Notorious for the inordinate amount of time they spend grooming themselves with their
tongues, cats ingest an excessive amount of loose hair during the process. The resulting hairballs can lead to vomiting, but the alternative—not passing them at all—can be far worse.
Far from being a cat’s most glamorous attribute, hairballs pose a potential danger by impeding the passage of food through the intestines, causing an impaction—a blockage of the digestive tract. Treatment may be necessary to enable cats to pass the hair that accumulates in their stomachs.
Give ‘em a Helping Hand
First and foremost, brush your cat’s fur coat often to remove loose hair and reduce ingestion. It’s the number one way to avoid hairballs in your cat—and on the floor. Daily brushing is recommended—there are excellent grooming and deshedding tools available—and cats love the free “back scratching” and the attention.
Slip Sliding Away
Other ways of promoting hairball control involve “slippery” substances that help the passage of hair and digestive waste.
Special Hairball Formula Food: Some use high fiber to help push hair through the system, but aren’t as digestible. Others contain a fat emulsifier that helps break down existing hairballs. Adding a fat emulsifier with a lower-fiber food addresses the hairball problem, while giving cats the nutrients they need.
Hairball-control Treats: These contain mineral oil and added fiber. Convenient, eat, and easy to use, they’re worth a try for mild cases.
Commercial Hairball Remedies: They come in various forms, including gels or flavored paste administered by mouth to lubricate the fur and aid in passing it through the system. Some cats like it, some not so much.
Some cat parents have had success by giving their cats a small amount of butter (about 1/2 teaspoon) two or three times a week. Others have offered a teaspoon of canned pumpkin (non-flavored) or baby food squash. Cats generally enjoy these extra “treats,” which may help by adding lubrication or soft bulk to help hairballs pass.
Cat Grass: A special type of grass grown indoors. Allow cats to eat small amounts regularly. The fiber in the grass catches the fur to aid in passing it through.
Increase Water Consumption: will help to prevent hairball impactions. A well-hydrated cat is less likely to have constipation problems.