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Cat Hairballs: What They are and How to Take Care of Them

by Guest Contributor
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Whether presented in Tom & Jerry cartoons or other movies and shows, there’s a notorious reputation for our beloved felines and their hacking hairball ways. With their little, pink barbed tongues combined with incessant licking while grooming, it’s no wonder they hack up hairballs!

cat hairballs

Though most would not assume hairballs are that significant of an issue for cats, hairballs can have harsh repercussions on a cat’s health. Hairballs can cause blockages in the cat’s digestive system, leading to weight loss and dehydration. Other major concerns can be damage to the cat’s esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. Though not often, if hairballs become an incessant problem for your cat, depending on the hairball in question, it can be a fatal issue due to the blockages and damages it causes internally. It’s rare for hairballs to be fatal, but if it gets to that point, where the hairball is extremely large, more often than not, surgery is required.

Not all hairballs become such a serious issue, but there’s nothing wrong with stepping in to aid your feline companion in any way you can to prevent future health concerns. That’s why we’ve put together this list of heavily reviewed and highly rated hairball treats and remedies that can make a magnanimous impact in preventing and eliminating hairball concerns with your favorite feline.

Why Hairballs Are Harmful To Cats

Hairballs are a common issue amongst cats, caused by grooming their fur that ends up getting stuck in the gastrointestinal tract. This blockage can cause hacking, vomiting, and gagging which can be understandably painful for our precious felines.

If a hairball accumulates to a decent size that’s unable to pass through sphincters that lead to the stomach, intestinal tract, or esophagus, the hairball can end up lodging itself there, hence the hacking or retching when cats struggle with a large hairball. In some cases, if the hairball stays lodged, it can be a fatal health concern without a necessary surgical procedure.

Why Cats Accumulate Hairballs

An insoluble component of hair, a protein substance known as keratin, is, unfortunately for cats, indigestible. Much of the hair that’s swallowed by cats during grooming time can smoothly travel down the gastrointestinal tract where it’ll eventually make its way to the back end—feces.

Not all of this hair passes through the body. Some of the hair will set up camp in a cat’s stomach where it’ll steadily accumulate into what we know as a “hairball.”

National Hairball Awareness Day

Notorious for hacking up hairballs, cats have been designated for National Hairball Awareness Day on April 28th. This is for all cats: lots of long-haired cats and plenty of short-haired cats, too, that struggle with incessant hairballs from grooming with those barbed tongues we love so much—mainly because they’re attached to the feline, not because they’re particularly soothing when they’re practically shredding your skin with each lick…

Cornell Feline Health Center

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, hairballs can have hazardous potential if not approached properly. It’s not uncommon for a cat to hack up a hairball one to two times a week, but if the hairball grows too large and doesn’t pass through the cat’s digestive tract, then this can be a major health concern for any feline.

It’s recommended by the Cornell Feline Health Center to take a cat to the veterinarian if the cat has issues with vomiting or “unproductive retching” that exceeds two days. In some cases, surgery may be recommended or required to remove a hairball if it’s causing a blockage in a cat’s digestive tract. If not removed, it can be fatal. In other cases, a veterinarian may begin with using a laxative to encourage the hairball to travel down or up the digestive tract as a less invasive method.

It’s heavily advised to not give your cat a laxative unless approved by your veterinarian- a trained professional.

cat hairballs

The Importance Of Coat Health

The less excess hair that your cat ingests, the less chance of a resulting hairball.

Cats are constantly grooming, and they do this to remove excess hair and clean their coat. An owner can aid their cat by improvising their feline’s coat health with a number of methods. This can be taking time to comb or brush out their coat to remove excess hair, or it can be providing high-quality nutritious foods and supplements that promote a healthy coat.

The Cause of Excessive Grooming

There are two main reasons that can cause excessive grooming in cats which oftentimes lead to an overaccumulation of hairballs and health concerns.

Stress

Termed psychogenic alopecia, stress can be a big denominator for excessive grooming in cats. This can be a behavioral aspect, as the repetitive motion of grooming can ease stressors bothering a feline.

As most cat owners know, a cat is accustomed to its home and more times than not doesn’t enjoy change. Whether it be a visitor, a new pet, moving objects, or the doorbell ringing, this can be an immediate stressor for many felines. Stress is normal for all types of creatures, big and small, so a cat may begin to groom itself incessantly as a form of stress relief.

