If you have a cat, you probably think everything they do is cute, even those painful scratches and “love bites”. The cutest thing that my cat does is groom himself. It reminds me of how cute he looked when he would groom himself as a kitten. He would close his eyes, make a little fist with his paw, and lick away. Most times, he would fall asleep with his tongue out and his paw up. Now as an adult cat, his hair-to-body ratio has tripled! I now enjoy watching how long it takes him to make each lick. However, his beautiful long coat comes at a price – hairballs!
Why Do Cats Get Hairballs?
Not unlike humans, cats love to make themselves look good by grooming themselves. They do this by licking their fur until they feel clean. Unfortunately, their tongues have a hook-like structure which causes some of the hair to be pulled and swallowed, thus creating hairballs. Usually, most hair will pass when they do their business in their litter box. But sometimes the hairball is too big to pass like that. Hence we get those long, wet hairballs right on our rug. If your cat has long hair, they are bound to get more hairballs than a cat with short hair. It’s inevitable.
Symptoms of Hairballs
If you have ever had the misfortune of experiencing this, I feel for you. If you haven’t, it can be a somewhat disturbing and graphic experience. The most common symptoms include gagging, hacking, and retching, usually followed by a vomit-like hairball. It actually looks like a braid, except with vomit all over.
Thankfully, Jeffers Pet offers a variety of products that can help your cat pass hairballs into the litter box and not onto your rug, or worse, your shoe.
Hairball Treatments and Remedies
Below, is a list of various products (in no certain order) which aid in hairball management. While most of these products list mineral oils as a main ingredient, some differ in form and method of use.
These products are usually meant to be given as a ribbon either placed on your cat’s paw or nose to first induce interest or by being placed on your finger and have them lick it. Please check the instructions before using as dosing may vary from kittens to cats.
This laxative and lubricant has a veterinarian strength formula and it is safe for your kittens and cats. This smooth gel contains iron and essential fatty acids for kittens and it is molasses flavored.
Help your cat’s or kitten’s digestive tract with these delicious laxatives and lubricants. Entice your cat with Regular Maple-, Tuna-, or Catnip-flavored gel, which contains petrolatum for a better lubricated digestive tract.
A malt-flavored gel made for the prevention and elimination of hairballs. This product is made in the USA. Should not be mixed with food or given close to mealtime.
Natural Gel Products
Entice your cat with this chicken-flavored laxative which contains cod liver and vegetable oils to lubricate the digestive tract and chamomile to calm and soothe their stomach.
This chicken-flavored gel is made with glycerin and vegetable oil to gently move hairballs through your cat’s stomach. This natural-hairball solution contains vitamins A, D, and E, which helps keeps your cat’s coat glossy while reducing shedding.
Soft Chew Products
You don’t need to have a sticky mess all over your cat’s paw anymore. Laxatone Soft Chews help hairballs end up in the litterbox versus your bedroom carpet. The Laxatone Soft Chews also have an added benefit of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids for healthy skin. Chicken liver flavored.
There is no single way to 100% prevent your cat from getting hairballs, but following these tips can greatly reduce the risk:
- Brush your cat regularly. Brushing your cat regularly encourages bonding while removing as much fur as possible so it doesn’t become a hairball in their stomach. You should also consider, especially if you can’t get your cat to let you brush them, taking them to a professional groomer every six months or so.
- Start a high-fiber diet with specialized cat food. Many cat food manufacturers are making high-fiber formula food so that your cat’s digestive system is able to aggressively combat hairballs.
- Discourage excessive grooming. If you have a long hair cat like mine, there is a big chance that you have found a hairball somewhere in your home. Especially because some cats love to groom more than others. If you can, train your cat to partake in other activities they might enjoy, even if that means spending a little more time with a laser in your hand.
There are, however, things that you should look for since any of these symptoms may be potentially life-threatening because of a blockage:
- Continual gagging, retching, or vomiting without hairballs
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Changes in Appetite
We all love our pets and want the best for them. So keeping your eyes open for some of these symptoms is key. Understanding that hairballs are natural and perfectly normal, it is often an involuntary body function. Using positive reinforcement is always a good way to train your pet where to place their hairballs. If you see your pet starting to retch, lead them to a place where they are able to vomit, and then give them a treat. Doing so encourages them to vomit only in the selected area.
My cat hasn’t thrown up a hairball in quite a few months now. And now he can be happy while grooming himself and I don’t need to worry about finding a wet ball of fur in my shoe! Thank you for reading and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-JEFFERS (1-800-533-3377). For more products, please visit Jefferspet.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures and to keep up with our specials, promos, and videos/pictures of cute pets!
Meet My Cats
This is the culprit of all my stories. His name is Felix and he is two years old. We think he is a Turkish Van Cat mixed with Maine Coon. He is one of the strangest cats I know. Felix acts like a dog and loves to cuddle with my wife although I was the one that picked him! He absolutely loves people and gets super excited when new people come to visit. He loves being picked up and he loves getting his gums massaged (this is good since we clean their teeth twice a week). Besides that, he is an adorable little cat that takes his food out of his bowl and eats it from the ground.
This is my pretty girl. Her name is Chloe. She is a standard short hair cat and she acts like an actual cat. She goes into hiding when people come into our home. The good thing about her is that she likes when I pick her up and enjoys cuddling with me slightly more than my wife (although she still cuddles with my wife). She loves playing with toys or with her brother Felix, but she loves little cloth mice.
Fun Fact about my cats: We bought them two little Star Wars mice: Han Solo and Princess Leia. They destroyed Princess Leia, but not Han Solo. Still don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
Information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.
You might also be interested in our 6-Point Cat Wellness Plan.