Treatment Of Hairballs In Cats
There are several forms of treatment for hairballs in cats, and the treatment your veterinarian recommends will depend on the severity of the condition.
Administering a Hairball Preventative
Your veterinarian may recommend a hairball preventative to keep hairballs at bay. The products act as a lubricant so your cat can pass the hairball through the intestinal tract. One example of a product is Laxatone, which can be applied and licked off their paws.;
Change of Diet
A change of diet may help your cat pass and eliminate the swallowed hair. Your veterinarian may suggest a diet that consists of more fiber. Fiber is known to keep the intestinal tract functioning properly, and this is just what your cat needs to pass the swallowed hair through their body. You can also talk to your veterinarian about giving your cat food and treats that are designed to prevent hairballs.
Regularly Grooming Your Cat
The excessive grooming causes your cat to lick and swallow the loose pieces of hair. You can reduce the amount of hair your cat ingests by brushing the fur several times a week. Brushing the fur removes the loose or dead hair before your cat can swallow it.
There is a possibility that your cat may need to undergo surgery to remove the hairball from the intestinal tract. Surgery is only an option if the case is severe and life-threatening.
How Often Do Cats Produce Hairballs
Its common to think that cats frequently produce hairballs. But a normal cat hairball frequency consists of once a month. Some only have a couple a year. In most cases, you wont even realize that your cat has a hairball, as itll get excreted out in the back yard or litter tray. Symptoms that your cat needs to cough up a furball include:
- Frequent gagging, retching, or hacking
- Dry heaving
- Hunched position close to the ground
- Stretching of the neck
The symptoms of hairballs vary in cats depending on how large the trichobezoar has become and how long it takes your cat to rid its body of the hairball.
Treatments For Cat Hairball Blockage
Cat hairballs are a common byproduct of your cats fastidious self-grooming. In many cases, the hairballs do not cause the cat seriousharm, but sometimes they cause blockages in your cats digestive system. Lets look at the treatment options that are available when yourcat suffers a hairball blockage.
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Signs Of Hairballs In Cats
As funny as this sounds, hearing the characteristic sound of cat vomit and finding a hairball are the upsides of hairball symptoms. This means it’s gone! There are many more symptoms that indicate a hairball is in your kitty and hasn’t been vomited up yet or that one has become impacted.
Cat hairball symptoms may include:
- a vomited-up hairball
- an aborted attempt to throw up
- reduced appetite
- swollen abdomen
- tenderness in the abdomen
All of these symptoms but the first one are serious and require a vet visit if they don’t go away in 24 hours.
Once your cat has vomited up a hairball, it may be a good idea to think of preventing another one.
How Do Cats Pass Hairballs
According to the Journal of Feline Medicine, 10% of short-haired cats and 20% of long-haired cats bring up a hairball once a month. Cats either vomit the hairball as a thin, tube-like clump or poop it out.
Cats use their;rough-textured tongues to dislodge dirt and remove dead hair, making way for new growth. Cats spend 25% of their lives grooming themselves, so its no surprise that some of this dirt and fur ends up in their stomachs.
Over time, this fur starts to clump together in the stomach, forming a trichobezoar . Once the fur has begun to develop into a clump, it becomes difficult to poop out, so the cat has no option but to vomit it out.
One of the reasons cats cough up furballs is that they dont have the same amount of housekeeper contractions that other animals do. These;help to sweep undigestible matter through the stomach and out through the bowels.
Cats do have these contractions, but not to the same extent as other animal species. Most of the hair will be pulled through the intestines, but some will clump together in the cats stomach and get coughed up.
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Cat Hairballs: Causes Prevention And When To See A Vet
Snuggling up to your favorite feline is every cat parents favorite pastime until your precious kitty starts gagging and hacking up a hairball. The ball of hair and saliva that ends up on your couch or living room rug can be pretty alarming and undeniably disgusting. But, dont take it personally; your cat cant help it if they need to cough up a hairball now and then.
But what if your cat is coughing up hairballs regularly? Cat hairballs are an expected part of cat ownership, but if your furry friend does it all the time, its cause for concern.
How To Prevent Your Cat From Having Hairballs
One of the best ways to prevent your cat from having hairballs is to groom your cat frequently. Combing and/or brushing your cats coat helps to remove the loose hair, which reduces the amount of hair your cat ingests.
Limiting the amount of hair your cat swallows can help decrease the hairball formation in their stomach. The FURminator deShedding Edge Cat Brush is a great grooming tool to consider. It helps to gently remove the undercoat and loose hairs on your cat.
