by-products and artificial additives. With mackerel as the main ingredient, it’s loaded with omega fatty acids and natural fish flavor your cat will love.

As much as we love this Ziwi Peak recipe, we know it isn’t the perfect pick for every cat, so stay tuned to see our other recommendations for the best cat food for shedding.

At A Glance: Best Cat Foods For Shedding Control To Buy

Before we get into the details of what causes excessive shedding and how you control it, we highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each of our top picks. You’ll also find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Compare Best Cat Foods For Shedding

Overall Best
Ziwi Peak Mackerel Recipe Canned Cat Food

1. Ziwi Peak Mackerel Recipe Canned Cat Food

Runner Up
Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Mackerel Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food

2. Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Mackerel Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food

Budget Pick
Purina Beyond Grain-Free Wild Salmon Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food

3. Purina Beyond Grain-Free Wild Salmon Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food

Best Cat Food Delivery
Smalls Fish Kibble Recipe Cat Food

4. Smalls Fish Kibble Recipe Cat Food

Best for Sensitive Stomach
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon Canned Food

5. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon Canned Food

Best Dry Food
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Hairball Management Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food

6. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Hairball Management Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food

Best for Hairball Control
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control Savory Chicken Entrée

7. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control Savory Chicken Entrée

Protein
12.0% min
Protein
11.0% min
Protein
10.0% min
Protein
40%
Protein
8.0%
Protein
40%
Protein
7.0%
Fat
3.0% min
Fat
5.5% min
Fat
5.0% min
Fat
17%
Fat
7.0%
Fat
16%
Fat
3.5%
Fiber
2.0% max
Fiber
0.75% max
Fiber
1.50% max
Fiber
4.0%
Fiber
1.4%
Fiber
5.5%
Fiber
1.5%
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Type
Wet
Type
Wet
Type
Wet
Type
Dry
Type
Wet
Type
Dry
Type
Wet
Made In
New Zealand
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States

What Causes Excessive Shedding?

Shedding is normal for cats. You’re bound to find balls of hair collecting in the corners of the room, under your appliances, and on your furniture. There’s no escaping it (unless, of course, you have a hairless cat like the Sphynx).

While shedding is to be expected in a cat-inclusive household, there’s a difference between normal and excessive shedding. But how do you tell the difference?

Most cats shed continuously, so regular grooming can help keep all that shed hair from clogging your vacuum and covering your clothing. Some cats also shed more heavily at certain times of year or during periods of stress. If your cat loses so much hair that he starts to develop patches of hair loss on his coat or you notice changes in his skin, it may be time to visit the veterinarian.

Abnormal hair loss is known as alopecia in both people and pets.

According to Dr. Alison Diesel, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, “The biggest difference between normal shedding and alopecia in cats is that with normal shedding, there is not appreciable hair loss on the animal.” With normal shedding, you’ll find hairballs and tufts of hair around the home, but your cat’s coat will still look normal at a glance in terms of length, thickness, and density.

Feline alopecia has many potential causes ranging from external parasites like fleas and mites to internal infections and food allergies. Cats can also inherit genetic forms of alopecia (again, think about the hairless Sphynx breed) and some breeds become more prone to hair loss as they age.

If you notice your cat seems to be shedding more than usual, look for additional symptoms like itching, scratching, or excessive grooming that might point to an underlying health problem.

What About Dietary Factors?

The quality of your cat’s diet is directly related to his health and wellness, both in the short- and long-term. A poor-quality diet made up of animal by-products, low-value carbohydrates, and artificial additives won’t provide the essential nutrients your cat needs for a healthy coat, let alone overall health. Improving the quality of your cat’s diet could very well improve the quality of his coat.

