Hairballs are quite common in cats, but they can be quite stressful for your little kitties. Hairballs are a collection of fur and digestive juices that are formed in a cat's stomach, which can cause intestinal blockages in turn causing critical health troubles to your cat.
How are hairballs formed?
Hairballs are developed due to your kitty's meticulous grooming routine. When your cat grooms themselves, tiny hook-like structures on their tongue catch loose and dead hair that is then swallowed. The majority of this hair transfers through the digestive tract with no issues. But if some hair stays within the belly, it may transform into a hairball. Your cat will usually vomit the hairball because hairballs bypass through the oesophagus, they often appear thin and cylinder-like.
You may have noticed that your kitty did not have hairballs when they were kittens, but as they grew older hairballs started increasing. Why?
Because as cats grow older, they end up being more proficient groomers and become more skilled at cleaning their fur with their tongues, which results in extra hairballs to clean up.
Symptoms of hairballs in cats
Some common hairball symptoms include gagging (urge to vomit) and retching (to make sounds and movements as if you are going to vomit, but without bringing any food up from your stomach). It may get difficult and painful to watch your cat trying to get rid of its hairballs but your cat will usually vomit its hairball out.
If you have noticed any signs of hairballs in your kitty, make sure to contact your vet, as they might suggest that a hairball has prompted a blockage that will cause discomfort to your cat. A few common symptoms might be:
- Lack of hunger
- Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without creating a hairball
Groom your cat often - The more you eliminate the extra fur from your cat's coat, the less will the fur end up in your kitties belly which can result in hairballs. Combing or brushing your cat every day can be an effective way to limit hairballs. If you are not able to brush or groom your cat, you can consider taking them to an expert groomer for grooming and a haircut (particularly for lengthy-haired cats). This can be done every six months.
- Hairball formulation diet - Many pet food manufacturers make hairball-reduction cat meals. These formulas are designed with excessive fibres to improve the health of your cat’s coat, it minimizes the amount of hair loss, and encourages the hairballs in cats to pass through the digestive system.
- Use a hairball product or laxative - There are many products available on the market that are exclusively manufactured for hairballs. Most of these products are medicines to help give your cat some relief so that the hairballs can easily bypass through the digestive tract.
- Discourage immoderate grooming - If the hairballs in your cat are due to the cause of excessive grooming, try training your cat to entertain themselves in other enjoyable pastimes rather than licking their coat. This might include teaching them to play with a new toy on their own or finding a toy they may play with collectively.
- Drinking water - Making your kitty drink loads of water will help them pass the hairball through smoothly and will also help them stay hydrated during the day.
Oils in their food - Treating your kitty to a can of tasty tuna or sardines can prove beneficial. The oil in tuna and sardines acts as a lubricant. Pour a good amount of the oil over your cats' daily food generously, so that no oil from the food goes to waste. Olive oil is also a splendid lubricant. Add a few drops to their meals and blend in properly. You may also use some drops of melted butter, however, use this sparingly.