Cats work hard to keep themselves looking all shiny and immaculate. Thus, their need for constant grooming. However, unlike most neat-freak creatures, they groom themselves with their own tongues. The tongues that get the grooming job done have tiny barbs that trap dirt and other debris from their coats.
To help get rid of cat hairballs, make sure to groom your cat regularly, look for remedies for hairball control, add canned pumpkin or olive oil to their food, and make sure they are drinking enough water.
What Are Hairballs and What Causes Hairballs in Cats?
Veterinarians tell a lot about trichobezoars. You may get the urge to google what that is. To put it simply, trichobezoars are hairballs (tricho-, means “pertaining to hair” and bezoar, which means “a mass trapped in the gastrointestinal system”). These are the thrown-up clumps of hair that form within your cat’s digestive tract after sessions of grooming themselves.
Cat’s grooming process causes them to swallow their fur and while these are considered foreign materials, their digestive system cannot consume it.
While most fur can safely leave a cat’s digestive tract with no problems, for the most part, cats vomit the trapped hair. These aren’t such a sight to see. Nor is such an experience for cats. They are called hairballs but they don’t really look round as they pass through the narrow and slim path of the esophagus.
Do All Cats Get Hairballs?
Most cats acquire hairballs at some point in their lives. However, there are some types of cats that have a greater likelihood of getting hairballs than others. Long-hair breeds and cats who frequently shed expel them more times than short hair breeds. Also, cats that constantly groom are prone to hairballs.
Older cats also regurgitate more hairballs than younger ones. This is because as cats get older, they become better groomers and more proficient in removing fur from their coats with their tongues, meaning more hairballs to expel.
Symptoms of Hairball Problems
While hairball is a common experience for the cat, there are instances when it goes beyond the norms. This is when the experience becomes unpleasant for them and for you, too. Watch out for these signs to know whether they are having problems with a hairball.
Coughing, Gagging, or Hacking – Notice any ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking with no successful release of a hairball. This is frustrating for them and could also upset their stomach.
Lethargy – They may seem disinterested in playing or doing normal activities.
Weight Loss – Lethargic cats may lose appetite too. Not because they don’t want to eat, they’re simply not feeling well. The hairball may be causing digestive tract obstruction leaving the cats uncomfortable with consuming anything.
Irregular Bowel Movements – Large hairballs may also cause cats trouble in excreting waste. They may either develop frequent diarrhea or constipation.
Bloated Belly – As with most tummies, if there is an obstruction, then a swelling is just expected.
Helping Your Cat Get Rid of Hairballs
Getting rid of a hairball is not a pleasant experience for cats. Especially if they get no success after trying too many times. If your cat appears to be having trouble with a hairball, try some of the methods we have listed for you below.
Give your cat hairball paste to get the hairball moving
Such types of pastes available in pet shops act as a lubricant for the hairball. Made specifically for cats, you can place a tiny portion of it on your cat’s paw so they can lick it off.
These pastes come in different flavors that your cats will very likely enjoy. Treat them at least twice a day for 3 to 5 days until the digestive tract clears of a hairball.
Petroleum Jelly for a cheaper option
Vaseline can act as a laxative for your cat. It is highly effective in helping move the hairball within. Simply apply the jelly to your feline’s paw so they can lick it off. Rub it in a little extra so they won’t shake it off. If they try to do so, apply the jelly in areas where it is difficult to shake off like underneath the front leg.
Remedy treats for hairball control and prevention
There are a lot of remedies treats that you can offer your cat. Several brands of cat treats that are specially formulated for hairball control help not just in passing out the hairball but controlling and preventing them in the future.
Change your cat’s diet
Consult with your vet about hairball control cat food that you can change your cat’s diet with. These diets should contain an increased amount of fiber or Omega-3 fatty acids.
Adding canned pumpkin to your cat’s food
Pumpkin contains fiber essential in helping your cat pass hairball. You can mix canned or mashed pumpkin with the cat’s food to make your cat willing to eat it.
Other fiber-rich options are wheatgrass powder, coconut fiber powder of psyllium seed husk powder. Mix about half a teaspoon into the cat’s wet food.
Adding olive oil to your cat’s food
Olive oils act as a mild laxative that can aid in moving the hairball. However, try not to overuse Olive oil in cats as their bodies prefer meat-based fat sources.
Do regular grooming
Invest in an effective cat hair brush and brush your cat’s fur on a regular basis to reduce the amount of loose hair that may get trapped when your cat grooms. Remove as much loose hair as possible by wiping her down with damp cloth into the direction of hair growth after brushing.
Do this even more with long-haired and older cats.
If you notice your cat grooming excessively, try to distract them by giving her toys or treats. Quality time together with your cat may reduce the occurrences of them feeling the urge to groom.
Discourage your cat’s excessive grooming by allowing access to toys, playing with them or letting them do other enjoyable activities that will take their minds off of grooming.
Make sure your cat is getting enough water
Your cat’s diet should be moist enough to help with proper digestion. Otherwise, your cat’s digestive tract may work harder than it should, making the hairball problem even worse.
Encourage your cat to drink more water. Cats like to drink moving or running water. A nice and clean bowl of water may be ignored and they may not drink enough. Get some water fountain to entice your cats into drinking water.
Butter you cat up
Butter works like olive oil or petroleum jelly. Have a teaspoon pf butter melted and drizzle it over your cat’s food at least once a week.
A huge percentage of cat owners believe that hairballs are nothing serious for cats. They are. They can cause so much discomfort to cats that will eventually lead to the decline of their health. Part of being a responsible cat owner is helping them in situations where they can’t help themselves. Like, when they can’t pass on the hairball.
Best was is to prevent, control, and manage it. Unfortunately, it is not all the time that these are effective. Some may have to resort to surgical operations to take the obstruction off from the tummy. Be sure to consult with your vet when you have concerns about your cat gagging.
Check out our review of Top Hairball Cat Foods CLICK HERE
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: How do I know if my cat has a hairball stuck?
A: There are some telltale signs of cats with a stuck hairball. The most common include:
- Wheezing and coughing
- Mouth breathing
- Throwing up after meals
Q: How often should Cats have hairballs?
A: Ideally, they shouldn’t have. But, they would at most times of their lives because grooming is such a huge deal for them. And grooming results in fur getting swallowed turning into a hairball. The secret is to maintain a strong digestive system. This can be achieved by having a good diet.