Does your cat feel like a little hairball factory?
Thankfully, these unpleasant little wads of gooey fur are not a fait accompli for your and your feline friend! There are ways that you can reduce and even eliminate hairballs completely.
CAUSES OF HAIRBALLS
On average, a cat spends about 10% of their time grooming themselves, which is majorly done with their tongue and front paws. This is their way of removing dirt and ultimately keeps their coat looking good. It does mean that hair is inevitably swallowed in the process.
Your cat’s tongue is like a little brush and picks up loose fur. This fur enters the digestive tract but doesn’t glide through naturally, nor is it digested. In a good case it passes undigested through to the stool. However, in some cases this hair collects in the stomach and forms a hairball that contains compacted hair, food and mucus. In this case your cat will do their best to regurgitate the hairball.
COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS
Frequent groomers or shedders can have excessive amounts of hairballs, which can mean more serious medical conditions. If you notice excessive hairballs, frequent diarrhoea or constipation, dry retching, loss of appetite and/or vomiting then it is time for your kitty-cat to take a trip to their Vet.
There are various methods you can use to prevent hairballs. You can use one or even all of the tips below.
- Grooming – Regular or even daily brushing your cat’s coat is one way you can take over some of their self-grooming, reducing the amount of loose hair being swallowed. Make sure that longer haired breeds get that extra time as they will need it! Bathing is also very successful, if your cat won’t scratch your eyes out for it!
- Diet – There are diets formulated to manage hairballs in cats. These are typically sufficient in dietary fibre. Because skin and coat health should also be supported these diets also contain a balance of omega 3s and 6s. It is advised to feed this diet exclusively as mixing with other diets can dilute the necessary vitamins and minerals.
- Hydration – Water will allow any swallowed hair to move more easily through the digestive tract and into the stool. You can also add some water to their food if you can’t get them to drink by themselves.
- Cuddle Time – Cats under stress will groom more so make sure you provide a safe and relaxing environment for them. Give your cat some attention and cuddles to ease any anxieties they may have. This is beneficial for both cats and humans.
- Play Time – The more time your cat spends playing the less time they spend self-grooming. Therefore, get them a toy that keeps them thoroughly entertained, like this cat wobbler which dispenses treats to keep your cat constantly interested and active.
- Laxatives – If hairballs are persistent in your cat then your Vet may recommend a laxative to help hair pass through the tract cleanly.
PLEASE NOTE: It is important to discuss any dietary or supplement changes with your Vet prior to starting them.