Unless you own a Sphinx or a Devon Rex, your cat will be prone to develop hairballs. Cats appear to be quite obsessed with keeping their fur in top shape and many times right when you think your kitty is done licking, they will start another session. Of course, they appear to not mind at all picking up all that hair and swallowing it! Yet, most cats will regret it days later, when that dreaded gagging and hacking will ultimately bring up that nasty hair mass.
Most cat owners are well aware of the fact that the word ”hairball” is quite errouneous. The hacked up hair will not present as a ball, rather it is usually shaped like a cigar or at times it may almost appear as if it came from the other end. The hacked up hair presents in this typical oblong shape because it passes through the esophagus which is the tube part section that connects the mouth to the stomach.
When a cat develops a hairball, it will appear to be anxious for a few seconds. Then seconds later, visible stomach contractions will take place shortly followed by the cat gagging and hacking while the hairball is successfully expelled out. Some cats may meow as if in distress but relief shortly follows once the hairball is removed from the cat’s system.
Long haired cats are particularly prone to hairballs. Cats that have a tendency to lick excessively may also develop frequent hairballs. Cats that clean each other for some long grooming sessions may also develop frequent hairballs. The main culprit of hairballs is of course, the cat’s hair. The cat’s anatomy does not help much. The cat’s rough tongue appears to be particularly effective in removing hair causing the cat to swallow more hair than needed.
While most hairballs eventually pass either through the rectum or through the mouth, severe cases may cause intestinal obstructions. This is mostly seen in long haired cats or cats that obsessively lick and swallow hair for most of the day.
There are various home remedies for preventing and treating hairballs in cats.
1. Brush a lot
Of course, lessen the loose hair so to lower chances for kitty to develop hairballs. Try to invest in a good brush that collects lots of hair. If you own a long haired cat like a Persian, make sure your cat gets daily grooming sessions to minimize shedding.
2. Wipe afterwards
After brushing your cat, wipe your cat’s fur with a wet cloth or a napkin to carry away some loose hair that may have been collected after brushing. Some pet stores carry special grooming wipes that may be helpful as well.
You can put a small amount of vaseline (petroleum jelly) on a cat’s paw and since most cats are very clean, they will voluntarily lick the vaseline off. Vaseline will help prevent future hairballs, the average dose that will work is usually about 1/4 of a teaspoon.
Canned plain pumpkin (not the pie filling with spices added) added to the cat’s food may be a helpful tool in preventing hairballs. One tablespoon a day may suffix. Canned pumpkin is also very beneficial to the cat’s intestinal system.
5. Vegetable oil
A half teaspoon of vegetable oil may be very helpful. You can even use the oil found in a can of tuna and encourage your cat to lick it.
The two great things about butter is that most people always carry a stick in their fridge and that cats actually love the taste of it. Half a teaspoon of butter given daily for about a week is often all it takes to give kitty the provided relief. It is best though not to indulge with this too much, unless you want to end up with a chunky kitty.
Veterinarian offices may carry over the counter products such as Laxatone. This is a special lubricant designed for cats with hairballs. Petromalt is another product that may be carried as well in some large pet stores. Both come in yummy flavors that most cats seem to enjoy.
8. High fiber diet
There are many special hairball diets out there to help cats prone to hairballs. Look for cat food with a fiber content ranging from 3.5 to 10%. You can find these percentages on the food label.
9. Watch for skin disorders
Check that your pet is free of fleas. These fastidious creatures may cause excessive licking and grooming. If fleas are a problem, ask your vet for prescription topical ”Frontline”. Cats may also groom excessively if they have some sort of skin disorder or skin allergy. Have your vetr rule these out if you notice your cat tends to lick much more than normal. Also consider that stress, pain or anxiety may cause obsessive licking disorders.
Keep a close eye on your kitty if he or she develops worrisome symptoms such as constipation or choking. A cat straining to have a bowel movement, not eating and retching for more than one day should be seen by a vet to rule out an intestinal obstruction.
Hairballs need not to be a daily occurrence. If your cat seems to hack much more than you would like, try to go to the root of the problem and brush your cat’s hair as much as you can. Discourage excessive licking by distracting your cat and preventing boredom. In other words, try your best to reduce the amount of hair ingested and your kitty will certainly thank you!