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How Do I Prevent Hairballs? Ack!

Q: Dear Nora,
My cat has long hair, so of course he hacks up hairballs a couple times a week. This morning I stepped on one on my way to the bathroom and that was the last straw. What can I do? Help!

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Image Source: alljengi via Flickr.com

A: I am also a long haired cat, and I can tell you that coughing them up is about as fun as you stepping on them. Unfortunately there’s no way to stop hairballs; they are just an inevitable part of living with a cat. There are some ways you can help reduce them though! Here are some ideas:

  • Groom your cat regularly. If he’s coughing up hairballs you can take it as a good sign that he has a healthy and regular grooming routine. Give your cat a good brushing once a day, though, can help reduce hairballs by brushing away some of his loose hair before he ingests it while grooming himself.
  • Consider a diet change. There are a lot of cat foods that are formulated to help control hairballs. Generally these foods include extra fiber to help the hairballs move more quickly and efficiently through your cat’s digestive system.
  • Use a hairball product. If you don’t want to change his diet (or if you can’t for whatever reason), there are some products out there that will do a job similar to what the specially formulated foods will do. These are usually gels that can be licked off his paw. They’ll have a mild laxative effect to help him pass the hairballs more quickly.

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