live with cats for long enough, and you’re bound to find a hairball on the floor (or in your bed or shoe—if you’re really unlucky). you can think of hairballs in the same way that you might view diarrhea—both happen from time to time, but they are still symptoms of a health issue. here’s what you need to know about when hairballs are a bigger issue and how you can help manage hairballs through your cat’s diet. these conditions cause the gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed, and that inflammation interferes with a cat’s natural ability to deal with hair that is swallowed (in other words, keep it moving in the right direction). diets that are somewhat hypoallergenic are available over the counter through many pet food retailers. these diets are often advertised as being “limited ingredient,” but read the label closely to determine what is actually included. for about 8 weeks before you can say definitively whether or not it is helping.
these are prescribed by veterinarians and tend to be significantly less allergenic. insoluble (indigestible) fiber sources like cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignins can help sweep hair through the intestinal tract. the bacteria that live in a cat’s large intestine partially break down soluble fibers, producing short-chain fatty acids that are important energy sources for the cells that line the large intestine. if you are looking for a way to add fiber to your cat’s current food, try mixing in a little canned pumpkin or unflavored psyllium. the great majority (90% or more) of your cat’s diet should be made up of nutritionally complete and balanced foods. if your cat has a mild hairball problem, a hairball treat that boosts their soluble and/or insoluble fiber intake might help. lubricant gels that contain petroleum jelly, waxes, or oils are also options for hairball control. cats should not be forced to eat a hairball lubricant because the stress and mess outweighs any potential benefit, but you can try adding it to your cat’s food or putting a little on your cat’s paw for them to lick off.
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