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C2005-15

Dear Christopher Cat

Do hairball diets really work?

Christopher Responds

I am an older, long-haired cat, which predisposes me to hairballs. However, regular readers know I am perfect, so it should come as no surprise that I have no hairball problems.

Therefore, I had to do a little Internet research. (Yes, I know how to use a computer: I walk on the keyboard to change the pictures on the screen.)

My research taught me that National Hairball Awareness Day is celebrated April 29.

More importantly, I learned that most hairball diets are rich in fiber and/or lubricants, and that effectiveness depends on the diet.

One study of over 100 cats compared a standard maintenance diet with a high-fiber diet.

The cats ate each food for two months. While the cats were on the high-fiber diet, hairball vomiting decreased nearly 22 percent.

In addition to feeding a high-fiber diet, you can decrease hairballs by removing excessive hair from your cat’s coat. Every day, brush your cat, wipe the coat with a damp paper towel, or roll a sticky tape lint remover over your cat’s coat.

Veterinarians believe hairball vomiting may be a sign of poor gastrointestinal motility, secondary to inflammatory bowel disease or another disorder. So if the hairballs continue, have your veterinarian examine your cat.

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