Did you know that the average indoor cat spends nearly 60% of their day grooming themselves? It’s no wonder then that so many cats have problems with hairballs in their life.
Hacking up a hairball or passing one internally can be incredibly uncomfortable for your cat. And if a hairball problem goes unattended it can lead to dangerous blockages in your cat’s stomach or digestive tract. Any sign of blockage should precipitate an immediate vet call, as they can quickly become fatal.
Signs that your cat may have a gastrointestinal blockage:
Thankfully, there are many things you can do to help keep your cat from getting hairballs in the first place, and quite a few to help ease their discomfort should they develop one.
In this article, we will explore seven completely natural and safe remedies for cat hairballs. With a mixture of knowledge, prevention, and tactics to aid their digestion, you and your kitty can kiss hairball problems goodbye!
1. Make sure your cat is drinking enough water
As with nearly any digestive issue, proper hydration and water intake can be a big help. If your cat isn’t drinking enough water, their digestive system can become slow, stagnant, and start working harder than it should. A sluggish digestive system will only make hairball problems worse.
A cat’s daily water intake should be about one ounce of water per one pound of weight. If your cat weighs 10 pounds, that means they should be getting around 10 ounces throughout a day.
Firstly, you can make sure that your cat’s water supply is always clean and frequently replaced. Bacteria grow quickly in standing water and dirt or dander can collect as well. Be sure to give your cat a fresh bowl of water every day and give them more if they run out.
Another piece of the hydration puzzle is that many cats prefer running water as opposed to still. And there are several cat drinking fountains that keep water flowing to entice your feline to hydrate more regularly.
And don’t forget that canned food, or “wet food,” is about 75% water. If your cat only eats dry food, it could be missing out on extra hydration too. A gradual increase in wet food could help your cat get the hydration they need to keep their digestive system running smoothly.
2. Brush your cat to remove excess hair
Perhaps the most obvious and natural solution to hairball problems is to make sure there is less loose hair on your cat for them to ingest. Especially if you have a long-haired cat, regular brushing and grooming help is a necessity.
Establishing a grooming routine with your cat early in their life is wise. The more you can show them how beneficial your ministrations are, the more likely they are to allow it! If your cat does not sit still for long enough to be groomed, try enticing them with treats to stick around for a good brushing.
3. Give your cat a wet hand rub down
Perhaps our favorite way to remove excess hair from our cat’s when they are shedding is with a wet hand rub down. Simply wet your hands and then run them through your cat’s hair – the moisture will pick up all kinds of loose follicles that may otherwise be swallowed.
Understandably, some cats will take this as an affront to their dignity. You can also do this with a paper towel or washcloth, but if your cat tolerates it then it’s more fun to use your hands.
4. Add oil to their food
Adding a little bit of oil to your cat’s food when you see them struggling with a hairball can help ease the passage of the hair through their digestive system so that it is passed naturally.
In single doses, you should stick to one teaspoon or less. Small amounts of oil will help loosen up their stools enough that passing the hair should be relatively painless. Choose a high-quality oil that has had minimal processing.
If your cat has regular hairball issues, we recommend starting small and working your way up to about a teaspoon a week. To begin, you can use an eyedropper for just a few drops every other day. The gradual increase will help your cat’s gut adjust and allow you to stop quickly if you notice any harmful effects.
As always, we advise talking to your vet before making any significant dietary changes. They’ll be happy to give you suggestions of which oils may be best for your cat, and where you can purchase them.
5. Add fiber to your cat’s diet
Adding fiber to your cat’s diet is an excellent way to naturally help their digestion run smoothly, and therefore be better able to handle hairballs.
You have two basic options for this method. The first is simply mixing a small portion of fiber powder into your cat’s wet food or making a paste of it with water to put on top of dry.
The second, which more cats find palatable, is to add a teaspoon or so of pumpkin puree to their meal. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, and though cats don’t usually need veggies it can be incredibly helpful for passing hair through the intestines and preventing constipation.
Don’t forget to choose a 100% pumpkin puree. As yummy as pie filling is, the added sugar and spices just aren’t good for kitties.
6. Grow your own cat grass
You may have seen cats eat bits of your lawn to aid them in throwing up something that didn’t agree with them. But did you know that a little cat grass salad can also help your cat pass hairballs?
The best way to give your cat access to digestion-aiding roughage is by growing your own cat grass. It’s easy to grow indoors or outside.
When your cat is struggling with a hairball, they can gnaw on some cat grass and either bring it back up or the extra fiber will help it come out the other end smoothly.
- Related Read: 10 Best Cat Grass in 2020
7. Distract your cat with toys or activities
Indoor cats are particularly prone to overgrooming when bored. And if your cat spends half their day licking themselves there is a significantly higher chance that they’ll have trouble with hairballs.
One of the less obvious ways to help your cat ingest less hair is to distract them when you see them beginning to groom themselves. Laser pointers, feathers, or strings – whatever your cat’s favorite toy is, bring it out and give them a good run around!
This method also has the added benefit of giving you and your kitty some bonding time and keeping your feline friend well exercised.
If your cat is experiencing frequent constipation, or you think they may have a blockage call your vet immediately. Blockages are incredibly dangerous and can quickly become life-threatening.
Most hairball issues are uncomfortable, but thankfully not fatal. And with this handy list of natural remedies and strategies for prevention, you’ll have your feline friend hairball free in no time!
Featured Image: Montakan Wannasri, Shutterstock