How to Control Hairballs

Healthy cats are fastidious groomers. As a result, they ingest a lot of hair! The good news is, their digestive tracts are designed to process hair. If your kitty is coughing up hairballs, this could be a sign of intestinal disease or a problem with their diet. Hairballs are not normal and in this article, I am going to share my recommendations for my patients with hairballs.

  1. Feed an appropriate diet. Feeding an exclusively canned diet can reduce or eliminate hairballs all together. Canned diets are high in protein, low in carbohydrates and high in moisture. This supports your kitty’s digestion and overall health. Cats that do not eat kibble and are on an exclusively canned diet may ask to eat more frequently. Try feeding 3-4 small meals per day.
  2. Hydrate. Cats are notoriously poor water consumers. They are desert animals and spend most of their time slightly dehydrated. Keeping them hydrated can help hair move through their digestive tract. I like using water fountains and canned diets to promote extra hydration.
  3. Groom. Decreasing the amount of hair your cat ingests, especially with long haired cats, can help reduce hairballs. Brushing or using a lint roller on your kitty once daily can be a fun way to bond and help them groom.
  4. Identify overgrooming. Some cats will groom too much if they are experiencing stress or body pain. Cats with arthritis may over groom their joint or limbs. Cats with bladder or abdominal pain will often over-groom their underside. This is their way of letting us know they are in distress. If you suspect your kitty is overgrooming, a visit to the vet is in order.
  5. Seek veterinary care. Hairballs are not normal and can be a sign of intestinal disease. Other conditions such as parasites, pancreatitis and kidney disease can also contribute to hairballs. Your veterinarian may run bloodwork, take x-rays, or use ultrasonography to find the underlying cause of your cat’s hairballs.

Thank you for loving your kitty! They are so lucky to have you. If you have any questions about hairballs, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

With love,

Dr. Angie

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