A plethora of feline hairball remedies are abound. Homeopathic remedies passed down through generations of folklore as well as clinical solutions promulgated through modern medical science both seek to proffer solutions to this timeless problem. But herein lies the real question: What exactly are hairballs? Why should we care? Is it really a problem? Or is it just a mere inconvenience to both cat owner as well as to cat? Does it require any type of medical intervention? Or is it better to let nature take its course? Can it lead to other problems for cats, later on in life, if nothing is done about it?
These are a handful of the rhetorical questions that mankind has sought to answer, with respect to our feline friends, for the thousands of years that they have been our companions in this journey through life. Perhaps it has never been much of a problem back in the old days. But now that the vast majority of cats in the world are domesticated and kept indoors, and we humans are living in closed quarters, in close proximity to them, the problem of hairballs (and their respective feline hairball remedies) has become all the more prevalent and has become an object of concern for us.
Being that we live alongside these animals, perhaps the fact that cats may occasionally vomit up hairballs might pose as nothing more than a minor inconvenience. You just clean it up and then move along. But if your cat is vomiting up hairballs frequently, then that might be a cause of concern and consternation. After all, we care about our pets and want them to live a good quality of life, don’t we not? At this point, things may escalate from mere inconvenience to nuisance.
Before You Read Any Further: Disclaimer
In this article, we hope to help provide feline hairball remedies that can help provide much-needed relief for your cat, as well as to offer actionable steps, that if proactively adopted, can help to minimize and mitigate the possibility and risk of your cat succumbing to hairballs again in the future.
However, before we proceed, I would like to provide one caveat, in full disclosure:
Firstly, the content contained in this article (or anywhere on this website in general) does not in any way shape or form constitute professional medical advice. It should not be used in place of the advice that can be offered by a licensed professional veterinarian. The content of this website is based on the advice of avid cat loves and pet enthusiasts like you and me. The advice contained herein is based on our experiences and our own research.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained herein is as accurate and reliable as possible. And we trust that you will find the information contained herein to be extremely useful and helpful. But to the extent that your cat may be in need of actual medical help, you may deem it necessary to take your cat to see an actual veterinarian and seek out their advice instead. So now that we have gotten that disclaimer out of the way, let’s proceed now, shall we?
What Are Hairballs?
So what exactly are hairballs you might ask? Hairballs are also commonly referred to as furballs. And these are exactly as their name implies: balls of fur, or balls of hair. What these are, are basically large quantities of your cats fur that have become intertwined in sufficient quantity so as to form a semi-rigid mass that is spherical or cylindrical in shape. Imagine a ball of yarn, that has formed by twirling several strings of yarn together, to the point where you could literally treat it as a single mass (and could even roll it around like a ball if you wanted to).
How Do Hairballs Form?
Perhaps it may be helpful to understand how exactly hairballs form in your cat’s stomach in the first place, before we delve into evaluating the various feline hairball remedies that are available at your disposal.
As a cat owner, it should come as no surprise to you that your cat is instinctively and genetically hard-wired to groom itself. It does this by licking itself incessantly. I’ve never counted how many times a day my cats lick themselves, but it sure does seem fair to guesstimate that they spend a good percentage of their waking hours obsessively licking themselves all over, from head to tail. This is how they keep themselves clean. It is also how they relax themselves.
While this is all well and good, there’s only one problem with this: When cats lick their own fur, there is always the possibility that a minuscule, trace amount of loose fur might get dislodged from its body and get stuck to the tongue. This individual strand of fur might then get swallowed, totally unbeknownst to the cat.
Now, one or two strands of fur occasionally swallowed by your cat may seem completely innocuous and harmless. However, taken in aggregate, it can actually prove to be quite problematic. Imagine if your cat were to lap up on or two strands of fur with each session of grooming, but you multiply that over dozens of grooming sessions. It would only be a matter of time before those individual strands of fur could start collecting. They could start clinging together and becoming intertwined, until eventually they form a very taut, impenetrable and formidable “solid” message.
This mass is what is commonly referred to as a “hairball” or as a “furball”.
What Happens When Cat Hairballs Don’t Just Get Excreted Normally?
Under normal circumstances, you would expect that anything that your cat ingests into its stomach would eventually be excreted out the other end, if it cannot be digested by the body, right? While that does hold true for cat fur, there is always the possibility that cat fur may not be digested properly and may lay dormant inside your cat’s stomach, collecting more and more fur, gradually over the course of time, until it begins to grow in size. Eventually it may reach “critical mass” until it becomes a semi-solid mass.
