Hairballs are a common problem that plague cats around the world. So we wanted to figure out if there was a natural hairball remedy for cats so Yoda can throw up less and we (as cat parents) can clean up less.
Though it’s one of the most common conditions in cats, it does not mean that our cats need to continue to suffer through it. With beginning to understand why our cats have hairballs, we have been able to create remedies for the “hairy” condition in order to make our cat’s lives more enjoyable. Like many other conditions that our furry friends can possess, many pet owners would like to turn to a more natural approach to treatment.
In this article, we will dive into the discussion of natural hairball remedies for cats and discuss the methods that we trust the most.
What Are Hairballs In Cats?
Hairballs in cats are the result of their daily grooming routine. Cats have tiny barb-like structures on their tongues that assist in their grooming process and capture loose hair with each stroke of their tongue.
Due to stray hair being swept up by these barbs, this hair is swallowed and moves through the digestive tract.
While most hair moves past the stomach and into the intestines, some fur remains in the cat’s stomach.
This hair that’s left in the stomach will often be vomited up, creating a hairball.
Why Do Cats Get Hairballs?
Hairballs in cats are the result of a cat’s grooming habits. While some cats do not groom as excessively as others, other cats, often those with long fur, groom to the point of getting hairballs.
Cats with long fur are known to be more prone to hairballs, as well as older cats that have become more proficient at removing excess fur as they age. It is also common for a cat to begin to develop hairballs as they get older, as they simply learn to become “skilled groomers.”
Symptoms Of Hairballs In Cats
Though many cat owners discover hairballs by the sight of the fur filled vomit on the floor, there are multiple signs of hairballs to be aware of. Symptoms of hairballs in cats include:
- Frequent vomiting
- Retching or gagging
- Slender or cylindrical vomit
- Lack of appetite
Are Hairballs Dangerous In Cats?
Though hairballs are extremely common in cats, it does not mean that they aren’t potentially dangerous. While most of the fur that your cat consumes while grooming will easily pass through their digestive tract, some cats are not so lucky.
If a hairball becomes too large or becomes impacted in the intestines or the stomach, it can cause serious health concerns for our feline friends.
A hairball that becomes lodged in the intestinal tract can be a serious issue that threatens their overall health. A lodged hairball is essentially a foreign body, which often requires surgical repair to remove the blockage.
A cat with an obstruction due to hairballs can experience excessive vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, and worse.
A lodged hairball can be life-threatening if not treated immediately, so it’s important to always be aware of the symptoms of hairball complications in cats.
Natural Hairball Remedies For Cats
Though the occasional hairball is nothing to worry about, they can still be a nuisance. Cat owners that have feline friends with frequent hairballs are often looking for a solution, leading many to wonder if there are any natural remedies.
You will find many hairball remedies when scrolling through the internet, some more reliable than others. In order to help you determine what’s best for your furry friend, let’s discuss some of the common remedies that you will find!
Ways You Can Help To Prevent Hairballs
Before we dive into the most common natural hairball remedies that you will find online, it’s important to dive into the easiest, and even most effective, method that you will find.
Oftentimes, hairballs can be prevented with the implementation of daily brushing. By brushing your cat daily, you can cut down on the amount of fur that they will consume when grooming on their own. Due to this, you can significantly decrease the frequency of hairballs in your cat. (Check out our best brushes for cats guide).
Another way to help prevent hairballs is by trying to discourage excessive grooming in your feline friend.
While we can’t see what our cat is up to at all times, we can try our best to distract them when they get into patterns of excessive grooming.
You can do this by drawing their attention to something else enjoyable such as playing with their favorite toy, chasing a laser around the house, or any other activity they seem to love.
Using Coconut Oil To Treat Hairballs In Cats?
The idea of using coconut oil to treat hairballs in cats is the belief that coconut oil promotes skin and coat health in cats. By having a healthier coat, the idea is that your cat will shed less often. Another idea behind coconut oil in cats is that it acts as a lubricant as it passes through the digestive tract. While each of these facts may be true, coconut oil does come with its own set of risks when offering it to cats.
Some veterinarians have their concerns about coconut oil due to the potential of gastrointestinal upset. The sudden addition of coconut oil into your cat’s routine can lead to diarrhea and vomiting, or even pancreatitis in severe cases. The increased fat intake can also lead to weight gain in cats, which can cause a number of secondary issues as well. Coconut oil is not approved or often backed by veterinary professionals, leading us to believe that it may not be the best approach for treating hairballs in cats.
Using Butter To Treat Hairballs In Cats?
We are shocked that this is a popular suggestion online, but yes, many cat owners are turning to melted butter to help treat their cat’s chronic hairballs. The belief is that butter acts as a lubricant when passing through the digestive tract, but it is not that simple. Putting melted butter on your cat’s food can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, pancreatitis, weight gain, and other serious issues due to the high-fat percentage in the butter. You won’t likely find a single veterinarian that supports this idea, meaning we do not recommend it either.
Approved Diet Additives To Treat Hairballs
Now that we’ve discussed some of the diet additives that we don’t approve of, let’s discuss some of the natural diet additives that we deem safe for your feline companion. Two approved diet additives to help prevent hairballs include:
Omega Fatty Acids: Omega fatty acids are a wonderful way to promote skin and coat health in your feline friend, as well as offer a natural lubricant to promote joint and digestive health. You can find omega fatty acids in natural supplements (Vetriscience Supplements), in approved cat diets, as well as in the form of treats (salmon soft chews).
Additional Fiber: Though you will find multiple articles that suggest adding pumpkin to your cat’s diet for extra fiber, multiple studies have found that your cat would require almost 2 cups of pumpkin daily to equal that of an approved diet with extra fiber.
Since veterinarians believe that pumpkin will not make much of a difference in the long run, it looks like a diet change may be the best approach. Some cat diets with extra fiber include:
Though Hairballs may be a common occurrence in our feline friends, there are ways to help limit their occurrence. Be sure to review the tips we’ve mentioned above, and your cat will be hairball free in no time!