Hairballs In Cats: Symptoms, How To Treat Them, And How To Get Rid Of Them

If you’re a pet parent of a feline furball, then you’re quite familiar with cat hair and the nuisance it can become.

Even if you’re grooming your kitty on daily basis, it still won’t get over the inborn urge to clean itself.

And each time your pet grooms itself, it’s actually licking off cat hair and swallowing it. While this is only natural, it can lead to a number of health issues.

If you’ve ever spotted your cat eating grass, burping, hiccupping, or trying to cough something up, it was probably its way of trying to get rid of the foreign bodies in its body, a.k.a. the hairballs.

Today we’ll focus on what hairballs are, the dangers they pose, and how to treat the problems efficiently for your own and for your kitty’s sake.

What Are Cat Hairballs, Exactly?

Hairballs occur in all feline breeds, ages, genders, and sizes, unless the cat in question is a hairless breed like the Sphynx.

Cat hair gets tangled, mats, and sheds. As your kitty is grooming itself with its tongue and teeth, it swallows loose hair. When too much hair builds up inside the cat’s stomach, it leads to hairballs.

These hairballs are too big to be properly digested. As such, the kitty has to vomit them, cough them up, or get rid of them through its intestinal tract in the form of feces.

Unfortunately, hairballs are often thick and get stuck inside the kitty’s body.

Some build-ups are so large that they can be removed only through a surgical procedure. And unless they are removed, they can cause numerous problems with your pet’s overall health.

Long-haired breeds like the Maine Coon should especially be observed closely for telltale signs of hairballs. That, however, doesn’t mean that you should neglect your kitty if it’s a short-haired breed and doesn’t shed that much. All cats can suffer hairballs, regardless of fur length.

Symptoms, Risks, And Why Are Hairballs Dangerous For Cats?

Here are the most common outcomes you can expect from hairballs:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Intestinal lymphoma
  • Malnourishment due to loss of appetite
  • Dehydration

All of the above can cause damage your feline pal’s overall health. Though hairballs are common, they shouldn’t be disregarded. The blockages they cause inside your furry pet’s organism can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Hairball Symptoms

Here are the telltale hairball symptoms which you should be looking out for:

  • Blood in the stools
  • Constipation
  • Gagging
  • Constant vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Eating grass
  • Constant coughing
  • Swollen abdomen

While diarrhea can be linked to something as simple as a sudden change of diet, constant vomiting and bloody stools can be indicators for hairballs.

How To Treat, Get Rid Of, And Control Cat Hairballs

Clean Your Home And Your Cat Regularly

Seeing cat hair everywhere is not only unsightly, but also unhygienic. Purchasing a proper vacuum for cat hair should be a priority as much as cleaning your house is.

Regular grooming with proper cat brushes is a great way to remove mats and tangles while gathering loose hair. Bath time is also a necessity as it helps improve the condition of your furry pal’s skin and fur – as long as you don’t overdo it.

The less loose hair you have in your home and on your pet’s body, the less hair it will swallow. This will lower the risks of hairballs.

Natural Remedies For Hairballs

All felines shed and the amount depends on their breed, the season, and their overall health. (Yes, some health conditions result in excessive shedding.)

One of the ways to lower the amount of shedding is to get vitamins and supplements for your pet which focus on strengthening its fur coat and promoting healthier skin.

Another natural remedy for hairballs in cats is coconut oil. Including it in your pet’s diet will help with indigestion. Unfortunately, coconut oil has many downsides when it comes to feline dietary requirements, so you must use it wisely.

There are a number of cat food manufacturers offering specialized cat food items that help with hairballs. If you don’t want to fully change your fluffy pet’s diet, you can simply increase the fiber intake as it will aid in processing the hairballs through the intestinal tract.

Commercially Available Remedies For Hairballs

Apart from specialized food, vitamins, and supplements, you can also opt for medication. The majority of anti-hairball products on the market contain petroleum and fiber. And while they help most cats, every feline is unique. Thus, you should always consult with your vet on whether or not a particular product is suitable for your own feline.

Without further ado, here are the most efficient commercially available hairball remedies on the market these days.

Pet Naturals Hairball Supplement

Pet Naturals of Vermont has a vast variety of supplements and medication for dogs and cats alike. They specialize in hip and joint care, relaxants, multivitamins, and hairball remedies.

Their hairball supplement comes in the shape of chewable treats. Easy to administer, these chicken liver flavored treats are suitable even for finicky felines. Moreover, they contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are essential for every single kitty out there.

Completely safe for daily usage, this supplement is intended to get rid of hairballs while promoting general skin and coat health. It comes in an inexpensive 45-count package which is resealable so that treats will stay fresh over longer periods of time.

This product isn’t a laxative or a lubricant and it’s not meant to substitute one. It is, however, 100% safe for daily servings, which will do wonders against hairball built-ups, dry and flaky skin, and fur shedding.

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Tomlyn Laxatone

Currently holding the number one best-selling spot on Amazon, Tomlyn is affordable and efficient in the battle against hairballs. The company is famous for its varied vet-approved supplements and antioxidants for felines and canines.

Their laxatone contains Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, light mineral oils and white petrolatum. It comes with tuna flavor in a 4.25-oz tube for oral intake.

The anti-hairball laxatone is effective when it comes to preventing and treating hairballs and is 100% pet-safe for daily usage. Its veterinary standard is only one of its numerous advantages. Moreover, it can also be used to cure constipation.

The only downside to this product is that it shouldn’t be used on pregnant cats. Furthermore, if your fluffy pal is already suffering from a health issue, you should consult with your vet before administering it due to the risks of the petrolatum ingredient.

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Nutri-Vet Feline Paw Gel

Nutri-Vet offers an anti-hairball gel suitable for all feline breeds and ages.

It not only promotes healthy skin and fur coat, but also works wonders against hairballs. With Vitamin B12, natural oils, catnip extract, sodium, riboflavin, and potassium, it offers healthy proteins and fibers. The gel can be either given orally or applied on the paws to stimulate the interest of your furball.

It comes in two flavors – chicken and salmon – in a 3-oz tube, which you can get at an affordable price.

With its special feline formula this gel is perfectly safe to serve as an additive to your cat’s daily diet. The delicious flavors will make any kitty crave it, regardless of its finicky tastes.

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Always consult with your vet prior to administering any medications and laxatives to your feline furball, even if it seems healthy. Don’t ever neglect its well-being and don’t put off a scheduled check-up. And most of all – don’t underestimate the damage hairballs can cause, even to a short-haired feline.

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Emily Parker
 

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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David - January 14, 2018

Your cat might have asthma and it is trying to cough up mucus from an asthma attack. Find a Vet that will let you first try an Asthma Inhaler if your cat coughing all the time and you never see a fur ball. It is asthma and your cat could die ! Go to Youtube and search for – Cat Asthma attcks and watch the videos.

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