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Hair Balls In Cats: 5 Fast Natural Remedies

By Dr. Andrew Jones

If you have a hairball problem in your house, then you really need to read this article. Hairballs are called ‘trichobezoars’ in veterinary terms, that can be a recurring problem for many cats. In this article you will learn what causes hairballs and how to tell if your cat has one. Most importantly you will learn the most effective natural remedies that work quickly and easily.

The signs of hairballs in most cats are of your pet coughing and throwing up fur. Some cats will gag without expelling much hair. Some dogs will also get hairballs, such as the long haired, small breeds, like Pomeranian. Hairballs are seldom shaped like balls- they are most often slender and cylindrical, often looking like a long sausage.
The elongated shape occurs as it passes through the narrow food tube (esophagus) after leaving your cat’s stomach, then being deposited on your newly cleaned bed..

The causes of moist hairballs are pretty simple: Cats are very clean animals that love to groom themselves. Most hair will pass through the intestinal tract into the stool. A hairball forms when too much hair accumulates in the stomach and has to be expelled.

An easy way to treat hairballs is by using petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Place 1/4 inch in his mouth. If he is uncooperative, then you can place it on his front paws. Use twice daily for 5 days. Tastier versions are available from pet supply stores, such as Felaxin and Laxatone. These are flavored with added nutrients to make the petroleum jelly go down easier.

Additional dietary fiber will aid in the expulsion of hair from the stomach through the intestinal tract. If your cat gets hairballs on a regular basis, then they should be on a high-fiber diet. There are specific Veterinary diets higher in fiber. Another option is to add canned pumpkin to their diet; most cats like it. Give 1/2 to 1 teaspoon daily per 10 lbs of body weight.

The less hair your pet has, the lower number of hairballs. Brushing your cat daily will remove loose fur before your cat has a chance to swallow it. The act of regular grooming is very important in preventing recurring hairballs in the long haired cats.

There are a few specific hairball diets. They contain additional dietary fiber as well as papain, a compound found in pineapple to aid in digestion.In veterinary practice, some clients reported that these helped, so they may be beneficial for your cat

Pineapple juice has long been advocated as a hairball remedy. This is used to treat hairballs in rabbits, and may be effective in cats. It contains an ingredient, bromelain, which can break down some hair. The dose would be 1 tsp twice daily, if you can get it into your cat – good luck!

If you have a cat that is regularly regurgitating hairballs, then you should consider some of the suggested at home remedies. You should be brushing your cat regularly, and using petroleum jelly as a safe, and effective laxative. Eliminating recurring hairballs can be easily done by following just a few of the above mentioned remedies.

Heal Your Pet At Home,

Best Wishes

Dr Andrew Jones

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Topics: Cat Care, Cat Health, Pet Care, Pet health | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Hair Balls In Cats: 5 Fast Natural Remedies”


  1. Barbara Hedges Says:
    December 22nd, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you for letting us know what to do at no charge. I posted it on FB and sent to my friends. I also recommended they download your web site for all the great information and nutrients.
    Thank you again.

  2. Nancy Says:
    December 22nd, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I do not think using petrolium jelly is healthy for your cats I am also surprised that you would advocate “prescrioption” diets.
    Here is an excellent article by Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola pets with HEALTHY alternatives.

    There are a number of ways to temporarily remedy a hairball problem — some more advisable than others — but if a cat is suffering with frequent hairballs it’s important to rule out serious underlying conditions as a possible cause for the digestive disturbance.

    This is especially true if the hairballs are a new problem in a mature cat. Sudden GI issues in a middle-aged or senior kitty should always be thoroughly investigated.

    Dr. Becker’s Comments:

    Hairballs, known in the scientific community as bezoars or trichobezoars (which certainly doesn’t make them sound a bit more appealing), are a common complaint among people owned by cats.

    Not only can the problem cause a nasty mess on floors and furniture, it often seems the effort required to regurgitate those gooey masses is very uncomfortable for the poor kitty.

    How Do Hairballs Develop?

    Hairballs have an obvious cause: kitties swallow a considerable amount of their own hair when they groom themselves. Some cats groom themselves and all the other cats in their household, making the amount of hair they consume enormous.

