My cat frequently vomits hairballs and sheds excessively. What is the cause and treatment?

Original Question: What if anything can be done about excessive shedding/hairballs? Sam is brushed every day and he also takes Laxatone 3 times a week. Would it help to have him on a diet with more fibre? He is currently on a senior dry kibble cat food. Also, should he be on a preventative urinary crystals cat food as our other cat developed them at 13 years old. He is very healthy otherwise and has never been sick. - Joan

My cat frequently vomits hairballs and sheds excessively. What is the cause and treatment? Jul 24, 2018

Hi Joan,

Thanks for your question.

Hairballs can certainly pose a challenge but there are a few things you can consider.

  • The first thing to do is make sure that there are no medical conditions occurring. Cats can develop more problems with hairballs when their ability to maintain their hydration occurs. A common example is reduced renal function. If this is occurring, it could be the underlying reason that this clinical issue has developed.
  • Continue to use the laxation at an appropriate frequency to manage the problem.
  • Look for a superior brush to remove as much hair as possible with every grooming. This is where most people can make a big difference.
  • There are diets designed to prevent hairballs and that could be considered. You can modify the food with supplements and perform urine testing to achieve an ideal urine pH to prevent crystals.
  • Consider adding omega 3 fatty acid supplements to the diet to improve haricot and reduce shedding and loose hairs.
  • Encourage more water intake by buying a water fountain or other device to attract him to the water bowl.
  • You could consider shaving the hair by having a professional ‘lion’s cut’ performed. Many people do this to reduce hair in the home and eliminate hairballs altogether. It will also eliminate the need to brush him at all. Have a look online at images of this grooming style in cats. Some people think it looks odd but it’s my personal opinion that the cats really like it. This will instantly solve your problem but keep in mind there could always be an underlying medical condition that I don’t want to go untreated.

We also have an article on hairball prevention and home remedies which I encourage you to take a look at for more information on this topic.

By employing some of these strategies, I believe you’ll get control of this condition.

Thanks for the question and good luck!

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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