Hairball cat food—a delicious response to an unpleasant occurrence
While the sound of a cat regurgitating a hairball may be upsetting to you, it is completely normal. Hairballs are a consequence of your kitty's “skincare routine” and are harmless in most cases.
What your feline friend eats can greatly influence every aspect of their life. If you’re concerned about the amount of hair your cat coughs up, you may need to serve them tailor-made meals designed to help with the problem.
Untamed examines anti-hairball cat food and explains the key ingredients you should look for when buying it.
What’s in a hairball?
You’ve probably noticed how rough your kitten’s tongue feels when they give you the occasional lick on the cheek. It’s because numerous tiny spines, known as the papillae, are embedded in cats’ tongues. The little spikes scoop up any loose or dead hair during the natural cat grooming process.
After being swallowed, most of the hair passes through the cat’s digestive system with no accompanying symptoms. The so-called hairball is formed when some fur gathers in the stomach instead of being passed on.
Why is there residue in the first place? It’s because cat hair contains keratin, an insoluble protein-based and hard-to-digest substance. The leftovers linger in the digestive tract and mix with different stomach contents, including mucus, creating a clump.
Anything that cannot be passed on through the digestive system must naturally go back out. The cat passes the hairball through their oesophagus, vomiting it out, which is why the whole ordeal is so unpleasant to witness. Since it’s pushed through a narrow space, the clump resembles a tube rather than a ball, contrary to its name.
Do all cats produce hairballs?
Surprisingly, coughing up hairballs is an acquired condition. In the first few months of their lives, kittens don’t produce hairballs. It may be because of their underdeveloped fur and the fact that their moms handle all the grooming. Once they grow older and start tending to themselves, the bothersome furballs begin to appear.
Some breeds such as Main Coons, Himalayan, and Persian cats are more prone to forming hairballs since their fur is long. The only feline that doesn't cough up the occasional furball is the so-called “hairless” Sphynx, for obvious reasons. Even big, ferocious cats such as lions and tigers can have hairballs.
“There’s one thing about baldness—it’s neat!” (Don Harold)
Source: Dustin Humes
When are hairballs cause for alarm?
Hairballs are a harmless consequence of a completely natural process in most cases. If your precious furry friend coughs out a clump of hair at regular intervals (once every few weeks), there’s no reason to worry!
Problems may arise if your cat is an avid groomer and swallows more hair than the average feline normally does. The excess hair in the digestive system may lead to an obstruction, which requires surgical intervention.
The most common symptoms of intestinal blockage include:
- Unproductive (i.e., no hairball) gagging, retching, vomiting, or coughing
- Lethargic behaviour
- Loss of appetite
- Digestive problems (constipation or diarrhoea)
- Bloated abdomen
In the rare cases when furballs can cause health issues, it’s important to act quickly and take adequate measures. Firstly, you’ll have to supervise your kitty’s grooming rituals and look for signs of problematic behaviour. Next, you need to examine your cat’s diet and determine what’s causing the problem with hairballs.
If your cat is displaying any signs of blockage for more than a day or two, you should immediately schedule a check-up with the vet, who can diagnose the obstruction after a thorough physical examination. Here’s what you can expect the vet to do:
- Urine analysis
- Faecal sample examination
- Biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract
Can cat food help with hairballs?
Besides brushing and keeping tabs on your cat’s grooming habits, their diet can also help reduce the formation of hairballs. Certain foods can strengthen your kitty's stomach, allowing them to pass indigestible substances like hair. When it comes to their digestive health, most vets recommend a diet rich in water, animal protein, and fibre.
What about products specifically made to reduce hairball formation? Commercially produced hairball control food for cats contains a high percentage of vegetable fibre, which isn’t particularly nutritious. Your feline companion is an obligate carnivore, meaning they’ll benefit most from protein-packed, high-moisture meals. As with other feline health concerns, the most effective course of action is to stick to their ancestral diet.
Another issue with commercially sold anti-furball cat food is that it might not appeal to fussy eaters because of its uniform taste. If you want to improve your cat’s fibre intake, try feeding home-cooked meals instead. Make sure to use premium meat cuts and maintain the optimal nutrient ratio (more than 50% animal protein, up to 20% fat, and less than 3% carbs).