What Is The Impact Of Cat Hairballs Then?
So this begs the question: What is the impact of having hairballs form in your cat’s stomach? Are there any adverse impacts?
In most cases, hairballs are harmless. Cats will either excrete them eventually over time, or they may simply vomit them out. The latter is the more common outcome of the two. If you have ever noticed a mass of fur in your cat’s vomit, that is clearly a telltale sign that it was a hairball that had just been expelled from the body.
However, there is a very real possibility that this hairball could just get stubbornly lodged within the cat’s stomach, creating an obstruction in your cat’s gastrointestinal passageway. Your cat is neither able to vomit it up, nor is it able to excrete it out.
And to make matters worse, your cat is not able to digest anymore food, due to the blockage of the passageway. This latter condition can of course lead to extremely serious consequences if left untreated without any feline hairball remedies.
How Do I know If My Cat Needs Feline Hairball Remedies?
Among the most apparent signs that your cat may be suffering with a bout of hairballs are that your cat:
is vomiting more frequently than what is considered “normal”.
has expelled a vomit specimen includes wads of fur.
is experience a loss of appetite, either eating very little or not at all.
has lost weight.
is exhibiting signs of lethargy.
Any one of these aforementioned behaviors are indications that something is wrong. And that something could probably be hairballs. And among these, the most apparent sign would of course be the presence of fur in your cat’s vomit.
How do I know if I should take my cat to the vet?
In this article, we are going to discuss various “do it yourself” home made solutions to help alleviate your cat’s hairball condition as well as various proactive measures you can take to prevent the situation from getting worse or from recurring.
It takes a little bit of patience, time and effort, and trial and error until you might see some results. However, at any point, if you feel that your cat is not doing well at all, then you are advised to take your cat to the veterinarian. But if you feel that your cat seems to be doing okay, except for the minor inconvenience of you having to clean up its vomit every once in a while, then perhaps you can afford to wait and try to treat your cat’s problem on its own.
In and of itself, cat hairballs is not a “disease”. It is not some kind of illness, affliction, or malady. It is just a problematic condition that needs to be dealt with. Albeit, it is not something you want to ignore completely either. It is something that you will want to pay attention to, and make sure it is addressed, before it gets out of hand.
Dietary Feline Hairball Remedies
Since the ingestion of hairballs involves the digestive system of a cat, it follows that the remedies for eradicating stubborn hairballs (and also for preventing future hairballs) should also involve a solution that is dietary in nature as well.
In the following sections below, we will go over a number of common “do-it-yourself” dietary feline hairball remedies, each of which will not cost you anything extra above and beyond what you might have already typically spent on your cat for food and maintenance in the first place, anyway. You may find that any combination of these may provide the relief that your cat seeks.
Hairball Control Cat Treats
One of the simplest feline hairball remedies available to you is something that you can purchase right now, over-the-counter. There is no prescription needed. You can pick these up at your local grocery store in the pet food aisle, or you can buy them online and have them shipped to you right here. I am referring to hairball control cat treats.
As a cat owner, you no doubt must have fed your cat some treats at one point or another. Perhaps you feed them treats occasionally. Or perhaps you give them treats regularly. But whatever the case may be, the good news is that, if your cat is suffering from hairballs, then you can opt to feed your cat hairball control cat treats. They look, smell, and taste just like traditional cat treats, but they are specially formulated and infused with ingredients that are conducive to aiding digestion and helping to expel hairballs from the body.
There are a wide variety of hairball control cat treats on the market. Many of the popular cat food brand manufacturers will typically offer a “hairball control” version of some of their regular cat treats.
Hairball Control Cat Food
If you find that feeding your cat hairball control treats is an easy solution to the hairball problem, then wait until you hear about this one:
Hairball control cat food. This solution is even easier than the cat treats aforementioned option above. All you have to do is replace your cat’s regular dry cat food with specially formulated hairball control cat food, and then let nature take its course and work its magic. While your cat goes about their business, eating food at its usual mealtimes, as they are habituated to, your cat is not only consuming the normal, vital nutrients that it needs in order to nourish itself. But it is also consuming ingredients that are conducive to the promotion of a healthy digestive system and which can facilitate in expelling any stubborn hairballs that are lodged within your cat’s stomach.