Some of the nutrients that play an important role in your cat’s coat quality include:

  • ProteinAbout 95% of the structure of your cat’s hair is made up of protein, so adequate protein intake is essential for a healthy coat. Minimum protein recommendations for adult cats are 26% according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, but cats with skin and coat issues can benefit from higher protein levels between 30% and 45%.
  • Omega Fatty Acids – In moderation, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are great for your cat’s skin and coat. Fish and fish oil are optimal sources for these fatty acids, so opt for fish-based recipes when possible or consider adding a fish oil supplement to your cat’s diet.
  • Vitamins – A balanced diet is essential for healthy skin and coat, but certain vitamins play a particularly important role in hair growth. These include vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Make sure you choose a nutritionally complete cat food formula to ensure your cat gets the minimum recommended amount for these nutrients.
  • Minerals – Two of the most important minerals for healthy hair include iron and zinc. A cat food formulated in keeping with AAFCO’s nutrient profiles will contain the bare minimum for these nutrients, but it doesn’t hurt to add a little extra. Red meat, poultry, and oysters are rich animal sources of zinc and iron while whole grains, leafy greens, and legumes are plant-based sources.

In addition to these nutrients, a skin- and coat-supporting diet for cats is rich in moisture. Hydration is just as important for cats as it is for people, but cats tend not to drink a lot of water on their own. Choosing a fresh or canned food diet can help increase your cat’s moisture intake. You might also consider investing in a cat water fountain to provide your cat with fresh, constantly cycling water which might be more appealing than stagnant water from a bowl.

How To Choose The Best Cat Food For Shedding

Before you make any significant changes to your cat’s diet, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian. If shedding is a concern, talk to your vet about whether your cat’s shedding is normal or excessive. In the event that your cat’s shedding is caused by some underlying condition, your vet can help you determine the best course of treatment which may not require a change in diet.

If your veterinarian is concerned that your cat’s diet might be the cause of excessive shedding, there are certain things you should look for in a new diet.

Here are some features of the best cat food for shedding:

  • High-quality ingredients – The higher the quality of the ingredients in your cat’s food, the more digestible it will be and the better his body will be able to absorb the nutrition they deliver.
  • Rich in animal protein – Cats are obligate carnivores, so they require a meat-based diet with the majority of the nutrition coming from animal-based ingredients.
  • Moderate fat content – Fat provides a concentrated source of energy for cats along with all those skin- and coat-supporting omega fatty acids, but you want to avoid products where the fat content is too high because it could cause your cat to gain unwanted weight.
  • Nutritional supplements – Most commercial cat foods contain added vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. Just make sure the list of supplements isn’t excessive – a long list of supplements suggests the main ingredients are low in quality.
  • High in moisture – Proper hydration is essential for smooth digestion and overall wellness, so consider choosing a canned food or fresh food diet for your cat.

When shopping for cat food to reduce shedding, you may come across prescription diets for skin and coat support or hairball control. These foods are often supplemented with skin- and coat-supporting nutrients, but you should exercise the same degree of caution in evaluating these products as you would any other.

Many prescription diets utilize by-products and low-value carbohydrates as main ingredients which could make matters worse in terms of improving the quality of your cat’s diet.

Our Top Picks For The Best Cat Foods For Shedding

Now that you have a better understanding of what causes excessive shedding in cats, you can see how making improvements to your cat’s diet might help resolve the issue. Below you’ll find a compilation of our favorite cat foods that are packed with animal protein and moisture, rich in omega fatty acids, and nutritionally balanced for cats of all breeds.

Here are our top picks for the best cat foods for shedding you should consider:

Overall Best
1.

Ziwi Peak Mackerel Recipe Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 12.0% min
  • Fat: 3.0% min
  • Fiber: 2.0% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: New Zealand

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 3%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 4%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 54.55%
Fat: 13.64%
Fiber: 9.09%
Carbs: 4.55%
Pros
  • Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Packed with animal protein from wild-caught mackerel
  • High in moisture, low in carbohydrates
  • Free from grains, fillers, and artificial additives
Cons
  • Fairly expensive compared to other options
  • Limited number of customer reviews
When it comes to high-quality canned food diets, Ziwi Peak knows what they are doing. This New Zealand-based company uses premium-quality animal proteins like wild-caught New Zealand blue mackerel to deliver all the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids your cat needs to achieve healthy skin and a lustrous coat, not to mention healthy brain and eyes.

In addition to its omega fatty acid content, this recipe is rich in moisture and completely free from grains, fillers, and artificial additives. It is supplemented with essential vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition for your cat.

