Cat Care 101: Hairballs

Jerry WalchStarred Page By Jerry Walch, 5th Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Cats

If you’ve had cats (cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one) for a while you know what hairballs are and have had to deal with them, but even you may learn something new from this article. Cat Care 101 is going to be a series of articles written for new kitty parents, but if I do my job, there will be something in each of them for the veteran mouser parent as well.

Hairballs are the Result of Grooming

I grew up in a home where the girls outnumbered the guys three to one, and those girls were very girly girls, even for farm girls who worked the fields right next to us guys. I always thought it hilarious how they spent hours grooming themselves and each other each morning before heading out to work the fields, only to have their carefully done-up hair end up a tangled rat’s nest by noontime. Cats are much like girls, they spend hours grooming themselves and each other, but unlike humans that use brushes and combs, they use their tongues which results in them swallowing a lot of hair/fur. Swallowing hair during grooming is normal, and the hair flows through the feline’s digestive track and is passed with the kitty’s feces, however, in some cases, instead of passing through the digestive track, its vomited back up as a yucky hairball. To call hairballs, hairballs is really a misnomer, because hairballs are long, tubular shaped masses of hair and don’t look like balls at all.

The Problem with Hairballs

For most of us kitty parents, our kitties are just like our human babies, so cleaning up those yucky messes isn’t really a problem for us, but hairballs can be a problem for our furry babies. Upchucking hairballs happens to most cats at one time or another, especially longhaired cats, vomiting up hairballs shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. Frequent vomiting, with or without hairballs may be a sign of an inflammatory bowel disease or, even more serious, intestinal lymphoma, a type of cancer, so don’t delay in taking your beloved companion to the vet. Frequent hairballs can cause other problems besides the vomiting, for example, a hairball may become lodged in your kitty’s intestines, causing a blockage known as a hairball blockage, which needs to be treated by a vet immediately.

The Prevention and Treatment of Hairballs

Benjamin Franklin coined the expression “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that certainly holds true where hairballs are concerned. Although there are many commercial products on the market today touted to prevent and/or cure hairballs, the best preventative is to spend a few minutes brushing your companion every day, besides preventing hairballs, this time spent with your companion, grooming him or her, will strengthen the loving bond between you and your little companion. There is a surfeit of commercial products on the market for treating hairballs; most are petroleum-based products that coat hairballs, making them easier for cats to pass through their intestinal track in a normal manner. Those commercial product work for some cats, while they don’t work at all for other cats, even worse, according to some vets, those petroleum based products may be actually harmful for your furry friend and have no place in the prevention of or the treatment of hairballs. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this, talk to your vet before administering any commercial over the counter product to your beloved companion.

Prevention through Diet

Many dry cat foods on the market make the claim that they help prevent hairballs, dry cat foods that contain a high volume of fiber. The manufacturers of those foods believe that the high percentage of fiber helps keep the intestinal track flowing smoothly, like the petroleum based products; these diets may work for some cats while working not at all for others. Recent studies have led veterinarians to believe that grain-free diets may be more beneficial for cats that vomit frequently. The theory behind this belief is the fact that cats are obligate carnivores, there natural diets consisted of high protein, and low carbohydrate levels in the wild, cats didn’t evolve to eat grain. Veterinarian researcher say the brain changes the bacteria found in cat’s intestinal tracts, which, in turn, changes the motility found in the intestinal tract, which in turn, makes passing hairballs in a normal manner more difficult for your beloved furry-faced friend.

Tags

Cat Care, Cat Care Essentials, Cat Care Guide, Cat Care Information, Cat Care Issues, Cat Food, Cats, Hairball Prevention, Hairball Treatment, Hairballs

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 71 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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Comments

author avatar Kingwell
6th Mar 2015 (#)

I have two cats and I found this article helpful. Blessings.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Mar 2015 (#)

I'm happy that I was able to provide you with helpful information Kingwell.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
6th Mar 2015 (#)

We have found that putting as little organic coconut oil on our hands and letting them lick it off (which they love) gives them a really healthy coat and takes care of the hair ball problem at the same time. Great post Jerry.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you for reading Steve, and for the tip on organic coconut oil. I will have to give organic coconut oil a try.

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author avatar Retired
12th Mar 2015 (#)

Great info. I had no idea about these things. Thank u so much for sharing.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Mar 2015 (#)

We are all lifelong learners, Joyesh, or, at least we should be. In my 71 years on this, the third rock from the sun, if I have learned one
thing, it's this, the more I learn, the more I realize just how little I know.
Have a great day.

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