Instructions for Hair Ball Control in Cats
If cleanliness is next to godliness, as the saying goes, then cats are virtually divine creatures. Turning their tongues into little “combs,” cats keep themselves groomed in a way that is second to none. Ironically, this admirable feline virtue often causes some problems.
In licking its coat clean, a cat swallows loose hairs. A “hairball” can develop in the cat’s stomach. A hairball is not really a ball but a lump of hair that, if large enough, can clog the digestive tract. Hairballs can cause vomiting, lack of appetite, or constipation. At worst they can lead to serious obstruction and require surgical removal. In most cases, however, a cat will eliminate hairballs naturally.
Although an expelled hairball – usually a dark-colored, tubular mass resembling a piece of feces – is no visual treat, this elimination is part of a natural feline defense mechanism. There is no need for alarm, but unless you take preventative measures, chances are the problem will crop up again and again.
The best weapons against hairballs are simple and remarkably effective: a non-digestible lubricating preventative medication (like CatLax or Laxinip, which we carry), a comb or brush (depending on the cat’s hair length, i.e. a brush for short-haired cats and a comb for medium and long-haired cats), and a regular grooming schedule. Particularly if you start when they’re kittens, most cats enjoy being combed/brushed. Make grooming a regularly scheduled event as routine is important to cats. Both you and your cat will like the chance to spend affection-giving time together. Daily grooming is best, especially with long-haired cats. If you can’t commit to daily grooming, schedule sessions as often as you can. If your cat doesn’t like to be combed/brushed, don’t be deterred! By gently wrapping your cat in a towel, you can expose only the body area that needs grooming and thwart a feline getaway. Helping to prevent hairballs is certainly worth the extra effort.
There are many lubricating hairball gels on the market to help in both the prevention and elimination of hairballs. We carry a particularly palatable one here at Montgomery Animal Hospital (CatLax). Combining regular grooming with this prophylactic gel medication is the best hairball preventative available!