This mackerel-based canned food formula is also supplemented with New Zealand green mussels which are naturally rich in joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin.

Overall, this is a species-appropriate, fish-based diet rich in animal protein with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.
Runner Up
2.

Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Mackerel Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 11.0% min
  • Fat: 5.5% min
  • Fiber: 0.75% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 5.5%
Crude Fiber: 0.75%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 25%
Fiber: 3.41%
Carbs: 21.59%
Pros
  • Several sources of animal-based protein
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids from fish ingredients
  • Limited added carbohydrate ingredients
  • No artificial additives, fillers, or grains
Cons
  • Fairly expensive compared to other options
  • Limited number of customer reviews
A protein-packed recipe like this salmon and mackerel formula from Nulo could be just what your cat needs to get shedding under control. Not only is it rich in animal-based protein, but it contains plenty of natural sources of omega fatty acids including salmon, whitefish, mackerel, and menhaden fish oil.

This canned food formula contains numerous sources of animal-based protein with a limited number of added carbohydrates. Things like cranberries and pumpkin don’t appear until the 13th slot on the ingredients list, so they likely don’t contribute significantly to the overall composition of the product. They do, however, contribute a small amount of natural vitamin and mineral content.

Overall, this is a species-appropriate, fish-based canned food recipe rich in omega-3 fatty acids with limited carbohydrate content and no artificial additives.
Budget Pick
3.

Purina Beyond Grain-Free Wild Salmon Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 10.0% min
  • Fat: 5.0% min
  • Fiber: 1.50% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 3.2%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 22.73%
Fiber: 6.82%
Carbs: 10.45%
Pros
  • Fresh salmon as the first ingredient
  • Limited list of ingredients
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids from salmon
  • Canned food, rich in moisture
Cons
  • Contains an unspecific ingredient (liver)
  • Higher than average carbohydrate content for a wet food
While it’s important to provide your cat with the highest quality diet you can consistently afford, you don’t necessarily have to go for the top shelf. This Purina Beyond canned cat food offers decent quality nutrition and it checks most of the boxes we set forth earlier regarding the best cat food for shedding.

This canned food recipe from Purina features fresh salmon and chicken as the top two ingredients with supplemental protein from liver and eggs. Because salmon is so rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this formula doesn’t require the addition of an added source of fat, though it probably wouldn’t hurt.

We appreciate that this recipe is highly affordable and that it still offers a limited list of ingredients. We’d prefer to see a named source of liver and could probably do without the carrots and inulin, but overall, this appears to be an animal-based formula rich in moisture and omega fatty acids.
Best Cat Food Delivery
4.

Smalls Fish Kibble Recipe Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 40%
  • Fat: 17%
  • Fiber: 4.0%
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Dry
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 40%
Crude Fat: 17%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 44.44%
Fat: 18.89%
Fiber: 4.44%
Carbs: 32.22%
Pros
  • Two sources of animal-based protein as main ingredients
  • Affordably priced, delivered to your door
  • Rich in natural omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin/coat
Cons
  • Higher than average carbohydrate content
  • Requires a subscription, somewhat expensive
  • Recent issues with Smalls’ customer service
Smalls is a fresh cat food subscription plan that offers several human-grade fresh food recipes along with a handful of freeze-dried formulas and dry food. Their pantry line of kibble is the only one that contains fish as the primary ingredient which is why we chose it for this roundup.

This kibble formula features fresh whitefish and whitefish meal as the top two ingredients, making it a concentrated source of fish-based animal protein and omega fatty acids. Aside from these two ingredients, this formula really only contains a handful of others – sweet potatoes and peas are the primary carbohydrates while pea protein provides additional protein and fish oil adds healthy fats.

Because this is one of Smalls’ most affordable recipes, we’re not surprised to see that it contains a little plant-based protein and a generic source of fat. Tweaking these ingredients would significantly increase the quality of this formula but it is already a decent option if you’re looking to have cat food delivered.

