Hairballs In Cats

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A cat’s stomach and intestines are designed to handle hair but some cats, and not just longhaired ones, accumulate hair in the stomach. Rather than passing through the intestines, it gets regurgitated back, usually exactly where you step out of bed in the morning. An occasional hairball is normal. Frequent regurgitation needs attention

Prevent excess hair from being swallowed through frequent combing. Brushing isn’t effective. A bristle brush doesn’t remove enough dead hair, especially down. Use a fine-toothed comb on shorthaired cats and a wider-toothed comb on longer hair.

Many cats ‘self-medicate’ by eating grass or plants. Course plant fibre helps them regurgitate hairballs but remember, many cats without hairballs also eat plant fibre simply because they’re attracted to it.

Treat hairballs with a proprietary hairball treatment. These usually contain either petroleum jelly or mineral oil. Alternatively, feed a commercial hairball diet, higher in fibre than regular cat food. Ashley McManus can advise you on the best diets. Fibre, usually in the form of beet pulp or powdered cellulose, helps to sluice hair through the intestines. Take care if you are adding fibre to a regular diet. Too much fibre may cause either diarrhea (because it absorbs moisture) or constipation (because it is bulky). As with any diet change, switch gradually and carefully monitor the litter tray for the results.

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