Hairball Treatment for Cats: Understanding why your cat gets hairballs and how to prevent them can help make life easier for both of you. Hairballs, also known as trichobezoars, form when cats groom themselves and swallow loose hair. Since cats can’t digest hair, it collects in their stomach.
Causes of Hairballs
There are a few reasons why your cat may get hairballs:
- Excessive grooming: Some cats simply groom themselves more often, swallowing more loose hair. Providing mental stimulation with toys can help curb over-grooming behavior.
- Long or thick coat: Cats with longer or thicker fur are more prone to hairballs. Regular brushing, especially when they are shedding heavily, can remove loose hair before they swallow it.
- Lack of grooming: On the other hand, some cats don’t groom themselves enough, so loose hair isn’t removed. Brushing them a few times a week helps.
- Digestive issues: In some cases, hairballs can indicate an underlying digestive problem or blockage. If your cat is frequently vomiting hairballs, especially large ones, or shows other symptoms like decreased appetite or lethargy, consult your vet.
- Environment: Ingesting excess hair from carpets, bedding, and other areas can also lead to hairballs. Frequent vacuuming and lint-rolling can help.
The good news is there are several ways to prevent and relieve hairballs. Brushing, grooming, and hairball remedy gels or oils are very effective for most cats. For persistent or severe hairballs, your vet may recommend medication or in rare cases even surgery to remove an obstruction. Paying attention to your cat’s grooming and digestive health will help get hairballs under control and keep your feline friend feeling their best.
Best Hairball Treatment For Cats
The best way to prevent and treat hairballs in cats is to use a combination of grooming, diet, and medication. Here are some of the top recommendations:
Frequent brushing or combing, especially for long-haired cats, will help remove loose hair and reduce hairballs. Aim for brushing 3-4 times a week for 10-15 minutes at a time. Look for a cat brush and comb that is made for detangling and removing loose undercoat hair. Brushing also has the added benefit of bonding with your cat and distributing natural oils in their fur.
Feeding your cat a high-quality, high-fiber cat food with natural oils will help hair pass more easily through the digestive tract. Fiber sources like psyllium or pumpkin and oils like fish oil or flaxseed oil act as natural laxatives and lubricants. You can also try hairball prevention cat treats and paste supplements. Increase water intake by feeding wet food, which has a high moisture content, or using pet water fountains to encourage your cat to drink more.
For persistent or severe hairballs, you may need to use a petroleum-based laxative gel like Laxatone or a lactulose syrup. These lubricants coat the hair and make it easier to pass through the intestines. Follow the directions on the product for proper dosage and administration. See a vet right away if your cat is vomiting frequently, not eating, or shows other symptoms of intestinal blockage. They may need to be shaved or require endoscopy to remove the hairball.
With regular grooming, a healthy diet, and occasional medication, you can minimize hairballs in cats and keep your feline friend feeling their best. Be vigilant and contact your vet if you have any concerns about your cat’s hairball prevention or treatment plan.
What actually are hairballs?
Hairballs, also known as trichobezoars, are masses of fur that accumulate in a cat’s stomach. As your cat grooms themselves, they swallow loose hair. Normally, most of this hair passes through the digestive tract. But sometimes, too much hair builds up and forms hairballs. These hairballs can cause vomiting, gagging, decreased appetite, and other issues if not addressed.
What can I do to prevent hairballs in my cat?
There are several things you can do to help reduce hairballs in your cat:
- Brush or comb your cat regularly to remove loose hair before they ingest it. Aim for 2-3 times a week.
- Use a deshedding tool like an undercoat rake to remove excess shedding hair.
- Feed your cat a hairball remedy or formula cat food which contains extra fiber and oils to help hair pass through the digestive system.
- Giving your cat a fatty acid supplement, like fish oil, can also help lubricate the digestive tract.
What are some safe treatments for hairballs?
If your cat does develop a hairball, there are a few safe ways to help them pass it:
- Petroleum jelly like Vaseline: Place 1-2 teaspoons on your cat’s paw for them to lick off. This lubricates the hairball and helps it pass through.
- Hairball paste or gel: These over-the-counter remedies also lubricate hairballs to help your cat pass them. Follow the directions on the product for proper dosage and administration.
- Increase fiber: Feeding your cat some canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), wheat bran, or psyllium husk powder can add fiber to help the hairball move through the intestines.
- See a vet: If your cat shows symptoms of an intestinal blockage from a hairball like vomiting, decreased appetite or lethargy, it’s best to have your vet examine them. They may need to surgically remove extremely large hairballs.
By following these tips, addressing hairballs early and choosing a safe remedy, you can help keep your cat comfortable and hairball-free. Be sure to talk to your vet if you have any other concerns about hairballs or your cat’s digestive health.