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3 Best Cat Food for Excessive Shedding

High protein cat food is best.

Make sure the cat food is a complete meal per AAFCO’s nutrition guidelines.

Our 3 best cat food for excessive shedding picks:

  1. Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein | Best Dry
  2. Tiki Cat After Dark | Best Wet
  3. Instinct Original | Affordable Pick

Most cats shed during fall and spring, especially oriental cats.

Excess hair loss is a sign of disease, stress, and diet issues. Get a vet to rule out medical issues.

Failing that, address diet.

In this article I’ll go through a buying guide on specific things cats need to prevent shedding and my top picks.

Then I’ll go through frequently asked questions on the topic.

Let’s go.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. The advice in this article is not intended as medical advice.

Buying Guide

Hair loss is a sign of poor diet.

But it’s also a sign of environmental problems like flea allergy dermatitis.

Let’s look at diet first:

Choose a High Protein Diet

Bump up the protein.

Protein makes hair (keratin). An estimated 25-30% of dietary protein goes to hair and skin growth.

As carnivores, cats protein needs are high. Experts suggest aiming for 45% protein (dry matter) to help maintain that lustrous coat.

Use a calculator to find out if your cat food has enough.

Quick notes:

  • Protein makes hair
  • Aim for 45% protein (dry matter)
  • Use a calculator to check
A cat eating meat
Aim for 45% protein (dry matter) to combat shedding

Choose Complete Cat Food

A deficiency in micronutrients is problematic…

Zinc, iron, and biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss. All help the hair growth cycle in various ways.

To prevent deficiency:

Check the cat food is complete as a sole feeding source per AAFCO’s nutrition guidelines. Supplemental food doesn’t have all the nutrients cats need.

Steer clear of phytate (high in grains) as these decrease nutrient absorption. Aim for meat rich cat food (more than 3 of the first 5 ingredients is a good rule of thumb).

Quick notes:

  • Avoid nutrient deficiency
  • Can lead to hair loss
  • Choose complete cat food
A statement of nutritional adequacy
Check the statement of nutritional adequacy and choose complete cat food

Try an Elimination Diet

If nothing else works…

Discuss an elimination diet with your vet. This helps if the hair loss is from food reactions, which can cause hair loss from scratching (pruritis).

79% of cats with pruritis and self-inflicted hair loss saw improvement with a lamb and rice elimination diet.

Use a novel protein or hydrolyzed cat food for 6-8 weeks. This won’t work if the cause is environmental (e.g. flea allergy dermatitis).

Quick notes:

  • Elimination diet helps treat food reactions
  • Novel protein or hydrolyzed cat food
  • 6-8 weeks treatment
A tray of lamb cutlets
Novel protein diets can help isolate dietary related hair loss

3 Best Cat Food for Excessive Shedding

1. Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein

Best Dry Cat Food for Shedding

Pros and Cons

  • High protein
  • No soy or peas
  • All life stages
  • Lacks flavors
  • Mixed quality


Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein stands out above the rest.

Using gelatin instead of grains helps cut down the phytate, helping your cat absorb the nutrients needed for a healthy coat.

It’s relatively affordable, and suits all life stages. Hard to go past.

Main issue is the mixed quality results. I haven’t tested this one yet.

Best for:

  • Convenience
  • Affordability
  • Kibble lovers

Where to find Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein?

Dr. Elsey's Cleanprotein dry matter basis
Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein dry matter basis
Dr. Elsey's Cleanprotein review score
Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein review score

2. Tiki Cat After Dark

Best Wet Cat Food for Shedding

Tiki Cat After Dark
Tiki Cat After Dark

Pros and Cons

  • High protein
  • No phytate
  • All life stages
  • Mixed taste results
  • Pricey


Tiki Cat After Dark is one of the best quality options.

It’s very high protein, with no grains, gluten, peas, or soy in the tin. Suits all life stages.

Our cats enjoyed it, but it wasn’t their favorite. Pricey too.

Best for:

  • Weight control
  • Easy digestion
  • Food intolerances

Where to find Tiki Cat After Dark?

Read more: 

Tiki Cat After Dark dry matter nutrition
Tiki Cat After Dark dry matter nutrition
Tiki Cat After Dark review score
Tiki Cat After Dark review score

3. Instinct Original Rabbit

Best Affordable Cat Food for Excessive Shedding

Pros and Cons

  • High protein
  • Allergy friendly
  • All life stages
  • Untested
  • Does contain peas


Instinct Original is our best budget pick for shedding.

It’s high protein and suits all life stages. Plus they offer novel protein options (e.g. rabbit) for elimination diets.

