HAIRBALLS: 4 EASY WAYS TO PREVENT HAIRBALL TRAUMA
All cat people fall madly in love with their funny behaviour, warm hearts and nurturing souls. Their meows and purrs are like music to our souls. All kitty noises seem to be adorable and sweet except for one: The hairball. The sound of hairballs brings many of us to concern as they are a clear sign of discomfort for our kitty companions. Often, these sounds can tug on our heart strings, leaving us in wonder as to how we can help them through the struggle.
Almost all house cats will have hairballs at one time or another while living alongside their families. Cats, as most of us know, bathe themselves several times per day. During these bath times, there is much potential for cats to ingest their hair. While it is common for a cat to swallow a lot of hair, hairballs themselves are often avoidable. Listed below are four easy ways to help our cat friends to live a hairball-free life:
1) VACUUM/DUST- Whether we have carpeted or hard wood floors to vacuum and dust is a must! Dust easily seeps into carpets and collects along the walls of any flooring. Stray animal hair from our feline friends or any other animals who live in our homes often sheds from our animal friends’ bodies and gathers together on the floors of our homes. If cleaning is not our second nature, it can strongly affect the number and intensity of hairballs that our kitty friends have. By slightly altering our cleaning regimen to once per week or more (depending on the number of animals in our home) we can easily lower or prevent the number or hairballs our cats must suffer through.
2) DIET CHANGE- KIBBLE IS NOT FOOD!!!!! Among a long list of reasons why cats should never eat kibble is that it is hyper-dry. The dryness of kibble (dry food) heavily contributes to an inability to swallow. The swallowing of food is directly linked to hairball issues as the throat of an animal is devoid of the required moisture to swallow her hair upon grooming. Most kitty kibble contains a high quantity of human grade cereal. This is alarming given that cats lack the digestive enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of grains. When cats eat dry food that contains grains and simple sugars, there is a frighteningly large potential for diabetes. Nutrient poor foods such as dry food (kibble) and veterinarian-recommended foods increase shedding of hair in cats and dogs. This is because these foods lack the nutrients responsible for maintaining a healthy skin and coat. Remember: the more the cat sheds, the more she has to swallow.
By adding moisture and changing our feline friends’ diet to a more holistic one, we are reducing if not eliminating the likelihood of hairballs. We will want to feed at least 95% wet (canned) food or add more whole foods such as whole fish or poultry to their diets. All cat lovers are aware of how finicky our little friends are. If they are eating dry food (which is also horribly taxing on all major organs an causes severe health problems as they age; ranging from arthritis to early stage organ failure), we will want to slowly change their food over bit by bit. Every cat is different which means that each cat will migrate towards a healthier diet at her own pace. Some take a few days and some take a few weeks to accept their new foods. As we are switching from dry food to wet or wet food to a more whole-food based diet such as fish or poultry, we must be patient with our cats. This diet change will not only save our feline friends hairball problems but will also promote longevity and much higher quality of life. In addition, healthier food choices will save on vet bills as they age as their organs, muscle tissues and overall well being will be healthy and not break down. By feeding more whole foods, we will avoid traumatic surgeries and encourage proper ranges of motion and healthy cognitive function as well as an overall longer life span.
3) COCONUT OIL- Coconut oil has innumerable benefits for all animals. Aside from its omegas which allow our animals to retain the moisture they are missing from their water and food, coconut oil will lubricate the esophagus so that any hair that our cats swallow will essentially stick to the oil as its swallowed. This allows for a far lesser dry swallowing of the hair. The oil encourages moisture as the cat swallows the hair, rendering it easier to make all the way into the digesting tract. Additionally, coconut oil aids in digestion so that any swallowed hair does not come back up in the form of vomit.
4) BRUSH YOUR CAT!- It goes without saying that the more we brush our cat companions, the lesser the hair they have to swallow. By brushing their coats once per week we will be allowing the brush to remove much of the excess hair along their bodies before they are able to groom themselves and swallow it.
The above are just four of the readily available ways to reduce hairballs in our furry friends. These steps are easy to maintain and make a world of difference for our felines!
J Morgan Saifer
Animal Communicator & Medium