Hairballs And Cats – All You Need To Know
Cat parents are all too familiar with that horrible noise. That sound your cat makes just before spitting up a hairball—hack. I assume cat parents understand what we're talking about. Cat hairballs are frequent, but they're more complicated than they appear. While occasionally vomiting a furball or trichobezoar is acceptable, a healthy cat shouldn't be doing it regularly.
What exactly causes hairballs, which breeds are more prone to them, and what can you do to lessen your risk of stepping in one—besides going barefoot, of course—are the next questions.
Even if the sound they make is scary, it's normal for your cat to cough up a hairball occasionally. How common is the problem posed by these furry spheres, and can anything be done to stop them?
Let's begin by examining what a hairball is and its causes.
How Do Cat Hairballs Appear?
A hairball is exactly what it sounds like—a thick, irregular clump of cat fur—and is produced when the cat vomits. Naturally, when your cat starts heaving one out, the fright and anxiety from everyone nearby would have you think that something more akin to this is about to materialize.
They often have an oval or oblong shape after passing through your cat's esophagus, and they can range in size from a few millimetres to several inches.
What Leads To Cat Hairballs?
Knowing what hairballs are like has made it necessary to determine their causes and whether they endanger your cat's health.
Hairballs, as disgusting as they may be, are the product of your cat's meticulous grooming regimen and its tongue's barbed appearance, which collects all the dead hair from its coat.
The majority of the fur is trouble-free and travels through the digestive system. This is how a hairball develops. Your cat is trying to eliminate the impediment by vomiting it back up.
Do All Cats Have Hairballs?
A cat will have hairballs as long as it has hair. However, some breeds, such as Maine Coons and Persians, will exhibit it far more frequently than others. Other species are equally prone, particularly if they over-groom or shed excessively.
On the other side, kittens don't appear to struggle with hairballs. They aren't very excellent at grooming themselves as babies, which is a really easy explanation. Naturally, they don't spend a lot of time cleaning.
However, the more hairballs you're likely to see as they age and grow better at grooming themselves.
Consider getting a Sphynx, a hairless cat, for a hairball-free environment.
How Bad Are Hairballs?
Hairballs have long been seen as little more than a cat owner's standard perk. But in recent years, veterinarians have discovered a direct connection between hairballs and a cat's digestive tract. So a cat who spits up hairballs is vomiting them up and most likely has an intestinal problem.
A cat will have hairballs as long as it has hair. However, some breeds, such as Maine Coons and Persians, will exhibit it far more frequently than others.
Despite being more uncomfortable than harmful, hairballs might eventually lead to issues. Pay attention to any of the following signs:
If your cat exhibits all the symptoms of a hairball production (gagging, hacking, and retching), but nothing materializes, Lethargy, reduced appetite, Diarrhea, Constipation, Loss of weight
In situations like this, there can be an intestinal blockage, which, if addressed, could be fatal. We advise you to take your cat to the doctor as soon as possible.
Okay, we all know that your cat grooming results in hair getting lodged in the digestive system and forming hairballs. Is there anything you can do to stop them besides balding your poor cat, though? The good news is that you can aid your cat in a few different ways.
Steps To Take To Avoid Or Minimize Hairballs
Assisting your cat with grooming is the first line of defence in preventing hairballs. This will eliminate a lot of the extra fur, which will lessen how much your cat eats. Naturally, not all felines enjoy having their coats brushed, so it could be a good idea to introduce them to it when they're young.
Call the experts if your cat completely rejects your attempts to brush it. They can help with routine bathing, grooming, and combing appointments.
Try To Divert Your Cat
Some cats have an obsessive need to groom themselves; they don't stop once they begin. If you see it grooming itself excessively, try to divert your cat with a toy or pleasant treat.
Examine Their Diet
It is more likely that cats with sensitive stomachs or digestive difficulties will struggle to pass hairballs spontaneously through their feces. Make that your cat is receiving high-quality, nutrient-rich food. Products containing grains, artificial additives, or preservatives should be avoided.
Enough Water To Your Kitty
When preventing cat hairballs, ensuring your cat gets enough water is essential. Your cat needs constant access to pure water, even though they aren't often huge water consumers.
Mild Laxatives May Work
Try a mild laxative like Laxapet if your cat's hairballs are becoming a significant issue. It facilitates the hair's passage through the digestive tract and eventual placement in the feces.
However, we advise consulting your veterinarian for the best product for your cat's safety and peace of mind.
Common Questions Regarding Hairballs
Okay, so we all know that having cats means dealing with hairballs regularly. We also understand that some long-haired breeds and over-groomers produce more kittens and cats than short-haired and hairless varieties. But what about the queries that came before and after?
We examine the most frequently asked questions about your cat and hairballs in this area.
Is It Possible To Have Too Many Hairballs?
Asking an expert will yield a slightly different response than asking someone who has unintentionally stepped in one. Even long-haired breeds should only cough up a hairball once or twice a year, according to some veterinarians, while others disagree.
