Hairballs are clumps of fur that accumulate as part of your cat's normal grooming process. As your cat licks her fur, she ingests it. Generally, the fur will pass through her stool or she will vomit it up in the form of a hairball.
"While it is normal for cats to have the occasional hairball, it is possible for hairballs to become impacted and block the intestinal tract," says Dr. Simon Starkey, PetSmart veterinary expert. "In these cases, surgery is sometimes required to remove the blockage."
Symptoms include coughing, gagging, loss of appetite, constipation and the vomiting of hair and mucus. Hairballs are often tubular in shape.
Cats with longer coats and those that are fastidious groomers can experience more problems with hairballs.
How can cat food for hairballs help?
Premium cat foods that are high in fiber can help your cat pass existing hairballs and prevent new ones from forming. The fiber-rich food helps move the hair through the gastrointestinal tract where it is deposited in the stool. Look for foods that are specially formulated to reduce hairballs. These foods are fiber rich, so keep in mind that your cat may need to use the litter box more often.
Growing healthy coats also helps prevent hairballs.
"Premium food high in quality ingredients, fatty acids, vitamins and nutrients are essential in growing healthy coats that are less prone to breakage and hair loss," says Dr. Starkey.
Combine a diet of quality cat food along with regular grooming, especially during spring and summer when shedding is more frequent, to help reduce the incidents of cat hairballs.
If you believe your cat is experiencing hairballs or you are interested in switching your cat's diet to one formulated to control hairballs, consult your vet.
Other hairball remedies:
Providing your cat regular doses of hairball remedy can also help treat hairballs. The treatments come in a tube, much like toothpaste, and come in different palatable flavors. These remedies work as an internal lubricant to help prevent hairballs from forming.
There are also a variety of hairball treats on the market that contain hairball lubricant or mineral oil to help prevent and treat hairballs.
The information used in this report is approved by PetSmart nutritionists and vet experts.
Information from "Small Animal Clinical Nutrition," 5th Edition, Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush, Novotny, Copyright 2010 by Mark Morris Institute was used in this report.
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