If you own a cat, chances are you're no stranger to hairballs. For the uninitiated, hairballs are balls of fur that cats sometimes cough up after grooming themselves. They're not exactly pleasant, but they're a part of life when you share your home with a kitty.
To help you deal with hairballs, we've put together a list of our top ten tips. With these tips, you'll be able to minimize the number of hairballs your cat produces and keep your home clean(er) in the process. Let's get started and learn some tips for how to prevent hairballs in cats!
Get a Good Cat Brush
Invest in a good-quality brush. A good brush will help remove loose fur from your cat's coat before it has a chance to be ingested during grooming. Just be sure to get one that's specifically designed for cats; their fur is different from that of dogs and other animals, so a dog brush won't do the trick.
Groom Your Cat Often
Groom your cat regularly. The more often you brush your cat, the less fur they'll ingest while grooming, and the fewer hairballs they'll cough up as a result. Even if your cat doesn't like being brushed, it's important to do it regularly (at least once or twice a week) to keep them healthy and help reduce hairballs.
Once you establish a regular grooming routine, they will get more used to it, and many will actually come to look forward to it.
Restrict Processed Foods
Avoid processed foods. Believe it or not, what you feed your cat can have an impact on how much fur they ingest while grooming and how many hairballs they produce as a result.
Processed foods are often lacking in nutrients that are essential for maintaining a healthy coat, so feeding your cat a diet of all-natural, unprocessed foods is best. Additionally, avoid giving them any table scraps. Stick to their regular food to ensure they're getting everything they need.
Do Frequent Litter Box Changes
Change their litter box frequently. A dirty litter box is one of the leading causes of hairballs in cats. When cats use the litter box, their fur can become matted with feces and urine, which they then ingest during self-grooming.
To avoid this, empty and clean their litter box at least once a week - twice if you have more than one cat or if your cat uses it a lot.
Make Sure Your Cat Gets Lots of Water
Keep them well-hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps cats (and all animals) maintain healthy skin and fur. When cats are properly hydrated, their fur is less likely to break off or come out in clumps while they're self-grooming, which reduces the amount of fur they ingest and, as a result, the number of hairballs they produce.
Make sure there's always fresh water available for your cat to drink and consider adding moist food like wet canned food or broth to their diet if they don't already eat it.
Omega-3 Is Important
Add omega-3 fatty acids to their diet. Omega-3s are good for both human health and animal health alike, and they can promote healthy skin and fur in cats. You can find omega-3s in fish oil supplements or give your cat some canned tuna (packed in water) once in a while as a treat.
Just beware that too much tuna can lead to mercury poisoning, so use it as an occasional treat rather than adding it to their regular diet.
Check For Cat Allergies
Get them checked for allergies. Allergies are one of the leading causes of excessive shedding, which can lead to more hairballs. If you think your cat may be allergic to something in their environment or diet, talk to your vet about having them tested for allergies and make any necessary changes based on their results.
Get Them Fixed
Spay or neuter them. Unfixed cats are more likely than fixed cats to develop hairballs due to all the extra hormones coursing through their bodies. If you haven't already spayed or neutered your cat, talk to your vet about doing so. It's good for their health (and yours!) in more ways than one.
Use Hairball Remedies
Use preventive treatments as needed. If your vet has diagnosed your cat with chronic hairballs, they may prescribe medication or recommend over-the-counter treatments.
Help Your Cat Chill
Help them relieve stress. Believe it or not, stress can cause excessive shedding in cats, which leads to more hairballs overall. If you think stress may be causing your cat to shed excessively, talk to your vet about ways to help relieve their stress. In some cases, changing their litter type may also help (for example, from clay-based litter to walnut-based litter).
Hairballs are inevitable if you own a cat - but that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about them! With our top ten tips for how to prevent hairballs in cats, you can minimize the number of hairballs your cat produces and keep your home clean(er) in the process. So what are you waiting for? Put our tips into action today!
If all else fails, consider one of the many hairball remedies for cats that are on the market today. We reviewed five of the best - click below to learn more!