DEAR TABBY (VOL. 1) : BARKING CATS, KNEADY KITTENS, FINICKY FELINES & MORE
In Volume One of our Dear Tabby series, cat expert, Kristin Levine, answers your most pressing questions about cats, from hair chewing, to unexpected bites and barking noises.
Top Hairball Cures & Remedies
We all know the feeling. You hear a retch and look around to find your cat heaving. A few moments later they cough up a lump of hair onto your rug. Somehow, it’s always the rug!
While hairballs aren’t typically cause for too much concern, there are ways you can help to reduce their occurrence at home.
What Causes Cat Hairballs?
Hairballs are a normal part of life for cats. Felines spend a lot of time grooming themselves to keep their coats shiny and healthy, and the fur they consume can’t be digested like normal food. Most of this hair will pass through their digestive system normally, but in other cases it can get stuck and tangled into a ball – otherwise called a trichobezoar.
This ball of hair is typically then vomited up. However, there are a few things you can do to help prevent hairballs from forming, and keep hair passing regularly through your cat’s digestive system.
Top 3 Hairball Remedies
While these at home treatments may help to reduce your cat’s hairballs and keep hair passing regularly through their system, they are not effective in every situation and you should contact your veterinarian for any persistent issues as they can lead to more severe complications.
1. Hairball Gels
Try using a hairball gel to help keep your cat’s digestive tract lubricated so hair doesn’t get caught and tangled. These gels even come in tuna flavored formulas, so your cat will think of them as a treat not a medication and will be less likely to resist eating it.
2. Hairball Treats
Try specially formulated hairball treats to help provide increased fiber to keep your cat’s digestive system flowing properly.
3. Oil or Fiber
While the effectiveness of at home treatments is less clear, you can try adding a teaspoon of coconut or fish oil or even plain, cooked pumpkin to your cat’s food every few days. Oils work similarly to hairball gels, by lubricating your cat’s digestive system to keep hairballs from forming, while plain, cooked pumpkin is a healthy source of added fiber.
How to Prevent Hairballs:
There are a few things you can do, in addition to regularly giving your cat a hairball treatment, to prevent hairballs from forming in the first place.
Brush Your Cat Daily
The best thing you can do to reduce hairballs is to groom your cat daily. Regularly brushing your cat will help to remove any loose hair that would otherwise be swallowed as your cat grooms itself.
Help Them Drink More Water
Drinking more water will also help to keep your cat’s digestive system lubricated. Try adding water to your cat’s food to ensure they’re consuming more.
Increase Protein, Reduce Carbs
As carnivores, cats require a diet of mainly meat. If your cat is especially prone to hairballs, try switching to a grain-free food with meat as the top ingredient. This should help to keep their digestive system in tip-top shape.
If your cat vomits frequently or if they are having trouble expelling a hairball, contact your veterinarian.
With the right grooming and diet, your cat will be much less likely to develop hairballs and your rugs will be less likely to be their unfortunate recipients. For more cat care tips, head over to our blog.