How to prevent hairballs in cats
Maine Coon cats, known for their long and shaggy coats, are often prone to hairballs. Loose, shedding and dead hair is what causes them to grow that ball of hair in their stomach, which can’t be digested. Their high grooming needs and tendency to shed a lot of fur make them susceptible to hairball issues.
Prevention strategies for Maine Coons require determination and persistence, especially if your kitty is more prone to hacking hairballs. Hairballs are not always inevitable when it comes to cats, as they can be prevented with some simple measures.
In this blog, you’ll learn everything you need to know about hairballs in your Maine Coon and how to prevent them.
What Causes Hairballs in Cats?
Hairballs in cats are caused by the ingestion of too much fur. This happens when the cat is grooming itself. The fur gets stuck on the tongue and then swallowed.
Understanding Hairballs in Cats
As beautiful as our cats are, there’s a phenomenon that occurs in long haired and short haired cats alike. The squishy hairball. It seems that their bodies would be able to break down fur in their digestive systems and eliminate it for them. But that’s not the case.
Instead, after it develops into a certain size, it makes them nauseous, causes them to vomit and even gives them diarrhea. Sometimes it takes a few months, other times a few years. It’s all dependent on your cat and what they’re given to help them manage their hairballs effectively.
What Does a Cat Hairball Look Like?
Cat hairballs can be easily recognized by their shape and appearance. At first glance, they look like a turd that has landed in a bad location. Sometimes its a small hairball, sometimes is huge. If you’re lucky enough to find one by stepping on it, it’s usually cold and squishy by then. It will make you scream and give you the heebie jeebies.
Recognizing Physical Indications of Hairballs
If you’re very observant with your cat’s behavior, you’ll see the physical indications of an impending hairball pretty easily. As a first-class cat parent, being able to spot these will help you get ahead of things soon to help your cat. Frequent episodes of unproductive retching or vomiting could be a sign that your cat has a hairball. Often, the cat will only produce bile for a couple of days before he’s able to get the hairball out. Lack of appetite, nausea and diarrhea can also be flags for hairballs.
A physical examination of your cat’s feces may reveal loose fur. You don’t have to do full on inspections, but if you happen to see it in the litter box, then you’ll know what might be on the way.
Natural Remedies for Hairball Control
If you’re like me, you prefer natural hairball remedies for you cat over prescription medicines. By implementing just two or three of these remedies, your Maine Coon should be able to keep the hairballs at bay completely.
You may also discover a newfound love for growing a cat herb gardenand giving your cat special treats of healthy coconut oil.
Brushing and Deshedding Tools for Cats
Combing and brushing your cat’s fur helps, but it isn’t always enough. Especially if you have a Maine Coon or another long-haired cat with a double coat. The excess fur needs to removed with a deshedding tool.
There are plenty of tools on the market that help with this. One of my favorites is the Furminator. It’s a tool that works to remove the loose fur on your cat. When you first use a Furminator, it may seem like you’re combing all of the fur off of your cat, and it might end up bald. Don’t worry. It only removes loose hair.
The Furminator is a good tool to use once or twice per month to help your cat prevent hairballs.
Dietary Adjustments for Hairball Reduction
The proper diet for your Maine Coon is always going to make a huge difference in his overall well-being. Choose cat foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to maintain your pet’s coat and prevent hairballs. Including fish oil in your cat’s diet not only controls hairballs but also enhances their overall health.
Several cat food brands formulate their food to help in the prevention of hairballs.
- Purina One Hairball Formula [Dry Kibble]
- Royal Canin Hairball Care [Dry Kibble]
- Royal Canin Hairball [Canned]
- Purina ProPlan Hairball Control Salmon Entree Pate [Canned]
- VivaRaw Ground Rabbit, Ground Chicken [Pure Protein Raw Diet]
Your cat’s diet might be one of the most important factors in hairball management.
Importance of Hydration in Hairball Control
Make sure that your cat is drinking adequate water every day, especially if you feed a dry kibble diet Hydration is essential for reducing hairballs, and keeping the digestive track healthy. If your cat isn’t a big fan of water, try offering canned food at least once a day. Canned food contains a lot of water, and your cat will enjoy it as a treat.
Some theories are out there that cat’s can’t “see” water sitting in a bowl. A good solution to this is buying your cat a water fountain. They’re attracted to the sounds they make as well as the visual stimulation of watching the water come out. Something as simple as a change from a bowl to a fountain may stimulate your cat to drink more water and have less hairballs.
Organic Coconut oil is an excellent solution for preventing hairballs in Maine Coons. It only takes a pea sized amount of coconut oil a few times per week to help your cat prevent hairballs. It also makes your cat’s coat shiny and silky. Not all, but most cats absolutely love it!
My cats are trained to come get their coconut oil every morning when I’m getting ready for the day. I use it myself as a mouth rinse, and as moisturizer on my face. The easiest way to administer it is to just take a small amount and smear it on the lid of the jar. Then let them lick it off as special treat.
I took this video of ChiChi having a coconut oil snack. You can see how much she likes it and how easy it is to serve it up.
The ohter guys show up, also, and get their licks in. Every morning is a routine with them and coconut oil. They know when I’m brushing my teeth, its time to come and get it.
Cat Grass and Lemon Grass
I’m a huge advocate for giving herbs to your cats as natural supplements. They say if you grow an herb garden and offer it to your cats, they will actually choose which herbs that they’re body needs the most. My husband grows the herbs for my cats, and keeps catnip, cat grass, and lemongrass readily available.
Cat grass and lemon grass act as a natural remedies for hairballs, promoting digestive health for your cat. It’s easy and quite fun to grow these herbs. Your cat with THANK YOU!
Laxatone Gel for Cats
Many Maine Coon cat owners are familar with Laxatone. This is a product that you buy over the counter that helps prevent and/or eliminate hairballs. It comes in 2 different flavors, Maple and Tuna. It’s a palatable gel that most cats enjoy as a teat. The best way that i’ve found to give this to them is just put a dab on their front paw. The’ll instinctively lick it off.
Laxatone can be given to your cat once or twice a week for prevention of hairball formation. if you notice that your cat is experiencing hairball symptoms, then give Laxatone once a day every day until the hairball is expelled.
Conclusion: Cat Furball Treatment
Preventing hairballs in cats is so important for your cat’s overall health. By understanding the causes and symptoms of hairballs, you can take proactive measures to control and reduce their occurrence.
Natural remedies such as regular grooming, dietary adjustments, and adequate water play a significant role in preventing hairballs. Additionally, over-the-counter solutions like Laxatone can provide effective relief.
If your cat experiences complications or your cat has excessive hairballs despite preventive measures, it’s crucial to seek help from your vet. Hairballs can potentially cause blockages which is deemed an emergency. Remember, a happy and healthy cat begins with proper hairball prevention.