How to prevent hairballs in cats? Hairballs can be hard for pet owners to deal with. We feel bad for our cats when they cough, heave and make a lot of noise. But when we find those disgusting little gifts on the carpet, we scream. Not only that, but they can smell bad and leave stains on clothes. When we see them, we don’t know if they can get inside our cat, if they hurt, or if they can kill our cat.
Hairballs are so common in cats that April 28 has become Hairball Awareness Day. That’s because cats spend 25% of their time grooming and most cats get them once or twice a month. So, when are they bad?
As cats get older, they groom themselves more and more, and the hair builds up in the GI tract. It eventually comes out in a tube shape. They also happen to cats of all hair lengths and types. Even if you do a lot of grooming, they might not be able to stay away. In other words, how does one know when they have a hairball that is stuck in their digestive system? Can a hairball kill a cat? How to prevent hairballs in cats?
Symptoms of Hairballs in Cats
- Hacking, retching, gagging
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea and Vomiting
- Swollen abdomen
What Causes Hairballs in Cats?
When a cat is grooming itself, it can make hairballs. Like Velcro, the cat’s tongue has papillae that slant and “hook” on things.
As your cat gets older, they become more careful about grooming. As they do this, their tongue picks up loose hair and they eat it. The more hair that is swallowed, the more hair that builds up until a hairball forms. Hair is made of keratin, which means it can’t be digested.
In the end, it is forced out of the stomach and regurgitated through the esophagus. This is why you hear hacking, gagging, and vomiting right before it leaves.
Also Read: What To Feed A Sick Cat That Won’t Eat
Can a Hairball Kill a Cat?
No, they can only kill cats if they get stuck in the small intestine and don’t move. If a trichobezoar gets big enough, it can cause your cat to get sick. The cat won’t be able to get rid of it or pass it through the GI tract if it’s too big. This can make a cat not want to eat, be lazy, or be depressed. It can also kill the tissues in the digestive tracts if there is a blockage. Otherwise known as an impaction, impactions need veterinary care and treatment. If the impaction lasts too long, your cat may need to have surgery right away.
How to Prevent Hairballs In Cats?
Below you will get all about how to prevent hairballs in cats:
Cats of all types of hair need to be combed or brushed on a regular basis, but rubber-type brushes are especially useful for this. A synthetic bristle brush doesn’t seem to be able to pick up any hair from my cat, so I’ve switched to rubber brushes now. Her hair and body are very thin, so she likes this one. Every day, try to brush your cat.
It might help to reward them with treats as they get used to brushing. A stress-free groomer might be able to help your cat’s hair if it’s too much for you to handle.
Note: Warm weather can increase shedding.
When cats get hairballs, it can be hard to get them out of their bodies. They make special formulas for some cat food, which make it easier for the food to go through the cat’s digestive system. Another thing you should do is make sure your cat is eating well and getting enough nutrition to keep its hair healthy because poor nutrition can make its hair fall out.
A lot of fiber-rich foods make people move their intestines a lot, which makes them feel better when they do this. Also, kitty grass is good for their health.
Note: Always offer your cat fresh water!
Regular Health Checks
You should take your cat to see a veterinarian at least once a year because many illnesses can cause hair loss, which leads to the cat eating hair that it shouldn’t.
Inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal lymphoma both have symptoms that can be similar, but the effects can be much worse.
Stress can cause a lot of hair to fall out, as well as a lot of grooming and eating hair. Remove the things that make you stressed or give them a place to go.
Some cats over-groom because they are stressed and bored, too. It is like a dog chewing too much on its paws or body. A bored animal will do something on its own to keep itself fed and clean. This includes people who overdo it with their grooming.
Getting help from a veterinarian instead of buying a hairball product to use at home is better. You can, however, wash your cat with a shampoo that is safe for cats, hypoallergenic, and moisturizing if they’ll let you do it. This can help them shed less. To give laxatives and lubricants, you should only give them to a vet.
Diagnosis, Treatment, and Remedies
Your veterinarian will either do a radiograph or an ultrasound to see if there is a blockage and where the blockage is in your pet’s body. When they use this type of imaging, they can often see how much gas is in the soft tissues. They may also do blood work to check the liver and kidneys, but this isn’t a sure thing,
It’s possible that a high-fiber diet with good enzymes could help your pet digest. Many cat hairball formulas are made with over-the-counter products that are flavored and help to lubricate the GI tract. Most vets don’t like these products, though. Don’t give them food because they can mess with digestion or cause other problems, especially for animals with sensitive GI systems, so don’t do that.