Hairballs are a common occurrence for many felines. Cats ingest hair while grooming themselves, and for healthy cats, this care passes through the digestive tract. However, hair that is not digested by stomach acids can build up in the stomach. Cats then regurgitate this hair in the form of hairballs.
While the occasional hairball is unlikely to cause long-term harm to your cat, it can cause discomfort and vomiting. In severe cases, hairballs may even cause blockages that require surgical intervention. Thankfully, you can help your cat avoid these uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous occurrences. Here are a few things you can do to prevent hairballs:
WATCH OUT FOR EXCESSIVE GROOMING
While grooming is a necessary part of every healthy cat’s routine, excessive grooming may be a sign of a health or behavioral issue and can contribute to hairball formation. Signs that your cat is over-grooming include patches of missing fur and irritated skin. If you notice your cat is habitually licking its coat, you should try your best to discourage the behavior. You can replace this habit by introducing toys, treats, affection, or other exciting distractions. This can deter their attention from grooming and provide an outlet for nervous energy.
BRUSH YOUR CAT’S COAT
While your cat is capable of grooming themselves, you can help out by brushing them regularly. This will help ensure they don’t ingest too much hair and is also a good bonding experience for you and your pet. Purchase a brush or comb designed specifically for your cat’s coat, and make a habit of grooming regularly, especially if they have long hair. Take your time and make it a calming, enjoyable experience for both of you. Treats can be effective encouragement!
USE A DAMP TOWEL
Once you are done brushing your cat, use a lightly dampened towel to remove loose hair that has remained on their coat. This will prevent your cat from swallowing the extra hair the next time they groom themselves. You can even purchase pet wipes specifically designed for this purchase.
ADJUST YOUR CAT’S DIET
Adding certain supplements to your cat’s diet can help prevent hairball issues. For example, a diet rich in fiber can make it easier for hair to pass through your cat’s digestive tract.
Additionally, fish oil can nourish your cat’s coat and prevent it from becoming matted. This causes your cat to ingest less hair during grooming, which can often reduce hairball formation. Pay close attention to the ingredients in your cat’s food to ensure they’re getting the necessary nutrients. If you’re uncertain, talk to your vet about food recommendations and potential supplements to curb hairball formation.
CONSIDER A SUPPLEMENT
There are many products available at pet stores and online to help address hairball problems. These include special treats, food additives, gels, and even specially formulated foods. It’s essential to check with your vet before you start giving your cat any new supplements.
USE HAIRBALL LAXATIVE
If your cat is vomiting hairballs often, they may need help digesting large amounts of hair. You can visit your local pet supply store to purchase laxative hairball gel to support smoother digestion. These gels are formulated specifically for cats and often come in appealing flavors to help entice your feline friend.
It can be distressing to watch your cat struggling with hairballs, but there are many things you can do to help relieve their discomfort. By regularly grooming your car, carefully considering their diet, and regularly consulting with your vet, you reduce your cat’s hairball struggles and help them lead a happier, healthier life.