Cat Has Persistent Hairballs

Prevent cat hairballs before they become chronic.

Q: I have had my 11-year-old cat since she was 3. In all that time she has had a problem with hairballs. She throws up on average twice a week. She is a black shorthaired cat and I brush her each day. I have tried malt treatments (she does not like it, so I put it on her paw) and I feed her a hairball management diet, but neither hairball treatment seems to help. Otherwise, my cat is very healthy. Any other suggestions?

A: Controlling hairballs can be challenging. Ointment-type hairball remedies, such as Laxatone or Petromalt, are often beneficial. These are gooey ointments that are administered to the cat two or three times a week. Many cats enjoy the taste and consider them treats, however, some cats (like yours, apparently) don’t like them. There are diets designed for cats with severe hairball problems. Most cats like the taste of these diets, and they seem to work pretty well, but it looks like your cat’s hairball problem is pretty stubborn.

See how healthy treats can help hairballs >>

Your best bet is to try to prevent the problem in the first place. Accomplish this by brushing your cat frequently. Brushing removes loose hair before your cat has a chance to swallow it. It sounds like you’re doing everything that can really be done: brushing, hairball ointments, and hairball diets.

In the worst case scenarios, some longhaired cats might need to be shaved ó not necessarily down to the skin, but so that the remaining hair is about 1/2-inch long. You said that your cat is a shorthaired cat, so there’s no need to have your cat shaved.

Learn about the different grooming needs of cat breeds >>

It might be worth looking into some natural hairball remedies, such as adding pumpkin to your cat’s diet.

For the most part, you’re doing everything possible already. Perhaps some of our readers who have experienced persistent hairballs with their cats will offer some useful advice in the comments section below.

Check out other cat hairball causes and cures here >>

Read more articles by Arnold Plotnick, DVM, here>>

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