Unpleasant as they are, hairballs are a natural part of your cat’s grooming process. Every time your cat grooms herself stray hairs make their way into her stomach; if too much is swallowed at once, the hair clumps together to make the hairball. Although for the most part cats are able to easily cough these back up (and who doesn’t love finding a wet ball of retched-up fur on their carpet?), hairballs also pose a risk of intestinal blockage that can clog your cat’s digestive system and lead to serious issues.
Here are four tips for taking care of this hairy situation:
1. Brush your cat often. Regular grooming can greatly reduce the amount of fur your cat will swallow by removing loose and stray hairs (plus it’s great bonding time!). Brush your cat well and then run a damp paper towel over her from head to tail to pick up any remaining loose hairs. For more tips on how to do it right, check out our Guide to Feline Grooming.
2. Add some more fiber to your cat’s diet. Fiber helps your cat pass hairballs more easily through her digestive system. Supplement your cat’s diet with more fiber by adding 1 tablespoon of wheat bran, 1 teaspoon rice bran, or 2 teaspoons canned pumpkin to her normal meal. Or you can grow some indoor grass, which gives your indoor kitty something fun to nibble on and provides a healthy dose of additional fiber.
3. Butter her up. Okay, don’t cover your cat in butter. But do consider feeding your cat a half-teaspoon of melted butter once a day for a few days in a row—the fat provides lubrication which helps hairballs pass through your cat’s system. Because butter is not exactly the healthiest of remedies weight-wise, don’t do this for more than a few days at a time, and if your kitty is overweight, consider a different remedy.
4. Use a special hairball product or laxative. Talk to your vet about products that may help your cat, such as a commercial tablet or mild laxative. There are quite a few available just for cats, and your vet may decide it is an appropriate course of action.
Any more tips for getting rid of hairballs? Share in the comments!