If you’re a cat owner, chances are you’re used to the hacking and gagging that inevitably results in slimey ball of fur on your floor or personal belongings. But what causes hairballs and how can you prevent them? We’ll address all of this in today’s blog.
What causes hairballs?
Hairballs are exactly what the name states: a ball of hair. When your cat grooms himself, a wad of fur can collect in his stomach. But there is a bit more to hairballs than that. Your cat’s tongue features backward pointing barbs which can result in your cat swallowing quite a bit of dead hair. If your cat swallows more than the digestive system can process, the hair will inevitably come back up as a hairball.
How to prevent hairballs
There are several things you can do to help your cat avoid hairballs, and most of them involve you as the pet purrent.
Brush your cat
The most important thing you can do to prevent hairballs is to brush your cat, especially when you notice your cat is shedding more. This removes lose and dead fur before your cat can ingest it when he grooms himself. If it’s not in his digestive track, it can’t form hairballs!
Play with your cat
When you play with your cat, he gets exercise, and exercise helps keep your cat’s digestive system in peak form. A healthy digestive system helps keep hair moving through the body rather than collecting as hairballs. Additionally, playing with your cat provides needed interaction and bonding, which can prevent the stress and boredom that can lead to anxiety and increased grooming.
Make sure your cat gets enough fiber
Whether you give your cat a special food (recommended by your vet!) formulated to help with hairball prevention or you give him the occasional treat (such as canned pumpkin), fiber is an important part of your cat’s diet and can help prevent hairball formation. The fiber not only helps move the hair through your cat’s digestive tract, but the enzymes within it also help break down hair.
Keep your cat hydrated
Give your cat fresh water daily to encourage hydration. If your cat becomes dehydrated, his digestion is affected, and hairballs can form.
Coconut oil as a hairball remedy for cats
Coconut oil for cats is entirely safe and has a variety of uses, as we discussed in our recent blog, and both internal and external uses can play a role in preventing hairballs.
When your cat consumes coconut oil, he is absorbing its anti-inflammatory properties; as a result, there is likely to be a reduction in inflammation in the respiratory tract that can occur when hairballs are regurgitated. Additionally, it helps improve overall digestion and makes it easier for your cat to pass hairballs as stool rather than forcing them back up.
When you use Skinny Paw or Skinny & Co. pure coconut oil products on your cat’s skin and fur, both will benefit. And when they do, you’ll likely notice that having healthier skin and fur results in less grooming needs because shedding is reduced. Less shedding obviously will result in fewer hairballs.
How to give your cat coconut oil
If you’re giving your cat coconut oil orally, we recommend letting him lick some from a spoon or out of your hand. If that doesn’t work, you can try mixing some in with his food, whether that be dry or wet. To give your cat coconut topically, rub a small amount onto his skin or fur, or use Skinny Paw for regular washings.