Reducing Hairballs in Cats

If you are a cat parent, you have definitely been left little slimy gifts known as hairballs around your house at one point or another. These unpleasant and inevitable surprises are simply a result of your cat’s regular grooming routine. When your cat grooms itself, its tongue has a rough texture that grabs all of its loose and dead hair, which your cat then swallows.

How Hairballs Start

Most of this hair gets digested, with no issue. However, some of it stays in the stomach and forms a hairball. Your cat then vomits the hairball to rid himself of it. Logically, long-haired cats such as Persians and Maine Coons tend to develop more hairballs as they have longer and thicker fur. Also, as cats grow into adulthood, they tend to groom themselves more. Therefore, you may notice that your older cat is now getting more hairballs than he did as a kitten.

It is relatively normal for a cat to have a hairball every week or two, and in most cases, this is not a big deal. However, you may find it a bit disturbing to see and hear your cat getting rid of a hairball. You will know that is what is going on when you hear him gagging or hacking. This behavior is usually followed by your cat vomiting up the hairball.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

If your cat keeps hacking but never vomits it up, there is a reason for concern. Your cat may have an internal blockage of an excess of hair if he never vomits and has the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Constipation

Should your cat have a hairball blockage, unfortunately, this can be serious. It may need to be removed through surgery. It should also be mentioned that you need to keep a careful watch on the floors of your home. They should be free of thread, paper clips, and twist-wraps that can become dangerous to cats when ingested with hair. Contact your veterinarian if your cat is exhibiting the above symptoms.

Reducing Hairballs in Cats

Hairballs cannot completely be stopped; however, their frequency can be reduced. The best thing you can do to prevent hairballs is to groom them as frequently as possible. The least amount of loose hair that your cat has to lick, the fewer hairballs he will experience. As a bonus, brushing your cat can be a great bonding experience for the two of you.

Another way to stop hairballs from forming is to feed your cat a special hairball formula cat food. High in fiber, these hairball-reducing formulas are designed to give your cat a healthy, shiny coat, stop him from shedding, and assist any digested hair to pass safely through the cat’s digestive system.

There are also hairball products on the market, which are basically a mild laxative that does this for the cat as well.

Perhaps your cat just likes to groom himself excessively out of boredom. If this is the case, try to interrupt him by getting out a few toys and playing with him or simply enjoying a good cuddle.

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