Both short-haired and long-haired breeds can have hairballs. It is especially important for long-haired cats to be brushed daily.
Regular brushing will help to minimize the mats and tangles that your cat will try to resolve on their own. Spending some extra quality time each day to brush your cat will help reduce and/or prevent hairballs, and it helps promote bonding.
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Possible Dangers From Hairballs
Hairballs, or if you want to get scientific, trichobezoars, arent just a cat thing. Its any mass of undigested hair that builds up in the stomach, whether inside of a cat, other animals, or even a human. But, we tend to see them often in cats since they spend so much time on self-grooming. If your cats grooming becomes obsessive, it increases the chances of hairballs forming, thereby increasing their risk of the following dangers:
- If your cat tends to get a lot of hairballs, sometimes they can harden in the intestine, forming a dangerous intestinal blockage.
- When your cat is dealing with a hairball, it can make them lose their appetite, leading to weight loss.
- Your cat can also experience diarrhea or constipation. If diarrhea is severe, it can lead to dehydration.
- Severe blockages from hairballs can be fatal.
Some of these issues, like diarrhea, constipation, appetite loss, and lethargy, are symptoms of hairballs and a potential blockage. If you notice any of these issues with your cat, see a vet immediately.
If your cat has a blockage, your vet can recommend a course of treatment, which could include laxatives. However, in severe cases, your cat will likely need surgery. Never attempt to give your cat medication or laxatives without speaking with your vet.;
Also, dont assume the hairball will eventually just pass through your cats system. If you wait too long, the condition can lead to dire consequences.
The Top 10 Best Cat Foods For Hairballs And Vomiting
The best cat food for hairball prevention will satisfy your cats basic nutritional needs using healthy, high-quality ingredients but will also contain plenty of fiber and moisture to support regular digestion. As long as these requirements are met, you can feed your cat whatever you like.
If youre not sure where to start in shopping for hairball control cat food, weve got you covered. Here are some of our top picks for the best hairball formula cat food in different categories:
|Our 2021 Picks: Best Hairball Control Cat Food
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The Honest Kitchen Grain
Our Top Pick for the Best Cat Food for Hairballs and Sensitive Stomach: If youre looking for the best cat food for hairballs and sensitive stomach, a high-quality formula made with no allergenic ingredients and minimally processed is the way to go. This Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Dehydrated Cat Food is an excellent choice because it supports healthy digestion as well as complete and balanced nutrition, using only the finest natural ingredients. This recipe features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with grain-free carbohydrates including fresh fruits and vegetables for energy and digestive support. Overall, this food contains 39% protein, nearly 30% fat, and over 2% crude fiber. Most importantly, however, it is dehydrated rather than cooked which means that the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients is preserved. It also means that you can rehydrate it before feeding to maximize your cats moisture intake for improved digestion.
- Pros: Dehydrated not cooked, contains 70% chicken, grain-free carbohydrates, whole-food ingredients, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, protein-rich and high in fiber
- Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, needs to be rehydrated before feeding
Is It Stress Or Boredom
If your cats obsessive licking is due to stress, pinpoint the source. Do you have a new pet in the house? Does it happen when you go away to work for the day? You can provide your cat with safer ways to cope and relieve their stress, such as a Neat-Lik Mat or interactive toys.;
Licking releases endorphins that help calm your cat, but when they lick the mat, they wont end up with a stomach full of hair. Allowing your cat to have access to toys that stimulate and keep them engaged is also critical, as are regular play sessions with your kitty.
You can even attempt to train your cat to walk on a leash and take them for some relaxing walks. If you have a new pet in the house, make sure to take the necessary time to introduce your cat to the new dog or cat in the home. You can also try calming sprays or diffusers that mimic a cats natural calming pheromones.
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Watching For More Serious Symptoms
Why Do Cats Have Hairball
The next obvious question is, how cats get hairballs?
It is inadvertent that cats get hairballs. This is because felines are very fastidious creatures. They can spend the rest of the day grooming themselves. Theyll lick every inch of their body if they can. This is only one part of the equation, however. The other part has to do with the unique anatomy of the cats tongue.
If you are a frequent recipient of your kittys licking, then youll know that their tongue is not as smooth as you may think. It is rough. This roughness of their tongue is there for a reason. It serves as a broom or a brush. It removes dirt and debris from their coat to help keep their body clean. It is unfortunate that some of their fur can also attach to their rough tongue. Hence, these strands of feline hair end up in the animals stomach.
