How Can I Help My Cat When They Struggle With Hairballs
As was mentioned above, the best course of action is always to seek professional help from a vet. They can figure out where the blockage is and perform the right procedures to remove it. In the worst cases, this could involve surgical intervention. They are also equipped to give your cat a check-up to see why the hairball became a problem in the first place. Resist the temptation to try and handle the hairball yourself or force the cat to throw up. This can stress them out or damage their throat.
Why Do Cats Cough Up Furballs
It all starts with grooming. The rough texture of a cats tongue is magnificent. Ghe ultimate cleaning tool in many respects. However, the tongues ability to capture dirt and debris also picks up loose fur like a magnet.
Additionally it is estimated that cats spend as much as 25% of their daily waking hours in grooming mode. The more your cat grooves the more odds increase that at least some of that dislodged fur will be consumed.
As more fur is taken in it begins to clone together within the stomach. Once a club or ball of fur has formed it can be quite difficult to pass through the normal process of elimination. This can lead to hacking and vomiting.
Especially long-haired cats that are of senior status can often succumb to these issues on a fairly regular basis. Longer fur coupled with a worn down and unforgiving digestive system can make hacking and vomiting and the coughing up hairballs, all the more frequent.
How Can You Manage & Prevent Hairballs
There are three ways you can help minimize hairballs in your cat. First, you should groom your cat to reduce shedding. Regular brushing sessions will keep your cat from ingesting loose hair through self-grooming. Your brushing won’t keep your cat from self-grooming, but will reduce the amount of hair she ingests. Grooming sessions with you also have the added benefit of being a bonding activity with your furry friend!
Second, there are products on the market such as shampoo and wet wipes that claim to prevent hairballs by controlling shedding. As with any product, however, check with your vet before you begin a regular regime to make sure it’s well-suited for your kitty.
Lastbut certainly not least!know that food choice is very important in reducing hairballs. A hairball control cat food includes added natural fiber amongst its balanced nutrition to help move hair naturally through your cat’s digestive system while also nourishing your cat’s skin and coat to reduce shedding. Hill’s® Science Diet® includes the following choices for cats with hairball issues:
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What Are Cat Hairballsand What Causes Them
First things first. Before we take a deep dive into all-things-hairballs, lets first cover what hairballs are and where they come from.
For the record, hairballs arent round like a ball. Because they pass through the cats esophagus, theyre usually thin and oblong. Hairballs occur when there is an accumulation in the stomach of the hair cats ingest when they groom themselves, says veterinarian Robin Downing, DVM, hospital director of The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, CO.
The more hair your cat has, the more susceptible they are to hairballs. It seems that hairballs are more frequent in cats with medium or long hair, but short-haired cats can also develop them, says Dr. Downing. Makes sense, right?
A moisture-deficient diet can also cause an increase of hairballs. AKA, if your cat seems to be getting a lot of hairballs, check their food. Dry kibble contains nowhere near enough moisture for proper passage of hairballs and other food particles, says Turnera Croom, DVM, a veterinarian with a mobile veterinary practice in Southwest Michigan.
In fact, issues with the GI tract are a major cause of hairballs in cats. Typically, the feline GI tract can handle a moderate amount of hair, but an inflamed gut, combined with dehydration, is a sure-fire way to have hairball issues, Dr. Croom adds.
How To Get Rid Of Hairballs In Cats Naturally: Diet Hacks
Here are some changes you can make to your kittys diet to help her pass hairballs:
- Switch to a hairball control feedweve listed the best cat foods for hairballs in this blog post.
- Mix a bit of a hairball remedy with the feed, a cat laxative to ease stools passing if a clumped up undigested hair follicles are obstructing the gut. Keep in mind that some commercial laxatives lubricate your cats gut with an indigestible oil with a pleasing cat smell like malt or tuna.
- A fiber-rich diet and lesser empty calorie snacks can also enhance gut mobility, and a little with more exercise can naturally help things move easier along the intestines.;
You can naturally do this by adding sunflower or fish oil to your cats food.;
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What Do Vets Do To Treat Hairball Problems
If you need to take your cat to the vet with a hairball-related problem, they are likely to carry out a physical examination or even an X-ray to identify whether an oversized hairball is the issue.
Treatments and medications are usually the answer but in extreme cases, surgery may be required to extract the hairball.
Emergency surgery is fraught with risk, underlining the importance of consulting your vet as soon as you notice a problem so it can be dealt with before the need for an operation arises.
