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Help! How can I stop my cat getting hairballs?

Help! How can I stop my cat getting hairballs?


Why do cats get hairballs?

Cats spend about one sixth of their life grooming themselves. A cat’s tongue is an important grooming tool – it is specially designed with a rough, comb-like surface that catches the loose, dead hair which your cat then swallows.


Most of the hair passes through the intestine, but some stays in the stomach and can cause a hairball. You may hear your cat making horrible hacking or gagging noises as it tries to get the hairball out and eventually your cat will vomit up the hairball – often on your best carpet or rug! The hairball doesn’t actually look like a “ball” - it is more like a long sausage. Regardless, it is a nasty mess to clean up! 

Long-haired cats are more likely to get hairballs, but cats that are compulsive groomers or shed a lot can also be prone to hairballs. It is quite normal if your cat vomits a hairball every week or two weeks. If your cat can’t vomit the hairball up, it can be life threatening. If you hear your cat gagging or retching and can’t get the hairball out, he loses his appetite, is lethargic, constipated or has diarrhoea, then you need to get him to the vet.

How can I prevent my cat from getting hairballs?

  • Groom your cat regularly to remove dead hair. Daily brushing is recommended particularly for long-haired cats. Brushing also helps to de-tangle long fur and helps to keep the skin healthy.

  • A diet that is higher in fibre and uses natural vegetable or fish oils can help the intestinal tract to move the hair through your cat’s digestive system.

  • Add a teaspoon of cooked mashed pumpkin to your cat’s food daily. Pumpkin is a natural source of fibre.

  • Add a teaspoon of vegetable or fish oil to your cat’s meal once a week. The lubricating oil will help the hair pass through the digestive tract.

  • Give your cat pieces of fruits and vegetables as snacks as an added source of fibre.

  • Slippery Elm is a natural herbal remedy that can help prevent hairballs. It lubricates the digestive tract and assists with waste elimination.

  • Avoid grain based fibre sources. Many commercial cat foods, especially cheaper ones, are made with a high percentage of grains. A grain free cat food will contain natural fibres from vegetables and fruits which are useful in preventing hairballs.

Our NOW Fresh range of cat foods are grain free and made meat proteins from turkey, salmon & duck and with a good fibre content from farm fresh fruits and vegetables, like pumpkin, broccoli, spinach, apples and cranberries to name just a few. NOW Fresh also uses canola oil and coconut oil.

Click here for our NOW Fresh range of cat foods.


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