Monday, July 4, 2011

How To Help Prevent And Stop Hairballs In your Cats

Cats are very meticulous groomers. They have the wonderful ability of keeping themselves and their fur clean and for the most part, odor free. But, all this self-grooming can cause hairballs to develop which can be very unpleasant for the cat, as well as its owner. So prevention of hairballs before they occur is best, however, many cat owners are not aware of the problem until there is, in fact, a problem. Hairball symptoms are recognizable and once your cat has a hairball issue, you will need to know how to prevent and stop hairballs in your cat from reoccurring.

Hairballs are an ongoing problem for many cats, especially cats who have medium to long fur. The longer the fur, the greater the chance that your cat will experience a problem with hairballs. Now, this does not mean that a short-haired cat will not have an issue with hairballs, it just means that a longer haired cat usually ingests more hair than a shorter haired cat. The first step to treating a hairball problem is to identify hairball symptoms so when it does occur, you will be able to identify it. Hairball symptoms often include constipation, straining during a bowel movement, visible hair in the cat's feces, loss of appetite, dry cough and vomiting. The vomiting usually occurs more often after meals. The cat will exhibit dry hacking, with their bodies often low to the ground and this can occur frequently until the cat finally moves the hairball out of its throat. This may take several attempts by the cat depending on how large the hairball is. The cat may vomit small amounts of liquid or food, and depending on how much food contents the cat has in its stomach, it could be a larger amount of water or food. Often, the hairball is never even seen by the cat owner as the cat often swallows the hairball once it has been dislodged. But, if your cat does spit out the hairball, it is easily identifiable as a clump of fur in varing sizes.

*****Note: Keep in mind that the above mentioned symptoms can be caused by other illnesses that require a vet's attention and large hairballs can require surgery. If your cat is experiencing these symptoms, you should contact your vet, a phone call is usually free, and get your vet's opinion and advice on what steps you need to take. He may feel your cat should be examined to determine the cause, or he may suggest things you could try to improve your cat's symptoms. Hairballs can become so severe that they can cause a blockage in your cat's intestines which can require emergency surgery to remove. Always follow whatever your vet recommends as he will know the best thing for you to do in your cat's particular situation.*****

Once you have identified that your cat does have a hairball problem, you then need to take some steps to prevent and stop the hairballs in your cat from continuing to happen. The first and most important and effective way to prevent and stop hairballs is frequent brushing of your cat. Generally, the longer the fur is on your cat, the more frequent you will need to brush. It is always best to start brushing your cat at a young age. This way they get used to being brushed and most cats really enjoy being brushed once they are used to it. If you have never brushed your cat, you may find your cat resistant to brushing, which makes this process more difficult. I have a long haired and a medium haired cat which I faithfully brush every single day. You will be amazed at the amount of hair that is shed during brushing your cat. It is a never ending battle to prevent hairballs from occurring, but your cat is well worth the effort. Even short haired cats should be brushed several times a week, and more often if your cat is experiencing hairballs. Just consider that all the hair you remove with regular brushing would have otherwise been swallowed by your cat during their grooming process, and if you can prevent the hair from being swallowed by the cat, you can prevent the hairball problem from ever happening in the first place. Prevention is the best medicine!

Another option to help prevent and stop hairballs in cats is a hairball remedy which you can buy in most pet stores. It is a petrolatum based product which helps to lubricate your cat's digestive tract, making it easier for the cat to cough up the hairball. Follow the instructions on the product for correct dosing and do not give more than what is recommended in the product instructions. I recommend consulting with your vet before purchasing hairball remedy as the vet will be able to advise you on which product to buy and instruct you on proper usage. This product should not replace regular brushing of your cat. If your cat has a particularly tough time or frequent problems with hairballs, then daily brushing is absolutely essential. And often, daily brushing can stop hairballs and prevent new hairballs from occurring without having to use a hairball remedy. But, you may need to use a combination of hairball remedy and daily brushing, depending on the severity and frequency of the hairballs that your cat experiences. If you are brushing daily, and your cat continues to have hairball symptoms, contact your vet for professional advice and treatment.

Hairball symptoms are very unpleasant for your cat,  and fairly easy to control with a bit of effort on your part. Set aside some time every day to brush your cat and help your feline friend remove the excess fur from its coat. Once you know how to help prevent and stop hairballs in your cat, you can help your cat eliminate this unpleasant problem. Always contact your vet if you have any questions or concerns, and follow your vet's recommendations. Preventing hairballs from occurring is really the cat owner's responsibility, and your cat will certainly appreciate your efforts

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