How do you treat hairballs in cats?

hairball (less ugly than the real thing)

My cat seems to suffer from hairballs a lot. I feed her food that is supposed to reduce them, but it doesn’t seem to have any affect. Is there something that I can do to prevent hairballs? Is there something to do for her when she starts heaving?


If you want to impress your vet the medical term for hairballs is “Trichobezoar” – (trike oh bee zohr). Start with prevention. Frequent combing with a fine-tooth comb rids the cat of dead hair. Use a wide-tooth comb for long-haired cats.

A dose of petroleum jelly like Vaseline will help. Smear a bit of the Vaseline on a paw or wherever it’s easy for the cat to lick off and ingest it that way. There are tasty commercial products that contain petroleum jelly and may be easier to administer – Laxatone, Petromalt or Katalax. Another natural way to help prevent hairballs from forming is to add some pumpkin to the diet. You can either cook and mash fresh pumpkin or buy canned. The canned pumpkin should NOT be the one used in pies.

There are cat foods with added fiber which is supposed to aid in getting rid of hairballs. But when feeding these to your cat make sure it doesn’t develop diarrhea or too loose or too dry stools. Don’t give your cat mineral oil.

If none of this does the trick, consult your vet. As a matter of fact, if vomiting is frequent, it’s a good idea to see your vet before you give the cat any treatment.

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