Skin Concerns

Oftentimes, when excessive grooming isn’t a form of stress relief for a cat, it may be due to a medical reason. Issues like skin allergies and skin parasites, like fleas and mites, can be a big reason for excessive grooming.

Skin parasites can cause the cat’s skin to be undeniably itchy, resulting in excess grooming to relieve the itch. Staying on top of your cat’s flea, tick, and mite prevention medicine is essential in preventing itchiness and other health concerns caused by these parasites.

Nutri-Vet, Hairball Paw Gel For Cats

Made in the USA, Nutri-Vet’s Hairball Paw Gel For Cats sources its premium ingredients globally for high-quality success and standards. Every product by Nutri-Vet is approved by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), as shown by the labeled seal on each product.

Hairball Prevention

This Hairball Paw Gel For Cats is formulated with two different oils—soybean oil and vegetable oil. Both have important purposes in the formula in efforts to either prevent or eliminate hairballs. The oils aid in doing this by lubricating the intestinal tract, which makes the hairball travel down smoother and prevents any coughing, choking, or hacking commonly caused by hairballs.

Prime Flavor

Available in two flavor varieties, salmon and chicken, this Hairball Paw Gel For Cats is popular for its flavor that makes treating cats with hairball problems a lot easier.

Nutritional Benefits

Daily use of this product, combined with consistent brushing, can do more than reduce hairballs for your favorite feline. The nutritional benefits of this hairball gel extend to promoting a glossy, shiny coat and healthy, vibrant skin. A healthy coat can make waves in preventing hairballs, which can be caused by excessive shedding of fur.

Quality

Formulated and designed by veterinarians, every single one of Nutri-Vet’s products is backed by studies and research. Premium ingredients, a dedication to top quality, and high standards join together to create Nutri-Vet’s successful products for your favorite feline companion.

Reviews

Nutri-Vet’s Hairball Paw Gel For Cats is rated 4.3 out of 5 stars. Out of 2,521 global ratings, 64% of them are 5 stars.

Pros

5 stars out of 5! A happy customer boasted how Nutri-Vet’s Hairball Paw Gel For Cats worked for her old cat that strained with bowel blockage, weakness, and hairball blockage. After three days of using this magnificent product, her cat was unblocked. No longer is her kitty weak or anxious. Her cat has finally gained healthy weight, has no more issues with potty-time blockage, and has gained a gorgeous coat in the process of using Nutri-Vet’s Hairball Paw Gel For Cats.

A Ragdoll owner posted 5 stars for Nutri-Vet’s Hairball Paw Gel For Cats! Her poor kitty started having some serious issues caused by strenuous hairballs. Once the cat owner switched to this product, her cat tooted immediate results!

Cons

Rating Nutri-Vet’s Hairball Paw Gel For Cats 1 star, one reviewer noted the carcinogenic ingredients on the ingredients label for this product. They’ve been using this hairball product for years and have boasted about it to other cat owners with how effective it is in hairball prevention, but after noting the carcinogenic properties in the ingredients have decided to step away from using this product any further.

One cat owner was displeased with the effectiveness of the cat treats stating they did “nothing” to aid her kitty struggling with hairballs.

Temptations, Indoor Care Cat Treats

Known as America’s #1 cat treat brand, Temptations Indoor Care Cat Treats are no exception to the power of this popular brand—-for good reason!

Hairball Prevention

These Indoor Care Cat Treats are specifically designed and formulated to aid in feline digestive health. The increased fiber in the ingredients is a powerful tool in empowering a healthy digestive system that runs smoothly, helping prevent or reduce hairballs.

Prime Flavor

Soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, these cat treats were invented to be temptatious for voracious felines and picky kitties. These scrumptious treats only need a shake of the bag and your cat, or cats, will come running at your beck and call!

Nutritional Benefits

Temptations Indoor Care Cat Treats are formulated to not only aid in hairball prevention for your cat. These cat treats are empowered with high-quality nutritional ingredients that will encourage a happy, healthy, and active cat.

Low Calorie

Less than two calories per treat, you don’t have to worry over how often you reward your precious feline companion. You can treat your kitty every day with these low-calorie Indoor Care Cat Treats.

