Unfortunately, you can’t totally prevent hairballs in cats. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the frequency of hairballs as well as the likelihood that your cat will get them.
1. Regular Cat Grooming
The more fur you remove from the coat, the less fur that ends up in the stomach. Comb or brush your cat on a daily basis. I like to use a slicker brush or a fine-toothed comb such as a flea comb. Make sure that your grooming tool is removing the dead fur underneath the coat and not just glossing over the surface. If your long-haired cat won’t allow brushing, consider taking her to a professional groomer for a “lion-cut” once or twice a year.
2. Special Diet
You can try feeding your cat a specialized “hairball formula” cat food. These high-fiber formulas are designed to improve the health of your cat’s coat, minimize the amount of shedding, and encourage hairballs to pass through the digestive system.
3. Commercial Hairball Remedy Products
The most common kind is flavored petroleum jelly in a tube. These products physically coat or lubricate the hair ingested during routine grooming to encourage passage into the intestine. Some of these products also contain a mild laxative to help make the hair easier to pass in the stool. A lot of hair in the stool can cause constipation. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper dosage of hairball remedy. I like to put it into a syringe and squirt it into the cat’s mouth. Do not put it on your cat’s paw! It will end up a greasy mess on your walls and your cat will not ingest enough to be helpful.
Learn more about health insurance for your cat and what it covers at www.petsbest.com/cat-insurance.
By veterinarian Dr. Jane Matheys for Pets Best, a U.S. pet health insurance agency since 2005.