Hairy Beast

I’m famous for saying that my outfit isn’t complete without cat hair, so naturally, I know a thing or two about hairballs. Celebrating National Hairball Awareness Day (4/27, it’s the last Friday every April) is a fun way to become more informed on how to best manage your “hairy beast” AND keep yourself cat hair-free.

 Ever wonder what exactly is a hairball?  A hairball is an undigested accumulation of hair in the stomach that has been ingested by your cat during their daily “grooming” routines – more on that below. Their rough tongue texture grabs the hair, which can be especially problematic in long-haired breeds, but also in ‘super-groomer’ short-haired breeds. Typically the hair passes all the way through the digestive track, but if not, is often vomited up… and usually in less than ideal places of your home, i.e.: bed, carpet, furniture. In a household with four felines, I can expect about one or two hairballs per month, and hope that I don’t step in anything during the wee hours of the A.M.  All things considered, the amount of hairballs produced by our kitties is well BELOW average. An occasional hairball is normal. Daily hairballs or hairballs several times per week are a problem that needs help. Want to know our secret to preventing hairballs?

1) Grooming: It’s a fact: Cats do NOT groom themselves. Cats lick themselves, resulting in— you guessed it—hairballs!! Cats need regular grooming roughly every 6 weeks. Regular professional grooming reduces shedding, eliminates hairballs, reduces allergy problems, and helps promote a cleaner environment (for you) as well as a healthier/happier cat. Cats need weekly brushing too, which can help to reduce shedding and hairballs. The FURminator grooming tools are super effective for your at-home use to remove the undercoat and reduce the amount of hair your cat ingests.

2) Diet: Typically it’s thought that ‘indoor formulas’ and ‘hairball formulas’ are scientifically proven to reduce to hairballs. Not so. These dry kibble formulas contain more (poor quality) fiber, which does assist in passing the hair through the digestive track, however these formulas potentially create an even hairier mess (yep, more hairballs!) because nutritionally, these diets are not the IDEAL type of diet biologically appropriate for felines. These dry kibble formulas DO NOT effectively reduce excessive shedding, which creates an even hairier mess—and ultimately more hairballs. The secret to reducing excessive shedding, is to feed your feline a high quality, grain-free high protein, low carb raw/fresh/canned food diet. The extra moisture in these natural diets creates healthier skin/coat—and ultimately less hairballs.

3) Supplements: To ensure even better condition of your cat’s skin and coat, consider adding a natural skin/coat formula, EFAs (essential fatty aids), digestive enzymes, natural fiber, or natural hairball remedy supplements containing a combination of all of the aforementioned to your cat’s daily routine. Easily mixed into the food, these supplements can have a substantial impact on your cat’s overall health. Avoid the traditional hairball remedies like Laxatone or Petromalt that are petroleum-based and/or have a myriad of questionable, unhealthy ingredients.  

A word of caution: Know what is typical of your cat’s behavior. If you notice ongoing vomiting, gagging without producing a hairball, decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, or lethargy, seek professional help. You need to be sure there is not a blockage, or rule out other medical conditions such as feline asthma, IBS, or something more serious.

Ask our Pet Experts: If you have questions or want to learn more, please stop in-store and ask our Pet Experts for advice on grooming your cat, choosing the best quality cat food for your individual needs and pet lifestyle, or for guidance in selecting the best nutritional supplement to prevent or eliminate hairballs.

Now, let’s have some hairball FUN…click here to see a collection of celebrity hairballs created by cat bloggers and our favorite hairball dance video.

Happy Hairball (Awareness) Day!