Nutritionally Balanced

Temptations Indoor Care Cat Treats were made to be nutritionally powerful, designed with a balance in mind for a healthy cat. Each treat is an added nutrition boost for your precious feline companion.

Reviews

Temptations Indoor Care Cat Treats is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars. Out of 3,158 global ratings, 88% of them are 5 stars.

Pros

A happy reviewer, rating this product 5 stars, boasted how much her Manx cat loves these Indoor Care Cat Treats. As Manx cats are prone to constipation struggles, she noted that if she gave her cat 10 treats daily, there were zero constipation issues with her favorite feline companion. The treats greatly helped with constipation issues for her Manx cat, while also reducing hairballs.

One reviewer boasted that these cat treats “saved a cat’s life. Literally.”. Rating the cat treats, understandably, 5 stars, the reviewer explained how her mother’s cat was having issues throwing up constantly while the veterinarian couldn’t find any obvious signs that caused this serious issue. The reviewer decided to try out these cat treats for her mother’s cat and there was an immediate difference that ended up saving the cat’s life!

An ecstatic 5-star review raved how these treats made a massive difference as a hairball remedy. Her poor kitty was hacking, gagging, and truly struggling with hairball issues. Once she started giving these Indoor Care Cat Treats to her precious feline, there was immediate progress in hairball reduction and prevention.

Cons

A reviewer, rating this product 1 star, complained that these Indoor Care Cat Treats by Temptations caused her cat to be incessantly itchy. His other cat wasn’t itchy but had issues with urinary blockages. It took the owner trial and error to finally realize that the cat treats were the cause of both of her cats’ problems.

Hartz, Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews

Hartz Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews is available as a soft chew for kittens and cats and don’t simply aid in allowing hairballs to pass smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract, but are also formulated to prevent the formation of hairballs—completely eviscerating hairball problems.

Hairball Prevention

These Hartz Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews have been tested, trialed, and formulated to do more than just aid in a smooth track down for hairballs down a cat’s gastrointestinal tract. In fact, these treats take hairball prevention a step further. They stop the formation of hairballs to completely eliminate the problem.

Prime Flavor

These Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews are available in two flavors—chicken and salmon. And that’s all they need, as these flavors are incredibly popular with all felines and have cats meowing for more.

Nutritional Benefits

Infused with omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, these Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews are a nutritional powerhouse for hairball prevention and elimination along with other benefits. These fatty acids are excellent in supporting healthy skin and coat, both of these having an immense contribution to hairball control.

Reviews

Hartz, Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews is rated 4.1 out of 5 stars. Out of 3,011 global ratings, 57% of them are 5 stars.

Pros

One owner rated these Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews 5 stars. When nothing worked, this cat owner was on the verge of losing hope for helping his cat struggling with hairballs. Then, he started using these Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews and was immediately surprised, and heavily pleased, by the results. His cat was no longer wheezing and coughing due to hairballs!

Rating this product 5 stars, one cat owner with an overzealous cat that grooms like it’s going out of style has set this product to “subscribe” for auto-shipping. No more hairballs littering the floor, or damage to her poor, overzealous kitty’s stomach, teeth, and esophagus!

A 4-star review was pleased that these Hartz Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews improved her cat’s hairball problem. The hairballs were causing her poor kitty to vomit and lose weight. Once this cat owner started her struggling feline out on these helpful treats, her cat had noticeable progress with reduction of hairball issues and even gained her healthy weight back!

Cons

A 1-star review complained that his cats didn’t even attempt to try out these Hartz Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews—so much so that the cats didn’t even consider the treats like food, according to the owner.

A 3-star review was displeased by the fact that although the Hartz Hairball Remedy Plus Soft Chews are chewy, they were still difficult for her kitty to chew and swallow. The smell wasn’t appetizing enough for this picky feline, either.

Conclusion

Cat hairballs are no joke. They can cause long-lasting, and sometimes fatal, damage to your cat. No cat owner wants their favorite feline to go through anything painful. That’s why we’ve done the research, and the writing, to put together this informative article by providing high-quality remedies and tasty treats that not only reduce hairball issues but completely eliminate hairball production!

We hope this article was informative in its content on “Cat Hairballs.” Share this article with friends and family looking to learn more about the health concerns related to cat hairballs and the top-rated products that can make a magnificent impact on your cat!

cat hairballs

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