When I adopted my first ever cat back in college (I grew up a dog person) I was very concerned when she started vomiting every couple of weeks. I called the vet and they said it was nothing to worry about, cats always have that problem! And it made sense, I mean if I was covered in hair and had to lick myself clean everyday I would certainly throw up too! So I never thought about it again...Until I switched her food.
The hairballs completely stopped!
Well, contrary to popular belief, it is not normal for cats to have frequent hairballs! Hairballs are not part of the normal digestive process for felines. After all, they are Obligate Carnivores meaning they are designed to eat and digest other animals that are usually also covered in hair. So why are indoor cats prone to this problem?
It could be a variety of things
- Hair length/ingesting too much hair
- Shedding patterns (summer weather)
- Excessive grooming (psychogenic alopecia)
- Diet deficiency
- Digestive disfunction or GI Tract issue
Any combonation of the above usually results in, you guessed it, hairballs.
Unfortunately the problem doesn't stop there, yes hairballs are inconvenient to us because we have to clean them up every time but it is necessarily bad for the cats? Yes! If frequent hairballs persist, the cat could end up with a blockage. This is when the hairball gets so big they are unable to pass it. If you notice your cat heaving but don't see any hairballs anymore, this could be why.
Dry food diets are one of the main causes of hairballs because they lack the proper moisture content and, unlike dogs, cats cannot make up the deficiency by simply drinking lots of water. Adding moisture to their diet is key to reducing hairballs.
That is why, once I switched my cat to a species appropriate raw food diet, the hairballs completely stopped!
I know not everyone can switch to a fresh food diet so here are some ways to help reduce hairballs without having to switch foods:
- Add bone broth or goats milk to their dry food
- Add more fiber like coconut or pumpkin
- Supplement with digestive enzymes like the edible elixirs
- Add Omega 3s like some fishy treats
- Brush them everyday!
- Never use petroleum based hairball remedy, use slippery elm or papaya
If you are interested in adding fresh food to their diet but are worried about how picky your cat is, remember; it might be difficult to get them to change their diet but it is better for them in the long run! We wouldn't let our toddlers eat skittles everyday so we can't use the "well my cat won't eat anything else" excuse. We know what is good for them and it is our job to get them to eat it.