Hack Attack?

Turns out, hairballs aren’t just gross annoyances -- they’re actually a kitty choking hazard! As the weather gets warmer, cats tend to overgroom to alleviate shedding hair, and although you think your clothes and furniture suffer the brunt, much of the hair ends up ingested. Feline-only practitioner Dr Arnold Plotnick offers a few tips on how to keep your cat healthy and hairball free.

cat laying on couch

How to prevent hairballs in cats

1Be diligent about grooming

Decrease the amount of hair the cat ingests by using a grooming tool like the FURminator deLuxe deShedding Tool, which can reduce shedding by 90%. Proactive grooming removes the excess hair that causes hairballs and is a more holistic preventive measure than giving your cat a laxative or allowing him to cough up the blockage.

2Kitties need fibre, too

Add a little canned pumpkin to the cat's meals once or twice a week. The fibre in the pumpkin can help move any hair clumps through the system, and your cat will love the tasty treat. Butter can have the same effect, but is high in calories.

3Keep your cat hydrated

Encourage the cat to drink plenty of water by placing bowls throughout the house, as the water will help flush out the hair before it has time to clump in the stomach. It is also a great general practice to keep water bowls separate from food bowls to encourage the cat to drink more water.

4Make over the cat's menu

Several specially-formulated cat foods aid in the fight against hairballs. Always consult with a vet before making any drastic changes to your cat's diet. Sudden food changes can sometimes upset the stomach.

5Know the warning signs

If a hairball problem persists, ask a veterinarian to recommend a supplement to help prevent ingested hairs from clumping. Here are a few signals a cat may have an excessive hairball problem:

  • Frequent dry hacking
  • Constipation
  • Cylindrical (cigar-shaped) masses on the floor or furniture
  • Lethargy or lack of interest in playing or eating
  • Swollen abdomen
  • An overly-matted coat

Dr Arnold Plotnick is the founder of Manhattan Cat Specialists, a cats-only veterinary hospital in New York City; he also writes a pet blog, Cat Man Do.

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Tags: cat care cat health cats hairballs living experts pet care pet health

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