Last Updated: May 2011
We have two cats and yet rarely get hairballs at our house. Our cats are short-haired, but 1-2 hairballs total per year is very few indeed.
If you’re like me, you may yearn to give your cat something besides those petroleum/mineral oil hairball products. (See my worries about ingesting petroleum jelly supported here and also here. Also, long term use interferes with your cat’s ability to absorb the important fat-soluble vitamins – A, E and D – according to vetinfo.com.)
I have an old cat care book that says one hairball per week is not unusual, but I now think that 1+ hairballs per week is not normal.
So I must say this first: I have seen IBD– or worse, intestinal lymphoma (cancer)—turn out to be the cause of frequent hairballs. So if the following tips don’t work for your cat, please get a full vet exam. It could save their life.
What’s working for us
UPDATE MAY 2011: I now believe that grain-free may be the cure for hairballs for most cats. So many reports of this! I would try it first, because anything else is just a bandage–not a cure. That means find foods with no wheat, gluten, barley, rice, corn.
The prevention remedies that work for us also happen to be recommended by Dr. Karen Becker.
Your cat may get relief from just one of these, but we do both because they are healthy in general:
- Pure 100% canned pumpkin—we offer a teaspoon as a side dish several times per week. One cat eats more of it than the other, so I assume he needs it more. Ask your grocer for the 100% pure pumpkin from Libbys, or get the brand at Whole Foods. You can also find it on Amazon.com (Check the label – no spices or other junk! Not good for kitty.)
- Probiotics/enzymes mixed into wet food. When we aren’t feeding raw food, we add this probiotic/plant enzyme mixture designed for animals.
If that doesn’t do the trick
A couple more things to try:
- Most importantly, Dr. Becker also recommends grain-free cat foods. They can prevent hairballs because they are easier on your cat’s digestion. (We use grain-free and I would have mentioned this above, but I was trying to keep it simple.)
- Vets Best Hairball Relief (Chewables) are natural, designed to be tasty for your cat, and popular at our local holistic pet store. We haven’t needed them, but the ingredients include Slippery Elm, Psyllium, enzymes, probiotics, and other natural, safe ingredients.
I must wrap up by saying again: If these tips don’t work and your cat is throwing up hair too often, please get a full vet exam. It could save your cat’s life!
Do you have a natural hairball remedy success tip?
Don’t hold out—please share in the comments.