    The rough surface of your cat’s tongue is a perfect tool for pulling dead and excess fur from her coat during grooming. Some of that hair gets ingested. Hairballs aren’t round; they are typically cylindrical masses of hair, debris from the cat’s coat, and undigested bits of food.

    Cat owners unfamiliar with hairballs might think their kitty has missed the litter box and pooped elsewhere in the house. As a general rule, a mess resembling poop found in a location away from the litter box is more than likely a hairball. The odor is also a tipoff, as hairballs don’t smell like the other stuff.

    A cat’s digestive system is designed to handle a certain amount of fur, her own and from prey in the wild. But lots of kitties wind up with hairballs due to hair length, shedding patterns, dietary deficiencies, digestive challenges — or a combination of issues.

    Assuming your cat’s hairball situation didn’t come on suddenly and there are no other signs of illness, I would recommend the following approach to start:

    Make necessary adjustments to his diet to ensure adequate moisture content
    Add an omega-3 supplement
    Brush your cat daily or at least several times a week

    What’s for Dinner?

    If you’re feeding your cat dry pet food, she’s not getting anywhere near the moisture content her organs need to function well for a lifetime. Dry kibble is not biologically appropriate nutrition for felines, as it lacks two ingredients essential to your kitty’s health: moisture and high quality protein.

    Your kitty’s digestive system is working harder than nature intended to process all that dry stuff, and don’t expect her to drink extra water to compensate. Cats get most of the water their bodies need from food. A healthy dog drinks loads of water throughout the day. A healthy cat does not.

    If your kitty’s diet is low in moisture content, she’s living in a state of chronic dehydration. Her GI tract, already moisture-depleted, is less able to transport a mass of swallowed fur and debris than the GI tract of a well-hydrated cat eating a species-appropriate diet.

    If your cat has a hairball problem and is eating primarily kibble, the first thing I recommend you do is start transitioning to a biologically appropriate diet.

    Healthy Fats = Healthy Cats

    The most common nutritional deficiency I see in my practice is lack of essential fatty acids, and omega-3’s in particular.

    Cats (and dogs) have a nutritional requirement for healthy fats that must be supplied by the food they eat, because their bodies don’t produce it – thus the essential nature of these healthy fats.

    If your kitty has been eating a diet of commercial pet food, chances are he’s been getting more omega-6 fats than he needs, and not enough omega-3’s.

    A good balance of fatty acids in your cat’s diet can make a tremendous positive difference in his health, including:

    Improving immune system response and blood clotting activity
    Reducing inflammatory responses associated with arthritis and bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
    Decreasing triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels

    Research is underway to determine how omega-3 fatty acids impact the development of certain types of pet cancer, as well as their potential to prevent or alleviate autoimmune disorders.

    Omega-3 deficiencies in pets have been associated with stunted growth, eye problems, insufficient muscle development and immune system dysfunction.

    Sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in your cat’s diet can help to improve not only the condition of his skin and fur, but also the ability of his digestive system to manage the hair and debris he swallows while grooming himself.

    For a cat up to 14 pounds and in overall good health, I recommend supplementing with 125 mg daily of krill oil. Krill oil is the optimum source of omega-3’s for people and pets.

    Kitty Hair Care

    Even though most cats are meticulously clean and don’t seem to need assistance in that department, if your kitty is dealing with hairballs, she could use a hand with her grooming.

    Just a few minutes a day spent brushing or combing your cat to remove dead, loose hair from her coat will mean fewer hairs swallowed, and fewer hairballs for both of you to deal with. This is especially true if your kitty has long hair, and during shedding season when the weather begins to warm up.

    As for what tool you should use to groom your cat — there are as many opinions as there are varieties of pet brushes and combs on the market.

    My recommendation is to use whatever tool your kitty will tolerate.

    Some cats enjoy being brushed or combed. If your kitty is one of those, a comb – fine tooth for a short coat, wide tooth for long hair – is more efficient at removing loose fur. Since combing probably doesn’t feel as good to your cat as brushing, you can start and finish grooming sessions with a brush to encourage him to continue to enjoy the experience.

    Set a goal of four to five minutes a day with a long-haired cat and three to four times a week for a kitty with short hair. You should notice a very quick improvement in the hairball situation, and regular grooming will also help to improve the condition of your pet’s skin by removing debris and dead cells.

