Hairballs and constipation are two of common problems that adult cats have to deal with. Long haired cats tend to suffer the most from hairballs, while overweight cats may have to battle constipation. Here are some tricks on how to keep things running smoothly from mouth to tail.
What is a Hairball?
It is simply an accumulation of groomed hair in the stomach. It rolls around while the stomach contracts occasionally causing vomition and elimination of the hairball. Cat’s tongues were made to swallow fur. The one way barbs collect lose fur while grooming. The majority passes through the digestive tract without incident and occasional hairballs are normal. Frequent hairballs could indicate a medical problem and warrant at least a physical exam by the veterinarian.
Factors Leading to Hairball Formation:
- Long-haired coat
- Allergic skin disease (itching increases grooming)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (over grooming due to pain)
What Can Be Done To Treat Hairballs?
Although there are “hairball diets” and products like laxatone/petromalt used to aid in the reduction of hairball formation, nothing is as effective at preventing hairballs as routine brushing to remove loose hair.
Constipation is another common problem for cats. Cats should produce a formed stool ideally every 24 hours. There are many reasons a cat can become constipated. Obesity, behavioral problems, dehydration, diet, intestinal obstruction and problems that lead to painful defecation all can lead to constipation. Constipated kitties should be seen by a veterinarian. Depending on cause, a detailed plan will be formed to help these individuals produce normal/regular bowel movements.
How is Constipation Treated?
Treatment may include a change in diet, lubricants like Laxatone, stool softeners like Lactulose or Miralax or even routine enemas. Remember that hydration is important in these cats. Anything you can do to increase their water consumption will help these individuals. Feeding canned food, multiple watering stations using large rimmed bowls and even water circulators are all ways to increase water consumption.