How to Get Rid of Hairballs in Cats

How to get rid of hairballs in cats

If you’re searching ” how to get rid of hairballs in cats,” chances are, you’ve cleaned up a hairball or two. It’s not a pleasant experience, but most us cat people have been there!

So how can you get rid of hairballs in cats?

There are a few ways in which you can help your cat to reduce the number of hairballs they get. The first thing you should start with is grooming, which is the number one way to reduce hair balls in cats. Products such as specific foods also exist, which can help get rid of hair balls in cats.

Getting rid of hairballs permanently starts with grooming but there is so much more that can help. We’re going to answer all of your questions and help you fully understand how to get rid of hairballs in cats.

How to get rid of hairballs in cats:

Grooming Help

You already know that hairballs are caused by a collection of hair formed due to cats grooming themselves. Cats will continue to groom themselves, but you can help out with regular brushing, to get rid of any dead hairs and debris that is caught in their coats. A fan favorite of both cats and dogs is the Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush. If the site of a brush leaves your cat feeling a little timid or uneasy, than perhaps you’ll do better with a pet grooming glove, such as the one by DELMO. This way you can pat your cat as you normally would, and they will feel as if they’re getting a massage.

If you find that your cat is grooming themselves excessively, then perhaps they are just bored, and you can turn the focus from themselves to something fun. This assortment of toys will keep them entertained for quite a while. If you don’t have a lot of room, or just don’t want them running around so much while you’re on a call than this might be a good alternative. You’ll be able to keep them entertained, while having them be much quieter, and they’ll stay in place.

Products to Help Get Rid of Hairballs

There are several different products on the market that you can get to help with hairballs. There are a few different categories of products you can look at. Several manufacturers of cat food and cat treats have a hairball formula, which is essentially food with a high fibre content that helps to keep their coats healthy and reduces the amount of shedding a cat does. In addition, there are pastes and gels that specifically for getting rid of hairballs in cats.

Cat Food

Many of the top brand names in cat food have come up with their own hairball formula that you can feed your favorite feline as part of their regular diet. A few of our favorites include:

  • Hill’s Science Diet Urinary and Hairball ControlHill’s Science Diet is veterinarian’s number one brand of pet food. This formula is high in fibre, Omega-6 and Vitamin E, all of which will help promote a healthy coat, reducing shedding and helping to reduce hairballs.
  • Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball ControlWith Blue Buffalo’s hairball formula you will continue to get well-balanced nutrition, including the LifeSource Bits they’re known for. This formula is high in protein and natural fibre and includes Omegas 3 & 6, for a healthier coat and reduction of hairballs.
  • Royal Canin HairballWhile the other two focused more on reducing the amount of fur your cat ingests, Royal Canin’s formula focuses on keeping the hair moving throughout the GI tract, in the form of a blend of dietary fibres.

Cat Treats

Perhaps your cat doesn’t get enough hairballs to warrant feeding them a specific formula of food. You might notice that there are certain times of year that they are a little more prone and treats might be a good option for you.

  • Greenies Smartbites Hairball ControlWe like Greenies’ Hairball Control formula, which has a special fibre blend not found in any of their other products. Unlike our next two, which can be used independently, this formula is best used with a food that’s formulated to help with hairballs.
  • Pet Naturals HairballAs the name suggests, this formula is made with all-natural ingredients and is great for long-haired cats. It focuses on the outside and inside of the cat, with ingredients for a healthier coat to reduce shedding, while also helping the digestive tract pass any hair that enters.
  • Hartz Hairball PlusHartz’ formula helps to aid the passage of hair that enters the GI tract and are safe for kittens over 4 weeks old and adults. These treats add Omegas 3, 6, & 9 so your cat will be getting a great dose of healthy fatty acids that will help with their skin and coat.

Pastes and Gels

Pastes and gels are generally used to help pass, or eliminate a hairball, rather than prevent one from forming. Most of them have a laxative to promote gastro movement in the intestinal tract.

  • Tomlyn Laxatone Hairball RemedyTomlyn is a veterinarian recommended brand and have been around since the 1970’s. This gel is safe for everyday use and lubricates the hair in the digestive system aiding the passage and elimination through stool.
  • Sentry Hairball Relief for CatsSentry’s paste helps to both prevent and eliminate hairballs and is safe for cats over 4 weeks of age. This formula is a laxative product and.
  • Vetoquinol LaxatoneVetoquinol’s formula also helps with prevention and elimination of hairballs with its lubricant. They claim to be the hairball remedy standard for over 40 years.

Understanding Hairballs in Cats

In order to know how to get rid of hairballs in cats, it’s also helpful to know what they are.

What is a Hairball?

Hairballs are officially known as trichobezoar. Thankfully someone came up with the term hairball as it’s much easier to spell and pronounce.  When you look at the official name, and breakdown, you can start to get an understanding of what hairballs are.

According to Merriam-Webster, authority in dictionaries since 1828,  tricho is defined as “hair”. While bezoar is defined as “any of various calculi found chiefly in the gastrointestinal organs”. So, hairball seems appropriate.

Cats groom themselves. A lot. So, they’re bound to ingest some of their fur, or hair. Their digestive tracts can’t break down the hair, but it normally just passes through them and out the other end.

However, sometimes hair accumulates in the stomach, or along the gastrointestinal tract somewhere. Because the body can’t break the hair down, it continues to accumulate and cats need to expel it somehow, so they tend to bring the glop up. Thus, you find a hairball on your kitchen floor.

As gross or unpleasant as it might be, it’s extremely important that they do bring up hairballs, if they are unable to pass them, to ensure there are no blockages in their gastrointestinal tract.

If hair continues to accumulate in the intestines it could block waste removal and pierce the lining of the intestines. Both of which can be extremely dangerous to your favorite feline and would need a veterinarian.

So, hairballs are gross, but are a good thing.

Symptoms of Hairballs

When should you get worried about your cat vomiting up hairballs? As mentioned above, if your cat is unable to eliminate the hairball, it can cause more serious problems. Fetch by WebMD suggests that if your cat displays any of the following signs, then you should contact your vet.

  • Ongoing vomiting, retching, gagging or hacking without producing a hairball
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

These are all signs that your cat may have a more serious blockage that could become life-threatening.

Another sign that something could be off is the frequency of hairballs being produced by your cat. Generally, cats produce a hairball every two weeks. If you notice that your feline friend is producing a lot of hairballs, perhaps a couple a week, then you’ll want to talk to your vet as it could mean that something else is going on.

Read more about the symptoms of hairballs here. 

Feeling Better About Hairballs

Now that we’ve been able to explain to you exactly what hairballs are, how they are formed, how often to expect them, what to look out for, and how to treat and eliminate them, they shouldn’t be as scary.

While we can’t do anything about the noise your cat makes while coughing one up, we hope that we have helped to eliminate the anxiety behind them and have helped you to understand how to get rid of hairballs in cats.

Lucie Wilkins

Lucie is a qualified RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse) with over 10 years experience working with cats. She has had a cat companion or two in the house for as long as she can remember. Read more about Lucie here.

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