Stopping Hairballs in Cats



Residing with a cat for even the shortest period of time shortly reveals they’ve meticulous grooming habits. That frequent grooming just isn’t rooted in self-importance; it’s essential for well being and survival. This fastidious grooming can even result in a typical challenge often known as hairballs, technically known as trichobezoars.

What’s a Hairball?

Hairballs develop when cats swallow sufficient hair that it types right into a wad, blended with saliva. Cats have specialised spines on their tongue often known as papillae, that curve backward and play an essential position in grooming and feeding habits. The papillae are extraordinarily environment friendly instruments for stripping the meat off bones throughout ingestion of prey. In addition they assist gather grime, particles, and unfastened hair from the cat’s coat throughout grooming. Whereas the papillae are very useful in these duties, the course they face make it difficult for the cat with regards to spitting issues out. Typically, the hair collected on the cat’s tongue will get swallowed. In lots of instances, the swallowed hair passes by means of the digestive tract with out challenge and finally ends up being eradicated with the cat’s feces.


Though the papillae on the cat’s tongue present many advantages, they’ll additionally current a possible threat for hairballs. Hair isn’t digestible. When a cat grooms, the swallowed hair could type a hair clump within the abdomen. When making an attempt to vomit up a hairball, you may even see the cat take a place of an arched again and outstretched neck. You then hear the acquainted hacking, gagging, or retching sound of your cat making an attempt to do away with the swallowed hair. The sound resembles a coughing noise with the cat both being profitable in bringing the clump of hair again up, or not being profitable, the place in that case, all that comes up is a bunch of saliva and bile. Paradoxically, though they’re known as hairballs, when vomited again up, they’re extra cigar formed. This tubular form is because of having to journey again up by means of the slim esophagus and might simply be mistaken for cat poop. Upon nearer inspection although, your nostril will inform you that this slimy, poop-shaped object doesn’t have the tell-tale odor of feces.

When recent, hairballs are moist and straightforward to note, making them not a lot of a problem to wash up when you’re fortunate sufficient to have a cat who targets flooring as an alternative of carpet. If unnoticed for a while, they are going to dry out, flatten, and turn into harder to detect, particularly on carpets or flooring with an identical coloration.

You might be unaware of how typically the cat experiences hairball issues till you unexpectedly step on a slimy recent one. This cat father or mother expertise is commonly reserved for these midnight, bare-footed journeys to the lavatory.

What Causes Hairballs in Cats?

Hairball issues can fluctuate considerably from one cat to a different. Some cats could solely expertise occasional episodes whereas others have hairball issues frequently, ensuing within the on a regular basis exercise of you happening a hairball search round the home after listening to that retching sound coming from some distant room. Many cats additionally cry out earlier than they’re about to start vomiting so you might also get that early warning as effectively so you’ll be able to come operating with paper towels in hand. Cats are fastidious groomers, and a few cats groom much more than anticipated.

  • Cats who’re burdened or bored typically use grooming as a displacement habits.
  • Cats who shed greater than standard, or ones with pores and skin points could expertise extra frequent hairballs.
  • Longhaired cats, and ones with dense coats are extra vulnerable to hairballs.
  • Cats with allergy symptoms, pores and skin points, or exterior parasites (comparable to fleas) typically groom excessively to alleviate the itching and irritation and will find yourself with hairballs.
  • Ache can even lead to hairballs as a cat repeatedly licks a sure space of the physique in an try to search out reduction.
  • Sure seasons of the 12 months related to shedding may lead to extra hair consumption throughout grooming.

As talked about earlier, hairballs can certainly journey by means of the digestive tract and ultimately be eradicated with the feces. When scooping the litter, you may not all the time discover the presence of a small quantity of hair blended in with the stool. You might not see that there’s a possible downside except you detect what seems to be a big clump of hair intertwined with the feces. Hairballs can result in constipation, making it tough for the cat to cross stool comfortably, and in additional extreme instances, the cat could not have the ability to cross the stool in any respect. If sufficient hair is ingested, the hairball turns into too massive and ends in a blockage.