On the other hand, if your cat happens to be a picky eater, and doesn’t take too well to changes to its cat food, then you can supplement your cat’s regular cat food with the specially formulated hairball control cat food.
Insofar as what hairball control cat foods we would recommend, one specific product stands out from among the rest as being the superior choice for dealing with your cat’s hairball woes:
Hills Science Diet Hairball Control Cat Food.Hills Science Diet is among the healthiest lines of cat food product brands available on the market today. It provides nothing less than premium quality, nutrient dense food that is vital for your cat’s health and nourishment. No junk food. Therefore, it follows that its hairball control cat food products will also be highly nutrient-dense, following in the same vein as the rest of its products.
How Do Hairball Control Cat Foods and Treats Work?
If you are wondering how do hairball control cat foods and cat treats work, the simple answer is in their key ingredient:
Yes, fiber. You read correctly. This is the nutrient that is commonly known to be found in all fruits and vegetables, and which is essential for optimal digestive health, in human beings.
As it turns out, fiber is also beneficial for cat’s digestive health as well.
But you may be wondering: How can cats eat fiber if they are carnivorous? Cats do not eat plants, fruits, and vegetables. They eat primarily meat and dairy only.
Well, the simple answer is that fiber can be found in the bones, ligaments, and tendons of their prey. It can also be found in the undigested food in the stomach of their prey.
Cats that hunt for their food out in the wild will therefore theoretically be able to consume fiber, depending on what animals they catch and what parts of their body that they consume.
But what about domesticated cats? How would they get their fiber?
That is precisely where these specially formulated hairball control cat foods and cat treats come into the picture. Since these foods are engineered and processed, they are infused with fiber. It is the fiber that aids with digestion and promoting a healthier digestive system.
If solid foods and snacks are not your cat’s thing, for whatever reason (whether it be due to culinary preference or your cat has dental issues and has difficulty chewing solid foods), and your cat prefers to eat soft, chewy, or wet cat food, then there is another alternative:
Hairball treats that come in gel form. Your cat can just lick the gel right off of your finger or right out of the food bowl. It contains the same concentration of ingredients and also the same fiber content as its solid counterparts contain. It just comes in a gelatinous format instead of solid.
Oils are another dietary option for dealing with your cat’s bout with hairballs. Feeding your cat a little bit of oil can quite literally help to “grease things up” a bit, if there is a massive wad of fur that is lodged in their stomach or somewhere downstream in their gastrointestinal system. Oil can help to “move things along”. Irrespective of whether the hairball is expelled in the form of vomiting or in the form of excretion, oil can help facilitate that movement. Furthermore, oils can also provide numerous other health benefits for your cat, if consumed in moderate quantities, and if you are very selective about which type of oil you choose to feed them.
What Types Of Oil?
As for which types of oils you should feed your cat, the two top contenders for your best option, based on our recommendations here at HairballCures.com, would be olive oil (the extra virgin variety) as well as coconut oil. Both of these oils are safe for cats to consume, while also offering numerous health benefits that your cat can also realize in the process. So it can be said that feeding your cat is an all-around win-win solution for your cat: Both in terms of eradicating its hairball problem as well as in terms of promoting its general health.
How Much Oil?
So just how much oil should you feed your cat, in order to cure them of their hairball situation? While there is no fixed right or wrong answer, there are some general guidelines that you can follow. One thing you absolutely do not want to do is feed your cat too much oil. That can lead to a myriad of other problems, the most apparent of which would be weight gain. Oil is very high in calories, so you want to make sure that you are using it sparingly in small doses.
One recommendation would be to feed your cat no more than one teaspoon of oil, two or three times per week. This is erring on the conservative side. If you don’t seem to be seeing any results or any improvement in your cat’s situation, then perhaps you can increase the frequency of each dosage to daily, if needed. But generally speaking, you would be ill-advised to feed your cat much more than that.
For more information about oils, check this out.
Calorie restriction is another alternative approach to helping to alleviate your cat’s hairball problems. It costs absolutely nothing. In fact, this method actually saves you money. Now, this method may not necessarily cure your cat’s hairball problems. But it can certainly help to prevent your cat’s situation from getting worse.
There are three ways you can go about doing this:
#1: Give your cat less food at each meal time.
#2: Space out your cat’s meals so that there is a greater gap in time between each meal.
#3: Use some combination of option 1 and option 2.
