What is a good remedy for cat hairballs?
Hairballs are a natural part of having a cat. They happen because of all the cleaning that a cat does with their tongue - it's got little barbs on it that will attract loose hair, and the cat swallows it. In small quantities, it'll just pass through - but you get a hairball when your cat has swallowed too much and it clumps together. This can happen either because the cat is shedding or has a very thick coat of fur. But it's uncomfortable for the cat and annoying for pet owners who find little presents laying around the house every few weeks. So what can you do to reduce this?
Step one is to groom your cat. Get a brush and once every few days brush the loose hair out of your cat's coat. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get rid of hairballs. If your cat doesn't have as much loose fur, it won't have enough to clog up the pipes. You don't have to go nuts, you just have to get the most loose fur out of the way. Get rid of whatever comes off with light brushing - you want it to be comfortable for the cat, like petting it, and if you are gentle about it the cat will enjoy it.
There are a couple of cool products you can get that will help you out with this:
First, the ionic pet brush. These are just brushes that have ion generators in them. That sounds high-tech, but all it really does is charge particles around it so that they stick to stuff. Loose fur and dander will stick to the brush, making it easier to get out. It's also good at getting rid of odors because many are caused by the pet dander. It's available here for $25.95.
Second, the feline "fantasy brush." It's a neat idea - just a big brush that your cat can rub itself against. Feels good for them, but grabs lots of the loose fur, so you don't have to spend time on it. The only problem is some cats may not like it or may stay away from it. You might be able to remedy that by rubbing it with some catnip, though, because for most cats that gets them very interested. It's available here for $19.95.
The other option outside of grooming is to use specialized foods to try to deal with it. There are various treats and foods that are designed to break up hairballs and keep them from forming. Personally, I think the grooming option is easier and better - it doesn't take much time and your cat really doesn't need to be swallowing that much hair anyway. But there isn't anything especially risky about giving them these kinds of foods.
If your cat is finicky about medicines, there are some pretty cheap hairball treats that you can give them - it's about three bucks for a pack here.
There are also cat chow brands designed to deal with hairballs. Still pretty good price on this, 24 cans for $13.13.
Finally, when you're done with your cat coughing up stuff everywhere, you can congratulate yourself with this T-shirt: A Cat Owner's Guide to Hairballs.
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