As loving cat owners, we hate to think that our beloved kitties are feeling unwell. And that can be the first impression when your cat starts making hacking noises. Usually, though, this is the first sign of a cat trying to get rid of a hairball. Luckily, it is easy to learn how to prevent hairballs in cats by consulting this handy guide.
What is a Hairball?
A hairball is a mass of hair (and probably some food, too) from the inside of your cat’s body. When a cat grooms himself, he removes loose hair from all over his body, and so it ends up in his stomach. Sometimes, the hair comes together and forms a ball while it is still in your cat’s belly.
Why Does My Cat Throw Up Hairballs?
Cats need to remove hair from within their stomachs to keep them from getting sick. If your kitty cannot pass it, it is likely that the hair won’t break down by digestion, but will come up instead.
Warning Signs of Intestinal Blockage
Many cats have trouble with removing hairballs. Sometimes, this results in the hair becoming stuck in your kitty’s intestines and causes a blockage. This is life threatening.
Some signs of this in a cat are:
- She seems to be constipated.
- She has a dull, unhealthy looking coat and is lethargic.
If your cat has either of these two signs: watch carefully to see if she eats normally.
You should call and take her to see a vet who can do some tests if she is not eating normally.
If it is a hairball, your vet can usually remove it fairly easily.
How to Prevent Hairballs in Cats
You can prevent this type of problem yourself, though. The easiest way to do this is to groom your cat regularly.
A long haired cat will need to be combed and brushed every day to remove excess hair. If you start to groom him when he is still young, he will learn to tolerate it. He may even look forward to being groomed.
Some cats will even bring their combs to their owners because they enjoy the process so much.
In my experience, it is not too difficult to train your kitty to enjoy being groomed. When I first got my cat OJ, I slowly introduced him to the brush by letting him sniff it every day for several days in a row, before I ever actually brushed him (I use a Furminator Short Hair deShedding Tool for Cats, Small) . When I got around to brushing, I would give him treats afterwards (he loves Whiskas Temptations Mix Ups Chicken, Catnip & Cheddar Flavor Cat Treats Pack of 3 (3oz bags)). This way, he associated the experience with a tasty treat! Now, whenever I bring out the Furminator, he starts purring immediately.
If your kitty still doesn’t like to be groomed after trying the technique outlined above, you can try using a grooming glove instead. I have never used one myself, but they have really great reviews and I know some cat owners swear by them!
Having hairballs every once in a while is inevitable for a cat, especially long-haired ones.
If your cat has a hairball, you can shop for gel that can be added to her regular food, which will help the hairball to pass. Make sure to talk to your vet before using one of these hairball remedies for prolonged periods of time, though.
Some cat owners recommend trying more natural remedies (instead of the gel), but you should confirm with your vet that they are not harmful to your kitty. Some, like pumpkin, mineral oils, and butter, will actually cause your pet discomfort and might remove important nutrients from her body.
However, if you implement a regular grooming routine and your kitty still seems to have trouble with hairballs on a regular basis, you can talk to your vet about adding dietary aids or supplements to her diet.
This may include special wet or dry foods that are specially formulated to prevent hairballs in cats. When selecting one, make sure it is still a good quality food for your kitty: it should be high in protein and other nutrients. It is best to consult your vet when choosing one of these (and remember to always switch slowly from your cats old food to the new one, unless otherwise instructed by your vet).
P.S. If you have a long haired kitty, I would recommend picking up one of these: Furminator Long Hair deShedding Tool for Cats, Large for daily use. You will be absolutely stunned by how much hair comes out of your cat every single time you use it.
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