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How are Hairballs Formed?

Hairballs are a common occurance in cats, especially long haired breeds. Most cats have a healthy routine of grooming themselves and a majority of the hair passes all the way throught the digestive tract with no problems. But sometimes ingested hair will stay in the stomach and form a hairball. Cats will ultimately vomit to get rid of the hairball. Because hairballs pass through the narrow esophagus on the way out, they often appear thin and tubelike, rather than round.


If your cat is unable to pass or vomit up a hairball it could obstruct the intestine and become life threatening. There is no way to eliminate hairballs in cats but we have listed 6 steps below to help reduce them.

6 Steps for Reducing Hairballs

1. keep cats skin and coat healthy with edible oils, like olive, flaxseed, or fish oil to reduce shedding


2. regular brushing to help minimize the amount of hair that is ingested when he grooms himself


3. Use a hairball product or laxative. There are a number of different hairball products on the market today, most of which are mild laxatives that help hairballs pass through the digestive tract.


4. Pumpkin- a natural vegetable based fiber


5. A hairball specific diet which is high in fiber will sometimes be suggested. The "natural vegetable fibre" is commonly powdered cellulose. Fibre is thought to bind the hair and stimulate the gut to help move it on through the digestive tract.  


**Take note that Excessive fibre holds water in the gastrointestinal tract, which results in a more concentrated urine, which could increase the risk for urinary tract disease. Cats should be thirstier and drink more water on a higher fibre diet, but that doesn't mean they will. In which case a Petroleum jelly product may be a preferred method to get the hair out of the stomach.


6. Discourage excessive grooming. If you suspect that your cat might be overgrooming out of anxiety or boredom try to discourage it. You might find some interactive or self activating play toys or puzzles, catnip toys can 

Cause for Concern 

If you notice any of the following behaviors in your cat consult your veterinarian.


  • Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without producing a hairball

  • Lack of appetite

  • Lethargy

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

At Maddie Mae's Pet Pantry we are knowlegeable and happy to help but we are not veternarians. We do extensive research and carefully choose our products but neither our advise nor or our lists of tips and helpful hints should be substitued by a visit to your veterenarian.

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