Cat's Healthy Grooming Routine Could Be A Sweet Burden Too
Fino Feng / Pet Health / Published: Aug-28-2020
You may sometimes hear people diagnosed with Pica have an insatiable urge to eat non-food substances, for example, hair. And this undigestible hair may result in hair stones in the stomach and threaten people's health. Eventually, it has to be removed surgically.
And this situation could occur to your cute little cat as well.
People eating hair, we think it is weird; However, cats eating their hair, is just a common occurrence.
We all know that cats keep a clean lifestyle by licking their hair until it is neat and tidy.
Well, this healthy and fastidious grooming routine could sometimes be a sweet burden, as it can cause a severe health problem, hairballs !
What are hairballs in cats?
Hairballs in cats are small collections of hair formed in their stomach. When cats are grooming themselves, tiny hook-like structures on their tongue catch loose and dead hair, which is then swallowed. The majority of hair passes all the way through the digestive tract with no problems. But if some hair stays in the stomach, it can form a hairball. 1
Since the cat's stomach does not have enough ability to digest hair, part of it may be excreted with the stool, and the rest will gradually absorb gastric juice and other moisture in the stomach to form a blockage. When it reaches a certain level, the cat will vomit the hairball to get rid of it. When the situation is getting worse, the solution is resorting to surgery.
Symptoms of hairballs in Cats
For mild symptoms, you may find your cat has ongoing hacking and frequent retching (especially shortly after eating).
Sometimes it may spit out some cylindrical hairballs covered with mucus on the surface.
Or if you take a look at your cat's stool (I know it sounds gross), you may find it is dry and hard with hair mixed in it. Normally, it is not that smelly.
In severe cases, a large number of undigestable hair are difficult to digest and are accumulated in the gastrointestinal tract, then cats will become less energetic and lack of appetite; their hair will also start to become rough and dull; or they will have constipation, which will cause their belly to bulge for a long time.
And if these conditions are allowed to deteriorate, it may cause obstruction and inability to eat. Cats will soon develop dehydration and visceral failure, which requires timely surgery to remove the hairballs in the stomach, otherwise, it will be life-threatening.
We should be aware that cat licking their hair is a normal habit, and we cannot stop it.
So what the cat owners can do is to solve this problem from their hair.
- Groom their hair on a regular basis
Manually grooming their fallen hair is the easiest and most effective way. It can greatly reduce the hair they eat into the stomach through licking, therefore fundamentally controlling the formation of hairballs
Long-haired breeds, such as Persians and Maine, are more prone to hairballs than short-haired cats. The reason is obvious. So having them regularly brushed, especially in the moulting season (spring, autumn), is of great importance.
Long-haired cats need to be groomed once a day, and short-haired cat owners can do so every one or two days, depending on the situation.
Moreover, regular grooming could be enjoyable. And at the same time, it can help bond the relationship between cats and owners.
- Use hairball products, like laxatone
Laxatone for cats is a medication that veterinarians usually prescribe to help prevent and get rid of hairballs. It's also available as an over-the-counter medicine. 2
The ingredients of laxatone on the market are generally a combination of vegetable oil + cellulose. Vegetable oil has the function of lubricating the intestines, and cellulose is used to promote stool forming.
So the ultimate effect of laxatone is actually to promote intestinal peristalsis and prevent cats from constipation.
Also, please note that many ingredients of laxatone contain mineral oil. Cats take it frequently may cause vitamin A deficiency. If so, then they need to be supplemented with vitamin A regularly.
- Take some "salad"
Here what we mean by salad is actually cat grass. It is a grass mixture that is grown from seeds, such as wheat, barley, oats or rye. Cat grass is grown indoors, specifically for household pets. 3
This kind of plant is non-toxic and harmless to cats. It is rich in fibre, which can stimulate the cat's gastrointestinal motility and help the cat to spit out the hairballs in the stomach.
However, excessively eating cat grass can cause reflex vomiting and anorexia. At the same time, the stomach acid from vomiting can damage the cat's esophagus. So preferably, let cats eat 1-2 times a week.
Cat grass is easy to get as well, local pet store, online, your vet's office, also you can DIY it yourself by purchasing your own seeds at the store.