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There are so many perks to owning pets that we possibly couldn’t list them all. But hairballs aren’t one of them! These slimy clumps of matted fur are probably well known to the cat owners amongst you and have most likely discovered it while wandering around the house in your bare feet. Hairballs are generally harmless, but in certain animals can be fatal and should be treated with caution and prevented if possible.

Hairballs are mostly found in cats, although they also occur in rabbits. Both these animals self-groom in similar ways, and their tongues cause them to pick up dead fur and swallow it. As hair does not get digested properly, it often ends up knotted in the stomach, from where it’s vomited back up. Hairballs are not fatal in cats, although they can be uncomfortable and might lead to problems if not treated. If your cat is prone to hairballs, then prevention is key to your animal’s health. We’ve listed below some of the easiest ways to prevent hairballs.

Regular Grooming - Grooming is important during shedding season, as the cold weather warms up and your cat sheds their thick winter coat. Daily grooming of your cat, especially those with longer fur, removes excess hair and vastly reduces the quantity they will swallow after cleaning. Even during the summer months, daily brushing will not only help you bond with your cat but also will greatly reduce the build-up of hair in their stomachs.

Hydration - Ensure your cat has a ready supply of clean drinking water. The more hydrated your cat is, the easier it is for their digestion to work and remove fur that’s found its way into their stomachs, allowing it to pass naturally through their bodies without building up into a hairball.

High-Quality Dry Feed - Maintaining good levels of fiber in your cat’s diet ensures a healthy digestive system that reduces the chances of hair buildup. You can even buy food formulated to prevent hairballs in the stomach, particularly useful if your cat suffers from them regularly. Cat food such as Purepet cat food, Whiskas cat dry food, and Meo Persian kitten food is known to maintain your cat's healthy digestive system.

Lubricant Gel - If you have a cat who, despite regular grooming, still suffers from hairballs, use a lubricant gel/paste to prevent hair from sticking in its stomach. These are often flavored and make a tasty treat for your cat, and some contain a probiotic to optimize the health of your cat’s digestive system.

Reducing the occurrence of hairballs doesn’t take much work and will greatly increase your cat's comfort (and your bare feet in the morning!). If you’ve tried the above and your cat still suffers from regular hairballs, speak to your vet, as there may be underlying causes.

 Credit: the pet express