Controlling Your Cat's Hairballs

Controlling Your Cat's Hairballs
How to treat and prevent this common problem


Many pet owners love their feline friends, and will do whatever it takes to keep them relaxed and happy. This makes it especially alarming for pet-owners to witness their cat suffer from the discomforting symptoms that come with hairballs. Knowing how to prevent this common problem and how to treat it when it occurs is essential to keeping your cat healthy. “A hairball is an accumulation of hair in the GI tract,” said James Barr, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).” It simply accumulates together and is usually contained within the stomach.” A hairball is formed when cats accidently ingest loose hair while cleaning their fur. The fur that is not digested accumulates in the stomach, forming a hairball. While clinical signs of hairballs may vary, common symptoms include decreased appetite, constipation, and vomiting. “In the worst case scenario, the hair passes through the stomach and lodges in the small intestine,” said Barr. “The result is an obstruction in the GI tract which can be life threatening.”

If you believe your cat is feeling sick due to a hairball it is important to see your veterinarian right away. They may prescribe medication or give treatments that can help cats deal with the discomfort associated with hairballs.

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“Numerous cats, especially those with long hair, will occasionally vomit up hairballs and not show any clinical signs, which may be completely normal for your cat,” said Barr. “ If there seems to be an abnormal amount of hairballs produced, then steps should be taken to prevent the pet from ingesting large amounts of hair or to help the hair move through the GI tract before it accumulates together.

Pet owners can also help reduce the severity of their cat’s hairballs by frequently brushing the cat and discouraging it from excessively grooming itself.

“There are over-the-counter medications that are designed for cats with hairballs to aid in digestion,” said Barr. “As always, if there are concerns for your cat's health, please call your veterinarian for guidance.”

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Comments (4)

I'm a little unnerved about this article about controlling your cat's hair balls.
Hairballs are not formed "accidentally", and cat's should not be "discouraged" from grooming themselves! Cat's spend 50% of their awake life doing some sort of grooming... grooming maintains healthy skin by stimulating the production of sebum, an oily secretion produced by sebaceous glands at the base of each hair. Licking spreads sebum over the hair coat to lubricate and waterproof the fur, and make it shine. Grooming also removes loose hair and prevents mats, and removes dirt and parasites like fleas.Cats can't sweat to cool themselves. While dogs pant to cool off. Instead of panting to cool off, cats rely on the saliva spread on the fur. It evaporates to help cool the kitty in hot weather. Well groomed fur can be fluffed to allow air circulation against the skin.
How to prevent hairballs? Cat's need moisture! And get it through their food. Give them plenty of wet food (or even better... Raw)... and limit dry food (or get rid of it all together!). A cats GI track is designed to digest food in 2-3 hours, allowing hair, fur, and feathers to be digested and "out the other end" quickly. When we feed our fur babies kibble, this slows down the process to about 12 hours.
Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:26
Thankyou for the great idea,I have a Beautiful female Russian Blue long hair,and she has been getting hair ball's about 1 every month. I brush her every day except for her hind quarters,she will not let me brush anywhere close to them. Before I was lucky enough to become her care giver,she had been on her own,then a friend just happened to hear her crying,took her in,then I got her,but she was very young,and her coat was a mess,so I started feeding her,she was a walking skeleton,and still feed her wet,and dry food. She gets half can wet in morning,rest at night,then a quarter bowl dry in morning and that's it for the day,then treats. So i'll back off on the dry and see if that helps.Thankyou r8
Wed, 07/02/2014 - 11:51
Thank you for your advice. My cat suffers from hairballs and she wakes me up in the middle of the night with the sound of her trying to vomit unsuccessfully. How can I give her raw food and be sure it contains everything she needs?
Sun, 07/27/2014 - 18:01
Science Diet Hairball formula dry food has eliminated most of my long-haired cat's hairballs.
Tue, 09/02/2014 - 12:11

Cat of the Week!

Meet: Mr No Ears