Moreover, hair contains keratin. This is an insoluble protein that forms the outer layer of the hair. Keratin is indigestible. When cats ingest hair or fur, this part of the hair remains intact while the rest undergo the normal process of digestion. Over time, keratin components pile up. This is what forms into that clump of damp hair we call hairball.
Cats that have the tendency to produce hairballs will attempt to eliminate the hairball from their digestive tract. In most instances, hairballs pass through the rectum. In some cases, these pass through the cats mouth as the animal attempts to vomit or regurgitate the hairball.
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Why Are Hairballs Dangerous
Hairballs are harmless in and of themselves. However, it’s unusual for them to generate one every few weeks or for more than 48 hours at a time on a regular basis.
If your cat has a lot of hairballs, it might be an indication that it has digestive difficulties, parasites, or other health concerns.
A clump of matted hair may become a significant health hazard if it becomes too large. If a hairball is stuck in the intestines or stomach of a cat for an extended length of time, it may mineralize and harden. This will be excruciatingly uncomfortable for the cat.
If the hairball is tiny enough to pass through the small intestine but too large to pass through the feces, it is likely to become stuck and cause significant problems. This is an uncommon occurrence that can only be corrected via surgery.
Similarly, if the hairball gets excessively firm, it is more likely to become trapped in the cat’s esophagus when it is being vomited, causing injury to the esophagus.
Should I Be Worried About Cat Hairballs
If your cat only coughs up a hairball now and then, its probably nothing to worry about. However, if it becomes more routine to find hairballs around your house, then you need to take action.;
Besides being a pain to clean up, it also doesnt feel good for your feline friend to keep vomiting;hairballs. But, hairballs can also cause serious complications for your kitty.
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Can A Cat Die From A Hairball
That’s a grim headline, but 320 people ask every month, so it needs to be answered. Most of the time, hairballs are just unpleasant for you and the cat. The dangers of hairballs range from the hairball being a symptom of another health problem, impairing the cat’s digestive health, or causing a medical emergency that could cause death.
So, most hairballs fit into the annoying thing you may have to experience when living with a cat category, but they do pose risks, particularly as the number of hairballs increases.
Diagnosis Of Hairballs In Cats
You may notice your cat is coughing up hairballs when you find vomit with pieces of hair, food, and fluid in it. Loss of appetite, lethargy, and frequent vomiting are signs of an intestinal blockage and must be treated immediately.
The symptoms could be signs of another condition, so your veterinarian will perform a physical exam to confirm the hairball. Expect to answer questions about the cats medical history and how often they cough up hairballs. It may be helpful to keep a log of their hairball regurgitation and the other symptoms they are displaying. Your veterinarian may also order blood tests and radiographs to check for an intestinal blockage in your cat.
It is vital to take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as you notice the symptoms. Your veterinarian needs to check for a blockage or an obstruction of the intestinal tract. The intestinal blockage needs to be treated immediately, or this condition could be fatal for your cat.
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Chicken Soup For The Soul Indoor Recipe With Hairball Care Dry Cat Food
Our Top Pick for the Best Affordable Hairball Cat Food: You dont necessarily need to spend a lot to find a high-quality cat food that is designed for hairball control. This Chicken Soup for the Soul Indoor Recipe with Hairball Care Dry Cat Food is a great option. Made with real chicken, turkey, duck, and salmon, this recipe is protein-rich and supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional support. It features whole-grain carbohydrates for healthy digestion and carbohydrate energy, plus supplemental sources of fiber for an overall fiber content of 8%. This recipe is rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, plus it contains dried fermentation products for probiotic support as well. Overall, its a great choice for any indoor cat, but it is particularly beneficial for cats with hairball problems.
- Pros: Formulated for indoor cats, several premium animal proteins, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, supplemental fiber, beneficial supplements
- Cons: Not a grain-free recipe , contains some plant protein
Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Cat Food
Our Top Pick for the Most Popular Hairball Cat Food: If youre not sure where to start shopping for hairball control cat food, why not go with a popular recipe like this Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Cat Food? This formula is very affordable for the quality it delivers, and it is uniquely formulated for indoor cats, offering both hairball prevention and weight management benefits. This recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient to support lean muscle mass with digestible whole-grain carbohydrates for energy and fiber. It also contains several supplemental sources of fiber for a total crude fiber content of 9%. This formula is rich in omega fatty acids for skin and coat support, plus fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional balance. It contains probiotics for digestive support as well as chelated minerals.
- Pros: Formulated for hairball & weight control, lean chicken as main ingredient, digestible carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, supplemental protein sources, rich in omega fatty acids
- Cons: Not a grain-free recipe , contains plant proteins