What curbing your cat’s dietary intake essentially does is give your cat’s gastrointestinal system a “break”. It gives it a chance to “cure the backlog” of any fur that might be stuck, and let it pass (or let it be vomited out).
The last thing you want to be doing, when there is a clog, is for you to exacerbate the situation by adding more food into the system.
Again, this method doesn’t necessarily cure the problem, but it may be something you inevitably end up having to do.
And once your cat has regurgitated or passed its hairball, then you can gradually increase the frequency and quantity of its food intake again.
Brushing cats is an effective way to prevent the onset of hairballs. It does not fall under the category of feline hairball remedies per se. But it would be considered a preventative measure.
When cats lick their own fur, strands of fur may inadvertently be ingested by them, albeit in trace amounts. With the multiplier effect, this can result in hundreds if not thousands of individual strands of fur being swallowed up, intertwined, and forming a ball.
What brushing can do for your cat is to proactively remove any loose, excess fur that might be in the process of shedding. Basically you are beating your cat to the punch and removing the excess, loose fur, before your cat ingests it.
What type of brush?
Frequency of Brushing
So this begs the question: How often and how much should you brush your cat?
Obviously if you are a busy person who is out of the house most of the day, most days of the week, it might be challenging for you to carve out the time to sit down and brush your cat on a daily basis, for fifteen minutes each day. That might seem like too much for you.
So it could suffice for you to brush your cat frequently and regularly. But most importantly, you must brush your cat consistently. Perhaps a few times a week for a few minutes each day would suffice.
But if even that it is too inconvenient for you, then once a week or once every two weeks. The key is to get it done.
Or you could even pay a professional grooming service to brush your cat for you. (They can even trim their claws and even give them a bath, while they’re at it.)
Now if you do decide to brush your cat by yourself, then I would strongly recommend The Furminator. The Furminator is unique in that with a single hand and just the press of your thumb, you can brush your cat and dispose of the fur. The brushes are designed to be sturdy, durable and rigid, and are capable of smoothly removing fur while you gently glide the brush over your cat’s body. The fur gets stuck to the brush. Then to dispose of the fur that is clinging to the brush, you just push a button. This forces the fur off of the brush and into whatever trash receptacle that you have.
Bathing Your Cat
Speaking of which, bathing your cat regularly is also an effective way to help mitigate the risk of hairball ingestion. Bathing can help wash away loose fur that might be lingering on their body, just waiting to be licked up!
Bathing, when done in conjunction with brushing, is an excellent two-pronged approach to combating this problem. Perhaps you could even combine the two activities and have them done in succession, one after the other. Bath your cat after brushing them. This will rinse off any loose strands of fur that your brush did not otherwise pick off.
What kind of shampoo should you use?
When it comes to bathing your cat, not all cat shampoos are created equal. You do not want to just use any old random pet shampoo on your cat. If your cat is prone to be susceptible to hairballs, then it might behoove you to invest in a good shampoo that actually helps to mitigate your cat’s tendency to shed. The less your cat sheds, the less likely your cat will lap up any loose fur when self-grooming. And the less fur that it laps up, the lower the likelihood that hairballs will form within their stomach!
Not to mention the fact that your cat will actually be clean and have a nice smooth coat of fur! It’s a win win!
I would highly recommend Hartz Groomer Hairball Control Shampoo.
Infused with freshly scented with microbeads and this formulaic hairball prevention shampoo gently washes away any loose, excess fur. This should yield a silky and shiny coat.
Your cat having hairballs is not a “fur-gone conclusion” (pun intended). There are many DIY feline hairball remedies available that you can try, to help your cat expel hairballs. Likewise, there are many options available at your disposal for preventing your cat from ingesting hairballs in the future. It just takes patience, discipline, trial and error, to find the solution that works best for you and your cat. Worst case scenario, you can always take your cat to the vet. But most of the time, hairballs are not something that require immediate medical attention. Most normal, healthy cats are able to vomit up hairballs without any problem… thus providing them some relief.
So now it’s your turn! Do you have a cat that has ever suffered from hairballs before? If yes, have you tried any of the above solutions? Did they work for you? Or have you ever tried something entirely different?
We would love to hear your feedback, your advice, or hear your stories with respect to feline hairball remedies! Please do share in the comments section down below, and I will be sure to respond back to you. Together, we can unite to help make the world a better place for our cats, one hairball at a time!
Request multiple site comments on this.