*Opinions in this post are not by a cat medical specialist. Please refer to one before trying most of these solutions or research it at your own discretion.
For many people the transition to warmer weather is a welcomed change. The birds chirping, the greenery, going on picnics, and to the beach. But for those who have furbabies spring/summer can mark the change between winter coat to summer coat. The result is hair, hair, and more hair. And for those of us who have cats this can mean. Duh Duh Duh hairballs.
Hairballs are a pain. They can be messy, like really messy, cause your cat to yack up their food or lower their appetite, and can sometimes rather rapidly spiral into a medical emergency.
I love my cats. Getting two short haired kittens I don’t think I realized just how MUCH hair there would be. My cats were four months old when I got them. For the first year and a bit, they still had their kitten coat. Which meant I could slack off with the brushing. But once their adult coat grew in well that was just it. It meant much more rigid grooming guidelines.
The thing is grooming alone doesn’t prevent all hairballs. Depending on your cats coat and grooming habits you may end up with an unwelcome surprise.
I’m not sure how this happens but Bagheera sheds three times more than his brother, Penguin. And sheds constantly. Indoor cats shed up to 6 times a year. Bagheera sheds all the time. With a few days-weeks of respite. When shedding seasons kicks in his fur falls out at break neck speed. This paired into the fact that he licks himself all day is a problem.
Cats are natural groomers. But sometimes you read articles that say something like “cats groom once or twice a week” and you break into a full belly laugh. My cat, grooms for hours of the day. I’ve watched him lick himself for over 6 hours in a day before. And that’s not a one off. It’s just what he does. He’s happy he licks. He’s nervous he licks some more. And sometimes he just licks himself because you know he’s a cat it’s what they do.
(I have gone to a vets about this issue specifically though and they think it’s just how he is)
Solutions-What they can eat to help
It’s understandable for me that a cat who sheds constantly and licks himself for hours is prone to hairballs. On top of that Bagheera’s finicky with almost every hairball solution I’ve tried. He hates hairball solution (though in times of desperation you can rub in on your cats lips, teeth, or paw to get them to ingest it), He is on/off with catgrass (which helps cats vomit up hairballs, and also acts as a laxative. These two things in combination have helped me with small to midsized hairballs.
A more long term solution we’ve tried is olive oil/coconut oil in their foods few times a week to prevent hairballs from even forming. So far it has honestly helped so much with the problem.
But sometimes in urgent cases I’ve had to resort to using Vaseline. Yup that’s right good old petroleum jelly. Usually it only takes 2 days to clear but in the worst case I’ve had so far it took 3 days. Some sites recommend using up to 1/2 tbsp. of Vaseline. I’ve never used that much of it usually closer to 1/2 – 3/4 tsp in a day. Some places I’ve read suggest mixing it in food. Others suggest giving it straight. I’ve done both in the past based on how my cat has presented.
If nothing works though I’d suggest going to a vet. Because if your cat can’t keep anything down they could become emaciated and the situation could snowball.
The other solution is the obvious brush your cat! I brush my little guys once a day. Twice a day during shedding weeks. And a few times a week I use a dry shampoo (during shedding months) to help reduce the amount of loose hairs. I don’t straight up spray it at them though because Penguin’s a little to jumpy for that. Usually I spray it on their grooming brushes then my hands (one or two squirts) and then run it over them after a brush. <—Thing with this is that the dry spray I use doesn’t actually have parameters on how often to use it. But if yours does or you have knowledge on how often to use it go for what works for you.
On really ,really bad hairball disasters (with Bagheera) I have literally had to full out bathe him. Something that a) not all catowners can do and b) something I do NOT like doing. Bathing a cat requires a) a cat that won’t maul you to death when you try b) a cat that won’t rip your throat out with their teeth when you get them wet and c) an owner who can stay cool under pressure despite the fact that your cat may attempt both a) and b) without any warning.
Honestly for people like me going to a Groomer is much better than doing it myself though and Bagheera and I are much less traumatized afterwards.
Other solutions I’ve heard of are the use of pumpkin puree (which is a little hit and miss) Penguin loves pumpkin but Bagheera hates it. So it’s hard to gauge how effective it really is for my guys. But increasing the amount of fibre in your cats diet is also a good way to go.
Sometimes it’s the food they’re eating. You’d be surprised how many problems crappy food can cause your cat.)
Thing is hairballs aren’t entirely normal. Sure many pet owners deal with them but it’s mostly an ailment that develops in indoor kitties. As a cat’s owner it’s best to find the root cause of your kitties hairball problem to prevent them from happening. Or before things get serious. If this problem is an ongoing thing discuss it with your vet. Your pet may have a disease causing them to have chronic hairballs.
For me the best solution is prevention which for me has worked out to be a combination the olive and coconut oils, brushing, and +dry shampoos.