Learn to spot cat hairball symptoms that signal a dangerous complication. Also learn home remedies to treat problem hairballs and how hairballs can be prevented.
Cat Hairball Symptoms
Anyone who has owned a cat has probably had the pleasure of finding – or stepping in – a hairball. While hairballs are normal and usually harmless, they are unpleasant both for you and for your cat. Also, it is possible for hairballs to lead to serious medical issues, so cat owners should take steps to prevent them.
How Hairballs Can Lead to a Sick Cat
While, as mentioned above, hairballs are almost always harmless, it is possible for them to lead to a serious medical issue. If the hairball becomes lodged in the digestive tract, it can lead to big health issues for your cat. Symptoms of an intestinal blockage include:
- Refusing food (note: Never try to wait it out if your cat is refusing food. This will quickly lead to VERY serious issues, and even death.
- Hair in the stool
If you notice any of the above symptoms, have your cat seen by a vet right away.
Cat Hairball Symptoms: Prevention is Best Medicine
It is said about many things that prevention is the best medicine. This is very true when it comes to avoiding a sick cat and the hassle of dealing with your cat coughing up hairballs.
- Brushing – The number one way to prevent cat hairballs is simply to brush your cat each day. If you have a short hair cat, you can brush less often. When you brush your cat regularly, it removes much of the loose hair. Then, when your cat grooms, less hair will be ingested.
- Foods – There are certain cat foods that claim to aid in hairball prevention. This is only necessary if your cat has a particular problem with hairballs. See your vet for advice about whether you need to use a hairball prevention food and which brand is best.
Cat Hairball Treatment
If your cat is having problems with hairballs, there are some treatment options that may help. Of course, you should also start brushing the cat if you aren’t doing that already. In addition, consider trying one of the following home remedies after consulting with your vet.
- Mineral Oil – Since this is the main ingredient in hairball treatments sold over the counter, it makes sense that adding a bit to your cats food may help.
- Pumpkin – Part of the reasons hairballs form is that there is not enough lubrication. Plain canned pumpkin is not only a treat for your cat, but it adds some fiber and lubrication that may help treat a hairball problem. Note that you should use plain pumpkin and not canned pumpkin pie filling.
There are also over the counter hairball treatments which are sold at most pet supply stores. If nothing works, talk to your vet about options for your cat’s hairball symptoms that may be available with a prescription.