Cat owners, you know the score. Hairballs are a slightly disgusting part of having a cat.
It can be fairly alarming if you’re not expecting it; your cat suddenly leaps off the sofa and begins hacking and retching until they cough up a scary looking pile of indistinctive material. The hairball. Not even ball shaped most of the time, but tube shaped.
Their routine cough up sessions clear their digestive tracts of the build-up of hair deposited there following their favourite activity: grooming.
A cat will spend long hours grooming themselves with their rough tongues and picking up a lot of loose hair which they then inevitably swallow. That hair will mostly travel through the digestive tract and pass in their stool; however, a certain amount will amass in their tummies and turn into a hairball.
That mass of hair will then irritate the cat until they will try and vomit it up.
Though not harmful, your cat shouldn’t be bringing up hairballs constantly. If your cat is doing this every day, you need to get them checked out by the vet as there may be something wrong.
If your cat is hacking and coughing and nothing appears, they may have a breathing problem or a blockage that needs attention from the vet.
Long haired breeds are more likely to be prone to hairballs – as are the particularly compulsive groomers, as they will swallow the most hair.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to completely avoid or eliminate hairballs but there are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of them happening too often.
Groom your cat often
Your cat’s fastidious grooming routine is the reason why they swallow hairballs in the first place, so if you help your cat by brushing them every day and removing stray hair and dirt, you are helping them by reducing the amount they have to groom and how much they swallow.
If you are unsure of the most effective way to groom your cat, take them to professional groomers.
Distract your cat when they start over-grooming
If you see your cat is starting to compulsively groom, try and distract with a treat or a toy and give them a good brushing yourself.
Give them a healthy nutrient rich food
Their digestion plays a huge role in hairball formation. If your cat has a sensitive digestion at all, they will struggle to pass the hairballs naturally through the stool so it is more likely to gather within the intestinal tract.
Ensuring that your cat is eating a high-quality grain free cat food is a good preventative measure for hairballs if they suffer from any digestion issues.
There are many hairball products available that work as a mild laxative that will help your cat’s fur to pass more easily through the digestive tract and through their stool, where it belongs. The more fur they can pass naturally, the less they will vomit these horrible hairballs.
If you’re in doubt about the number of hairballs or the frequency your cat is bringing up, then always take them to the vet to get them checked out.