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Hairballs in Cats

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What are hairballs?

Cats spend up to 50% of the day grooming. This is to maintain their coat, to cool down, protect against predators or to bond with other cats. Continual licking of the coat can cause problems, as every time a cat grooms itself, loose hairs get ingested and hairballs form.

Most hair pass through the system with ease, but sometimes they clog and form an obstructing mass. A large hairball is made up of 15-30% protein which the cat’s stomach enzymes are not strong enough to dissolve. To help, cats may eat grass to make themselves vomit and remove the mass from the stomach.

Hairballs are most common in spring when a cat sheds its coat for summer. Cats groom themselves to loosen the hair. Finding hairballs on the carpet is unpleasant, but at least you know your cat is clearing the hair and not harboring it in its stomach.

 How can I prevent hairballs?

Unfortunately there are no guarantees that your cat won’t ever develop a hairball. But there are some things you can do to reduce the quantity of hairballs.

  • Regular grooming is essential for a healthy coat that sheds little. By grooming your cat on a weekly basis, you are helping to remove the loose hairs. You are also stimulating the coat to produce its natural oils and promoting better blood flow. Also, grooming helps strengthen the bond between cat and owner. Grooming also helps allow you to notice any changes to your cat’s condition, for example, weight gain or lumps. Long haired cats are particularly prone to hairballs so daily grooming should be part of their daily routine. The cat furminator is a popular de-shedding tool that claims to reduce shedding by up to 90%.
  • There are many tailored cat foods which help to break up hairballs so they can pass. A tailored diet may also be worth considering when it comes to preventing hairballs. Many of these foods contain natural oil and blended vitamins to support the health of the coat. Cats on a tailored diet are known to shed less. Dietary supplements can also be beneficial at preventing hairballs.Cat cleaning

What if my cat keeps getting hairballs?

If a particularly large hairball accumulates in the gastrointestinal tract and prevents eating, causes pain and constipation, it is sometimes necessary for your cat to have surgery. Yet, lubricants can work wonders at helping a hairball to pass through the system. Adding a lubricant to your cat’s food can help with the digestive process and passing the hair out.

Hairballs are not an unusual occurrence, but if your cat is vomiting up hair every week, it might be worth taking them to see the vet for advice. By no means are hairballs a serious condition but occasionally they can be. It is worth taking every possible measure to prevent them by reducing the amount of loose hair on your cat and in your home. As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As part as being a responsible cat owner, pet insurance should be put in place for the unfortunate event that your cat falls ill or has an accident. You can compare pet insurance to find the best policy to suit your individual needs.

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