Pets

Ask a vet: How can I prevent my cat from getting hair balls?

Author: Canadian Living

Pets

Ask a vet: How can I prevent my cat from getting hair balls?

Q: How can I prevent my cat from getting hair balls? Can they become a serious problem and, if so, how would I know?
Maya Simpson, Montreal

A: Alas! The only way to prevent hair balls would be to shave your cat from the neck down. Such an extreme measure is reserved for the rare cats who have had hair-ball obstructions that have actually blocked their intestines. You wouldn't miss the signs. Your cat would be uncomfortable and listless, and stop eating or vomit anything she consumed.

Luckily, for most owners (and cats) hair balls are just an inconvenience. High-fibre hair-ball or dental-formula diets, which encourage thorough chewing and saliva production, help some cats. Regular doses of hair-ball laxative help others. And combing or brushing reduces the amount of loose hair that cats groom off.

One caution: While many vets believe that occasionally vomiting hair balls is normal for these fastidious groomers, there is increasing evidence that frequent hair-ball vomiting is associated with  a sedentary lifestyle and health problems such as food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. Your veterinarian can decide if diagnostic testing is appropriate.

Read more:
Everything you need to know about pets and family
Keep your pets healthy with nutrition tips from the pros
7 products to get rid of pet hair

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Ask a vet: How can I prevent my cat from getting hair balls?

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