Peritonitis, or an infection of the abdomen, is a common side effect of surgery or where the hairball has torn the gut tissues, and it can be fatal. If your cat needs surgery, they may also need antibiotics, pain relief, a fluid drip and other medications.
Your vet may try giving your cat an injection that will cause vomiting, which can help to bring it up. However, this is only advisable if the hairball has not passed into the stomach. Making your cat sick in this way should never be done at home.
It is also possible that your vet will administer a medication that helps to loosen the hairball inside your cats body, breaking it down and making it easier to pass. This may be covered on your pet insurance policy.
Vets will also be on the lookout for underlying issues that could be causing your cats hairballs to become a problem. For example, a gut issue could be a root cause as the cats stools are not sweeping out the gut properly.
What Can You Do To Prevent Hairballs
- Regular brushing or combing helps remove loose hair and is especially helpful for long-haired cats and older cats.
- Feeding multiple small meals rather than one or two big meals per day can help prevent dead hair from building up in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Dont give your cat any sort of laxative without first consulting your veterinarian.
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Remedies For Hairballs In Cats
While hairballs arent typically dangerous, theyre not pleasant for your cat to cough up. Its also not enjoyable for you as the owner to hear your cat go through the experience. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help prevent hairballs or reduce their frequency.;
Try Cat Food Formulated for Hairballs
If your cat coughs up hairballs regularly, you might consider switching to a diet specifically formulated to help reduce the issue. Many cat food brands have a product to deal with hairballs. The formulas typically include things such as increased fiber, oil, minerals, and vitamins that can help the swallowed hair pass through the digestive system naturally.;
Are There Any Natural Remedies For Hairballs
The problem with some medicines and treatments is that they contain petrolatum. Some natural alternatives avoid this substance and often use some combination of elm bark, marshmallow root, papaya, and psyllium seed. Check the ingredients and methods of any product before you buy.;
Editors Pick:12 Natural Home Remedies for Cat Hairballs
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What Is A Hairball In Cats
You already know that your cat spends hours every day grooming himself. What you might not realize is that your cat swallows a lot of hair in the process – though it does make sense when you think about it.
When your cat grooms himself, tiny hook-like structures on his tongue catch loose and dead hair, which is then swallowed. The majority of this hair passes all the way through the digestive tract with no problems. But if some hair stays in the stomach, it can form a hairball. Usually, your cat will vomit the hairball to get rid of it.”;
If this is an occasional occurrence, it’s not anything to worry about. However, the risk of larger clumps is that they’ll block your cat’s intestines and require surgery.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cat Hairballs
Now that you know what cat hairballs are , lets cover how to spot them in your cat.
Obviously, if you see your cat vomit a ball of hair, your cat has hairballs. But there can be symptoms before your cat actually passes the hairballand, in order to keep your pet safe and comfortable, you need to know what to look out for.
According to PetMD, symptoms of cat hairballs include:
- Gagging, Retching, or Coughing. In order to get hairballs out of their system, cats will gag, retch, coughpretty much anything they need to do to get that hairball up and out. It can be slightly alarming, but unless they continue the behavior for an extended period of time, its nothing to worry about.
- Vomiting. Most cats expel hairballs through vomit. If your cat is vomiting, keep an eye out for hairballs.
- Lack of appetite. A hairball that gets trapped in your cats stomach can lead to loss of appetite.
- Diarrhea or constipation. Cat hairballs can cause both loose stools and the inability to pass stools, so its important to keep an eye out for both.
- Sudden change in energy/lethargy. Again, if your cat cant expel a hairball, it can lead them to a sudden drop in energyand make them appear tired and lethargic.
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Excessive Hairball Production Could Also Be The Result Of Psychological Issues
If there is no clear sign of gastrointestinal distress, there could be a psychological issue here. Excessive grooming is one way for cats to deal with stress. They will lick their fur far more than is necessary and end up ingesting too much. They may not struggle to pass the hairballs or show any physical distress, but it is still important to deal with any possible problems to reduce that compulsion to groom.
Take a look at your cats routine and their interactions with other members of the family. Is there some trigger somewhere that is stressing them out? Or, perhaps there has been a change in your routine. It isnt uncommon for cats to get stressed after moving house. Excessive grooming and hairball production could occur then.
Why Wont My Cat Pass A Hairball
If your cat cant pass a hairball properly, its most likely constipated. The cat wont only have difficulty expelling the hairball from its system but will also struggle to remove food. Unfortunately, this could quickly turn into a problem.