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When Ought to You Name the Veterinarian?

With the occasional hairball, a cat who can efficiently vomit it again up with out challenge, will usually really feel higher instantly afterward and return to regular habits. In case your cat is making an attempt to vomit up the hairball and after a number of tries is unsuccessful, contact your veterinarian.

In case your cat vomits a number of occasions, whether or not a hairball is introduced up or not, it’s time to contact your veterinarian as a result of there could also be a blockage, or another medical points happening.

In case your cat makes an attempt to poop and is unable to, or visits the litter field steadily with out having the ability to eradicate, contact your veterinarian instantly. This can be a sign of constipation, a blockage, or it is also a urinary challenge. Rapid veterinary care is required.

If there’s a change in your cat’s urge for food, look, habits, or any side of typical litter field habits, your veterinarian must be known as.

Therapy for Hairballs

The rare hairball often doesn’t require veterinary intervention except your cat has issue vomiting it again up. It might simply be a reminder to assist your cat by doing extra frequent brushing to cut back the quantity of unfastened hair. Hairball prevention paste/gel given orally frequently could assist.

Frequent hairballs shouldn’t be considered as one thing you’ll be able to merely deal with by yourself with OTC merchandise or treats although. Seek the advice of your veterinarian on the most effective plan of action and which merchandise will likely be most useful to your cat’s particular case. There could also be different well being issues inflicting the rise in hairballs that should be addressed.

Your veterinarian will look at and check for situations which may be the underlying cause for the elevated formation of hairballs. If the issue  is behavioral, comparable to elevated stress, you could obtain a referral to a licensed habits skilled when you’re unable to determine the trigger.

You might be suggested by your veterinarian to extend the fiber in your cat’s food regimen by including a little bit canned pumpkin, or switching to a excessive fiber formulation meals. There are additionally hairball prevention treats obtainable that many cats discover extremely palatable. Don’t do that with out first consulting your veterinarian to find out correct dosage. An excessive amount of fiber can find yourself creating different well being issues.


In case your cat is unable to vomit up the hairball, or it has prompted an intestinal blockage, emergency veterinary care is required. In excessive instances, the intestinal blockage could should be eliminated surgically.

I do know this isn’t a enjoyable factor to do however once you scoop the litter take note of the looks of your cat’s stool. Search for indicators of constipation or diarrhea. Additionally, try the stool for hair. It’s observe to observe your cat’s litter field habits anyway, nevertheless it’s straightforward to overlook indications of elevated hair tangled in your cat’s poop when you rush to simply toss the waste with no little inspection.

What NOT to Do

Initially, don’t ignore hairballs. Take note of the frequency of the issue so that you may be proactive.

Don’t give your cat butter, grease, or oil in an try to lubricate the digestive tract. These fat are digestible and can do nothing to help in hairball prevention.

Don’t give your cat mineral oil as a result of it’s tasteless and odorless and might simply be aspirated.

For those who hear your cat hacking repeatedly and nothing ever comes up, it could possibly be an try at vomiting a hairball, nevertheless it is also an precise cough so don’t ignore this repeated habits. There could possibly be one other underlying medical challenge comparable to a respiratory an infection. The repeated hacking or retching sound means one thing is incorrect and veterinary care is required.

Stopping Hairballs in Cats

Brush your cat. Fairly merely, this is among the most effective and efficient methods to cut back the formation of hairballs. Assist your cat with grooming duties by brushing repeatedly. If in case you have a kitten, get them used to the feeling of being brushed by doing quick, constructive classes on daily basis with a mild brush. That manner, by the point they’re an grownup they’ll be used to the method and perhaps even discover it pleasurable.

If in case you have an grownup cat who isn’t used to being brushed, begin with quick classes, and supply treats whilst you brush. You might want to start out with a grooming glove and work as much as utilizing a brush, however common brushing is important to take away unfastened hair, particles, as effectively serving to distribute pores and skin oils. The time you spend brushing your cat can be a chance to perform a little bodily well being test to search for any lumps or wounds that will have gone unnoticed beforehand.

