Hairballs usually disgust human beings. Unfortunately, it is a prevalent problem for our cats. Around 35% of cats are diagnosed with this issue. It is gross to take care of hairballs, but you still have to do it for the sake of your cat. Several precautionary measures help to prevent hairballs in cats. You should focus more on prevention if you have a kitten. It is easier to avoid hairballs in kittens because if you adopt an adult cat, she might already have this issue. You cannot prevent it once the damage is done.
Causes of hairballs in cats
Hairballs aren’t common in all breeds of cats. Some breeds have a lighter coat, so their chances of swallowing or digesting hair are lower. Other breeds, such as Persian cats and Maine Coons, are more prone to getting hairballs than stray cats. Hairballs start developing when your cat swallows a vast amount of hair while grooming. This hair passes through the digestive tract and piles up in the stomach. The piled-up hair forms a hairball, which cats usually vomit out. They come out as elongated strands of hair as they pass from the esophagus. Kittens typically don’t experience this as they don’t have excessive fur. Most kittens aren’t into excessive grooming either. But as kittens age, they become more prone to hairballs. This is because adult cats are very keen when it comes to grooming. Other than that, some cats have an obsessive-compulsive disorder of grooming themselves. It causes them to swallow both dead hair and healthy hair and can lead to excessive vomiting.
Symptoms of hairballs in cats
Vomiting a hairball out can be very disturbing for you. It is painful for any cat because hairballs could be stuck in a sensitive organ or be gigantic compared to the size of your cat’s throat. Therefore, you should know the symptoms of your cat’s hairballs. Following are the common symptoms of hairballs in cats:
- Constant gagging, hacking, and retching.
- Continuous vomiting after gagging.
- Constipation or diarrhea.
- Lack of appetite.
- Weight loss.
Hairballs in cats can be a health issue
People often think that hairballs in cats are normal. It is assumed that every cat will go through this once in a while, but this isn’t true. Hairballs in cats can be a sign of a more significant danger. For example, if you notice frequent hairballs, it is clear that something is up with your cat. Sometimes you will see your cat gagging but not vomiting. This usually shows that there are hairballs that your cat cannot get out of her system.
Similarly, some cats stop vomiting, but you start noticing hair in their stool. Sometimes there are even proper hairballs in their stool. This is also a sign of danger, and you should contact your vet immediately.
Other than that, if you notice sudden constipation, your cat has a blockage. A blockage is never a good sign. It shows that your cat has a severe health issue. Therefore, you have to get your cat tested for possible problems. If you notice hairballs along with breathing issues, there are hairballs in her lungs or liver. Thus, you need to get blood tests done to figure out if everything is working fine or not. Certain skin issues in your cat can cause excessive grooming, which can manifest as a hairball. Your cat is indirectly trying to soothe itself. Therefore, a skin test is mandatory if you notice compulsive grooming.
Remedies and prevention methods of hairballs in cats
The following are the most common ways to prevent hairballs in cats. These methods not only get rid of hairballs, but they also help to stop hairballs from developing. Follow the given guidelines to help your little kitty:
- Grooming your cat daily will reduce her work. You should get your cat used to combing and brushing at an early age. Comb thoroughly to remove piled-up hair and fur from her body. It will help you bond with your cat as well. You can also do her a favor by getting her trimmed every once in a while. You can also ask your groomer to completely remover her fur. It will give her a break from grooming.
- Feed her cat food that has a hairball formula in it. Many food companies have come forward with this new combination, which provides essential nutrients to your cat with additional fibers. These fibers break down hairballs and let them pass easily through the digestive tract. This cat food is beneficial even if your cat doesn’t have excessive hairballs, as it will prevent hairballs from piling up in the body.
- Hairball laxatives are also an excellent method to remove hairballs. It is not easy to give laxatives to your cat as your cat might act moody and not take them at all, but these can be very beneficial. These make it easier for hairballs to escape the body and pass through the digestive tract easier by providing enough lubrication.
- Changing your cat’s habits can reduce hairballs as well, as some cats groom themselves out of boredom and some groom compulsively. You can change this with positive reinforcement. You can train her to do something else. You can keep her occupied by providing enough toys and distractions. Make sure to play with your cat all the time to keep her distracted.
- You can also use natural laxatives in your cat’s diet. Some of the most beneficial ingredients to add to your cat’s meals are olive oil and butter. You can also add high fiber items to her diet. These will also remove any hairballs in the body.
All of the information above shows that hairballs aren’t very dangerous, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Hairballs in cats can easily cause substantial health issues. They can even cause the death of your cat. Therefore, you should talk to your vet to find the perfect remedy according to the breed of your cat. Other than that, keep a close eye on your cat. Notice her behavior and grooming habits, as this will help you counter any potential problems.
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