Grooming is part of a cat’s natural behavior. Small amounts of hair are normally swallowed, some of which pass through the digestive tract and are eliminated in the feces. The rest mixes with mucus to form a hairball. Hairballs in the throat area are brought up by regurgitation; those in the stomach are vomited up. The size and number of hairballs produced varies depending on the season of the year and the amount of time the cat spends grooming. The cat’s health status and level of hydration are also factors.
* Coughing that produces a tubular mass of hair
* Periodic gagging
* Vomiting of hair and mucus
Most hairballs do not cause serious problems and are more of a nuisance than anything else. Hairballs are dark in color, usually tubular in shape and are made of hair. Occasionally hairballs get very large and can obstruct the intestines. This can cause persistent vomiting with or without constipation. In extreme cases, veterinary intervention requires surgery to remove the hairball.
* Brush hair coat daily with a wire bristle brush followed by a good massage. This is especially stimulating if done just before a meal.
* A variety of foods, treats, laxatives and lubricants formulated specifically for hairball prevention are available commercially.
* Only give laxatives and lubricants once or twice a week. Continuous usage can interfere with normal digestion and absorption of food.
* Increase exercise – provide catnip toys, play games, or get another cat. Catnip is a psychotropic herb that stimulates the cat’s nervous system so they feel good and want to play. This herb is available already in toys or as a powder at pet stores.
* Grow edible greens which are a source of fiber and place them near your cats food dish.
Certain breeds like Siamese may groom themselves excessively because of a compulsive behavioral disorder, which may require medical intervention.
Cats that vomit hairballs daily often have abnormal stomach muscle function or immune type defects of their small intestine. A microscopic exam of tissue from the stomach and intestine usually confirms the exact diagnosis. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is often the underlying problem.
* Feed a high fiber, natural diet which helps prevent hairballs and obesity
Fiber Sources that can be added to food:
* 1/8 tsp ground psyllium husks
* 1/8 tsp powdered or fine bran – bran is a natural laxative
* 1 tsp grated carrot 3 times per week added to a meal
* 1 TBSP baby food vegetables
* 1 tsp daily canned pumpkin or strained prunes
Nux vomica (6c) dose -SEE vomiting