If your cat cant vomit the hairball, it could become too large to come out of the cats system through its poop. Constipation commonly affects:
- Older cats, as the movement of their digestive tract slows down
- Cats with a painful condition, such as arthritis. This makes pooping uncomfortable
- Cats with not enough fiber in their diets
Impaired digestive motility is another reason your cat struggles to pass a hairball. This causes food and hair to move too slowly through the gastrointestinal tract. Causes of this include:
- Abdomen injury
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Neurological conditions
You might notice that your cat attempts to vomit the hairball, but nothing comes out. In this case, you should take your cat to the vet so they can check for any of these health conditions.
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Hairball Treatment For Cats
When your cat has hairballs, its common to wonder what treatments are available. There are lots of home remedies online, especially for oils and lubricants. However, we dont advise trying these.
You can buy a specialist cat hairball treatment paste that contains a laxative and lubricant to help them pass through the digestive system. But this is not generally needed. If you do use it, follow the instructions to the letter.
One particularly effective treatment is hairball cat food. These kibble-based products contain lots of fibre to help take excess fur through the digestive system. They also contain vitamins and minerals to keep your cats fur in good condition and reduce hair loss.
Finally, vets can prescribe treatments for hairballs in severe cases.
Overgrooming May Indicate Anxiety Or Allergies
Cats who retch up a lot of hairballs may be ingesting an abnormal amount of hair because theyre grooming too much. Excessive grooming can be a sign of anxietyin response to a sudden change in the cats environment, for examplebut it may also point to allergies, food sensitivities, or skin conditions that cause itching. Cats may also react with aggressive licking when a part of their body is in pain. So if you think your cat is grooming too much or too vigorously, check in with your veterinarian .
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Preventing Hairballs In Cats
You cant completely prevent a cat from developing a hairball since its part of healthy grooming routines. Although it can get annoying and, at times, disturbing, there are a few hairball home remedies you can try that might lessen the chances of your cat having hairballs.;
After all, you probably dont want to see your cat coughing up hairballs on a daily basis. If thats the case, here are some tips that can help you prevent cat hairballs or, at least, reduce their frequency:
What Causes Cat Hairballs
Cats are meticulous groomers, and they use their tongues to get the job done. Cat parents who have enjoyed the occasional affectionate tongue bath from their kitties will be familiar with the rough texture of our furry friends tongues. Thats because their tongues are actually covered by tiny barbs which are perfect for removing dirt and other debris from their coats. Theyre also perfect for grabbing excess fur, which they then swallow.
Much of the time, this fur can pass through the stomach and intestines and come out the other end with no trouble. However, when a large amount of fur becomes trapped in kittys stomach, it gets regurgitated back up in the form of a hairball, or a cat furball.
What are other symptoms of cat hairballs and what can you do if your cat is getting hairballs?
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So Hairballs Are Normal
Well yes and no. An occasional hairball is often perfectly normal we all have our bad hair days, after all. But regular hairballs, and certainly daily hairballs, may be a sign of an underlying problem.Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or stomach or intestinal cancer will affect the movement of things from food to fur through the digestive tract, and may result in excessive hairball production.A flea infestation, allergies, or another problem causing your cat itchiness will lead to increased grooming behavior and are therefore likely to cause an increase in hairball production.If your cat is producing more than one hairball per week, its time for a trip to your veterinarian. While this frequency of hairballs may just be a byproduct of your cats particularly fastidious grooming nature, it may also be a subtle indication of an underlying medical problem. For your cats benefit, and for your own peace of mind, its best to find out which it is sooner, rather than later.
What Can You Do To Help A Cat With A Hairball
Its important not to worry too much at the first sign of a hairball. Its hard to say how many hairballs represent a healthy number, as this varies between different cat breeds.
Some experts say a hairball every week or fortnight is nothing to worry about, while others say one or two a year is a better sign of a healthy cat.
Its important to know whats normal for your cat and notice if their hairballs become more regular, as this could be a sign of a health problem.
There is no shortcut for simply being an attentive and loving owner of your cat spending lots of time together will give you the best chance of noticing any symptoms or changes that could be a sign of illness.
Most of the time, a cat will be able to clear a hairball by themselves. You should simply allow them the space and the time to do this, and avoid stressing them out by fussing over them. You should observe your cat from a distance to ensure they bring up the hairball, so you can dispose of it.
If your cat struggles to pass a hairball, there are a few remedies that might work:
- LaxatoneAn oral gel that helps to bind hair in your cats stomach, making it easier to pass through the digestive tract.
- Hairball diet
Some cat foods are formulated to help prevent or manage hairballs. These foods usually contain lots of fibre to ensure the steady processing of food and hair through the gut.
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