This is because veterinarians have discovered a connection between hairballs and your cat's digestive tract. The more hairballs your cat has, the higher the likelihood that anything is wrong with its digestive system.
Let's be honest: the sounds accompanying a hairball being yacked up are in no way typical. However, the majority of veterinarians concur that the occasional furball is fine.
But when your cat is vomiting hairballs more frequently or when nothing comes up, that's not normal. This can be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition, such as a digestive obstruction, bacterial overgrowth or infection, inflammatory bowel disease, parasites, or cancer.
Are Hairballs Medically Removed?
Very seldom do hairballs require surgical removal. In extreme circumstances, your veterinarian will do a number of tests to ascertain the reason and detect any underlying health issues.
Is My Cat's Vomiting Normal?
When your cat is preparing to pass a hairball, gagging often accompanies retching and yawning. Unfortunately, it may indicate a health problem if you find your cat gagging more frequently than usual and not creating a furball.
Taking your cat to the vet for a checkup is recommended to rule out any illnesses, food allergies, hormonal or digestive issues, or other conditions.
Can Hairballs Result In More Serious Health Issues?
Hairballs that occur frequently or in excess could indicate something more serious. We advise taking your cat to the veterinarian for diagnostic tests if you have concerns about the frequency or that it is struggling to pass them fast.
Are Hairballs And Asthma The Same Thing?
No, there is no similarity between asthma and hairballs. Consider how hairballs damage the stomach while asthma affects your cat's airways. The symptoms of retching, yacking, gagging, and (sometimes) coughing are similar, yet asthma and hairballs are entirely different.
The Best Hairball Remedies For Cats
Why do cats vomit hairballs, and what can be done to prevent them?
The hairball is a by-product of your cat's normal grooming behaviour. The tongue is a useful tool for grooming your cat because it has tiny, backwards-facing barbs that help to pick up stray hairs and remove them from the cat's coat.
Great for avoiding mats, but your cat will inevitably ingest some hair with every lick because the barbs prevent it from being expelled. This hair forms a ball in your cat's digestive tract and typically exits the body via feces.
Sometimes, however, your cat will vomit up a small, sausage-shaped ball of fur instead of passing a hairball the usual way. Your cat may experience an unpleasant tickle in its stomach if the hairball does not pass out or come up on its own. Then, you will hear the characteristic retching sounds associated with cats trying to regurgitate their food.
Hairballs are the most common cause of the “cough-gag-retch” sound heard in otherwise healthy cats. This is so-called because it can be difficult for even veterinarians to determine whether the sound is caused by the cat retching, gagging, or coughing to clear the airways (a noise associated with dry-heaving and vomiting). Cats with hairballs may also show other symptoms, such as a craving for grass, inability to pass stool or excessive drowsiness.
What Kind Of An Issue Is It When Cats Choke On Their Own Hair?
A cat that occasionally coughs up hairballs is usually fine. They may exhibit the “cough-gag-retch” reflex multiple times during a single treatment session; however, only the hairball should be vomited up during the retching motion.
However, if your cat gags more frequently than once every few weeks or vomits for more than 48 hours at a time, it may have eaten too much excess hair and become ill. They may be over-grooming due to a sensitivity to their skin or a skin condition.
Talk to your vet about allergy testing if you see bald patches on your cat's body or if you notice that your cat is licking itself excessively. Additionally, suppose your cat is also vomiting bile along with the hair. In that case, this could indicate pancreatitis or another condition that a vet must check.
If your cat cannot pass or cough up a hairball, and the problem persists for more than two or three days, you should take it to the vet to rule out any serious issues.
Are Hairballs Possible For Cats?
Hairballs are typically something cats can bring up or pass on their own, eventually. However, hairballs can sometimes block a cat's intestines, necessitating medication or, in extreme cases, surgery. Again, it's best to get your cat checked out by your vet if you notice that it hasn't been using its litter tray, seems lethargic, has been refusing to eat for a day or two, or is constantly retching or vomiting.
If your cat has a history of obstructions, your veterinarian may suggest an anti-hairball laxative. The thick and sticky texture “de-fluffs” your cat's digestive tract by trapping all the hair in preparation for elimination. The tickling sensation that irritates their stomach and triggers reflexive coughing, vomiting, and retching will also be eliminated.
Best Hairball Removal Remedies
1. Cat Lax
Cat Lax is widely used not only as a laxative but also as a hairball preventative, despite the name suggesting otherwise.
This gel is widely recognized as a leading option for preventing hairballs. There are 210 reviews of it on Chewy, with 97% recommending it. Customers have reported that their felines enjoy the flavour and that it aids in the prevention of hairballs. One reviewer claims to have been using it for decades without any problems.
Cod liver oil, which acts as a lubricant and provides the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, is the first ingredient in the gel. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties and potential benefits to skin and coat health, these fatty acids may be useful in addressing the root cause of hairballs.
