“Gag! Gag! Gag!”
If you have ever seen your cat trying to hack up or relieve itself of a hairball, you’ll know what I mean.
Or you might have even unknowingly stepped on a warm pile of tubular mess thinking that it’s cat poo.
For many cat owners, seeing our little furkid look as if it is choking can be very distressing.
What are hairballs exactly?
Are hairballs safe?
Is there a way to perfectly get rid of hairballs for good?
Let us help you answer these important questions.
Can A Hairball Kill A Cat?
Truth be told, I’ve probably seen my cat cough or vomit up hairballs too many times and it still gets to me.
To see his body contract with all those gagging sounds sends my alarm bells ringing.
But before we speed dial our vet’s emergency hotline, hairballs are pretty common for cats and not something we should be overly worried about.
However, there are times when a hairball can prove to be life-threatening for the cat.
If a cat is unable to vomit or hack up the hairball due to it being too large, it can get stuck in the cat’s throat thus causing it to choke.
Sometimes a large hairball can get stuck in your cat’s stomach or digestive tract leading to a swollen or hard belly. This condition requires surgical intervention to have it removed. These large hairball masses are called Trichobezoar.
What Causes Hairballs In Cats?
Cats take a lot of pride in how they look and can spend a large portion of the day grooming themselves, sometimes even up to 5 hours.
Cat hairballs are caused when cats lick themselves in the grooming process, with the rough tongues acting as a brush to remove loose hair from their coat.
These loose hairs aren’t digestible and get passed or vomited out after some time. There are times when your cat’s hairball might even smell like poop.
Kittens don’t really get hairballs as frequently as compared to older cats as they don’t groom themselves much. Most of the grooming will be done by the mother cat.
How Do You Get Rid Of Hairballs In Cats Naturally?
As pet parents, it is important that we know how to help our cats manage their hairball situations better.
Is there a perfect natural hairball remedy for cats?
For me, nothing works as well as daily brushing for my cat. But I only knew what worked after testing out many home remedies for cat hairballs.
So if you are trying to look for ways to manage your cat hairballs, be sure to test out a few home remedies to see what works best for your cat.
Brushing Your Cat Regularly
Regular brushing is a very effective yet often overlooked remedy by many cat owners. Many pet parents think that cats are able to groom themselves well enough.
That’s true to a certain extent but it also depends on what breed is your cat and the type of fur coat they have.
A general rule of thumb is that long-haired cats like the Maine Coon, Persian and Siberian cat, definitely requires more brushing (at least several times a week) than a short-haired breed.
When it comes to long-haired cats, some breeds like the Persian are high maintenance when it comes to grooming. Many cat parents will not only brush their Persians daily but also send it to the groomers for a proper grooming session.
Invest in a good hairbrush for your cat. One that is effective for removing loose hairs. Do take note of the bristle material as some cats might find stainless steel too rough on their skin.
Feed A Good Diet
A cat’s diet plays a very important role not just with hairball control but also in the overall health of the cat.
It is unfortunate that many cat owners feed their cats dry food or dry kibbles. This is due to the convenience of feeding such a diet or not knowing enough about proper cat nutrition.
Cats are obligate carnovires. This means that they need a high protein diet from meat. Although there is some protein in dry food, it is not enough for a cat.
Furthermore, dry cat food contains no moisture which is very bad for cats and can cause chronic kidney issues as they get older.
A good cat’s diet like the raw food diet is very beneficial for cats. It is the most natural diet for them and it contains the necessary nutrients for cats.
A good diet will also help improve a cat’s coat which leads to less shedding and loose hair. The moisture in your cat’s food will also help soften the lump of hairball making it easier for your cat to remove it.
If your cat is unable to be on a raw meat diet then the next best alternative will be wet cat food. Get good quality canned food and make sure to read the ingredients label before buying it.
Pumpkin is a good source of fibre for your cat and can be effectively used for hairball control or for a cat with a hairball problem. It is also used for cats that have loose stools or constipation.
Pumpkin contains many healthy enzymes that are good for your cat’s digestive tract which enables them to pass out the hairball a lot easier and smoother.
