With the coming of Spring, you will start to notice your cat grooming more often and shedding its coat. Licking this loose hair can create another problem: hairballs! Your cat’s swallowed hair normally passes in the litter box. But, when it does not, the hair forms a mat in the stomach. When that mat builds up your cat will vomit this hair and we call these “hairballs”. The coughing, the choking, and the wet surprises stepped on in the night are no fun.
Here are a few ways you can help your cat to keep hairballs from forming:
Grooming – many cats accept or enjoy brushing to remove loose hair. Better yet, brushing also helps keep hair off you and your home. My favorite cat grooming tools are:
- Slicker brushes whose metal pins quickly remove loose hair even from long coats
- Soft rubber curries which work better for older cats with sensitive skin and on really short hair
Fiber – special food and treats add bulk and moisture to help hair to pass in stool
Laxatives – flavored hairball treatments coat swallowed hair and pass it in stool. Some cats refuse these but will eat butter or other oils such as bacon grease and the oil from tuna.
We joke about hairballs because they are nasty and inconvenient for you and your cat but, hair balls can cause serious blockages. If they are more than a seasonal irritation, please see your veterinarian.