Why do cats get bad hair balls? Hair balls or fur balls are formed out of
the loose hairs swallowed while your cat grooms itself. Hair is not easily digested and can compact with
undigested food in the digestive tract. While the impaction caused is usually vomited, it can become
impacted in their journey through the intestines and need surgical removal. In lesser cases it can cause
What to Look For
The signs and symptoms of hair balls are:
Cylindrical masses on the floor or furniture. They are unmistakeable and usually appear
after hearing the well known ‘hack hack hack’ of a cat vomiting up a hair ball. Once you see a hair ball
you’ll never forget it.
Constipation or hard stools with visible hair in them
Dry, matted coat
Frequent hacking and dry coughing, especially after meals
Loss of appetite
Depression or lethargy
Hairball Prevention and Remedies
But you need not wait for these symptoms to appear before dealing with hair balls. They
can be easily prevented with some general cat care tips and hairball remedies.
Brushing is the number one way to prevent hair balls. Long-haired cats and cats during
shedding season are at increased risk. Most cats enjoy brushing and it is a simple, easy and enjoyable
way to decrease the likelihood of hair balls. Consider getting a grooming tool that is also a deshedder.
The Furminator deShedding tool can remove up to 90% of shed fur.
Hair ball formula food is another good preventative. There are a good number of pet foods
that are formulated to help your pet process and expel hair balls. Many of them include extra fiber that
will help to push the swallowed hair through the digestive tract and out easily in a bowel movement. Be
sure you consult with a Vet first before making a diet change, however as your cat may suffer some
stomach upset. Your Vet should also have a suggestion of which food will be best for your pet. It is also
advisable to provide extra water. Drinking water helps to flush the hair out of the system before it can
clump in the intestines.
Prevention is a good way to lower the number of hair balls your pet may suffer from, but
there will always be instances of excess hair simply because your cat grooms itself far more often than
you do. There are a number of remedies that provide lubrication, soft bulk, or a combination of the two.
But be careful and use the advice of your vet. One of the major ingredients in these lubricants is
mineral oil which can deplete Vitamin A. Alternatively, you can use simple petroleum jelly. If the cat
doesn’t want to eat it off your finger, smear it on their paw. The petroleum jelly will coat the hair
ball and help it slide it out of your cats body.
There are also a number of home remedies you can try. One great hair ball preventative is
canned pumpkin. Not the pumpkin pie pumpkin, but plain canned pumpkin is very rich in fiber and cats love
the taste. Mix about tablespoon into their food and feed it as a treat once or twice a week. You
can also mix flax or psyllium husks into their food.
Keep in mind that any changes should be mentioned to your vet. If your cat appears to lose
its appetite, or shows any other severe symptoms, do not hesitate to get them in. Hair balls can cause
very serious problems and if your cat needs surgery you don’t want to wait.
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