Hairballs are common in cats, but they are not normal. In fact, some severe cases make a surgery inevitable to remove the hairball from your kitty’s digestive tract. That said, it is always better to take preventive measures and notice early signs before the problem gets bigger and complex.
My cat, Chuck, looked like he is upset with something. He stopped moving much, and I also noticed his enthusiasm was faded during his playtime. I noticed him like this for a week, and the other day he threw up some nasty things. I was pretty sure that it was a cat hairball.
I knew about hairballs back then, and Chuck was regular on his grooming. I researched and got to know that cats also can develop hairballs if they have other pet friends. Chuck used to lick my poodle Ozzie sometimes, but I never knew that also can end up in a hairball. I researched more and made sure Chuck would never develop a hairball.
What Is a Hairball?
Let’s now know about the nitty-gritty of cat hairballs. As the name suggests, a hairball is a ball of hair accumulated in a cat’s digestive tract. Well, you might be wondering why a cat would ingest hair only to find them get stuck inside. Cats are groomers, and they often lick themselves to keep their coat clean, shiny, and groomed.
A cat’s tongue has barbs attached on its surface in a backward manner. When she licks her fur, broken and loose hair gets stuck into the barbs which make their way to her digestive tract which won’t break down. Over time, this hair keeps accumulating in the tract and forms a ball of hair, a hairball.
Usually, cats throw up the hair she mistakenly ingested. Or the hair will find their way out through feces. But when they stuck into their digestive tract, the hairball forms and it can further cause an intestinal obstruction.
Even if your cat throws up the hairball and it doesn’t get stuck inside, the site of thrown up a hairball is quite unpleasant. There is no way you should consider hairballs normal. Not taking any steps to prevent hairballs is going to deteriorate your kitty’s overall health. Here is what you can do about hairballs.
Brush Your Kitty Regularly
Regularly brushing your cat can be a big help to prevent hairballs. Brushing will remove dead or loose hair from her coat which your cat won’t ingest while grooming herself, thereby reducing the intake of hairs and grooming done by your feline friend. Moreover, if you think your kitty is a shorthair breed and doesn’t need brushing, you may be putting her at risk for hairballs.
Hairball Prevention Products Available
Despite your constant grooming care for your cat, if hairball still is a problem, you can talk to your vet about taking some help of hairball prevention product. Those are mainly gel-like products which are generally laxatives. They are mineral and oil based things and won’t be absorbed by the body working as an intestinal lubricant. Moreover, their malt, tuna, or chicken flavor makes them edible for your kitty.
Your veterinarian can advise you on how often you should use the product which depends upon the severity of the hairball problem. In general, it is not advisable to use the product more than twice a week because the mineral oil used in it restrains her body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. In a nutshell, seek your vet’s advice for this.
How to Use Hairball Prevention Gel
It is pretty easy to use a hairball prevention gel. Squeeze out a little amount of gel (a 1-inch long tubular form of a gel) on your index finger and offer it to your kitty. Most of the cats would take it without any objection because the gel has a good flavor.
If your cat doesn’t accept it, try to open her mouth and paste the gel on the edges of her upper teeth or on the roof of her mouth. It will create some eerie feeling, and your feline buddy will just swallow it.
Some people also follow the method of smearing the gel on her paws, thinking the cat will just lick it off. Though this might not go as you have thought. First, your cat will try to shake the gel off of her paw, and because it is sticky and viscous, it won’t totally be removed from there. That will make your kitty lick it off from your paw. You can go with this method if you are ready to gel splatters on the wall and on yourself.
Hairball Prevention Food
Your cat’s daily meals also make a good option to tackle your cat’s hairball problem. There are many commercial cat food available on the market as a prescription diet with hairball prevention formula. If prevention gel and regularly brushing her isn’t working for her ongoing hairball problem, you can ask your vet for hairball prevention diet and which one to choose.
As a general preventive measure, you can increase fiber in the diet. In that case, you can take your vet’s help to choose what food and the amount of it would be perfect in the diet. Well, it is important to note here that supplementing the diet with excessive fibers can have adverse effects. Make sure the fiber your pet gets is from the natural source, i.e., no added fibers in excessive amount.
Moreover, you can feed some butter or oil in little amounts to make bowel movements better and digestive tract lubricated.
Keep Your Kitty Hydrated
A cat is finicky, and she won’t drink from her bowl if it is not clean and doesn’t have fresh water. Their instincts will not let them drink from it. If she drinks enough water, her digestive tract will stay hydrated and lubricated enough to keep things moving smoothly. The ultimate outcome will be less probability of the formation of hairballs.
Feed them a Wholesome Diet
Cats are carnivores. Their bodies are wired to digest and process a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, and grain-free food. If they thrive on carbohydrate-rich food, then there are high chances of poor digestion and malnutrition which can increase the likelihood of hairballs. That said, if you are an advocate of raw food or homemade food, make sure it is a wholesome meal.
Digestive Supplements Are Good
Add digestive supplements in your kitty’s food to improve her digestion. Formulas with psyllium seeds are generally used as supplements. Basically, these supplements promote better digestion which will help the digestive tract pass the hairball instead of throwing it up or getting stuck.
Catnip or Cat Grass
Give your furry buddy some catnip or cat grass. The extra fibers in it will help the hairball purge out from her digestive tract.
What Are the Symptoms of Hairball?
Now that we know how to treat hairballs let’s see what early signs of hairball you should never ignore.
Many of you would say, cats are lazy. However, there’s a difference between laziness and lethargy. Formation of hairball will make your cat weak and sickly lazy. When you notice your kitty is not moving much and doesn’t have enough energy to do anything, it’s time to talk about it to your vet.
Loss of Appetite and Weight
Certainly, there are days when your kitty won’t even eat her favorite meals. They are picky, but this shouldn’t last for five to six days in a row. Your cat will lose a significant amount of weight as a result of the loss of appetite. Consult your vet for further actions.
An intestinal blockage due to hairball continues to grow if it isn’t expelled out. A lump can be seen on a throat or around his belly.
Constipation and Diarrhea
When a cat has developed a hairball, she goes through the bouts of constipation and diarrhea. As the ultimate solution to the blockage (which creates constipation) due to hairball, her body will try to purge the hairball by diarrhea.
Continuous Gagging and Hacking Without Regurgitating
This symptom can puzzle you. When your cat is hacking a lot and doesn’t throw up the hairball, you cannot judge what she is up to. Coughing and gagging is also a symptom of feline asthma.
Moreover, when your kitty is choking, she might act the same way. Hence, if you feel your feline buddy is showing this symptom, get her to your vet immediately for diagnosis.
Hairball is a root of many other health issues like inflammatory bowel disease, internal parasites, foreign bodies, cancer, hernia, and pancreatitis. That said, curing hairballs can save you from many other health risks. You should look for early signs of hairballs and if you’re not sure about anything, let your vet check her.
Moreover, you can try the remedies described in this article. If you’ve fought with hairball problems of your cat and want to share your experience you can share it in the comment section below. Cats groom themselves so make sure you brush herself regularly, this will be your first step to tackle the hairball problem. Keep your furry buddy happy and healthy. Long live the cats 🙂
Lauretta Williams is a web-addicted blogger. She loves spending her time listening to music, playing with her dog and writing blogs from her computer. We all want our dog not to run from home. But sometimes, they still might get lost. Don’t worry, we have your back. Report your lost with PawMaw, we can help you find your missing pet.
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