Cat hairballs are something that almost every cat owner will sooner or later contend with. The question is should you be worried and what steps can you take to treat this problem? Is there a way to help lower the chances of this happening? Well, my good friend, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know about cats and the aforementioned hairballs. Read on below to understand this quite common cat problem.
What Causes Cat Hairballs?
First order of business when resolving any type of problem is figuring out what causes it in the first place. For cats coughing up hairballs, the issue can be attributed to several causes. The three major causes of this problem are:
- A problem in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Constant dehydration problem.
- Excessive hair digestion.
Of these three, hair digestion is probably the most common cause especially with cats that are quite furry or those that are regularly shedding. Excessive shedding can also lead to frequent coughing and hairball problems. If you are cat seems to shed at an alarming rate, I suggest you bring them to the vet as this might be caused by some type of skin condition, allergy or a parasite and will require immediate treatment.
Some cats also have a condition known as psychogenic alopecia which causes them to over-groom. You can’t really treat this but you can help them by grooming your cat daily yourself. You should also refrain from giving your pet cat a strictly dry food diet as this will cause them to produce moisture below the recommended level within their body. If your cat is properly hydrated with their insides quite constantly moist, hairballs are unlikely to stick inside their gastrointestinal tract.
For pet owners whose cat suffers from chronic hairball coughing, it is advised that you consult with a veterinarian. This is likely due to some sort of parasite, inflammatory condition, a foreign object lodged in their GI tract, or other serious health concerns. In these instances, proper treatment is needed to avoid the escalation of the health problem.
Hairball problems in cats should not be ignored. If a hairball of considerable size gets accumulated it can cause breathing problems and might even need emergency surgical removal. A sign that your cat may have developed a hairball in their GI tract large enough to block their airway is if they show the common symptoms such as constant coughing but not actually vomiting any hairball.
Other serious symptoms connected to serious hairball problem are a loss of appetite, a significant drop in weight, and lethargy. If you see any of these symptoms in your pet cat it is best to bring them to the vet as soon as possible. It might be caused by hairballs or a different illness altogether.
How Common are Hairball Problems in Cats?
The thing you need to remember here is that while cats coughing up hairballs are quite common, this is not a normal digestive process for our beloved feline companions. The cat’s digestive tract is developed to handle fur but too much can overwhelm it to the point where it will become a serious health concern. Indoor cats are the most susceptible to this risk due to over-grooming and moisture deficiency in their diet. Don’t take hairball problems lightly. If your cat started showing symptoms it is best to take the necessary steps to prevent this from going any further.
How Do You Lower Chances of Hairball Problems in Your Cat?
There are several steps you can make in order to prevent this problem from arising. As they say, prevention is better than cure and that applies to everything, even your moody furry companion. I have listed several tips you can do to help reduce the risk of hairball problems in your pet cat. Follow these guidelines and you can help ensure your cat remains healthy and energetic.
Proper and Regular Grooming
One of the most effective ways to prevent hairball problems in cats is by using grooming tools to reduce the amount of hair your cat ingests when they groom themselves. There are several cat grooming tools you can buy at your local pet shop. Try to look for grooming tools that can effectively remove 90% of fur that has been shed by your cat. Helping them remove these loose fur will greatly help in reducing the amount of fur they ingest while grooming.
Adding Fiber to your Cat’s Diet
Including a little fiber in your cat’s diet can do wonders in preventing fur clumps from sticking inside their GI tract. I highly recommend that you give them canned pumpkins at least once a week. The fiber in pumpkin can help your cat’s digestive system to pass their digestive tract easily. It is healthy and also not high in calories which is a plus. If your cat is a bit on the heavyset side, canned pumpkins should be your choice instead of using butter as internal lubrication.
Remember to Keep your Cat Rehydrated at All Times
Cats are not as diligent in drinking water when compared to dogs. Help encourage your cat to rehydrate often by placing a couple of bowls with clean water around their favorite spots in and around the house. You should also remember to separate their food bowl with their drinking bowl. Drinking helps maintain moisture in their GI tract which in turn can help flush down fur they have ingested easier.
Improve your Cat’s Daily Diet
If your cat uses a, mostly, dry food diet then it is high time to think about making some changes. You can find cat foods that are specially made to prevent hairball problems. However, you should first consult with your vet when developing a new cat diet. The sudden shift in their food might cause them to have stomach problems. Take it slow and gradual when it comes to changing their daily diet. Cat’s digestive system is known to be quite sensitive so be careful whenever you are giving them a different type of food.
