This Is What To Do When Your Cat Has A Hairball

by Brittany Bennett
Chris McGrath/Getty Images News/Getty Images

There's nothing pretty or precious about hairballs. Think about what your shower drain looks like after washing your hair a few times — but in a stomach. Sorry for the visual guys, but that's basically what's happening to your cat's digestive system. If you're wondering what to do when your cat has a hairball, don't worry, all hope is not lost. You can unclog your cat. There are existing remedies that will get your cat back to purring instead of heaving.

Basically when your cat starts hacking up, um, hair, it's because of their grooming ~process~. Hey, nobody said it was easy being beautiful. According to PetMD, "when your cat grooms himself, tiny hook-like structures on his tongue catch loose and dead hair, which is then swallowed. The majority of this hair passes all the way through the digestive tract with no problems." What doesn't pass so easily is what hoards itself into the infamous hairball that plagues the fluffiest of our feline friends.

It's hard to see our strong, independent cats in a state of distress. And it's important to monitor if you find your cat gagging or having trouble getting that hairball out of its system. As a responsible and loving cat owner, you first and foremost want to make sure that this hairball, which may seem common and such a cat thing to do, isn't life threatening. There are also preventative measures you can take to keep hairballs to a minimum.

Call Your Vet

Because hairballs can be potentially fatal to cats due to blockages, you'll want to call your vet and describe their symptoms. This will also lead you to the best advice as to how go about resolving your cat's issue. If you see that your cat is having a difficult time breathing, isn't using the bathroom, and refuses to eat or drink, you should head to the vet immediately.

Groom Your Cat

A solid and simple way to prevent your cat's hairball problem is to groom your cat. Take a brush to that beauty on the regular. It will help prevent all that shedding your cat is trying to clean up themselves which is ultimately resulting in hairballs. Also, it'll be nice to cuddle up to your kitty and play hair dresser.

Look Into "Hairball Formula" Cat Food

Many cat foods provide "hairball formula" variations of their products. These tend to be high in fiber to help maximize the strength of your cat's coat. It's supposed to reduce shedding and build the ability to pass through its system so your cat can go about prancing and purring through life.

Use A Hairball Laxative

Of course, ask your vet before buying any products — but according to PetMD, "there are a number of different hairball products on the market today, most of which are mild laxatives that help hairballs pass through the digestive tract." This could help your cat pass the wad of hair intruding its system.

Mix Pumpkin Puree In Your Cat's Food

If you're not into cat laxatives there are some home remedies you can use to amp up fiber in your cat's diet. Of course, talk to your vet before making changes to your feline's feast. Mixing a teaspoon of pumpkin puree into your cat's food could encourage the hairballs to pass easily thanks to all that fiber. Just make sure you're stocking up on organic pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling!

Just A Teaspoon Of Olive Oil ...

... makes the hairball go down. According to CANIDAE, "if you see your cat struggling with hairballs, consider adding a bit of olive oil to his or her food. Never force oil into the mouth, though, as you could send it into the lungs. Allow your cat to lick it up." The presence of oil in your cat's diet could help digestion of the hair its licked up to pass through with ease. A teaspoon once in a while should do the trick.