How to Treat Hairballs in Cats

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If a cat has been coughing up a lot of hairballs, there are over-the-counter products that can be used to treat this behavior. Learn about aiding the digestion of hair in cats with help from a veterinarian in this free video on cats and hairballs.

Part of the Video Series: Cat Health
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Dr. Carrie Burhenn and I'm a veterinarian at the Feline Medical Clinic in Vancouver, Washington. I'm here today to give you a little information about treating hairballs in cats. This is actually quite a common condition in cats and one that owners have many questions about. It's actually not that difficult a treatment but you do want to make sure that if your cat is vomiting and if there is hair in it that the actual cause of the vomiting is the hair. Cats will vomit up anything that's in their stomach so sometimes if they have a systemic illness they may be vomiting and there may be hair in it because they simply don't feel well. If your cat is otherwise fine and you simply don't like hairballs around the house and especially if you have a long haired cat who tends to have more problems with this type of situation there are many commercial over-the-counter products that can be purchased for hairball treatment in cats. The basic active ingredient in these products is petroleum jelly. You should never give just plain petroleum jelly or mineral oil to your cat for hairballs because if they vomit this material up and then actually aspirate it into their lungs that can be fatal but the hairball remedies sold commercially for this purpose actually have flavoring agents that tend to prevent this by the cat's normal gag response if it should vomit. The hairball material, the petroleum jelly, actually acts as a lubricant so it will aid the hair transportation through the actual digestive tract or to help loosen the hair in the stomach from being a big flat mat and forming it into a nice little ball or a tube that the cat can then throw up more comfortably and easily. So again hairball remedies are not cures, they're something that need to be used on a regular basis, usually once a week is sufficient for most cats who just need preventative care but if your cat is vomiting a lot even if there is sometimes hair in it, you should have your cat checked by a veterinarian to make sure there isn't a bigger problem at hand.

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