Grooming Your Cat to Reduce Hairballs

Cat owners know that where there are cats, there are also hairballs. Cats’ oral grooming habits involve swallowing large quantities of hair. Most of the swallowed hair passes harmlessly through the cat’s digestive system, however, problems occur when instead of passing through the cat as usual, the hair becomes lodged in the stomach. As time passes the undigested hair collects with other undigested hair, and food particles, until a hairball forms. The larger the hair ball becomes, the greater a risk it poses to the cat’s health and well being.

A vast majority of cats are able to rid themselves of a hairball by hacking it up. The sound they make when trying to bring up a hairball is similar to a person suffering from dry heaves, although the noise is slightly higher pitched. Most cat owners report that their cats find the best time of day to extract a troublesome hairball is in the middle of the night so that sound can wake the cat’s entire family. Cat owners also find that their cat is very clever at depositing the hairball in places where it’s humans frequently walk barefoot, like on the bathroom floor, directly next to the shower.

As unhappy as cat owners might be about having balls of half digested hair littering their house, they are even less happy about large hairballs that remain in their cat’s digestive tract. When a large hairball makes its way into the cat’s intestine it can create a blockage that frequently means a hasty trip to the vet for an emergency surgery. This surgery can cost several hundred dollars.

Signs that your cat is suffering from a hairball include your cat ignoring their personal grooming regime and allowing their coat to become dirty and matted, constant coughing and hacking, loss of appetite, constipation, and depression. Long haired cats, because of the length of their coat, are more prone to hairballs then their short haired contemporaries.

Pet grooming is a wonderful way for cat owners to prevent the unpleasantness of hairballs. Brushing your cat once a day will remove dead hairs from the cat’s coat. These dead hairs won’t be around to stick to the cat’s tongue and later be swallowed to form a hairball. Although any brush can be used to groom your pet cat, a cat brush purchased from pet store has bristles that are specially designed for cat hair. Daily grooming routines will strengthen the bond between you and your cat.

If you have a long haired cat, or even a short haired cat that seems prone to hairballs, you may want to consider clipping your cat to remove excess hair. Hair that is no longer on the cat’s body can not wreak havoc on their digestive system.

Another thing that cat owners can do to prevent hairball is to purchase cat foods that are specially designed to prevent hairballs from forming in the cat’s digestive system. If your budget won’t extend to purchasing expensive anti-hairball foods, you may want to consider other commercial hairball remedies or even some homemade solutions – many cat owners have had success with feeding their cat a small amount of butter, pureed pumpkin or squash 2-3 times per week.

Cat owners should consult their veterinarian to discuss methods of hairball control.

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