Hairballs are a common problem for cats, especially long-haired breeds. They can cause vomiting, loss of appetite, and constipation.
If your cat is constantly hacking up hairballs, it can be a sign that they are not grooming themselves properly. While there are commercial products available to help with this problem, there are also some natural ways to treat hairballs in cats.
Symptoms: Hairballs in Cats
If your cat is having trouble coughing up a hairball, it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
Here are some things to look for:
- Vomiting. This is the most common symptom of a hairball. The vomit may contain hair, food, and fluid.
- Gagging. Cats may gag and retch before or after vomiting a hairball.
- Constipation. Hairballs can block the intestines, causing constipation.
- Diarrhea. In some cases, hairballs can cause diarrhea.
- Lethargy. Cats with hairballs may be lethargic and less active than usual.
- Loss of appetite. Cats with hairballs may lose their appetite.
- Swollen abdomen. If a hairball is large enough, it can cause the cat’s abdomen to swell.
- Coughing. In rare cases, a hairball can block the airway and cause coughing.
What is a Natural Remedy for Hairballs?
There are a few different things you can do to help your cat with hairballs:
- Olive oil. Adding a teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food once a week can help to lubricate their digestive tract and make it easier for hair to pass through.
- Pumpkin. Pumpkin is a good source of fiber, which can help to keep your cat’s digestive system moving and prevent hairballs from forming. You can give your cat canned pumpkin, pumpkin puree, or pumpkin seeds.
- Fish oil. Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to reduce inflammation and promote healthy digestion. You can give your cat fish oil capsules or add a teaspoon of fish oil to their food.
- Petroleum jelly. You can put a small amount of petroleum jelly on your cat’s paw. When they lick it off, it will help to coat their hair and make it easier for it to pass through their digestive system.
- Cat grass. Cat grass is a good source of fiber and chlorophyll, both of which can help to prevent hairballs. You can grow cat grass in a pot or buy it at a pet store.
Make sure they are getting enough water. A diet rich in fiber will also help by keeping their digestive system moving smoothly.
Regular grooming will help remove loose hair before it has a chance to become a problem. There are also a few commercial products and hairball control cat food available that can help.
How Do I Know If My Cat Has a Hairball Stuck?
The easiest way to tell if your cat has a hairball stuck is to look for the telltale signs: your cat will be retching and hacking, trying to cough up something, and may have a wet spot on their fur where they’ve drooled while trying to hack up the hairball.
If your cat is hacking or retching and cannot produce a hairball, they may have a foreign body lodged in their esophagus or stomach. If your cat is producing large amounts of saliva, drooling, or has a decreased appetite, they may have a hairball stuck.
Can I Give My Cat Olive Oil for Hairballs?
Yes, you can give your cat olive oil for hairballs. There are a lot of home remedies out there for dealing with hairballs in cats, and one of the most popular is olive oil.
This natural remedy can help to lubricate your cat’s digestive system and make it easier for them to pass hairballs. Just be sure to start with a small amount (a teaspoon or so) and work up from there, as too much olive oil can cause diarrhea.
You’ll also want to choose a quality extra-virgin olive oil, as this will be the least processed and have the most health benefits.
How to Help Your Cat Prevent Hairballs
While you can’t completely prevent your cat from getting hairballs, there are a few things you can do to help reduce their frequency.
- Make sure your cat is well-groomed; regular brushing will help remove loose hair before it can be swallowed.
- You can also try giving them supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids, as these can help reduce shedding.
- Feed your cat a diet rich in fiber, which will help move hair through their system more quickly.
- Try to massage their belly in a clockwise direction. This will help loosen the hairball and make it easier for them to pass.
- If that doesn’t work, you can try giving them a teaspoon of olive oil or Vaseline. These lubricants will help the hairball move through their system more easily.
- And finally, make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water to drink; dehydration can make it harder for hair to move through the digestive system.
How Do You Help a Cat Who is Struggling With a Hairball?
Make sure they have plenty of fresh water to drink. Water will help to move the hairball through their system and make it easier for them to pass. You can try giving them a small amount of petroleum jelly or mineral oil. This will help to lubricate their system and make it easier for the hairball to pass.
What causes hairballs in cats?
Hairballs form when cats groom themselves and swallow loose hair. The hair doesn’t always pass through the digestive system smoothly and can accumulate in the stomach, forming a ball. Cats with longer coats are more prone to hairballs, as are those that groom excessively due to stress or skin issues.
Are there natural remedies to prevent hairballs?
Yes, several natural remedies can help prevent hairballs. Regular brushing is essential; it removes loose hair before the cat ingests it. Providing your cat with a high-fiber diet can aid digestion and help move hair through the digestive tract. Additionally, some natural supplements, like psyllium husk, can be mixed with food to help prevent hairball formation.
Is hydration important for managing hairballs naturally?
Absolutely. Proper hydration is essential for a cat’s overall health and can contribute to managing hairballs. Make sure your cat has access to clean and fresh water at all times. Wet food can also be beneficial as it provides additional moisture compared to dry kibble.
When should I consult a veterinarian?
While natural remedies can be effective, it’s important to know when to consult a veterinarian. If your cat is experiencing frequent or severe hairballs, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, or signs of discomfort, a vet visit is necessary. These symptoms could indicate a more serious issue and a professional evaluation is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. John Morris, DVM is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who has seven years of experience in feline medicine, dermatology, and behavior. He also enjoys volunteering at a local NGO that supports literacy programs for children and adults. In his free time, he enjoys fostering kittens, traveling, vegan cooking, hiking, and biking. Learn more about Justin here.