Each shorthaired and longhaired cats should be brushed. Longhaired cats must be brushed day by day. If in case you have a longhaired cat whose coat tends to mat and also you’re unable to take away them safely your self, you could want the assistance of knowledgeable groomer.

Flea management. Fleas or different parasites stands out as the cause your cat is grooming excessively and ending up with elevated hairballs. Speak to your veterinarian about applicable flea management merchandise to your cat.

Stress management. Elevated grooming can typically be the results of the cat displacing stress. With over-grooming, you could discover the cat grooming the identical areas of the physique time and again, typically to the purpose of making bald patches. For those who suspect stress is the trigger, it’s time to judge the atmosphere to determine the set off. In a multicat family it could possibly be that one cat is being intimidated by one other. Adjustments inside the family can even trigger a cat to really feel burdened. There are quite a few issues that may trigger stress, and lots of could also be simply missed as a result of they seem minor to the human relations. For those who can’t determine the attainable explanation for the stress, discuss to your veterinarian a couple of referral to a licensed habits skilled.

Present enrichment and train. Your cat may have extra exercise and psychological stimulation by means of interactive playtime and different alternatives to play and uncover. Conduct at the very least two interactive play classes a day to encourage your cat stay lively and engaged in a constructive manner.

climbing is physically and emotionally beneficial to cats

Arrange alternatives for solo playtime with puzzle feeders and different puzzle toys so your cat can concentrate on discovery and reward as an alternative of changing into bored or fixating on no matter may be inflicting stress.

Re-evaluate the atmosphere to see what may be finished to offer extra enrichment by means of additions comparable to a cat tree by the window, cat cabinets, or walkways, scratching posts, and comfortable napping areas. Be sure your cat’s atmosphere supplies stimulation, safety, consolation, and the selection of whether or not to work together or retreat.

cat stalking a feather toy

Picture: Fotolia

Correct diet. Your veterinarian could suggest a meals with a better fiber content material particularly formulated for hairball prevention. You might also be suggested so as to add some pumpkin puree or one other excessive fiber product to your cat’s meal. If suggested so as to add pumpkin puree, make sure you buy plain puree and never pumpkin pie combine. They aren’t the identical.

Enough hydration. At all times present clear, recent water in a number of areas round the home. Correct hydration is important for all points of well being, together with digestion. In case your cat is on a better fiber meals, it’s essential to make sure recent water is available. Clear the bowl day by day and replenish with recent water to stop the buildup of biofilm on the bowl. Some cats want to drink from a flowing water supply so contemplate putting in a pet water fountain to your cat when you don’t assume they’re consuming sufficient. Moreover, you might have to experiment with just a few several types of water bowls as a result of your cat could have a desire with regards to measurement and form.


Hairball prevention merchandise. Hairball prevention pastes or gels might help lubricate the digestive tract to make it simpler for amassed hair to cross by means of. Seek the advice of along with your veterinarian in regards to the really helpful dosage to make use of. Most cats like the flavour of hairball prevention merchandise.

Hairballs could proceed to be a wrestle to your cat, however with correct preventive measures and applicable remedy, you’ll be able to scale back their frequency. Brush your cat repeatedly, use hairball prevention merchandise as really helpful by your veterinarian, feed the right food regimen, present recent water, scale back stress, and ramp up the environmental enrichment. These are a number of the keys to stopping hairballs.

Want Extra Info?

If in case you have any questions relating to your cat’s hairball downside or every other well being issues, seek the advice of your veterinarian. This text just isn’t supposed to diagnose and isn’t a alternative to your cat’s personalised veterinary care.

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For details about cat habits and coaching, try the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Pam’s books can be found at bookstores everybody and on-line. On your comfort, we’ve included Amazon affiliate hyperlinks right here on our web site.



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