Hack! Hack! You know your cat has hairballs when you see her vomiting wet, tube-shaped conglomerations of food and fur all over the floor. Squish! Squish! You know it's time to do something about your cat's hairballs when your bare foot sinks into a pile of slimy, warm cat puke in the middle of the night.
What Causes Hairballs?
When your cat grooms herself, she swallows fur. Fur mixes with saliva and travels down to the stomach, where it either slides on through to the intestines, or takes up residence as a delectable, food-infused hairball. Unable to poop it, your kitty must vomit this indigestible ball of food and fur (hence the hack-hack, squish-squish scenario mentioned above).
If you think hairballs are a problem for you, consider what they do to your cat. Not only must she suffer the vomiting, she may also experience constipation, decreased appetite, coughing, and dry heaves as a result of these pesky little buggers.
Commercial hairball treatments often contain mineral oil or liquid petroleum, slippery substances that grease your cat's digestive tract so fur can easily pass through. These substances are not natural food products, however, and too much of them can interfere with your cat's ability to absorb essential vitamins. Why force your cat to ingest unhealthy, unnatural substances when safer remedies exist and may be as close as your kitchen cupboard?
Squash and Pumpkin
Treat your hairball-ridden kitty to a spoonful of baby food squash or canned pumpkin (the spice-free variety). The fiber in these foods will bulk up her system and help the fur pass through.
Purchase a small pot of live wheat grass from your grocer's produce section. Your cat will love nibbling the grass, which provides extra roughage necessary for the elimination of hairballs.
Feed your cat a pat of butter or margarine. The fat will lubricate her digestive system and give any trapped fur a smooth ride to the other side.
Groom your kitty every day with a cat brush. She'll love it, and you'll eradicate excess fur before it even has a chance to plug up her insides.
No Laughing Matter
Although hairballs (and the cats who suffer them) are the butt of many jokes, these digestive nuisances can quickly snowball into a life-threatening condition for your cat. Hairballs that grow too large can block the intestines and necessitate emergency surgical removal. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of blockage, such as swollen abdomen, non-productive cough, depression, lethargy, and weight loss. If in doubt, take your cat to the vet for an exam.
An Ounce of Prevention
Eliminate pesky hairballs from your life by experimenting with one or more of these home remedies. Your cat will thank you, and you can rest easy knowing that her late-night hack-and-squish fests are a thing of the past.