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How to treat cat hairball

Cat hairball advice
© Shutterstock

It might be quite alarming when your cat struggles to cough up a hairball to expel it. But just how do you best teat a cat hairball?

By Dawn Parrish

Hairballs can look quite disgusting, actually like something that should come out of the rear end of your cat. However, if you investigate a cat hairball closer, you will see that they are just a matted ball of hair mixed with the cat’s digestive juices.

What is a hairball?

Trichobezoars or hairballs as they are more commonly known will make your cat retch and vomit. When the cat grooms herself by licking her coat, an accumulation of loose hair is swallowed. This hair collects in the cat’s stomach where it forms into round or oval shapes. Of course, they become quite uncomfortable and the cat then has to expel it from her tummy. The natural digestive process expels most as poo. However, occasionally a larger hairball won’t be able to pass through her intestines, so she vomits it back up. This is what is happening when you hear her retching.

Grey cat coughing  Your cat might retch as she tries to cough up a hairball ©Pixabay

Signs of a hairball problem

A cat will spend many hours grooming her fur. This isn’t a problem until she cannot vomit to expel the furball, or it leads to a blockage in her intestines. Symptoms to look out for include:

# Hairballs present – either from the cat’s mouth or in the litter tray

# Frequent coughing and retching

# Loose stools or even constipation

# Loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhoea

# Lethargy and weakness

Cat hairball treatment

It’s generally quite common for a cat to produce hairballs. It is however, possible, to stop this process with different remedies. If your cat is ill with a chronic illness or is an older cat, it’s a good idea to speak to a feline medical professional first.

Treatment No 1 – Brushing

Grey cat getting brushedRegular brushing will prevent hairballs ©Shutterstock

In the first place, the hairball will collect because the cat is shedding hair. If you can groom your pet daily to remove the loose hair, this will help to eliminate the problem. Likewise with cats with long hair and during periods of shedding. Of course, your pet will love these extra grooming treats.

Treatment No 2 – Use wipes

After you’ve brushed your cat, it seems like a good idea to wipe her coat down with a baby wipe (hypoallergenic and fragrance-free) or a damp paper towel. This will collect any loose hairs remaining on her coat.

Treatment No 3 – Olive oil

Olive oil Olive oil, a natural treatment for cat hairball ©Pixabay

Another hairball remedy for cats is to add a small amount of olive oil to her food. Never drip olive oil directly into the cat’s mouth or you’re asking for problems. Mix some in with the cat food and this will help to aid the digestion process too as well as eliminate hairballs. Similarly, other oils can be used. Add around one teaspoon of oil weekly, using either saffron oil, corn or olive type.

Treatment No 4 – Melted butter

This homemade hairball remedy works in exactly the same way as olive oil. A small slice of butter, melted in the microwaved them mixed in with your cat’s lunch will ease the hairball through the intestines.

Treatment No 5 – Petroleum Jelly

This nifty treatment will allow your cat to resolve his own hairball problem. Smear a small amount of petroleum jelly onto the cat’s front paw. She will lick her paw, the petroleum jelly will lubricate her digestive system and the hairball will easily be passed. It’s a good plan to do this on a weekly basis.

Treatment No 6 - Canned fish

Canned fish Sardines or tuna in oil - a treatment for cat hairball ©Pixabay

Many tuna and sardine canned foods are packed in oils too. She will love a special treat of a tasty fish morsel occasionally. Keep the oil to mix in with her dinner. Think of it as digestive, intestine lubrication!

Treatment No 7 – Add fibre to her diet

Adding extra fibre to your cat’s food will aid in softening the fur mass and allowing her to excrete it easily. Popular foods that will add fibre content include pumpkin puree, asparagus and specially formulated, hi-bran cat food.

Pumpkin Pumpkin puree add fibre to the cat's diet ©Pixabay

Treatment No 8 – Surgery, a last resort for cat hairball treatment

We certainly don’t like the thought of kitty having surgery. However, in some circumstances, because the hairball creates a large obstruction, there is no alternative.

Yes, hairballs can be quite repulsive. The cat’s constant coughing and gagging aren’t too pleasant either. Certainly, don’t ignore a furball problem, but search for a hairball remedy for cats. You will possibly save your cats life by doing so!