You can also include high-fibre treats in their meal plan, such as:
- Pumpkin and pumpkin powder
- Cat grass
- Metamucil (pill or powder)
A word of caution, though—while introducing high-fibre snacks into your kitty’s diet can have a pawsitive (pun intended!) effect, you shouldn’t go overboard. Cats are carnivorous animals, and too much fibre in their diet can lead to severe dehydration. Poor hydration is a slippery slope to several health issues, most notably:
What is better for your cat’s hairball problem—wet or dry cat food?
Dry vs. wet cat food has been a raging debate among cat parents and veterinary experts for years. The consensus is that wet food is the cat’s pyjamas since it closely resembles a feline’s natural diet.
For comparison, here’s a brief overview of the nutritional content of both cat food types:
Besides being more affordable, biscuits and similar dry food have a longer shelf life, which is why they are so popular among cat owners. Dry food can help with specific conditions, such as dental issues, excessive weight loss, and overeating.
The high levels of carbohydrates and sugars in poor-quality dry cat food are a far cry from your kitty’s natural nutrition. Overconsumption may lead to several chronic illnesses, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Pancreatic disease
- Liver failure
- Heart disease
- Incontinence and diarrhoea
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Instead of solving one problem, anti-hairball dry cat food can lead to a slew of others and even have the opposite effect.
Dry or wet, food’s all that!
Image (c) Untamed
The pawsitive effects of wet cat food for hairballs
If you’re looking for ways to boost your kitty’s digestive system and stop the excessive formation of hairballs, high-quality wet food is an optimal solution. It is richer in animal protein and other nutritious substances, and it contains folic acid, known to help with gastrointestinal issues.
Key benefits of using wet cat food for hairballs include:
- Keeping the appropriate hydration levels
- Preserving a healthy weight and muscle tone
- Improving kidney, bladder, and reproductive health
- Having an appetizing aroma and delicious taste
Wet food is essentially a packaged version of the raw meat your kitty’s ancestors indulged in for millennia. That said, you shouldn’t entirely turn your back on dry meals if only for the sake of variety. Cats can grow bored of the same platter, so it’s best to combine the two types of hairball control cat food.
Hypoallergenic cat food—another possible solution for hairballs
Food allergies are sometimes the underlying cause of hairball formation. Your kitty may have trouble getting rid of the hair because of an undiagnosed inflammatory condition.
How do you know you have a sensitive cat on your hands? Allergies most commonly develop within the first six years and are accompanied by:
- Redness of the skin
- Excessive shedding
- Appetite loss
In most cases, the inflammation is caused by the intake of multiple protein sources. Problematic foods likely to induce stomach problems include:
Products and ingredients
If you fear your feline friend will be deprived of a diverse menu, don’t worry—Untamed offers a solution! Our recipes are allergen-free and easy on the tummy. Here’s a taste of our delicious high-protein meals—in both gravy and jelly formulas:
- Tuck-in Tuna—Tuna whole meat 60%, Fish broth 37%, Tapioca 1%
- Chocka Chicken—Chicken breast 60%, Chicken broth 37%, Tapioca 1%
- Full-on Fishy—Tuna whole meat 45%, Fish broth 33%, Sardine 13%, Mackerel 5%, Tapioca 1%
- Chocka Chicken with Duck—Chicken breast 55%, Chicken broth 37%, Duck 5%, Tapioca 1%
Take our online questionnaire, and we will suggest a healthy and delicious meal plan for your furry companion!
A feast fit for feline royalty!
Image (c) Untamed
Keep your kitty happy and healthy with high-quality hairball control cat food by Untamed!
A well-balanced diet is the best remedy for most feline health problems, including relentless coughing fits caused by hairballs! Untamed makes high-quality cat food with the necessary nutrients to ensure your kitty has a long and happy life.
The defining features of our feline cuisine include:
- High protein meals—When compared to other commercial cat food products, our portions contain twice the amount of animal-based protein and are rich in taurine and other amino acids
- Hypoallergenic recipes—All our recipes have been specifically formulated to be minimally processed and free from common allergens
- Use of vet-formulated recipes—All Untamed recipes were designed by vets for the unique biology of cats
- Human-grade ingredients—The ingredients we use for our kitty meals are of human-grade quality. You won’t find any scraps or meat derivatives in our delicious recipes
- Gently steam cooked meals—To maintain the highest possible nutritional value of the ingredients, we steam-cook all our meals. The result is as delicious as it is healthy
We also take pride in running an ethical business as opposed to engaging in mass production. Our recipes include the finest, sustainably sourced meats for your cat’s pleasure.
- Duck breast
- Chicken liver
- Chicken breast
- Salmon fillet
- Tuna steak
How long until you notice a change?