    Contrary to what many pet owners believe, kitties can benefit from regular baths just like their canine counterparts – especially cats with allergies and skin conditions. Check here for more information on how bathing can help improve your kitty’s skin, coat and overall health.

    More Hairball Help

    If your cat’s hairball problem doesn’t resolve or at least dramatically improve with the changes outlined above, you can try one or more of the following remedies:

    Psyllium seed husk powder. Also known simply as psyllium, this powder is made from portions of the seed of the plant Plantago ovate, a native Indian plant. This fiber source is water soluble and becomes mucilaginous when wet, helping to push built up hair along the GI tract. Add the contents of a capsule to a tablespoon of water, then mix in with your cat’s food daily.
    Pumpkin. Add a teaspoon of canned or freshly cooked mashed pumpkin to your kitty’s food each day. Canned pumpkin (make sure it is 100 percent pumpkin) is a non-grain fiber source that can aid digestion.
    Add a good quality animal-sourced digestive enzyme to your kitty’s diet.
    Put a dab of NON-PETROLIUM jelly on your fingertip or the tip of your cat’s nose. Look for a brand with all natural ingredients, typically slippery elm, marshmallow or papaya. Kitty will lick the jelly, swallow it, and with any luck it will coat the hairball, allowing it to be expelled more easily.

    I recommend you avoid grain-based fiber sources, as cats have no biological requirement for grain and the ideal situation for most cats is to eat only what is appropriate for the species.

    I also don’t recommend petroleum-based jellies marketed as hairball treatments. These products are widely used and can help with hairballs, but petroleum is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbons, not a nutrient. Too much of it can interfere with the absorption of vitamin A.

    Mineral oil is another bad idea — it can cause pneumonia if inhaled.

    When the Problem is Serious

    Rarely, a hairball can grow large enough to be life-threatening and require surgical removal.

    If you’re not finding hairballs but your cat is exhibiting all the usual hairball-related noises and behaviors, you should get her to a veterinarian as soon as possible. It’s possible a hairball has grown too big to be regurgitated or passed through the GI tract.

    It could also be a non-hairball related but serious condition like feline asthma.

    If your cat vomits frequently, stops eating, loses weight or shows other symptoms of being ill or in pain, it’s also time to get her to a vet. Again, it could be an impassable hairball, but those symptoms can also signal other serious conditions.

  3. dexter Says:
    December 23rd, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I MUST agree with Nancy (2). Petroleum jelly, just like it sounds is a petroleum by-product (petrolatum) from the oil industry. If suggesting this type of remedy for a TEMPORARY solution, then please recommend something like Un-Petroleum jelly, a plant based product. It is important to focus on causes such as diet and stress in hair ball problems. GI imbalance from dry commercial food and prescription diets is actually more of a cause than solution. High fiber in my opinion is a band-aid solution; cats and dogs have an incredibly low need for fiber, in the wild this would come from the hair and bones of prey, not vegetable sources primarily. Adding high fiber, species IN-appropriate diets will only mask a problem and lead to a fealing of false security of our pet’s health.

  4. Reverend Pennie Mumm CD MS Says:
    January 7th, 2013 at 9:20 am

    My usual comment is Go, Andy, GO! You have seen the future where big pharma and secretive “medicine” are not the answer, with our burgeoning population, now having topped 7 billion and over the “tipping point” for sustainability, with our global warming and crop failures, with our ongoing governmental attempts to overregulate, it is needed that voices like yours and Joe’s continue to give us knowledge and options, expose the greed and corruption, and help us into a pet-friendly and person-friendly future God means us to have! Thanks, Andy! And, sorry, your dog has a better mustache! love, us

  5. Reverend Pennie Mumm CD MS Says:
    January 7th, 2013 at 9:21 am

    BTW, I like the Hartz Hairball Remedy Soft Chews for my 9 year old mamacat’s chronic constipation, they are innocuous AND they work!

  6. Reverend Pennie Mumm CD MS Says:
    January 7th, 2013 at 9:26 am

    One more thought on teeth and gums (cats’), I like the treat variety, e.g. Temptations Complete Dental Care, my girls are 9 years old and have NO dental problems and bright, clean teeth with no pink gumline–nothing succeeds like success!

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Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM
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