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5 Tips to help prevent cat hairballs

April 30 is Hairball Awareness Day. Yes, there is such a day–and with good reason. Aside from being an icky mess and hassle to clean up–hairballs can be a choking hazard for your favourite kitty! Although the cause of hairballs is your cat over-grooming itself–maybe compensating for the extra fur loss in warmer months–there are definitely ways to keep your cat hairball-free! Feline-only practitioner Dr. Arnold Plotnick offers a few tips–although we can’t promise your furniture and clothes will stay fur-free!


1Be diligent about grooming

Decrease the amount of hair the cat ingests by using a grooming tool like the FURminator deLuxe deShedding Tool, which can reduce shedding by 90 per cent. Proactive grooming removes the excess hair that causes hairballs and is a more holistic preventive measure than giving your cat a laxative or allowing him to cough up the blockage

2Kitties need fibre, too

Add a little canned pumpkin to the cat’s meals once or twice a week. The fibre in the pumpkin can help move any hair clumps through the system and your cat will love the tasty treat. Butter can have the same effect but is high in calories, so pumpkin is a yummy alternative.

3Keep your cat hydrated

Encourage the cat to drink plenty of water by placing bowls throughout the house. The water will help flush out the hair before it has time to clump in the stomach. It is also a great general practice to keep water bowls separate from food bowls to encourage the cat to drink more water.

4Make over the cat’s menu

Several specially formulated cat foods aid in the fight against hairballs. Always consult with a vet before making any drastic changes to a cat’s diet, which can sometimes upset the stomach.

5Know the warning signs

If a hairball problem persists, ask a veterinarian to recommend a supplement to help prevent ingested hairs from clumping. Here are a few signals a cat may have an excessive hairball problem:

  • Cylindrical (cigar-shaped) masses on the floor or furniture
  • Constipation
  • An overly matted coat
  • Frequent dry hacking
  • Lethargy or lack of interest in playing or eating
  • Swollen abdomen

Dr Arnold Plotnick is the founder of Manhattan Cat Specialists, a cats-only veterinary hospital in New York City. He also writes a pet blog, Cat Man Do.


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