Hairballs and How to Deal With Them

Hairballs are disgusting. No matter how much you adore your cat, there’s no getting around the fact that they are gross.

On any given day, your pet cat will spend a lot of her time cleaning and grooming. With her tongue. Of course it will be virtually impossible not to have some fur end up in her digestive tract. Most of the hair will pass with no problem. Most, but not all. Because from time to time, the hair will just accumulate and what you’re left with is a trichobezoar. Yup, that’s a hairball in normal-speak.

Your pet feline must vomit the hairball. That’s usually through a disturbing fit of coughing, retching, hacking and choking.

Kittens rarely cough hairballs. But as they get older and better at grooming, you may notice that you’re cleaning up more hairballs than the usual. Don’t get all concerned, however. It’s perfectly normal for a cat to have hairballs occasionally.

If it’s happening more frequently, though, it’s time to raise the alarm. When hair doesn’t get excreted in cat stool, problems can occur. The hairball can block the cat’s intestinal tract. That makes it impossible to vomit.

Here are some of the signs that a hairball is stuck in your pet’s gut:

  • vomiting undigested food
  • dry retching
  • inability to defecate
  • diarrhea
  • swollen abdomen

If you ticked any or all of the above, it may be a sign that your cat has a hairball problem. The best course of action is to see a vet immediately. He will know what options to give you to resolve the issue.

However, as they say, prevention is better than cure. So even if your cat doesn’t have a hairball problem just yet, it’s better to employ some preventive measures.

Here’s how you can help your cat avoid getting hairballs stuck in her stomach.

Groom your cat.

Cats are always grooming themselves. They will readily accept and even appreciate a little help from you, too. So get a brush and start grooming. This will help remove loose hair. Many owners do not realize that brushing their cat’s coat is actually the easiest and fastest way to reduce the risk of hair ingestion. As a bonus, you get a cat with a nice shiny coat.

Give her some fiber.

Fiber adds bulk and moisture to stool. That makes it easier to pass. If you can find a chemical-free, controlled source of fiber (like cat grass), you can help your cat eliminate hair balls from her gut without all the disgusting and worrisome coughing.

Give her laxatives.

This doesn’t sound very glamorous, but it will help prevent impacted hairballs and other problems. There are a lot of petroleum-based laxatives that are flavored to taste better for your pet. The laxative will coat the swallowed hair and allow it to pass through the digestive tract.

Keep her hydrated.

Water is important in the digestion process. Take care of your cat’s water intake by providing her with water in the fashion that she prefers.

By doing the above, you are lessening the risk of hairballs forming and getting stuck in your cat’s digestive tract. Hairballs may be natural to cats. But why should they be a cause of misery to you and your pet? There are preventive measures to keep this from happening. Use them.