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Being a pet parent is full of joys and rewards, but finding a hacked-up hairball on the living room carpet isn’t enjoyable at all.
Hairballs are unpleasant for everyone involved, but they’re a natural side effect of feline grooming. When cats lick their fur, their rough tongues pick up loose hairs. Some of those hairs pass through the cat’s digestive system without a problem, but others get lodged in the stomach. When a cat’s throwing up, it’s their body’s way of getting rid of that excess hair.
Cat vomiting up a hairball is a normal process and usually not dangerous, but certain hacks can keep the cat puking—and the cleanup—to a minimum.
A good way to eliminate excess shed fur is to brush the cat once or twice a week. Use a rubber or bristle brush, sweeping from head to tail. For the cat’s comfort, it’s important to brush in the direction of hair growth. Make sure to brush all over the cat including his chest, neck, and belly—if the cat tolerates it.
Brushing a long-haired cat is a bit more labor-intensive, but even more important since long-haired cats are more prone to hairballs. A long-toothed comb or brush will remove loose hair and cuts through any tangles. Always be gentle with brushing and try to make it a luxurious experience for the cat. If it feels good, they’ll stick around longer.
Like humans, cats’ digestive health is better when they’re active. If a certain feline couch potato is hacking up a lot of hairballs, invest in some new toys and get them up and moving.
There are all kinds of cat supplements out there, from joint health supplements for cats to digestive supplements like probiotics. Many cat digestive health supplements do a good job at preventing hacked-up hairballs.
Cat hairball treatments are gels or pastes that contain lubricating agents, like cod liver oil and petrolatum. Instead of absorbing into a cat’s system like other supplements, hairball gel passes through their digestive tract and carries the hairball along with it.
Many pet food brands have formulations specifically designed to treat hairballs. These special foods include extra fiber and dietary enzymes that help cats’ systems break down hair.
Hairballs are a common cause of cat vomiting, but they’re not the only ones. Cats also throw up when:
They’re reacting to a new food or medicine
They eat something they shouldn’t have
They’re developing an illness
Especially if the cat in question is throwing up more than usual, keep an eye out for other signs of illness, like lethargy and lack of appetite. When in doubt, consult a vet. There may be a cat nausea medicine that can help.
Want to know more about cat vomiting and hairball management? Become a Fuzzy member today and use our 24/7 Live Vet Chat to learn in real-time how to reduce hairballs, manage cat vomiting, and keep Kitty feeling their best.