Stopping Hairballs in Cats


Dwelling with a cat for even the shortest period of time rapidly reveals they’ve meticulous grooming habits. That frequent grooming will not be rooted in self-importance; it’s essential for well being and survival. This fastidious grooming also can result in a standard difficulty generally known as hairballs, technically known as trichobezoars.

What’s a Hairball?

Hairballs develop when cats swallow sufficient hair that it kinds right into a wad, combined with saliva. Cats have specialised spines on their tongue generally known as papillae, that curve backward and play an essential function in grooming and feeding conduct. The papillae are extraordinarily environment friendly instruments for stripping the meat off bones throughout ingestion of prey. Additionally they assist gather filth, particles, and free hair from the cat’s coat throughout grooming. Whereas the papillae are very useful in these duties, the path they face make it difficult for the cat in the case of spitting issues out. Typically, the hair collected on the cat’s tongue will get swallowed. In lots of instances, the swallowed hair passes by way of the digestive tract with out difficulty 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 kind 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. Mockingly, 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 way of the slender esophagus and might simply be mistaken for cat poop. Upon nearer inspection although, your nostril will let you know that this slimy, poop-shaped object doesn’t have the tell-tale odor of feces.

When contemporary, 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’ll dry out, flatten, and change into harder to detect, particularly on carpets or flooring with an analogous colour.

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

What Causes Hairballs in Cats?

Hairball issues can differ 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 nicely so you may come operating with paper towels in hand. Cats are fastidious groomers, and a few cats groom much more than anticipated.

  • Cats who’re stressed or bored typically use grooming as a displacement conduct.
  • Cats who shed greater than normal, or ones with pores and skin points could expertise extra frequent hairballs.
  • Longhaired cats, and ones with dense coats are extra liable to hairballs.
  • Cats with allergic reactions, pores and skin points, or exterior parasites (comparable to fleas) typically groom excessively to alleviate the itching and irritation and should find yourself with hairballs.
  • Ache also can lead to hairballs as a cat repeatedly licks a sure space of the physique in an try to seek out aid.
  • Sure seasons of the yr related to shedding can also lead to extra hair consumption throughout grooming.

As talked about earlier, hairballs can certainly journey by way of the digestive tract and ultimately be eradicated with the feces. When scooping the litter, you won’t at all times discover the presence of a small quantity of hair combined in with the stool. You might not see that there’s a possible drawback until you detect what seems to be a big clump of hair intertwined with the feces. Hairballs can result in constipation, making it troublesome for the cat to go stool comfortably, and in additional extreme instances, the cat could not be capable to go the stool in any respect. If sufficient hair is ingested, the hairball turns into too giant 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 difficulty, will usually really feel higher instantly afterward and return to regular conduct. 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 instances, 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 incessantly with out with the ability to remove, contact your veterinarian instantly. This can be a sign of constipation, a blockage, or it may be a urinary difficulty. Fast veterinary care is required.

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

Remedy for Hairballs

The rare hairball often doesn’t require veterinary intervention until 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 free hair. Hairball prevention paste/gel given orally frequently could assist.

Frequent hairballs shouldn’t be seen as one thing you may 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 can be most helpful on your cat’s particular case. There could also be different well being considerations inflicting the rise in hairballs that must be addressed.

Your veterinarian will look at and check for situations that could be the underlying cause for the elevated formation of hairballs. If the issue  is behavioral, comparable to elevated stress, chances are you’ll obtain a referral to a licensed conduct knowledgeable when you’re unable to determine the trigger.

You might be suggested by your veterinarian to extend the fiber in your cat’s weight loss program by including just a little canned pumpkin, or switching to a excessive fiber components meals. There are additionally hairball prevention treats accessible 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 triggered an intestinal blockage, emergency veterinary care is required. In excessive instances, the intestinal blockage could must 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, take a look at the stool for hair. It’s a very good apply to observe your cat’s litter box habits anyway, however it’s straightforward to overlook indications of elevated hair tangled in your cat’s poop when you rush to only toss the waste and not using a little inspection.

