Hairballs are an unfortunate reality for both cats and their owners: while cat owners cringe at the familiar hunching, hacking and gulping that signals their pet is about to expel a hairball, the poor kitty looks to be just as distressed as he gyrates and gags in an effort to rid his stomach and throat of the unwanted fur.
What Causes Cat Hairballs?
Cats are notoriously clean animals, spending hours every day grooming their fur. This inevitably leads the cat to ingest some of his own fur, which often simply passes through the digestive system into the cat’s stool. Cats that are particularly furry, have slow digestive systems and those who are prone to excessive shedding may be unable to pass all the excessive fur through their stool, leading to the uncomfortable buildup of matted hair in their stomach. To relieve the bloating that hairballs can cause, cats will “hack up” the blockage.
Preventing Hairballs in Cats
Cat owners can help relieve their kitties from the discomfort of hairballs by removing excess fur from their cats using a specialized grooming tool such as the Furminator [http://www.furminator.com/]. Cat owners may also want to enlist the help of a professional groomer who can de-shed and clip the cat’s fur shorter; this minimizes the excess fur that leads to hairballs in cats.
Veterinarians often sell both prescription and over-the-counter products designed to help lubricate the cat’s insides, making it easier for the excess fur to move downward into the digestive tract and out through the cat’s stool. Some pet food manufacturers also offer anti-hairball formulations; this kitty food is usually higher in fiber and moisture content to help cats that have difficulty processing excess fur through their digestive tract.
While hairballs are rarely considered to be serious, and usually do not require any sort of medical intervention, hairballs are clearly unpleasant for both the cat and their owner. The best way to manage feline hairballs is simple prevention with non-intrusive, pain-free grooming solutions like daily brushing, de-shedding, and clipping long coats to a shorter length. Your professional pet groomer can assist with these chores.
If you want to keep a long coat long, a regular monthly deshedding session is recommended. If you prefer to clip your cat’s coat short (which usually means little to no brushing is needed), expect to see your groomer every 1 to 3 months. Alternately, you can likely keep up with it yourself if you faithfully brush on a daily basis.