Every now and then you may come across hairballs or furballs on the floor. You may also have seen or heard your cat trying to cough up furballs. On this page we will give you pictures, videos, step by step guides and some great tips and advice about how to treat furballs.
Before we start it is important to remember that furballs are natural and the occasional furball causes no harm to your cat. It is however important for all owners to understand what furballs are and the potential reasons and risk of excessive furballs.
What are the symptoms of furballs?
Are you having cat furball problems?
Is there cat furball remedies and cat furball treatments that act as a cat furball control?
Can you even cure cat furballs….
What is a Furball?
Cat furballs form when your cat grooms. Your cat has a rough tongue similar to velcro or sandpaper, you may have felt this if your cat has licked your fingers. When your cat grooms the tongue takes all of the dead or lose hair off the coat. This is a natural way for your cat to keep there coat in good condition.
Unfortunately once the hair is off the coat and into the mouth they can’t spit or pick it out. Your cat has to swallow it. You may have seen on nature programmes when a big cat catches a bird, they can have feathers in their mouth for days. The only way for the cat to clear the mouth is to swallow. Once the hair enters the stomach the hair will normally be digested and pass through your cat. Sometimes the hair can’t be digested, in this case it will stay in the stomach. As time goes by the hair will build up and mix with the fluids in your cat’s stomach, over time a ball shape will form. Once the ball reaches a certain size it usually starts to irritate your cats stomach. This is what causes your cat to be sick. A hairball is completely natural and it is healthy for your cat to bring up a furball if it forms.
A furball doesnt always look like a ball. In fact they are normally sausage shaped and can often be mistaken for something you would find at the bottom of the litter tray. So before you chase your cat around the bedroom for pooping on the floor take a closer look! .
How do cats deal with furballs they can’t bring up?
You may often see your cat eating grass in the garden. Grass adds little nutritional value to your cat’s diet but there is a reason why your cat does this. Eating grass is a natural way for your cat to regurgitate (be sick). So if your cat has undigestible things in their stomach, like small bones or a hair ball they can sick it up by eating grass.
What if you have a house cat?
For house cats it’s not that simple. House cat are normally longer haired than cats that go outdoors because more people keep long haired pedigree cats indoors. No natural grass allowing any cat to be sick means that if your cat can’t regurgitate a furball then the furball will build up in your cat’s stomach and intestines. This is a major problem and can cause your cat serious health issues. Longer haired cats can produce a larger hairball purely as they have longer hair.
Click here for more information on house cats
The first major thing to do with all cat health care is prevention. You will never be able to eliminate a hairball forming altogether but we can reduce and prevent them.
You should groom your cat daily. This means your brush and comb will take off your cats dead and loose hair instead of your cats tongue. Regular brushing will reduce the intake of hair and reduce a hairball forming and irritating your cat’s stomach.
Click here for advice on grooming your cat
High Fibre Cat Food
You can now buy food especially designed to help furballs for indoor cats. The food will often be high in fibre and may say ‘reduces hair/furball’s’.
The high fibre diet will help your cat pass the hair through its system instead of a low fibre diet where the hair gets stuck either in the gut or intestine. This stops the hairball from actually forming and is highly recommended for all house cats.
Hairball Cat Food ( Pumpkin )
Pumpkin is a high fibre cat friendly food. You will see many treats in your local pet store or online store that claim to ‘reduce furball’s’.
This is because pumpkin is very high in fibre. You will often find pumpkin in organic pet food for cats because it is completely natural and a very beneficial ingredient in your cats diet.
If your cat is having problems regurgitating a furball then take your cat to the vet. They can either prescribe or recommend a medicine. These medicines can be bought over the counter in most large pet stores. Always go with a recommended quality brand.
The medicine will normally be in lubricant form. Some people swear by using butter which is thought to lubricate your cat’s insides but a scientifically proven hairball medicine is normally recommended.
The medicine will usually come in cat friendly flavours and will lubricate your cat’s stomach and intestines. This makes it easier for the hair or hairball to pass from the stomach into your cats litter tray.
What happens if we don’t assist?
A large hairball can be very uncomfortable for cats and can cause serious medical conditions. A hairball that can’t be regurgitated will continue to form within the stomach.
Large furballs become painful and cause blisters, ulcers and pain. This can result in your cat only being able to eat small amounts of food at a time. This causes loss of appetite and can cause weight loss.
Hairball pain can also cause cat depression and anxiety due to poor quality of life. Anxiety is not natural in cats so we have to ensure we prevent or rectify this as soon as we can.
A hairball that can’t be regurgitated can lead to stomach and bowl conditions causing your cat much pain and stress. If you think your cat is suffering from this then contact your local vet.
Other reasons for the build up of a hairball
Fleas and Parasites
Fleas, ticks and parasites can be successfully treated but can lead to a furball. You should all ready have your cat on a flea and parasite programme, even if you have an indoor cat this will normally be recommended by your vet in a lower dose.
Fleas and parasites can cause irritation to your cat’s skin that triggers your cat to groom excessively. Excessive grooming can cause a large build up of fur in the gut and intestine, this can cause the problems discussed above.
For more information on fleas and parasites click on the link below. Always seek medical advice if you think your cat is suffering from this condition but remember… prevention is always the key.
Excessive Hair Loss
If your cat is losing its hair then this can cause hair to build up in the stomach, you should seek medical advice from your vet. There are many conditions that cause your cat to lose hair or go bald, some serious and some not. This may be very worrying but don’t panic it can be common and treatable, seek medical advice.
It is worth trying to work out what you think the reason may be before you go to the vet as there are some questions they are likely to ask you about your cats lifestyle. Excessive hair loss can be caused by irritations to the skin, this may be caused by fleas, parasites, mites, ringworm, allergies, stress, boredom, changes to environment, hyperthyroidism amongst a few. So don’t immediate panic there is a good chance your cat can be treated, nevertheless seek medical advice as your vet is there to help.
Cat Stress (Psychogenic Dermatitis)
Psychogenic Dermatitis is becoming more common particularly in house cats. When your cat does not receive enough physical and mental stimulation it can lead to stress and boredom.
Bored animals often over groom themselves. This is common in birds kept in cages and cats kept indoors.
The boredom triggers your cat to excessively groom which can cause bald patches, hair loss and a build up of hair in your cat’s stomach.
Always seek medical advice if you think your cat is suffering from this condition but prevention is always the key.
Play games with your cat, get them toys and stimulate their natural instincts.