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  • Writer's pictureCaméa Allen

Hairballs in Cats: A Feline Phenomenon

Updated: May 7

Hairballs are a common occurrence in the cat world, and while they might not be pleasant to witness, they're a natural part of a cat's grooming routine. But what exactly are hairballs, and how can you manage them effectively? Today, we're delving into the fascinating world of feline hairballs, equipping you with the knowledge to keep your cat comfortable and your home mess-free. Here's Hairballs in Cats: A Feline Phenomenon - a timely lesson on hairballs now that springtime shedding is at an all-time high.

Hairballs in Cats: Hairballs Explained

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Hairballs are clumps of fur that accumulate in a cat's stomach during self-grooming. As your cat meticulously cleans their fur with their rough tongue, they ingest loose hairs. These hairs usually pass through the digestive system unnoticed, but sometimes they clump together and form hairballs. Gag!

Hairballs in Cats: Symptoms of Hairballs

While hairballs themselves are harmless, they can cause some discomfort for your feline friend. Following are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Coughing or hacking

  • Gagging or vomiting (with the hairball being coughed up)

  • Difficulty passing stool (hairballs can cause constipation)

  • Reduced appetite

  • Lethargy

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Hairballs in Cats: Preventing Hairballs

There are several steps you can take to minimize hairball formation in your cat. These steps include the following:

  • Regular Brushing: Brushing or combing your cat regularly helps remove loose hair before it gets ingested. Aim for daily brushing sessions during high-shedding seasons.

  • Hairball Diet:  Many commercially available cat foods are formulated with added fiber to aid in hairball elimination. These fibers help move hair through the digestive system more smoothly. Discuss this option with your veterinarian.

  • Hydration:  Dehydration can worsen hairball problems. Ensure your cat has access to fresh, clean water throughout the day. Consider using a pet fountain to encourage your cat to drink more.

  • Hairball Treats & Remedies:  There are various hairball treats available that contain lubricants or laxatives to ease hair passage through the digestive system. Coconut oil, for example, is an easy remedy if your cat will lick it.

  • Hairball Supplements: Supplements and foods rich with omega 3s and 6s help lubricate the digestive tract and may help your cat eliminate hairballs before they come back up. In addition, Feline Essential's Catalyst formula, which is packed with enzymes and antioxidants that boost your cat's overall health, also helps prevent hairballs. Plus, it's easily added to your cat's food for an easy and convenient way to boost his or her bowl daily.

Hairballs in Cats: Cleaning Up Hairballs

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Don't wait to clean up hairballs because you don't want your cat or any other furry member of the family to ingest it. Gross, yes. True, also yes.

And, remember to only use cat-friendly cleaning solutions in your home. Cats are very sensitive to chemicals and even essential oils can be toxic to them. Here are some ideas for cleaning products that are safe for pet-friendly homes.

Hairballs in Cats: When Hairballs are a Concern

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If your cat is coughing up hairballs excessively (more than once a week), or if they're experiencing other concerning symptoms like lethargy or blood in the vomit, consult your veterinarian. Hairballs could be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal parasites.

Also, passing hairballs often can be stressful for your cat. Hairballs can block the airway and cause choking, among other things, therefore, making prevention a priority can keep your kitty feeling safe and comfortable. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian.

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Hairballs in Cats: How a Pet Sitter Can Help

Hairballs are a natural part of owning a cat, but with proper preventative measures, you can minimize their frequency. At Hearts at Home, we encourage you to let us know if your cat is experiencing regular hairballs so that we can help. By incorporating regular brushing and encouraging hydration during our visits, we can work together with you to help your cat effectively manage the shedding season.

Our in-home cat sitting services are available in Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia. If you are interested in registering your cat(s) with us, please complete a new client questionnaire here. Existing clients may request services here.

Please visit our website or contact us by email at or by phone at 757-745-9868 to learn more. We love keeping cats happy!

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