Cat Hairball Prevention

Cat hairball is a common problem, particularly seen in long haired cats. Although most pets cough up hairballs occasionally, cats that try to eliminate hairballs more than twice a month require medical help. There are various home remedies and commercially available products that reduce the occurrence of hairballs in cats. Before using any treatment option, it's important to understand how hairballs develop and why medical intervention is necessary for pets suffering from frequent hairballs.

Hairball Formation

Felines don't require a bath very often. They adopt routine self grooming procedures to maintain hygiene. The cat's tongue is rough in nature and this helps eliminate deposits present on the fur. Loose or dead fur often gets attached to the tongue and is swallowed by the pet. Small amounts of fur pass easily through the digestive tract and are removed through the feces. However, excessive fur may not pass though the gastrointestinal tract and can form a hairball with undigested food. Cats exhibit visible symptoms while trying to remove the hairball.

Symptoms of Cat Hairball

The hairball is ejected from the body as the cat retches or coughs it up. It appears long and cylindrical in shape and contains hair. Pets may also suffer from constipation caused by hairballs. In severe cases, the hairball can cause intestinal blockage. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires surgical intervention. In order to prevent further hairball formation, cats should be given a specific diet. Pet owners should also groom their cat regularly to eliminate dead hair.

Prevention of Cat Hairball

There are various commercially available lubricants that should be administered to the cat in order to stimulate smooth elimination of ingested hair. Although some pet owners prefer to use homemade remedies such as Vaseline or petroleum jelly, it's best to use a cat formula manufactured for hairballs to prevent toxicity that may be caused by certain home ingredients. The incorporation of fiber in the diet also helps to bind and push food through the gastrointestinal tract. However, the quantity of fiber given to the pet should be carefully measured to prevent water retention and urinary problems. Diet food is a better option, as it contains the appropriate amounts of food and fiber essential to the cat.

Commercial Cat Hairball Products Include:

  • Petromalt hairball remedy
  • Hartz hairball remedy plus
  • Laxatone cat hairball remedy
  • St Jon nutrimalt

Diets for Cat Hairball Include:

  • Pro Plan extra care hairball management chicken and rice formula cat food
  • Hill's science diet adult hairball control formula dry cat food
  • Purina One advanced nutrition hairball formula cat food
  • Iams proactive health indoor weight and hairball care
  • Doctor Foster and Smith adult cat food advanced hairball control

Home Care

Apart from feeding cats with hairball diet food, it's important to routinely brush cats to reduce their self-grooming procedure. Pet owners can also bathe the cat occasionally to keep him clean and maintain a shiny coat. Although there are several medicines available to reduce shedding, it's not necessary to administer fur shedding medication unless otherwise directed by the vet. Daily brushing during periods of shedding will prevent hairball formation.

Pet owners that choose to feed cats a homemade diet should ensure that the components of food are present in the necessary amounts. It's also best to conduct a vet check on animals frequently suffering from hairballs or constipation.