Make sure you use only fresh pumpkins without any added preservatives or additives.
The best way is to actually make it yourself.
Get a small pumpkin, cut off the skin and seeds and blend the pulp to a paste-like texture. Just feed your cat 1/2-1 teaspoon daily by mixing it into the food.
Another alternative is to use canned pumpkin from the supermarket. Just make sure it only contains raw pumpkin and nothing else.
Most cats will eat it up without any issue.
Provide Lots Of Fresh Drinking Water
Cats are one species of animal that don’t really drink lots of water. This is why it is important for cat parents to ensure that our cats have access to fresh water daily.
One way to do this is to add some water to your cat’s food.
Another is to have a fresh bowl of drinking water for your cat. Make sure to change out the water twice a day as it gets stale quickly.
Cats are naturally inclined to avoid drinking water that is stale to avoid contamination or poisoning.
Some cat breeds like the Siberian or Maine Coon are attracted to water and enjoy drinking running water from the tap or water fountain.
Use Wet Wipes
Bathing or showering is a good way to remove loose fur from its coat. However, this shouldn’t be done too often or it can dry out your cat’s coat.
What you can do instead is wipe down your cat with wet wipes. Use those that aren’t scented that can cause skin irritation to your cat.
Baby wipes are good or just use a wet paper towel.
Use A Good Omega 3 Supplement For Cats
The less your cat sheds, the lesser amount of cat fur is trapped in the digestive system when a cat licks itself.
By using a good Omega 3 or fish oil supplement, it can help further promote a healthier coat of fur for your cat that results in lesser shedding.
Just make sure to use an Omega 3 supplement that is strictly for cats and the ones for human consumption is formulated differently.
I understand that fish oil is a good source of Omega-3 for humans but fish, in general, isn’t too ideal for cats. There’s an enzyme in raw fish that interferes with Vitamin B absorption in cats.
Don’t give foods that are high in Omega-3 as well as some can be toxic to cats.
And there’s also a chance of mercury poisoning if your cat eats too much fish. Hence it is safer to just use an Omega 3 supplement.
Can You Give Cats Vaseline For Hairballs?
Preferably not as Vaseline or petroleum jelly is considered a mineral oil and too much of it can interfere with your cat’s absorption of Vitamin A.
If you do intend to use Vaseline, make sure it’s only in very small amounts like 1/3-1/2 teaspoon for a few days.
Although Vaseline can help lubricate your cat’s digestive tract making it easier to pass it out, try using pumpkin first.
Can Coconut Oil Help A Cat Pass A Hairball?
A small amount of coconut oil for your cat has several health benefits. It is good for your cat’s skin and fur coat. Internally, it helps to boost your cat’s immune system and pass hairballs regularly.
However, like Vaseline, coconut oil is not something that you want to give your cat on a regular basis. Some cats have a sensitive stomach and coconut oil can cause digestive issues.
it is also a fatty oil and too much of it can cause unnecessary weight gain. About 1/2 teaspoon a few times a week is more than enough in preventing hairballs.
Is Olive Oil OK For Cats?
Personally, I have never fed my cat olive oil but from what I understand it works similarly to coconut oil for cats.
It is ok in very small quantities for a short period of time to improve your cat’s bowel movements as oil lubricates the digestive tract.
I would rather start my cat off with pure pumpkins as it is more natural a food source than oils.
Symptoms Of Severe Hairballs In Cats
Severe hairball issues in cats can be difficult to ascertain as it is internal.
However, if your cat has always been dealing with hairball issues a lot more than the average cat, it would be a good idea to bring it to the vet if you notice these symptoms.
- Frequent vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen or hard tummy
- Frequent choking or gagging
- Chronic constipation
The vet might have to do an x-ray to see if there’s a hairball that is stuck somewhere along the cat’s digestive system and remove it.
Hairballs are pretty much part and parcel of a cat’s life and can’t be totally eradicated. We can take steps to reduce the amount of fur our cat ingests when grooming itself.
If is also important to be aware when your cat is having a hairball problem that requires medical intervention.