Nothing gets a cat pawrent out of bed faster than hearing the distinctive *hack hack hack* right next to your pillow at 5am. Hairballs. It happens to everyone. The best treatment is learning how to prevent hairballs.
What are hairballs, exactly?
Besides being super duper gross… hairballs are balled-up clumps of hair that form in kitty’s digestive tract after a grooming session. Despite their name, hairballs are usually elongated tubes due to their stint in the esophagus. Scientifically, they are known as “trichobezoars”.
Cat tongues are rough and raspy (but we all still love those kitty kisses) because they have hook-like features that grab onto loose hair, which is then swallowed and, unfortunately, not digestible. Most fur travels harmlessly through the digestive tract, but excess fur will ball up in the gut and get vomited up. Hopefully not onto your pillow.
Does my cat have a hairball problem?
Maybe your feline friend is more polite than mine and doesn’t share his yucky stomach contents with you. So, how else can you tell if your cat is suffering from hairballs?
If your normally lazy cat (face it, what cat isn’t regally lazy?) is even more sluggish than normal, doesn’t’ want to play with their favorite toys or are overall just ‘blah’ - they may have a wad of fur stuck in their digestive tract.
Hacking or gagging
If the 5am *hack hack hack* successfully gets you leaping out of bed but doesn’t produce any delightful pillow adornment, it may be an indication of a stuck hairball. Your cat could be trying, and failing, to regurgitate the uncomfortable obstruction.
Cats are notoriously picky eaters, but if your feline completely ignores dinner on a regular basis it may be a sign of something more sinister than the seemingly subpar menu. Hairball obstructions can cause gastric distress and lack of appetite.
Can I prevent hairballs?
In short, yes. Yes, you can. Some breeds are easier than others (long-haired cats, I’m looking at you), but following some simple practices can help prevent even the most notorious of hairballers.
Brush, groom, repeat
Brush, brush, brush. Your cat may or may not appreciate the grooming assistance, but they can really only do so much themselves (especially long-haired kitties). Getting your cat used to daily brushings will significantly decrease the possibility of hairballs and related problems.
Provide plenty of hydration
Fresh water and lots of it. This will keep the intestinal running smoothly.
Fiber, fiber, who’s got the fiber?
It’s no secret that fiber helps things to run smoothly. If you have digestion problems, you turn to the tried and true bran muffin. The same holds faith for your kitty, though they may not appreciate the texture of a dry confection. However, pumpkin is a great source of fiber just make sure you are reaching for the pure, organic pumpkin… not the sugary sweet pie filling. Totally different. So, load up on this fall favorite. No go on Mr. Jack-O-Lantern? Pet grass like Pet Green Medley is the way to go, then. This will provide a safe and natural form of fiber that is irresistible to your pets.
Coconut oil has ridiculously good health benefits. Spooning a dollop of this goodness atop kitty’s favorite delicacy can provide multiple nutritional benefits as well as lubricate the digestive tract to help those exasperating hairballs slid on through.
So, my cat has hairballs… now what?
If kitty is suffering from those yucky bowel obstructions, you should always contact your vet first. They can give you some very handy info on how to help your feline friend pass the hairy hindrance comfortably without too much distress. However, extensive impediments may require more intense treatment like surgery.
With a little insight on how hairballs form and what can prevent them; this uncomfortable ailment can easily be avoided with diet alterations and daily maintenance. Your feline kids will thoroughly appreciate your efforts!