Cat Hairballs

symptoms, prevention and remedies

Cat hairballs are not fun. And due to their grooming habits, most cats suffer from hairballs. So is there any way you can help your cat? Fortunately, there is. Here you will find information about hairballs, how to prevent them, and how to alleviate them.

Why does kitty develop hairballs?

Cats are very clean animals. They constantly groom themselves. Indeed, cats "bathe" themselves several times a day: Just after awakening, before going to sleep, and right after eating (I joke with my sister that our cats always end up smelling like tuna).

Why so much grooming? Felines lick their fur to remove loose hairs, and to keep their coats in top condition.

During their grooming, cats ingest fur – sometimes in large quantities. This intake causes hairball buildup. After some time, they will develop a cat hairball. And guess what? This results in an upset stomach, vomiting spells and other problems.

Cat owners are well acquainted with the symptoms and consequences of hairballs. Most are familiar with the dry coughs, the retching, and the wrenching sounds cats make just before they vomit a ball of fur. Did you see the movie Shrek II? Then you probably remember Puss in Boots’ hairball scene. Quite dramatic (and, I must admit, funny).


There are obvious signs like the constant coughing and hacking. And then there is the evidence. Who can forget that awful sight of hair and vomit on the floor? A hairball is not a pretty sight.

A less-obvious symptom is constipation. Many cats develop constipation as a result of accumulated fur balls in their gastrointestinal tract.

By now you will agree that cat hairballs are very uncomfortable for your cat. And they can also cause other problems including loss of appetite and, as I said before, constipation.

So what can you do to prevent and/or alleviate hairballs? Here are some suggestions:

Preventing hairballs

It has been said that prevention is the best medicine. And even though it’s very difficult to completely eliminate hairball buildup, you can reduce it.

One of the best ways to prevent or reduce hairballs is to brush your cat on a regular basis. Kitty will enjoy the pampering, and it will be a nice bonding opportunity for the two of you. Everybody wins!

And since you will be removing the extra loose hairs, your cat will ingest less hair during her grooming sessions.

Cat hairball remedies

You brush your cat regularly, but she still develops a cats hairball problem. What do you do? The next best thing is to use a hairball treatment. Among the most popular hairball remedies are petroleum-based gels such as Petromalt and Laxatone. Do talk to a veterinarian before using any of these remedies. And use them only as directed.

Another option you can try to prevent and/or alleviate hairballs is to feed your cat a fiber-rich diet. You can find both dry and canned food that includes fiber. A fiber-rich diet will also help your cat to avoid elimination problems.

By the way, reducing the amount of dry food can also help with any constipation problems. One of my cats was constipated, so I took him to the vet. She recommended that I gradually reduce my cat’s intake of dry food.

Another alternative she suggested was to give my cat dry food that contains less "fillers". She recommended Orijen which is a low-carb, high-protein, grain-free dry food. I did try it for some time but for some reason, it didn't work. I now give my cats Natural Balance, and it's worked like a charm. So you may have to try different things before you find what works for your cat.

Note: Make sure you consult your vet before changing your cat’s diet. Abruptly changing her diet might make her sick.

Finally, there are some homemade remedies you can use to fight hairballs. One of these remedies is butter. You can give your cat a small amount a few times a week.

Another natural hairball remedy is canned pumpkin. For better results, mix it with your cat’s food.

I’ve never tried these remedies myself, but I’ve heard that some cat owners have found them to be helpful. Just to be on the safe side, consult your veterinarian before using them.

Related Links

Cat Grooming

Cat Grooming Supplies

Cat Combs

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