What NOT to Do

To start with, 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 assist in hairball prevention.

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

Should you hear your cat hacking repeatedly and nothing ever comes up, it could possibly be an try at vomiting a hairball, however it may be an precise cough so don’t ignore this repeated conduct. There could possibly be one other underlying medical difficulty comparable to a respiratory an infection. The repeated hacking or retching sound means one thing is fallacious 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 recurrently. When you have a kitten, get them used to the feeling of being brushed by doing brief, constructive periods day by day with a mild brush. That approach, by the point they’re an grownup they’ll be used to the method and possibly even discover it pleasurable.

When you have an grownup cat who isn’t used to being brushed, begin with brief periods, and supply treats when you brush. You might want to begin with a grooming glove and work as much as utilizing a brush, however common brushing is important to take away free hair, particles, as nicely serving to distribute pores and skin oils. The time you spend brushing your cat can also be a chance to perform a little bodily well being examine to search for any lumps or wounds that will have gone unnoticed beforehand.

Each shorthaired and longhaired cats must be brushed. Longhaired cats ought to be brushed each day. When you have a longhaired cat whose coat tends to mat and also you’re unable to take away them safely your self, chances are you’ll want the assistance of knowledgeable groomer.

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

Stress management. Elevated grooming can typically be the results of the cat displacing stress. With over-grooming, chances are you’ll discover the cat grooming the identical areas of the physique over and over, typically to the purpose of making bald patches. Should you suspect stress is the trigger, it’s time to judge the setting 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 also can trigger a cat to really feel burdened. There are quite a few issues that may trigger stress, and lots of could also be simply neglected as a result of they seem minor to the human members of the family. Should you can’t determine the potential reason behind the stress, speak to your veterinarian a few referral to a licensed conduct knowledgeable.

Present enrichment and train. Your cat may have extra exercise and psychological stimulation by way of interactive playtime and different alternatives to play and uncover. Conduct at the least two interactive play periods a day to encourage your cat stay energetic and engaged in a constructive approach.

climbing is physically and emotionally beneficial to cats

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

Re-evaluate the setting to see what may be finished to offer extra enrichment by way of additions comparable to a cat tree by the window, cat cabinets, or walkways, scratching posts, and comfortable napping areas. Be certain that your cat’s setting 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 advocate a meals with the next fiber content material particularly formulated for hairball prevention. You may additionally 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, be certain you buy plain puree and never pumpkin pie combine. They aren’t the identical.

Sufficient hydration. All the time present clear, contemporary water in a number of places round the home. Correct hydration is important for all elements of well being, together with digestion. In case your cat is on the next fiber meals, it’s essential to make sure contemporary water is available. Clear the bowl each day and replenish with contemporary water to stop the buildup of biofilm on the bowl. Some cats favor to drink from a flowing water supply so take into account putting in a pet water fountain on your cat when you don’t suppose they’re consuming sufficient. Moreover, you could have to experiment with a couple of several types of water bowls as a result of your cat could have a choice in the case of dimension and form.

Hairball prevention merchandise. Hairball prevention pastes or gels may also help lubricate the digestive tract to make it simpler for accrued hair to go by way of. Seek the advice of along with your veterinarian concerning the really helpful dosage to make use of. Most cats like the flavour of hairball prevention merchandise.

Hairballs could proceed to be a wrestle on your cat, however with correct preventive measures and applicable therapy, you may scale back their frequency. Brush your cat recurrently, use hairball prevention merchandise as really helpful by your veterinarian, feed the correct weight loss program, present contemporary water, scale back stress, and ramp up the environmental enrichment. These are a number of the keys to stopping hairballs.

Want Extra Data?

When you have any questions relating to your cat’s hairball drawback or another well being considerations, seek the advice of your veterinarian. This text will not be meant to diagnose and isn’t a alternative on your cat’s personalised veterinary care.

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


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