Homeopathic remedies are based on a "like with like" principle: the substance causing the symptoms, in minute doses, treat the symptoms. The fur Fluffy ingests when she's grooming causes hairballs -- and there's really no homeopathic treatment for that: A little bit of hairball doesn't prevent hairballs. However, you can help her in other ways.
Ack! It's a Hairball!
Clean by nature, most cats groom on a daily basis. During the grooming process, Fluffy's rough tongue will catch fur, which mixes with her saliva and makes its way to her stomach. In most cases the lose hair will continue its journey through her digestive system and find its way to the litter box as part of her poo. However, sometimes hair will remain in her stomach or small intestine, causing Fluffy to cough, gag or retch until she vomits a mass of matted hair.
A homeopathic approach of giving Fluffy small bits of fur won't prevent hairballs, but it is a good idea to limit the amount of fur she ingests. A simple way to accomplish that is to groom daily. Most cats enjoy being groomed; it feels good and it can be a time of bonding with their human friends. Brushing Fluffy will help remove excess fur -- more will end up in the brush than in her belly.
Natural Home Remedies for Hairballs
It's understandable if you shy away from giving petroleum products to Fluffy to help her pass hairballs -- after all, no one really wants to eat or drink oil. There are several home remedies you can try that Fluffy may actually enjoy. A spoonful of canned pumpkin or squash baby food will help boost her fiber intake and assist the fur pass through her digestive track. If Fluffy prefers to nibble on greens, you can try giving her a pot of live wheat grass, which will have the same benefit as the pumpkin and squash. Some cats love butter; a small pat of it can help lubricate her intestines enough to provide her hairball a smooth exit.
Commercial options exist for hairball control. Vet's Best Hairball Relief Digestive Aid and Pet Naturals of Vermont Hairball Softchew are two natural choices available online. Diet can make a difference in minimizing hairballs. In her blog post on The Conscious Cat, Dr. Fern Crist advocates feeding cats a food that is more in tune with their wild roots -- specifically one that's grain-free, low-carb and canned.
When to See the Vet
If you try all your options and Fluffy's still retching up wet clumps of matted fur on a daily basis, it's time to call the vet. Other signs to watch for include constipation, diarrhea, lethargy, appetite loss and continued gagging. Hairballs can occasionally get stuck or cause internal blockage. Sometimes identical symptoms indicate Fluffy has more going on, such as inflammatory bowel disease. The vet will get to the bottom of the matter.
- The Conscious Cat: Some Startling New Thoughts on Cats and Hairballs
- ASPCA: Hairballs
- Natural Wonder Pets: Natural Cures for Cat Hairballs
- WebMD: What to Do About Hairballs in Cats
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Cornell Feline Health Center: A Hairy Dilemma
- Natural Cat Care Blog: Hairballs? Natural Remedies That Are Working
- The Society of Homeopaths: What Is Homeopathy?