Cats are naturally clean animals with the ability to take care of themselves. They carry out grooming on themselves by licking their furs. In the process of licking themselves, hairs from their fur find their way into the cat’s stomach. These dead hairs mixed with the digestive juices present in the cat’s stomach form what is called hairballs which can be very nasty. They are not only painful to the cat as they can also destabilize the cat’s body mechanism thereby putting the cat’s health at serious risk. So if the health of the cat is important to the owner, hairballs and their causes would be a relevant subject to pay attention to.
Causes of Hairballs in Cats
Hairballs in cats can be a regular occurrence as they are caused majorly by an activity carried out by the cat in a bid to stay clean. Hairballs form in cats when dead hairs which may remain in their fur are pushed down by the tongue in the process of grooming and then mixes with their intestinal liquids. Hairballs usually appear thin and tube-like since they typically come out of the esophagus. The mechanism of the cat also does not welcome the formation of hairballs as cats vomit hairballs to expel them. Although hairballs are common in cats, most people do not know and find it hard to identify signs of a hairball in cats. The longer hairballs stay in the stomach of cats, the more uncomfortable they become.
Hairballs can often be observed when the cats vomit, which often involves the hairballs themselves coming out. There are other signs of hairballs which include indigestion and prolonged fatigue, which leads to lethargy. It is, however, very wise to consult a veterinarian if symptoms of hairballs persist after two to three days. It is also worthy to note that a skin allergy or reaction can cause a cat to be over-grooming which in turn increases the rate at which hairballs form within the cat’s stomach. The species of a cat is also a determinant of the frequency of hairballs such cat experiences. Species of cats with many furs or those that shed more hair are likely to have more and longer experiences with hairballs.
It may appear as a wonder, but kittens rarely have hairballs as hairballs are formed as they grow. This is because the older they become, the better they get at grooming themselves, which is usually done with their tongues raising the chances of hairballs forming within their stomach. So it’s quite normal for one’s cat to begin to develop hairballs as they grow up, which they end up getting rid of by vomiting. Hairballs cannot categorically be called diseases or infections as it is a natural occurrence triggered by the self-grooming ability of cats; it can be harmful if not paid attention to. There are, therefore, a few steps which a person can help reduce the frequency of occurrence of hairballs in his or her cat or even make them go away permanently.
Ways of dealing with Hairballs in cats
Prevention and reduction of excessive grooming
Cats are not usually taught how to groom themselves. It is a natural body reflex for them and a great way of keeping themselves clean. They can, however, be taught how to groom themselves less to prevent the formation of hairballs. Instead of allowing them to play with their fails and skins, they can be taught to play with toys and keep grooming.
Regular cat grooming
This is key to any cat owners who want to raise cats free from hairballs and their inconveniences. Regular grooming prevents the accumulation of fur, reducing the number of hair taken into the cat’s stomach, creating a slim chance of hairball occurrence in the cat. Regular brushing and daily combing will go a long way as far as grooming is concerned. Long-haired cats should be taken to special cat groomers at least every three to five months to get them adopted and attuned to regular brushing.
Cats’ food should contain the hairball formula
Pet food producers have come up with a diet combination and foods that help reduce hairballs in cats. These hairball-reducing foods have high fiber content, which increases the quality of the cat’s coat, reduces the amount of fur grown by the cat, and helps the movement and transportation of hairballs in the digestive system of cats.
Apply laxative formulae products for cats
Currently, there are various drugs for hairballs which are mostly laxatives that help the body system of cats expels hairballs effectively.
Some natural remedies are of great help when treating hairballs in cats. One of such is pumpkin puree which, when added to cat’s food, will ensure that hairballs move quickly. Another excellent remedy is olive oil. When added to the diet of a cat, it helps to reduce the formation of hairballs. It should, however, be added in small amounts and quantity. It can also be administered alone but in minute quantity while gently allowing it to trickle down the cat’s lungs.
Contact a veterinarian
Hairballs are quite natural for cats but can be potentially fatal as a result of blockages that might arise. So while accepting hairballs as normal, it is wise to have a vet on standby or close by as it may not be as it seems. Cats may have a hard time breathing when they experience blockages caused by hairballs, and at this point, it’s best if you let the vet do his job. It is also advisable to watch out for the symptoms of hairballs and if they prolong to three or four days, quickly contact a vet doctor.
Check out also how to make a cat eat after moving
Hairballs are passed out by cats, usually through vomiting, but a couple of techniques can be applied to ensure that they are gotten rid of easily and quickly. There is also the place of observation which can make for early detection, and this goes a long way in treating and preventing hairballs.