We’d also like to note that Smalls has been the subject of some consumer complaints lately. The company is making changes to their customer experience, but progress has been a little slow.
Best for Sensitive Stomach
5.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon Canned Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 8.0%
  • Fat: 7.0%
  • Fiber: 1.4%
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 8%
Crude Fat: 7%
Crude Fiber: 1.4%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 3%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 36.36%
Fat: 31.82%
Fiber: 6.36%
Carbs: 11.82%
Pros
  • Deboned salmon as the main ingredient, single source of protein
  • Limited number of added carbohydrate ingredients
  • Natural sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Rich in moisture to support hydration and digestion
Cons
  • Contains some concentrated plant protein
  • Higher than average carb content for a wet food
Digestive issues can lead to skin issues in pets, so if your cat is having trouble digesting the food you’re feeding him, you shouldn’t be surprised if he starts to shed more than usual. In many cases, digestive upset is related to poor quality ingredients, or it could be a negative reaction to a specific ingredient. In either case, switching to a limited ingredient formula could help.

This limited ingredient formula from Merrick features deboned salmon as a single source of animal protein and a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. As a canned food, this formula is rich in moisture and lower in carbohydrates than the average dry food.

In addition to the natural omega-3 fatty acids that come from the salmon, this recipe contains flaxseed oil as a balancing source of omega-6 fatty acids.

Overall, this is a salmon-based canned food formula rich in moisture and omega-3 fatty acids, supplemented with essential vitamins and minerals for balanced nutrition.
Best Dry Food
6.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Hairball Management Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 40%
  • Fat: 16%
  • Fiber: 5.5%
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Dry
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 40%
Crude Fat: 16%
Crude Fiber: 5.5%
Moisture: 12%
Ash: 6.2%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 18.18%
Fiber: 6.25%
Carbs: 23.07%
Pros
  • Fresh chicken as the primary ingredient
  • Formulated for hairball management
  • Positive customer reviews
Cons
  • Fairly high in carbohydrates
  • Contains corn, wheat, and soy ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs
This hairball control recipe from Purina Pro Plan features fresh chicken as the primary ingredient. Though there are additional sources of protein on the list, they come from animal by-products and plant-based sources.

While this formula leaves something to be desired in terms of the list of ingredients, it has a number of positive reviews from customers who claim it worked to reduce their cat’s hairballs. Cats who shed excessively often struggle with hairballs and a formula that promotes regular digestion while supporting skin and coat health could help.
Best for Hairball Control
7.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control Savory Chicken Entrée

Product Info

  • Protein: 7.0%
  • Fat: 3.5%
  • Fiber: 1.5%
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 7%
Crude Fat: 3.5%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 31.82%
Fat: 15.91%
Fiber: 18.18%
Carbs: 34.09%
Pros
  • Fresh chicken and turkey as the main protein sources
  • Fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids
  • Formulated for hairball control, positive customer reviews
Cons
  • Higher carbohydrate content than average canned food
  • Contains corn and soy ingredients
  • Made with some animal by-products
Similar to the previous formula, this recipe from Hill’s is designed for hairball control. The primary difference is that this is a canned food formula which makes it higher in moisture and it contains fewer carbohydrate-based additives.

This canned food formula features fresh chicken and turkey giblets as the primary ingredients with pork by-products and pork liver as supplemental proteins. You’ll also find fish meal on the list as a supplementary source of protein, though its omega fatty acid content may be more limited than fresh fish would.

Overall, this recipe seems to be a popular choice among pet owners whose cats struggle with hairballs and we do like the higher moisture content compared to the previous recipe.

Final Thoughts

Unless you have a hairless cat, you’ll never stop your cat from shedding. Shedding is simply part of the natural cycle of hair growth, and it will happen continuously throughout your cat’s life.

Regular grooming is a simple way to control how much of your cat’s hair ends up on the furniture or on your clothes, but if shedding continues to be a problem you may want to take a second look at your cat’s diet. Upping the protein and omega fatty acid content of your cat’s diet might improve his skin and coat health which could very well affect his level of shedding.

Take what you’ve learned here to your veterinarian to discuss whether a change of diet might benefit your cat.

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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