The white petrolatum it contains protects the hairs from digestion and makes them easier to swallow. Finally, lecithin, a natural emulsifier, is included in the gel to facilitate the dissolution of hairballs.
Caramel and malt syrup, used to sweeten the gel, is not good for cats.
- A product that is cheap and simple to locate
- Predicted by cat owners
- Features a flavour that's appealing to feline taste buds.
- The second type of sugar substitutes
This esteemed manufacturer has been selling hairball gel for over twenty-five years.
To begin, the gel has petrolatum. Mineral oil and soy oil are combined to create petroleum jelly. These compounds form a protective layer around the hairs, allowing them to pass undisturbed through the digestive system.
Corn syrup, malt syrup, and cane molasses contribute to the gel's sweet flavour. Some cats seem to enjoy the taste, resulting from a combination of natural and artificial flavours, but it turns others off.
Only about 86% of 276 reviewers recommended Laxatone Hairball Remedy to a friend, making it slightly less popular than Cat Lax. Most dissatisfied buyers claim that their feline friend did not care for the flavour of the gel.
- Benefits Widespread acceptance and evidence of success
- includes a lubricant mixture
- The flavoured gel is generally well-received by feline consumers.
- Includes three distinct sugars.
- Enhanced with synthetic flavours.
Richard's Organics Chicken-Flavoured Hair-Block Remedy
Unlike standard hairball gel, this product does not contain petrolatum.
Instead, it is made with a blend of vegetable oil, cod liver oil, and lecithin. Like those found in Cat Lax, these elements keep hair from clumping together.
Clumpy substances benefit from the lecithin's ability to break them up. Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, found abundant in cod liver oil, may help reduce inflammation and promote a healthier coat.
The food tastes a combination of dextrose, fructose, and natural chicken flavour. Cats shouldn't be given this much sugar regularly, but to treat hairballs, it's probably safe.
Most cats will enjoy the gel's chicken flavour. It can be applied to the paw or finger or squirted onto the cat's food for administration.
- Hairball prevention and digestive health support
- Dripping with healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- Most felines enjoy the palatable nature of the gel.
- Sweetener included
Review Of The Most Effective Digestive Aid For Hairballs Recommended By Vets
Tablets like these help with more than just hairballs; they promote healthy digestion. The soluble fiber psyllium husk is the main ingredient in their construction. Marshmallow root has anti-inflammatory and lubricant properties, making it a useful addition to any digestive health regimen. Slippery elm bark, which shares these properties, is also used as a standalone treatment for hairballs.
Tablets contain papaya extract, which may reduce inflammation and support digestive health, as well as a combination of digestive enzymes and probiotics thought to improve digestive health.
Customers have reported that their cats enjoy the taste of chewable tablets flavoured with liver powder and natural flavours. According to some reviewers, tablets have been criticized for being too big and unwieldy to break into manageable pieces.
- Positive feedback predominates
- Produced using a selection of widely lauded ingredients appears risk-free for feline consumption.
- The tablets are tasty to cats, so they take them willingly.
- Not easy to give
The Cure For A Naked Furball Is Here Evaluation Of Soft Cat Treats
Instead of giving your cat a gel or tablet, try one of these soft treats.
They include a variety of ingredients like flaxseed, a source of fiber, and a combination of prebiotics and probiotics to maintain healthy gut flora and promote regular bowel movements.
These treats seem among the safest for cats because they contain only chicken and no artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives.
While some customers rave about the treats, nearly a third of those who purchased them on Chewy said their cats wouldn't touch them.
- The fibre content aids in the digestive process and hair retention
- Prebiotics and probiotics are included to promote digestive health.
- Not containing any potentially harmful ingredients
- However, not all cats enjoy the flavour of the treats.
You should avoid giving your cat lubricants and other hairball treatments for the rest of his life. Hairballs are the last thing you want for him.
The hairball treatments mentioned above are useful but are not permanent fixes.
A digestive issue may be to blame if your cat hacks up hairballs more than a few times a year. Not fiber or grease will help him here; he may need to see a vet. Several potential causes for such extreme hairball frequency include organ dysfunction, IBD, and other conditions.
If you suspect the digestive problem is to blame for your cat's hairballs, you may want to treat them like any other chronic digestive issue.
You can improve your cat's digestion by changing his or her diet to include more probiotics, prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids and less inflammatory ingredients.
The occasional passing of a hairball is nothing to worry about, despite feeling like you're trying to rid your cat of a demon. It's time to take your cat to the vet if there is an increase in the number of hairballs or the frequency of vomiting.
Even while the solution could be as simple as changing one's diet or taking a moderate laxative, finding the root of the issue is always preferable to simply treating the symptoms.
We would have requested images of your cat's hairballs, but does anyone want to see them right now?
I trust you enjoyed this article on Hairballs And Cats – All You Need To Know. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly. Take care!
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