Using Specially-Formulated Grooming Products that Combat Hairball Problems
Hairball remedies that you can buy at your local pet shop include flavored petroleum jelly that promotes easier passage of fur in your cat’s gastrointestinal system. These products also contain a mild laxative which helps pass the fur easier from their stool. Of course, it is better to consult with your vet to know the right dosage before using such commercial hairball remedies on your cat.
Follow the guidelines above and you are guaranteed to lower the risk of your cat accumulating hairballs. If your cat has already coughed out a couple of hairballs then continue reading for some effective remedies you can use to help clean out their GI tract.
Homemade Hairball Remedies
In the unfortunate instance wherein, your cat has already shown symptoms of hairball problems you can buy some tried and tested medications at your local veterinarian clinic. However, there are some effective home remedies you can use if you are worried about using laxatives to treat your cat’s hairball coughing problem.
I will list some home remedies you can apply to help treat your cat’s hairball coughing problem. Keep in mind that these are not exactly “be all, end all” remedies. If coughing persists I highly suggest you bring your cat to your vet as soon as possible.
Try to feed your cat a can of sardines. This can help lubricate their GI tract and is both a healthy and tasty treat as well. As a preventive measure, feed your cat sardines at least once a month. Along with a proper diet, this should help keep their gastrointestinal tract moist and prevent fur blockage. You can also use the oil in your canned tuna and pour it over your cat’s dry food pellets.
You can mix in a teaspoon of safflower oil into your cat’s food to help lubricate their GI tract. However, I must warn you to only do this occasionally and only if your pet cat is not obese.
Hypoallergenic Baby Wipes
If you currently don’t have access to specially made cat grooming tools then one simple alternative you can use is a baby wipe. Use the hypoallergenic ones to prevent any irritations. After you have groomed your cat take a few baby wipes and run them down your cat’s body to help remove excess and already loose fur.
While it should not be used as a permanent fixture in your cat’s diet, mixing in 1 ½ teaspoon of butter into your cat’s food once a day can help lubricate and stimulate your cat’s digestive system to eject hairballs faster. Butter can act as a mild laxative for cats so make sure you stay within the 1 ½ teaspoon per day during the one-week treatment period.
A simple way to help your cat dislodge any fur that is blocking their GI tract is to use a small amount of petroleum jelly. Place a small amount of petroleum jelly on your cat’s paws. Spread them evenly and let your cat lick them clean. The petroleum jelly will travel down their GI tract and will hopefully lubricate any fur it comes across making it easier for your cat to pass it through their system.
Remember that these home remedies are not entirely 100% guaranteed. If your cat is just starting to show symptoms of hairballs then these remedies have a higher chance of working. For those who have cats that have this problem for quite some time then a veterinarian would be your best bet.
Top 5 Hairball Remedies for Cats
Let’s take an extra step here with some highly recommended hairball treatment products for your pet cat. This list is made using customer feedback, first-hand account, and overall customer satisfaction.
Tom Lyn Laxatone in Tuna for Hairball Relief
Not only is this product a popular choice for treating hairball problems, it is also quite affordable to boot. This hairball remedy gel is tuna flavored and is packed with omega fatty acids to give your cat a significant nourishment boost.
Nutri-Vet Feline Paw Gel
This product contains only natural oils to help in lubrication of your cat’s GI tract. It does not use any artificial flavors or preservatives and is recommended for cats of all ages.
Laxanip for Cats
This mild cat laxative uses a mixture of different oils that not only promotes a healthy digestive system but also provides nutrients for a healthier and lush looking coat.
Vet’s Best Hairball Relief Tabs
Formulated by veterinarians, these tablets contain all-natural ingredients are designed to keep your cat’s digestive system healthy. It also comes with a money back guarantee which is a welcome inclusion to what is already a trusted product.
Perfect Coat 8 in 1 Shed and Hairball Control Shampoo
This one is ideal for cat breeds with long fur. It uses a special formula that helps reduce excessive shedding in cats. This shampoo contains antioxidants and fatty acids to ensure your cat is healthy both on the outside and inside.
These are but a handful of popular cat hairball remedy products that are available in the market today. You can always check with your vet if you have difficulty finding the ones on this list at your local store.
Remember that your cat does not need to go through this health concern at all. There are myriad ways to prevent this problem from happening. Keeping your cat well-groomed and giving them a healthy diet will ensure they will remain healthy and happy throughout their life. Never underestimate cat hairballs problems and always take the necessary steps to help alleviate this problem as soon as possible.
If your cat is showing symptoms such as gagging and coughing it is always best to consult with a professional if symptoms persist even after applying the home remedies listed above. Never take a risk with your cat when it comes to digestive and respiratory concerns.