Every so often, your otherwise adorable cat will do an alarming and somewhat disgusting thing. She’ll awake from a peaceful nap, rise up on her paws, retch convulsively for a moment or two, and spit up what may appear at first glance to be a damp clump. What kitty has regurgitated in the middle of your kitchen floor or, worse yet, in the middle of your freshly steam cleaned carpet is a hairball.  Here are some things you can do at home to prevent and treat hairballs.

#1 Brush your cat weekly to decrease the amount of hair that is ingested while washing. It is extremely important to brush long-haired cats daily to prevent large amount of hair being ingested and to prevent mats that may lead to excessive grooming due to skin issues and un-cleanliness.

#2 Wipe your cat with a clean washcloth to remove any stray hairs and dandruff that may have been removed during brushing.

#3 Provide plenty of water by placing bowls throughout the house, such as in the bathroom or kitchen were cats normally would attempt to drink from the faucet, basin, or bathtub. The water will help flush out the hair before it has time to clump in the stomach.

#4 Feed your pet cat food specifically formulated to reduce hairballs. Hairball formulated food helps to improve skin and coat health, reducing shedding and increases the amount of fiber in your cat’s diet which helps the hair to pass through your cat’s G.I tract and help reduce the formation of hairballs.

#5 If you find that your cat is grooming excessively you can try to encourage him to play to distract from the excessive grooming. You may not only reduce the incidence of hairballs, but also spend some quality social time with your furry friend.

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Treatment:

It is always important to consult your veterinarian before treating any medical issues occurring with your pet. A cat that is lethargic, refuses to eat for more than a day or two or has had repeated episodes of unproductive retching or true vomiting, should be examined by a veterinarian without delay. It’s possible that the frequent hacking has nothing at all to do with hairballs. It may instead be a sign of another gastrointestinal problem.

Once your cat has been diagnosed with a hairball problem, your veterinarian may recommend a hairball remedy or lubricant to encourage the passage of hair through the intestinal tract. Hairball control gels include all sorts of different ingredients from petrolatum to natural oils that all do the same thing – lubricate your cat’s gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract to help pass or eliminate hairballs more easily. Hairball remedies come in many flavors like chicken, fish and malt which make these gels irresistible to many cats. Once the hairball problem is resolved it is important to follow the above prevention tips.

Sometimes, however, the hairball can cause an upset stomach or internal blockage which may require more invasive intervention from your veterinarian. If a blockage is detected, surgery may be required in order to remove the hairball. More often therapy will center on protecting the intestines through several days of treatments that includes the use of a laxative to move the hairball through the digestive tract.

You cannot completely prevent your cat from producing hairballs – they are the product of a natural process that helps cats get rid of excess fur they have swallowed. But you can help reduce the likelihood of hairballs as well as the chances that one may negatively impact your pet’s health.

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