Treatments for Cat Hairball Blockage

Cat hairballs are a common byproduct of your cat’s fastidious self-grooming. In many cases, the hairballs do not cause the cat serious harm, but sometimes they cause blockages in your cat’s digestive system. Let’s look at the treatment options that are available when your cat suffers a hairball blockage.

Signs of Hairball Blockage

Hairball blockages often cause your cat to become constipated. If she makes more frequent trips to the litter box, strains to defecate or cries painfully while she’s in the box, chances are she may be constipated. If you notice only small, dry feces in the box, this is another indication of possible constipation.

Other indications of a hairball problem in your cat can include a dry cough, gagging or retching after meals, lethargy, fatigue and a general loss of interest in daily activities.

At-Home Treatment Options

To help resolve your cat’s constipation problem, you can offer her a teaspoon of fish oil mixed into her canned food ration once a week. This additional oil will help lubricate your pet’s colon and allow waste materials to move through it more easily. Feeding a primarily canned diet will also help alleviate clinical signs of hairballs because the higher moisture content of the canned food helps move the loose hairs through your cat’s digestive system more effectively than a dry-food diet.

Another item you can try adding to your cat’s diet is a teaspoon of canned pumpkin. Add it to her canned food once daily to provide additional dietary fiber. Also be sure she has access to plenty of clean, fresh drinking water.

Several hours before meals, you can offer your pet a hairball preventive gel or treat. These specially formulated items act as a laxative to help clear the accumulated hair from your cat’s digestive tract. They should not be given at mealtime or mixed into your cat’s normal diet.

Preventive Measures to Take

Daily brushing can also help alleviate clinical signs of constipation because your cat won’t be swallowing her hair as she grooms herself. Remember that cat hair doesn’t digest, which is how it can end up causing a colon blockage. Regular brushing is recommended for both short- and long-haired cats.

A seemingly unrelated solution to the problem may be to make your cat’s environment as interesting as possible. Play with your pet each day, and provide plenty of safe cat toys and climbing trees so she can entertain herself safely while you’re at work or school during the day. Bored cats may overgroom themselves, which can result in excessive hairball development.

Your veterinarian may also recommend enemas or suppositories to help relieve your cat’s constipation, Follow usage instructions on these products carefully, and don’t use them without first consulting your veterinarian.

Sometimes Surgery Is Required

In extreme feline constipation cases, surgery is required to remove the hairball or other intestinal blockage because untreated constipation can cause a condition called megacolon in which the muscular walls of the colon stretch and weaken. Many of these cases require surgery that involves removing part of the cat’s colon.