What are hairballs?
How often do you notice your cat grooming itself throughout the day? Cats are very clean animals and they can spend countless hours taking care of their fur, by licking it with their coarse tongue. As they clean themselves, they tend to pick up some hair on the barbs that cover their tongue and this can build up in their digestive system over time. While most of the hair can easily pass naturally through the cat, occasionally, the hair can get built up. In those instances, when the cat cannot pass the mass of hair through their stools, they will ‘vomit’ the hairball up. Although coughing up hairballs doesn’t look very comfortable for your cat, in most cases they are completely normal and absolutely nothing to worry about.
If however, your cat experiences symptoms like constant retching, vomiting without hair, constipation, or a loss of appetite along with frequent hairballs, it’s a good idea to get them to a doctor. Supplementing symptoms can mean something more serious is going on with your cat’s digestive system and the sooner you can get it checked out, the better.
Reduce the amount of hairballs your cat produces.
It is completely natural for cats to groom themselves and there’s really nothing you can do (or should do) to try and stop this behaviour. However, there are a few methods that you can try to help keep your cats hairballs to a minimum.
Frequent brushing can greatly reduce the chance of your cat developing hairballs. The more loose hair you can remove by combing means there is less hair for your cat to ingest while it is grooming itself.
You can try changing their diet to one that is specifically formulated for hairballs. This can make it easier for the hair to be passed through so less masses of fur build up in your cat’s digestive system.
There are petroleum based hairball products, which are available. These act as a laxative by lubricating the intestinal tract allowing the stool and hair to easily pass through your cat’s digestive system.
It has been suggested that cats eat grass to help pass inedible substances they have ingested like bone, feathers and hair. It is thought the added fiber in the grass assists movement though the cat’s intestine. So providing you cat with a good source of cat grass could also be beneficial.