Grooming comes naturally to our cats, and aren’t we thankful for it? However, there remains a serious flip side to this otherwise wonderful quality that felines possess. Cat keepers know this by the name of hairballs. But, worry not, as we’ve lined up some stellar home remedies to help you sort out this nuisance.
Vets from Huntingdon, England surgically removed a 5-inch hairball from the stomach of a cat named Gemma. Weighing 7.5 ounces, it is said to be the largest hairball in recorded history.
Grooming is like second nature to cats, which probably explains why they are such low-maintenance pets to keep. Be it a house cat, or an outdoor one, they all are extremely fastidious when it comes to keeping themselves clean.
Unfortunately, this regular cleansing ritual of theirs may, at times, trigger the problem of hairballs. Cats groom by licking themselves, which means they end up swallowing stray hair strands on their body. Normally, the ingested hair travels along the digestive tract, and is eventually passed out of the body as fecal matter. Problems arise when cats swallow a lot of loose hair at once, which ends up clogging their digestive tract. The cat, in this case, has no option but to vomit the lump of undigested fur, which we call hairballs.
Cat keepers, especially the ones who have long-haired breeds like Persians or Maine Coons may be familiar with the sight of their cat puking squishy, tube-shaped lumps of food bits and hair. Along with enduring the trauma of vomiting, these poor fellas also have to suffer from accompanying symptoms, like constipation, lethargy, and dry heaves.
Why Hairballs Should Never be Ignored
Cats throwing up hairballs is not considered to be a serious ailment by people owning them. After all, a cat puking hairballs is a natural phenomenon, right?
You couldn’t be more wrong. A cat throwing up hairballs is a cat in distress, and she ought to be getting care and assistance. If the swallowed hair are not eliminated as fecal matter, the cat tries to regurgitate. In case she fails to do so, it indicates that the hairball is too large, and has to be surgically removed.
In the meanwhile, your beloved pet will show symptoms of distress, like constant attempts at retching, refusal to eat, and constipation.
If a hairball is not eliminated or surgically removed, it may get stuck in the cat’s throat or intestines, resulting in death.
Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Hairballs
As with every illness, preventing the occurrence of hairballs is the best way to tackle this problem. There are quite a few options when it comes to medication for preventing hairballs in cats. However, considering the fact that they may have some harsh ingredients in them, could make a few cat keepers vary. We’ve listed some simple and kosher options here, which are totally safe for your sweetheart.
Brush the stray hair away
To keep cats from swallowing hair, do the groundwork for them. Brushing your cat’s fur will help in reducing the stray hair, thus limiting the amount of hair they swallow. Also, it will make your beloved cat purr in happiness as you brush her silky coat, much to her delight. Another plus is that doing this deepens your human-feline bond, big time. Remember to use a hairbrush that is appropriate for your cat.
Wipe off the excess hair
Along with regular brushing, you may want to occasionally use scent-free baby wipes to clean your cat’s coat. Do this gently at all times, and never use scented wipes, as your pet may not take to the smell and indulge in some heavy duty licking to get rid of it.
Use some grease
Including a wee bit of dairy fat can ease up the elimination of hair from the digestive tract. Feed your cat a teaspoon of butter for a few days, which will smooth her insides, leading to easy bowel movements. However, doing this for a prolonged period is not recommended.
Keep mashed pumpkin handy
Feeding your cat a spoonful of spice-free, mashed pumpkin is a great way to include dietary fiber in the diet. This adds roughage to her system, leading to easier elimination of stools. Remember to feed your cat the spice-free variety at all times.
Lubricants like fish oil do a great job of smoothing a cat’s digestive tract. When the digestive tract is lubricated, it allows the food mass, along with the stray hair to pass easily. The best way to avoid the problem of hairballs is by not letting stray hair to form a lump inside the cat’s body. A tiny amount of fish oil added to your pet’s meal will help lubricate her insides, leading to easier bowel movements, and your cat won’t complain about the flavor either.
Use petroleum jelly
Not all cat keepers may fancy feeding petroleum jelly to their cats, but doing so once in a while is considered safe. Also, the amount of jelly fed to a cat must be less than a teaspoon, and it should not be fed for more than four days in succession. Petroleum jelly acts as a decent lubricant to be consumed by cats.
Fortify meals with fiber
If your cat’s diet includes a lot of snacks, it is time to rethink. As with humans, cats too need a diet that has adequate fiber content to aid digestion. Fiber bulks up the stool, and makes life easier for the cat, when it comes to her pooping duties.
Try going green
There are a lot of cats who enjoy eating grass, and it is something to be encouraged, as grass can be a good source of fiber. You can purchase cat grass, or sow a patch at home. Your cat will surely appreciate the gesture.
Get your cat moving
As a living being, your cat is not too different from the way you are. A cat living a healthy lifestyle that includes ample physical activity is a content cat. Bored cats are known to indulge in excessive grooming to pass time, so a great way to avoid that would be to divert their attention to some fun-filled cat play.
Keep your cat happy
Kittens begin to groom themselves within a month of their birth, and it comes naturally to them. In adult cats, a sudden bout of excessive grooming is an indication of trouble. Cats are known to obsessively groom themselves if they suffer from a malady, or feel depressed, or in case of some internal injury. As a responsible cat lover, you must watch out for any sudden change in your cat’s grooming habits and address the issue immediately.
Cats, as steadfast groomers, have often been at the receiving end of some inane hairball jokes for as long as we can remember. However, only someone who has a cat for a pet can realize how traumatic hairballs can be. So, be the responsible cat keeper that you are and take the efforts to save your cat, and you, from this malady.