Fur balls are more than a nuisance for cats. They can be dangerous if enough hair collects in the cat’s stomach to block the small intestine, colon or esophagus. Surgery is sometimes the only way to remove the accumulated hair.
Article in The Sun: VETS Operating on a Cat’s Blocked Stomach Were Stunned to find the obstacle was a fur ball the size of her tummy.”Moggie Gemma groomed herself so much she collected the 5in clump of hair in her belly.The 214 gram mass had filled her entire stomach and vets said it was the biggest they had ever seen.Gemma’s plight was discovered when her owners noticed a solid lump in her belly and saw that she stopped eating.They took her to a vet in Huntingdon, Cambs, where an X-ray showed the lump.Vet David Fennell said: ‘It was a mixture of shock and relief when we realized what it was. ‘Nobody had seen anything like it before, in themselves hairballs are relatively common but I have never seen anything this size.'”1
Fur balls are more than a nuisance for cats. They can be dangerous if enough hair collects in the cat’s stomach to block the small intestine, colon or esophagus. Surgery is sometimes the only way to remove the accumulated hair. Signs that your cat is having trouble passing a hair or fur ball are coughing, gagging or hacking, loss of appetite and vomiting after meals. Sometimes, the cat will back up while coughing and act like it’s trying to get rid of something but can’t.
Hairballs are comprised of a lot of fat in addition to your cat’s fur. By adding a teaspoon of egg-based lecithin (not soy-based) to your cat’s wet food twice a week, the fat is dissolved, allowing the hairball to pass through the intestinal tract.
Indoor-only cats should have access to “cat grass”. This provides natural roughage to your pet’s diet and seems have a mild laxative effect, which can help eliminate the fur that is ingested by your cat when grooming.
– Try slippery elm bark, available at health food stores. Slippery elm is safe for cats and is a popular remedy for constipation, diarrhea and moving hairballs along.
– Add about 1 tsp of canned pumpkin (not pie filling) to your cat’s food twice a day. This gentle, natural fiber is safe for cats and will get the fur ball moving.
– Add some wild salmon or fish oil to your cat’s diet. The omega-3 fatty acids in both will help prevent fur balls by keeping the cat’s coat in GOOD condition. Independent pet supply retailers and health food stores sell wild salmon and fish oil. Both are safe for cats and can be added to the cat’s wet food. The amount to give depends on the size of the cat.
Prevention of Furballs:
Comb your cat several times a week with a flea or greyhound comb to remove dead skin and help prevent matting and fur balls. Feeding wet food helps. It will keep the skin hydrated and reduce shedding and the formation of mats and fur balls. The best preventative is adding the fish oil mentioned above to your cat’s diet twice a week which will benefit your cat’s overall health tremendously anyway.
Most cats get them at some time in their lives: hairballs. Cats are excessive groomers and will often not just groom themselves but every cat in the household. That’s a lot of hair being ingested. If your cat is one of these, you should consider a regular weekly hairball regimen such as the following.
- Psyllium seed husk powder. Also known simply as psyllium, this powder is made from portions of the seed of the plant Plantago ovate, a native Indian plant. This fiber source is water soluble and becomes mucilaginous when wet, helping to push built up hair along the GI tract. Add the contents of a capsule to a tablespoon of water, then mix in with your cat’s food daily.
- Pumpkin. Add a teaspoon of canned or freshly cooked mashed pumpkin to your kitty’s food each day. Canned pumpkin (make sure it is 100 percent pumpkin) is a non-grain fiber source that can aid digestion.
- Add a good quality animal-sourced digestive enzyme to your kitty’s diet.
- Put a dab of non-petroleum jelly on your fingertip or the tip of your cat’s nose. Look for a brand with all natural ingredients, typically slippery elm, marshmallow or papaya. Kitty will lick the jelly, swallow it, and with any luck it will coat the hairball, allowing it to be expelled more easily.
- Adding one teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food once or twice a week can prevent vomiting up hairballs. The oil lubricates the cat’s digestive system, which will allow the hairball to slide right on through.