What Is a Hairball & How to Get Rid of Them

Do you remember the first time you witnessed your cat cough up a hairball?

Hairballs are very common for cats, but that doesn’t make the first time any less shocking. Your precious kitty is minding their own business when, suddenly, they bear down, retching and contorting as though possessed, until— BLEGH!

Poor thing; and poor us, because we have to go clean that up now!

So, what exactly is a hairball anyway, and how can we limit the number of these our poor feline friends are forced to deal with on a regular basis?

We here at Delightful Pet Sitting love your cats just as we love our own. That’s why we’re dishing out the information and tips to help you get rid of hairballs and help your pretty kitty live their best, healthiest life.

What Is a Hairball?

A hairball is exactly what it sounds like— a ball of hair that forms inside your cat’s stomach after a long day of fastidious grooming. All that loose fur they’ve been licking has to go somewhere!

As they groom, they wind up swallowing some of the hair, traveling down the digestive tract and into the stomach, where it begins to form a ball.

We often see this in long-haired cats like Maine Coons, Himalayans, and Persians, to name a few, but a really committed short-haired variety like your everyday American tabby can have a hairball problem if they’re incessant with the grooming.

And most cats love, love, love to groom!

What Are the Symptoms of Hairballs?

Cats with hairball issues are known to vomit following an often intense bout of coughing or retching, just as we described above. If the hairball is particularly large, they may not be able to get it out as easily, which can lead to other symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, and loss of appetite.

Assuming the hairball is small enough to get out, it’s not a huge issue. It’s when the hairball is too big to pass easily that the trouble begins, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out for the above symptoms and bringing your furry friend into their vet if you suspect they have a blockage.

How Can You Prevent Hairballs?

The last thing we want is for our cute kitty cats to suffer from hairballs or hairball-related issues. So, what can we do to make sure they’re not stuck hacking up hairballs on the reg?

Here are a few tips you can use to reduce or eliminate hairballs for your cat:

  • Brush them regularly: Cats love to groom, so many of us consider that part of their care to be on autopilot. However, letting them lap up the loose hair is what causes hairballs, and that’s how the trouble starts. Grab a brush and remove loose hair regularly to make sure they’re not swallowing that hair instead.
  • Use a hairball remedy: Your local pet store sells plenty of hairball remedies, from pastes to treats and everything in between. For those with regular hairball issues, there are also prescription options that are a bit more heavy-duty.
  • Feed a high-fiber diet: Fiber helps keep your cat regular so their digestive system is in peak condition. This is crucial when it comes to managing and passing hairballs.

How Can You Get Rid of Hairballs?

Our above steps will reduce the instances of hairballs, but what if they’ve already swallowed a heaping helping of hair, and now there’s a hairball to deal with?

Here are a few pointers on how to help your feline friend get it out:

  • Provide plenty of water: You can lead a cat to water, but we know you can’t necessarily make them drink. Nonetheless, a hydrated cat stands a better chance to pass the hairball without issue.
  • Administer hairball remedy: Have you been using that hairball remedy already? If not, now’s a great time to start! It’s also usually okay to give them a little extra while they’re actively working to expel a hairball, but it never hurts to double-check with your vet to be double-sure! Speaking of…
  • Bring them to the vet: If your cat really can’t get it out on their own, you may need to head to the vet. Your veterinarian will be able to induce vomiting or, in more extreme cases, perform an endoscopy to remove it.

Conclusion

Hairballs look excruciating, but they’re often not a huge deal.

That said, there are factors that could make the situation more serious, so we should do what we can to help our kitties pass hairballs pain-free or, if possible, prevent them altogether.

And if you can’t be there to keep a close eye on them while they’re working on passing a stubborn hairball, contact us for help! We offer the best pet sitting services you will find anywhere in St. Petersburg!

Following our above tips should help get your feline friend some relief, so you and your kitty can enjoy what’s most important— playtime and cuddles! With a little help from you, your cat is sure to live their healthiest, happiest life!

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