Advice for Dealing with Hairballs

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Our question this week was:

My cat has problems with hairballs. I have tried "hair ball control" foods. Vaseline on paws. My cat still throws up hair balls. He licks his fur constantly. He is in great health otherwise. Always stays indoors.

Jack Craney

Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. Hairballs are a common problem in cats. They ingest hair when grooming that does not pass through the digestive tract and can be subsequently vomited by cats. Some cats will have an occasional hair ball no matter what you do.

The best ways to deal with hairballs are:

1. Groom your cat! The more hair you get off your cat when brushing or combing, the less he will ingest! Ideally you can make this a nightly ritual. It is also a nice time to bond with your cat.

2. Hairball remedies. There are better and more flavorful alternatives to Vaseline. If you go to this article "Why do cats get hairballs" you will see a photo of Sammy that is owned by our managing editor. He loves the malt favored hairball medications – he will lick them out of the tube as fast as you can squeeze (if you let him). Try some different flavors and see if your cat likes them and give them as directed on the package.

3. Lastly, there are some foods that are labeled as hairball formulas. You mentioned that this has not worked for you but a combination of all 3 methods may work.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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