Once you switch to our high-quality meals, you can expect to see significant changes in your kitty’s overall health. Check out the projected timeline in the following table:
Within a week
After two months
Within four months
How to get Untamed hairball control cat food
If you want your cat to enjoy a deliciously balanced portion every day, Untamed is happy to deliver! All you have to do is complete these im-paw-ssibly easy steps:
- Visit our Try Now page
- Tell us more about your cat
- Select a meal plan and place your order
We will deliver the trial pack before your cat has the chance to conjure up another clump of fur!
If your kitty gives us the green light, we will deliver their customised meals at the same time every month.
In case you change your mind or are unhappy with any part of the setup, you are free to make changes to the cat food subscription accordingly!
I’ll be the judge of that, puny hooman!
Source: Manja Vitolic
Shedding and hairballs—a catastrophic combo
As a cat parent, you are used to finding hair all over your food, bed, and clothes. Shedding is as natural as producing hairballs, though slightly more bothersome since you constantly have to deal with it. The two phenomenons are also intertwined—the more hair your cat swallows, the more hairballs they produce.
Besides switching their diet, you should take the time to regularly brush your cat to help remove loose hair and reduce the amount ending up in their digestive system. It’s best to do it once or twice per week, or five to six times if you have a long-haired feline.
Not all cats are willing to sit still while you comb their fur with a metal brush. If you have an uncooperative kitty, consider buying a grooming glove. Apart from covering a larger surface, the gloves also feel like petting, making the whole experience more pleasant for your furry friend.
What if your cat is losing more hair than usual?
While cats tend to shed more during spring and fall, excessive hair loss outside these seasons may be concerning.
The reasons behind increased shedding include:
- Parasites—Ticks, fleas, and other parasites can cause severe irritation of the skin, so your cat may try to soothe the itching by overgrooming
- Skin problems—Numerous household items can cause skin irritations. Plants are the leading culprits when it comes to inflammation, and cleaning products follow closely. If your cat came into contact with an irritant substance, they could be trying to relieve the pain by licking the affected area and gobbling up excess hair
- Allergies—Another possible cause of increased shedding can be an allergic reaction to certain nutrients. Commercial cat food contains both animal-based and plant proteins, and some kitties react to the mix
- Stress—While it’s heartbreaking to think our feline friends are susceptible to stress, it is another common cause of hair loss. If you’ve recently moved or brought a new pet home, your cat may be overshedding or overgrooming because of anxiety
Some of these issues may be resolved with localized therapy and anti-shedding foods, while others demand more time to heal. If your cat is losing hair and producing more hairballs as a result—it’s best to consult your vet.
How to put a pawse on overgrooming
It’s perfectly normal for your kitty to spend hours licking their fur, but there is such a thing as overgrooming. If your cat develops skin sores from the incessant cleaning, it is no longer a natural process but a compulsory action. The OCD-like behaviour is typically related to stress and can affect cats of all ages.
Obsessive grooming can cause serious health issues, such as skin inflammation and intestinal blockage due to excess hair in the stomach. If you think your cat is developing an unhealthy habit, you should get your paws on it and nip it in the bud!
Here's what you can do:
- Create a fixed daily routine
- Play with your cat
- Use stimulative toys
- Install a scratching post
- Use anxiety medication
Remember—if your cat is overgrooming, they are most likely suffering from anxiety. Unless you suspect there’s a medical reason behind the behaviour, try to maintain a soothing, familiar environment.
Set a designated time for play, food, and cuddles, and remember not to disturb your pet when they're resting or grooming.
Source: Alexander Andrews
Other ways to prevent excess hairball formation
Keeping your cat from munching on that loose fur is one way to prevent hairball formation.
You can also try the following methods:
- Using wet wipes after brushing—After grooming your kitty, pick up the remaining hair with a baby wipe
- Increasing your cat’s water intake—Your cat needs to have access to clean water 24/7. If they refuse to drink from a bowl, try leaving a cup of water on the table, right next to yours
- Using a mild laxative—If your cat is struggling to pass a hair clump, you can try feeding them a laxative to expedite the process but avoid making a habit of using these products no matter how mild they are
- Feeding them some oil—A tiny amount of olive oil can lubricate their digestive tract, allowing the hairball to pass through easily. You can add a teaspoon of oil to your kitty’s meal once a week until you notice an improvement
If you find the right anti-hairball formula for your feline and you address any other needs your kitty has, you’ll have a winning combo for fighting this annoying issue successfully.