We haven’t tested this one yet, but customer reviews are positive. Does contain peas, but a minor ingredient.

Best for:

  • Budget pick
  • Allergy relief
  • Weight control

Where to find Instinct Original?

Instinct Original cat food dry matter nutrition
Instinct Original dry matter nutrition
Instinct Original review score
Instinct Original review score

How Did I Choose These Cat Foods?

Using a database.

I filtered cat foods with over 45% protein and met the need for all life stages as a complete meal.

I also removed cat foods with phytate rich foods in the first 5 ingredients.

Finally, I compared options for overall nutrition, ingredient, and taste quality – scoring out of 10.

Full list of the best cat foods for shedding:

Cat foodTypeTextureLifestageProtein*PriceMeat 5#ScoreNote
Tiki Cat After DarkWetShredsAll78%$$$58.5Best overall
Tiki Cat BabyWetShredsAll63%$$$48.5Best for kittens
Instinct OriginalWetPateAll59%$$48.5Offer novel protein (rabbit)
Dr. Elsey’s Clean ProteinDryKibbleAll67%$$58.5Best dry cat food
Go! Solutions CarnivoreDryKibbleAll51%$58Best affordable dry cat food
Tiny TigerWetPateAll55%$$58Chewy product
Tiki Cat Born CarnivoreDryKibbleAll48%$58Affordable dry cat food
Feline NaturalWetPateAll52%$$$58Filler free wet cat food
Ziwi PeakWetPateAll54%$$$48Offer novel protein, but pricey
Nulo FreestyleWetPateAll51%$57.5Affordable wet cat food
A full comparison of the best cat foods for shedding *dry matter basis #how many of the first 5 ingredients are animal based


What Causes Shedding in Cats?

Many things cause hair loss:

  • Seasonality
  • Stress
  • Disease
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Environmental allergens
  • Dietary allergens
  • Breed

Let’s look at each:


Cats lose hair at different times.

Shedding is normal to a small extent, during fall and spring. Hair growth is better in summer.

Indoor cats are more prone to year round shedding.


Another cause of alopecia in cats is stress.

Changes to environment and ownership can trigger hair loss (e.g. loss of a companion). Limiting outdoor access is beneficial to avoid hazards, but can trigger boredom.

Try environmental enrichment. This includes adding stimulating items:

  • Cat tress
  • Tunnels
  • Caves
  • Interactive toys
  • Areas to perch

Stress can cause self-inflicting hair loss from excess grooming.

Read more:


Shedding is normal in cats, but excessive hair loss is a sign of disease.

Look for:

  • Patchy hair loss
  • Increase in scratching
  • Lesions
  • Signs of illness (e.g. fatigue)

These are symptoms of disease. That includes hyperthyroidism or parasites.

A vet workup will help identify the cause of the hair loss and shedding.

Nutrient Deficiency

Nutrients are needed for healthy hair and coat.

This includes:

  • Protein
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Biotin

Deficiency is rare, but can increase shedding and hair loss in cats. High phytate diets (e.g. cereals) bind zinc and make it harder to absorb.

Meat rich diets are best.

Environmental Allergens

Try keep things clean.

One case study found dust mites and molds led to pruritis related hair loss in three littermates. Fleas are also a common cause of hair loss.

The problem resolved with anti-histamines and hyposensitization therapy. Good cleaning practices can help cut risk.

Learn more:

Dietary Allergies

Food can cause shedding.

11% of dermatitis is related to dietary allergies. The problem is more common in younger cats.

The solution is an elimination diet for 6-8 weeks using novel protein or hydrolyzed cat food.


Some breeds shed more.

Persians, Russian Blues, and Main Coon’s shed more than others.

Daily brushing can help curtail shedding to some extent in some breeds.

Can Cat Food Make a Cat Shed More?


Vegan cat foods tend to decrease nutrient absorption and aren’t ideal for shedding. Steer clear.

Supplemental cat food doesn’t offer the full range of nutrients cats need. Over-reliance on these foods may cause shedding.

Quick notes:

  • Vegan diets poor
  • May increase shedding
  • Supplemental cat food lacks nutrition

Learn more:


Stress, disease and diet can cause excessive shedding.

If your vet rules out serious problems, try addressing diet.

A high-protein novel cat food that meets AAFCO’s nutrient guidelines as a sole diet source is best.

Shedding is normal in oriental cat breeds and other cats during fall. Brushing your cat helps to clear up excess hair.

Our 3 best cat food for excessive shedding picks:

  1. Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein | Best Dry
  2. Tiki Cat After Dark | Best Wet
  3. Instinct Original | Affordable Pick

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