When it comes to cat hairball treatment options, what is the one thing that your veterinarian doesn’t want you to know about the fact that your cat is constantly vomiting up hairballs from time to time?
Your cat vomiting up hairballs is not a sign of a disease. It is not a sign of an infection. It is most certainly not an indication that your cat is suffering from some time of ailment or malignant condition.
If your cat is regurgitating the food that it eats, or if it is vomiting up huge wads of fur bundled together, then we have news for you:
Grooming: It’s In Their Nature.
It is a normal part of being a cat!
That’s right! If you find that your cat is throwing up every now and then, on a somewhat frequent basis, this is perfectly natural! It is nature’s way of counter-balancing the effect of something that cats do instinctively by nature:
They groom themselves. They cleanse themselves by licking their own fur with the saliva from their own tongues. This is an innate behavior that all cats are born with. It’s in their DNA!
While this is all well and good, and we should stand in awe and amazement at the way that this species of animal has been put on this earth with the ability to recognize when it is dirty, and to regulate its own cleanliness for the sake of its own health, there is one adverse, unintended consequence and byproduct of this purposeful behavior:
Where Do Cat Hairballs Come From?
Whenever cats lick themselves, they may be inadvertently swallowing their own fur!
Yes indeed! All mammals shed their fur or their hair, and cats are no exception. So therefore, it is inevitable that any loose strands of fur that the cat’s tongue come in contact with, might end up getting stuck to it, due to the adhesive moisture of its saliva.
And when that happens, where does the fur go? It inevitably gets swallowed. There’s only one problem though: Unlike other food substances that are easily digested and which easily meander down the gastrointestinal tract, the fine follicles of a cat’s fur can get “stuck” in the cat’s stomach, with nowhere to go. As cats are known to spend a significant portion of their waking life licking themselves, the potential for a significant amount of fur to be ingested grows gradually yet exponentially over the course of time. This is despite the fact that perhaps only a few minute strands of fur may be ingested with each individual lick.
How many licks does it take to develop a hairball?
One lick might result in maybe one or two strands of fur, on average, being swallowed up, at best, if at all. That may seem perfectly harmless and innocuous. But if you multiply that by the number of times a day your cat licks itself, and then multiple that over the course of days and weeks, then what you might end up with is a massive accumulation of fur, all jumbled together in one huge mass.
When the ball of fur reaches critical mass (no pun intended), that’s when things start to get interesting for the cat. The resulting conundrum that your cat and you are now faced with (your cat, because this obviously involves discomfort for it, and you because you are the one who is left with the responsibility to clean up the mess after your cat) could end up being one of two possible outcomes:
Outcome #1: Hairball Expulsion
The hairball has to go somewhere. Being that the digestive tract is one-dimensional, there are only two possible directions it can flow: It can either move forward through the intestines and eventually get expelled from the cat’s body as excrement. Or it can move backward up the stomach, through the esophagus and out through the mouth, and regurgitated as vomit.
Obviously, your cat’s fur being flushed out through the body through its excrement would be the ideal scenario. Your cat instinctively knows to take care of its business in a litter-box and then cover it up. No muss. No fuss. You clean up the cat’s litter box like you normally would
However, your cat forcefully vomiting out a hairball is clearly not an ideal outcome: Neither you, nor the cat, have any control over when and where your cat might suddenly develop the urge to vomit. It can occur anytime without prior warning. And what happens when this is the case? Your cat ends up vomiting wherever it is! There is little to no advanced warning for you, as the pet owner, to rush the cat over to a sink to throw up! And obviously if the cat is alone, it wouldn’t have any sense to know how to suppress its vomit or to make a mad dash toward the bathroom sink or tub.
Clearly, between vomiting and excreting, the latter is preferably to the former!
And that is what many hairball treatments are designed to do! They are designed to help clear any blockages in your cat’s digestive tract, that are preventing it from moving along. They are designed to facilitate the digestive process, to prevent the hairball from triggering a vomiting reflex.
Outcome #2: Hairball Obstruction
The worst thing that could happen would be for a hairball to become so massive and so taut, that it forms a barrier in the digestive passageway. If a hairball forms an obstruction as such, then this can lead to other serious digestive problems for your cat. Any food that it eats would not be able to penetrate the obstruction, and might get lodged within the digestive tract as well. Or it may be expelled through vomiting. Your cat may experience a loss of appetite, become dehydrated, and start developing symptoms of other unforeseen gastrointestinal ailments.
For your cat’s hairballs to form a completely rigid and impenetrable obstruction in the digestive tract would be quite rare. In most cases, it is able to be vomited out through involuntary reflex. However, in the event of an obstruction, then some hairball treatment will be necessary, in order to dislodge the fur.
The Secret To Hairball Control: What Are Your Cat Hairball Treatment Options?
Depending on the severity of your cat’s problem, there are many cat hairball treatment options that you can experiment with. Try these before deciding to pay a visit to the vet…
- give your cat specially formulated cat treats that are designed to treat hairballs.
- ensure that your cat is drinking enough water.
- brush your cat regularly (to prevent more hairballs from forming, or for existing hairballs to get larger).
- give your cat vitamins regularly.
- ensure that you are giving your cat a healthy diet, full of fiber. When you visit the pet store, be sure to get a premium brand of cat food, and not some cheap brand that you might find at the grocery store. Fiber will help improve your cat’s digestive as well as excretory health, the same as it would in human beings.
Visiting your vet should only be a last resort, when all other measures have failed.
Hairballs can easily be controlled and managed on your own, using nothing but over-the-counter remedies and dietary management. Treatments such as medications and such should only be necessary in the most extreme of circumstances.
When in doubt, do check with your vet, for advice on your cat hairball treatment options.