How do you help a cat with hairball? Generally, cats lick themselves too much to groom themselves. They often spend 30% to 50% of their day running their tongues on their body. Unfortunately, little do they know that cleaning themselves too frequently may lead to the buildup of hairballs in their stomachs.
Consequently, if your cat likes grooming itself every day and starts coughing up small collections of fur, it currently suffers from hairballs. Thankfully, this article will guide you with different ways on how to help a cat with hairball!
How Do Cats Get Hairballs?
Cats usually use their tongues to clean and groom themselves daily. However, you may notice that they are rough because of the tiny barbs or papillae covering them. Since that is the case, they often grasp excess fur or loose hair whenever they remove dirt and debris from their coat.
Consequently, they will most likely swallow the hair, and the latter will pass through their stomach and intestines. They will be fine because the fur will come out when they poop, but once a large amount gets trapped, it will form a hairball.
Here’s How To Help A Cat With Hairball
Once you see your cat coughing up hairball, the initial step you can take is to look for possible ways to deal with it. Fortunately, we have listed some tips below to help you.
1. Increase Water Intake
Cats require sufficient hydration to ensure their digestive systems will function well. In most instances, they need more water when they eat dry foods.
Therefore, give your cat clean water regularly. Since it may not like the taste or smell of tap water, you can opt for running water or let it drink using a water fountain. You can also offer canned foods because they supply enough hydration to maintain the digestive system’s function.
2. Eat More Fibers
A healthy digestive tract is crucial to combating hairballs, and eating adequate amounts of fiber will help cats achieve that. With that said, you can serve foods rich in fiber, such as apples, pumpkins (or pumpkin powders), carrots, Metamucil, or cat grass.
However, remember not to give your cat too much fiber because that may result in unwanted side effects. Their fiber requirements are not similar to humans, so ensure they consume just enough in their diet.
3. Use Gastric Lubricants
Felines can also consume a few drops of oil into their diet to lubricate their digestive tracts, allowing the loose hair or excess fur to pass through easier. Thus, if you are looking for gastric lubricants you can safely offer your cat, olive oil, melted butter, and fish oil are excellent options. Moreover, you can give canned tuna or sardines periodically.
Aside from oils, petroleum jelly also makes a superb lubricant for your cat’s digestive tract. Once you dip its paw into it, it will lick it off, enabling the jelly to enter its system. Accordingly, the hair will move through naturally.
4. Try Cat Foods For Hairballs
While hairballs in cats have become more common, manufacturers have formulated cat foods to help reduce the issue. Most of these brands contain formulas possessing minerals, oil, vitamins, and increased fiber that assist the swallowed fur in passing across the digestive tract.
5. Change Your Cat’s Diet
In addition to how to help a cat with hairball, changing your cat’s diet will help its digestive system digest food and sweep hair well. In this case, try feeding a feline smaller and more frequent meals. Also, be more careful about what to give and ensure they eat healthy meals only.
6. Take Laxatives
If you are searching for other ways to promote a smooth passage of hairballs in your pet’s digestive tract, you can opt for hairball medicines, such as mild laxatives. Since they lubricate the system, cats will find it easier to pass a stool and discharge swallowed hairs.
Nevertheless, you must consult your veterinarian before administering any treatment to ensure it is safe.
Other Home-Based Treatments For Hairballs
If you think additional food and water intake is inadequate, there are still more ways to cure and prevent this problem. Here are other home-based treatments on how to help a cat with hairball.
1. Use Baby Wipes
One way to prevent the buildup of hairballs is to reduce the amount of fur your cat swallows. In such a case, you can use fragrance-free, hypoallergenic baby wipes or a damp paper towel to wipe your pet after brushing its hair. That will help remove loose hair they may ingest, minimizing the risk of hairballs.
2. Help A Cat With Hairball Through Brush Fur
Brushing your cat’s fur helps decrease the risk of shedding. You can do this at least once or twice a week (or more often if your pet has long hair).
If your cat does not enjoy brushing, you can use a grooming glove to make it feel like it is getting petted rather than brushed. You can also shave its hair if it still resists brushing and petting.
3. Discourage Frequent Grooming
Grooming is an essential part of a cat’s daily maintenance, but it may also be the top reason why your cat gets a hairball every now and then. You can distract your pet when grooming by playing games with them.
When Do You Need To Call A Veterinarian?
Hairballs are not rare in cats, but that doesn’t mean it is not dangerous. You can notice in some instances that this condition needs immediate medical attention, significantly when the excess fur has already caused a vast blockage in the digestive tract.
Once you have seen the following hairball symptoms in cats, you must skip the treatments mentioned above and go straight to your veterinarian.
- Vomiting, retching, or hacking but can’t get a hairball out
- Trouble pooping, constipation, or diarrhea
- Lack of appetite and dehydration
- Bloated, swollen, or rock-solid abdomen
Cleaning one’s self is the path to proper hygiene. However, that shouldn’t be the case with cats since excessive grooming can lead to the accumulation of swallowed fur in their digestive tracts. As a fur parent, you must know how to help a cat with hairball to prevent the unwanted consequences of this condition.
If you need pet essentials to help you with this issue, you can shop at Doobert today! Every purchase supports an animal rescue organization. You can also adopt or be a volunteer by signing up on our website!