Preventing Hairballs

A at licking its fur

Every cat owner knows that horrible sound of a cat retching up a hairball. There are some things you can do to help prevent hairballs.

Visitors Ask Questions about Hairballs

Preventing Hairballs

Hello, I recently adopted an adult cat from a shelter. He is a scruffy guy with lots of hair. About once a week I will come home from work and find that he has vomited on the kitchen floor (not on the carpet - good kitty!). The vomit looks like saliva but it always has a big hairball in it. I try to brush the guy several times a week, but I'm wondering what I can do to keep him from getting hairballs? When we were kids we used to put a little Vaseline on their paws, but I'm not sure if that actually works. Does "hairball formula" food actually do any good?


Expert Reply

Hi, Jane,

What a wonderful cat that he throws up exactly where it is easy to clean. I wish I could say the same of my kitties. Maybe he could offer classes? The food designed to reduce hairballs does help some as will brushing him everyday. However, I have yet to see a remedy that works 100 percent of the time.

Hairballs are caused when your cat grooms himself. Some breeds have a worse problem with this than others. He swallows some of his own hair and it is entwined with bits of undigested food, which forms the hairball. The cat must then get that ball out of his system or risk having an impacted digestive tract. It's hard on a cat to hack up hairballs. That's why it is important to take steps to try to prevent them. Even though most cats only require brushing a few times a week, I would go ahead and try brushing him everyday since he is particularly furry. Also, go ahead and slowly switch him to a new food designed to prevent hairballs.

Some owners swear by feeding their cats a little butter and baby food squash. The butter loosens the hair clod and the fiber in the baby food moves it through the system. I would not recommend the commercial hairball gels and products on the market as they can cause vitamin deficiencies.

I hope this helps and your kitty has less hairballs.


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Preventing Hairballs