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How to Help a Cat with Hairballs

Blog Home Sep 6, 2021

It’s not an unfamiliar sight to many cat parents – a big gloopy hairball on the floor (usually on the carpet or a rug, right?). And it’s not just the look of them that’s unpleasant – the sounds your feline friend makes when coughing one up can be quite horrific!  

Read on to discover the causes and symptoms of horrid hairballs and how you can help your puss avoid hairballs in the future.

So what causes hairballs in cats?

To your pet, grooming is the cat’s pyjamas. Self-grooming not only keeps your cat clean and healthy, but it soothes them too. It’s healthy that your cat has a regular self-grooming routine – some cat’s take up to 50% of their day grooming.

Cats have tiny hooks on their tongues – if you’ve ever been licked by your cat, you’ll know how scratchy it feels! These hooks catch all the dead hairs as your cat is grooming (much like a brush would). However, they can sometimes end up swallowing some of the fur they remove.

This fur will usually pass naturally in their poo, but there may be the odd hairball which refuses to budge. Until they hack it up of course, in which case you’ll soon be coming across a slimy fur deposit lurking somewhere in your home. Lovely!

Are some cats more likely to have hairballs?

Unfortunately for those of you that have extra floofy cats, you may have a few more hairballs to clean up after. After all, there’s a lot more ‘fur’ them to swallow! 

You may notice that as your cat gets older, they have more hairballs than when they were kittens. With all that practice, they become much more adept at removing that extra fur with their tongues! However, all that fluff has gotta go somewhere and chances are, they’ll try to gulp it down.

What are the symptoms of hairballs?

Coughing, gagging, retching – it’s not a pretty sound or sight. These are the initial signs you may notice if your cat has a hairball.

Other symptoms to look out for include:

  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Excessive munching on grass

If you’re seeing any of these signs, we’d definitely recommend checking in with your vet.

What can you do to help prevent hairballs?

An easy first step is to maintain a regular grooming routine. That’s right; beat them to it by giving them a good brushing. Doing this regularly will take away any excess hair. It’s a good idea to get your puss into the routine of getting brushed from a young age, particularly if they’re a fluffball. You want it to be a relaxing experience for you both, not a fight! 

Another useful tip is to make sure you feed your cat small meals throughout the day instead of larger meals. This helps excess fur to be swept through their stomach and into their intestines, instead of popping back up for an unwelcome appearance. 

Preventing excessive grooming

Some cats can groom excessively. Reasons for this typically fall into two camps: behavioural and medical. Behavioural overgrooming could be due to stress, for example. Medical reasons could be due to allergies or pesky parasites causing irritation.

As part of your cat’s grooming routine, it’s a good idea to give them a once-over with a flea comb to pick off any microscopic mingers that may have hitched a ride on your cat. You’ll also want to use monthly parasite protection to keep those parasites at bay, eliminating irritation that could lead to over-grooming.

If you notice your pet over-grooming, you may find that distracting them helps. Engage them in a game instead with their favourite toy!

How can Itch help prevent these problems?

Fur-tunately, we have a tasty solution to help prevent hairballs being problematic! Itch Hairball Treats are packed with oils, fats and minerals to help break down hairballs and prevent new ones from forming.

Every wheat-free bite contains a crispy, cereal shell with a dreamy cream-filled centre, making each kibble both irresistible and nutritious. Ideal as a treat or reward, Itch Hairball treats are purrfect for kittens to old timers and for sterilised cats! 

Add these tasty nibbles to your cat’s Itch pack today.