Unless you own a Sphinx or a Devon Rex, your cat will be prone to develop hairballs and next thing you know, you’re off looking for home remedies for cat 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 erroneous. 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 something that 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. The technical term for this trichobezoar.
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 several things you can do to help your cat suffering from hairballs. The first step is minimizing the amount of hair your cat ingests. This alone can help reduce the amount of hair ingested and the frequency of hairballs forming. The second step is to help your cat expel any eventual hairballs. If your cat though doesn’t appear to get relief, please see your vet. You cat may need stronger products such as lactulose.
Keep on Brushing
The objective is to 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.
Invest in Some Wipes
When you brush your cat, you may loosen a lot of hair, but not all hairs are always caught by the brush. After brushing your cat, it’s a good practice to 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.
Pass some Vaseline
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,; however there stronger products that are more effective and are available over the counter.
Add Some Pumpkin
Canned plain pumpkin (not the pie filling with spices added) added to the cat’s food may be a helpful tool in preventing hairballs. You can start with a tablespoon daily, suggests veterinarian Dr. B. Canned pumpkin works in this cases because the fiber binds with the hair pushing those hairballs down the right way.
Buy Some Laxatone
Veterinarian offices and pet stores 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.
Feed a High fiber Diet
As mentioned, fiber can be beneficial in getting those hairballs out of the way. 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.
Provide Some Greens
Another way to add fiber to your cat’s diet is by introducing some greens. Cats are extra happy if you can provide them with some wheat grass. If your cat is trying to chew up your house plants, most likely she is craving some greens. Providing your cat with some safe kitty grass helps make your cat happy while adding some fiber into her diet.
Give Fish Oils
Fish oils can help lubricate kitty’s upper digestive system pushing the hairball down. Along with fiber, fish oil can help give a boost in getting things moving, explains Dr. B. On top of helping with hairballs, fish oil provides anti-inflammatory effects which are beneficial to a cat’s joints and also to the skin and coat.
Watch for Fleas
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 vet 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 an Eye on Kitty
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!
*Disclaimer: All remedies suggested are not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your pet is sick please refer to your veterinarian for a hands on examination. If your pet is exhibiting behavior problems please refer to a professional pet behaviorist.