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To prevent troublesome hairballs, apply a dollop of Vaseline petroleum jelly to your cat's nose. The cat will lick off the jelly, lubricating any hair in its stomach so it can pass easily through the digestive system.
Source: My vet told me this years ago.
By JodiT from Aurora, CO
Because your cat is such a conscientious groomer, you will find that from time to time he experiences a delightful phenomenon known as a hairball. Ah, hairballs. The hacking, the spitting up, and the singular delight of accidentally stepping in a fresh one.
As your cat grooms himself, he dislodges loose fur. Some of that loose fur may be swallowed. Over time, the loose fur collects into a ball, and is regurgitated. You may find that your cat brings up a small hairball every few days or so. And that is perfectly healthy and normal!
Hairballs can be dangerous if they become stuck in the cat's intestine. A cat experiencing a stuck hairball may seem tired and run down, and will often lose his appetite. In extreme cases, your cat may need surgery to remove the blockage. However, a little fish oil in your cat's food may help the ingested hair slide through your cat's system.
Hairballs can also cause your cat to become constipated. Adding a little bran or roughage to your cat's diet can help things move more regularly.
Domesticated cats do not have one yearly shedding time, like cats in the wild do. Thanks to our artificial lights and temperatures of our homes, indoor cats will shed gradually throughout the year, leaving hair on carpets, furniture, and clothes. The constant shed means that hairballs will be a constant part of life with your cat.
And don't think that stopping your cat from grooming himself will stop the hairballs. Grooming is a natural behavior that is an important part of your cat's life! It is an enjoyable activity for your cat; if you have multiple cats, it is also a social activity.
If you brush your cat regularly, you can reduce the amount of loose fur, which will help lessen the frequency and size of hairballs. Grooming your cat also gives you a chance to check your cat for coat and health problems.
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What can I do for my cat's hairballs?
By Norma from Brooklyn, NY
I brush my cats, and if I notice that they're trying to hack up furballs, I start to give them Petromalt. We get ours at Petsmart, but I think I've seen a Hartz brand hairball remedy at Wal-Mart or Target. I'll give it to them a few times a week to help pass the hairballs, and then they're okay for a while. They love Petromalt, so I just squeeze some on the back of a spoon and they lick it all off!
My Rachel used to have those all the time and what works for her is a teaspoon of either plain yogurt, cream cheese or sour cream every morning. The fur balls stopped within the first week of doing that and she loves this special first thing in the morning treat. She also gets a good brushing a couple of times a week which she also loves. :-)
How much fish oil should I mix with cat food to help prevent hairballs?
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If your cat suffers from hairballs, here is a cheap, useful remedy. Just give him a teaspoon of Vaseline every 2 weeks and the problem should be alleviated.
I have found that when trying to give cats Vaseline is to put a little on their front paws and a little bit on there nose! They can't stand anything on their paws or nose! Make it a lot easier!
What does the Vaseline do for the cat? It is a petroleum based product. Would it not be harmful to your cat? Our cat is 13 and every once in a while (maybe a couple times a year) she just brings up the hairball. No big deal. I simply clean it up with a tissue and throw it out. (11/07/2004)
Some of the hairball formulas sold on the market are also petroleum based. Groom the cat daily to reduce the hair he swallows! (11/07/2004)
Just a note of interest. Vaseline balls rolled in sugar about the size of a sweet pea, and then frozen are given to be swallowed whole by the elderly, bedbound, and hospice patients, for release of a high bowel impaction! (11/07/2004)
I use organic butter and they love it. I do brush them daily so this happens infrequently.
Vaseline should NOT be given to cats every day as it will bind up the fat solouble Vitamins A, D and E and prevent your cat absorbing these nutrients. It is quite alright to dose your cat with for a few days when you suspect he has a furball and very effective and safe when only used as needed. My cat likes his Vaseline mixed with an equal quantity of Vegemite, It can then be smeared on the fur or mixed in with food. (11/16/2004)
My cat is 11, and has a habit of vomiting 3 or more times daily. He has done this his whole life and the doctors and I haven't found a reason. Recently I tried having him lick Vaseline off my finger and he loves it. He practically attacks me to get some. He hasn't thrown up in 2 weeks, but i have been giving him fingerfuls daily. Should I stop giving it to him? I feel the Vaseline couldn't hurt him more than the vomiting. (11/20/2004)
If your cat is vomiting daily and there is no medical reason for this, It is likely he eating something thats upsetting his digestive tract. If he is allowed outside it could be very difficult to determine what is causing him to vomit. I would keep him inside for a few weeks and see if things improve. Even when kept indoors cats sometimes start to chew or suck on wool or other types of fabric. I would also increase the amount of fibre in his diet by giving him Dry cat food more often and feed him Raw Chicken Necks/Wings several times a week, But never feed him any cooked bones as they can splinter and cause internal problems. Please stop giving him Vaseline every day as this will cause a deficiency of Vitamins A,D, and E. If things don't improve it is time for further medical testing to be done. (11/27/2004)
My cat BEGS for Vaseline every time I'm near the medicine cabinet. He practically bites my finger licking it off- he's so excited. Has anyone else experienced this or know why he is so crazy for it? (12/13/2005)
I have recently found that buying the indoor formula cat food for indoor cats helps lower the amount of fur balls. I didn't think it would matter but my mom tried it for a month and it started get the hair balls down, so I started to buy it, it is a bit more expensive than the cheap food but it is worth it, I have had them (4) kitties on it for about 6 months now and I see maybe 2 hairballs in a month. Just thought i would share this. I buy it at Walmart, it is the cheaper one of the 2, there are 2 brands of it. The cats also love the food, the oldest also got his weight down closer to where it should be. (01/08/2006)
I forgot to add, that my mom got this formula for the reason to keep the cats out of her plants that they would eat to kill. And it worked, they don't touch any of them anymore. Thanks again Jen (01/08/2006)
I give my cats about 1/4 teaspoon every week. It really helps with hair balls. I have 8. If one starts to hack, I give her about 1/4 teaspoon right away and she is done.
