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National Hairball Awareness Day: Tips for tackling hairy situations


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Dr. Arnold Plotnick is the founder of Manhattan Cat Specialists, a cats-only veterinary hospital in New York City; he also writes a pet blog, Cat Man Do.

It’s spring — peak shedding season — and during this time of year many cat parents see an increase in hairballs. Contrary to popular belief, coughing up a hairball isn’t a harmless, natural process for cats. In fact, hairballs actually cause cats to choke, posing hazards to their health. Therefore, it’s a very fitting time to build awareness around the issue and observe the hairiest of all holidays: April 30, National Hairball Awareness Day.

I recently teamed up with FURminator and online pet-rescue advocate RomeoTheCat to
help educate the more than 38 million cat-owning households across the
United States on the unpleasant topic of hairballs. As a feline-only
practitioner, I’ve seen my share of hairball problems, and I’m
constantly asked for advice and solutions. However, when it comes to
hindering hairballs, simple steps and a little feline know-how are key.

The following tips can help reduce the yucky little surprises many cat
parents face on a regular basis:

  • Stop the Shed: During peak shedding season, cats
    tend to over-groom themselves. That increased excess of hair isn’t just
    found on clothes and furniture — much of it is ingested by the cat.
    Proactive grooming removes the loose hair before it is ingested and can
    reduce hairballs dramatically. The FURminator deLuxe deShedding Tool for
    cats is a great option and can reduce shedding by up to 90 percent.
  • Home Remedies: Try adding a little canned pumpkin
    to a cat’s meals once or twice a week. If hair has been ingested, the
    fiber in the pumpkin can help move any hair clods through the cat’s
  • The Watering Hole: Cats have primal instincts and
    the location of their water bowl can prove it. In the wild, a cat would
    never drag its kill to a watering hole to eat and drink at the same
    time. House cats have inherited this same instinct. Owners should keep a
    cat’s water bowl in a separate location than her food bowl. Cats will
    drink more water and this increase will help their system clean itself
    of ingested hair.
  • A New Menu: There are several specially formulated
    cat foods and treats with increased fiber that aid in the fight against
    hairballs. Each pet is different, so always consult the cat’s vet first
    before making any drastic diet changes.
  • Stay Active, Stay Healthy: Twenty-one percent of
    cats are considered obese or overweight by their veterinarians. Play and
    interactive toys encourage cats to leap, stretch and stay active.
    Keeping a cat active helps him maintain a healthy skin and coat and
    increases balance and coordination.
  • Ask Your Vet: Concerned about a cat’s chronic
    hairball problem? Be sure to consult a veterinarian for the best course
    of action to help alleviate the problem. Simple measures can be taken to
    ensure your cat’s overall health is in tip-top shape, but always
    consult with a veterinarian when it comes to major changes in health,
    diet and behavior.

Do you have any special solutions for reducing hairballs in your
cat? Tell us!

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