Whether your cat has long hair or short, hairballs are a fact of life. His tongue is his tool for bathing and grooming, which he does early and often. All that hair has to go somewhere. Some is digested and some isn't. Extra lubrication and fiber can help more digest.
Butter or Margarine
One means of hairball treatment and control is as close as your refrigerator. Give your cat a small pat of butter or margarine about once a week. You can put it on his food, in his bowl or even on his paw.
You can also give your cat Vaseline to help prevent and control hairballs. Just swipe a little on his paw about once a week. He will lick it off, and it will provide the additional lubrication needed for hairballs to digest.
A simple and totally natural way of controlling and preventing hairballs is brushing your cat daily. Aside from reducing the quantity of hair your cat swallows, there are side benefits. Even if you have a short-haired cat, brushing helps prevent shedding and stimulates the natural oils in your cat's skin. It all adds up to a healthier, more beautiful coat.
Hairball Control Products
If your cat does not like to be brushed -- and some don't -- you can try a product made specifically for hairball control. Numerous choices are available over the counter in pet, farm supply and dry goods stores, and even online. They usually are in a tube, and are used in the same ways as butter and Vaseline: applied to your cat's food or paw. Follow directions on the tube.
If frequent hairballs are a problem for your cat, you might consider a food made specifically to help control and prevent hairballs. Several of these are available, either over the counter or from your veterinarian. They typically have more fiber than other cat foods, which aids digestion. The average fiber content of regular cat foods is 1 to 2 percent, while hairball-control foods contain up to 8 percent. They are also usually low in fat, and sometimes contain additional ingredients, such as taurine. However, some concerns surround added fiber. Higher urine concentration is required to help process and expel extra fiber, so it can increase the risk of cystitis or urinary bladder inflammation. As with any changes in your cat's diet, consult your vet before switching him to a hairball-control food.
Leslie Carver has been a professional author since 2009. Her work appears on multiple websites. She has an associate's degree in English with progress toward her bachelor's at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has been awarded an Outstanding Student Award in English and twice nominated for creative writing awards.