Vaseline has petroleum in it, as do MANY hairball remedies. NEVER give your cat Vaseline! http://onlynaturalpet.com has alternatives and there are many other sites that offer information, like http://peteducation.com (02/05/2008)
Interesting that several responses warn never to give your cat Vaseline. My cat is 12 years old and gets a small dab of Vaseline pretty much every day. Just a dab on his front paw. He loves it and has never had any health issues. (07/23/2010)
Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is perfectly safe for human or animal consumption. It used to be (and still may be) a base for suppositories. Some petroleum products are toxic (like gasoline), but this hairball remedy has proven effective for over 100 years and you will find no record of ill effects from its use. (07/31/2010)
I have a 15 year old cat that is having a terrible time with hairballs. I have switched to wet food thinking he might be able to get it down easier and keep it down. Should I still be giving him dry food too? He still throws up, but not nearly as much. Sometimes he will come up with a hairball that is 3-4 inches long. He won't eat the food if I put hairball medicine on it. Poor baby.
You need to brush or comb your cat as often as possible to get rid of excess hair, especially in the spring and summer when they are shedding the most.
It really helps a lot! (10/14/2009)
Our longhaired cat had an awful time with hairballs and the vet suggested mixing 1/4 teaspoon of mineral oil into his dry food with every feeding. Bert (the cat) didn't like the oil on his food at first, but when he was hungry enough he ate it and got used to it. The mineral oil worked. (10/14/2009)
The advice about combing or brushing is very important. When I had cats that would get hairballs, I found that rubbing a small amount of the hairball medicine that comes in a tube on the tops of both front paws worked great. Cats can't stand anything on their fur, so even though they didn't like doing it, they licked their paws clean! Just be sure to rub it in and not use too much because sometimes they'll try to shake it off. Hope this helps. (10/15/2009)
Considering that you already brush your kitty and his advanced age, kitty may be losing more fur than when he was younger. If the home remedies do not work ask his vet what he should have to slow shedding. Good luck and give kitty love for me! (10/15/2009)
I've always given any baby I have both a small can of food each day and dry food to let them choose what they want. Each baby is different.
The fur balls are probably more troublesome now because of advanced age and your baby just doesn't groom itself as much, just as what happens with we humans.
The one thing I do is give my baby a heaping teaspoon or two of either sour cream or cream cheese as a treat each morning. She loves the treat and she, who used to throw up fur balls all the time, has not done so since I started giving her this daily treat. Hope this information is helpful for you. (10/15/2009)
I had to switch recently to all canned food because one of my male cats was having urinary troubles. Within a week to ten days I noticed all the cats getting up their fur balls, and one even passed one in the litter box. I also rinse the can and pour it on their food so he gets more water in him. It wasn't what I was expecting, but it was a positive side effect. (10/16/2009)
Don't be afraid of the plain, unscented petroleum jelly. It is the only thing my cat would take for hair balls, in fact she loved just licking a little off my finger every couple of days. My cat preferred Vaseline brand as when I tried the cheaper stuff she did not like the stronger smell. Also if you read the ingredients on most hairball remedies it is mostly petroleum jelly! (10/16/2009)
I was just looking online for remedies and found: 1 tsp. of canned pumpkin or baby food squash will help. And, mineral oil can deplete vitamin A. Also, 1/2 tsp. of butter 2 to 3 times a week was another remedy. (11/16/2009)
You know, I just realized that I didn't mention that it would also be of great help for you to brush your fur baby twice a day which would remove even more of the fur instead of him ingesting it :-o Cats groom themselves at least a couple of times in a day so it makes sense to me that they do it for a reason. Sorry I forgot to write that before :-( (11/17/2009)