When cats groom themselves, they ingest loose hairs which can accumulate in the stomach and small intestine, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Cats then vomit up these balls of matted hair, known as hair balls. To eliminate hair balls, try adding psyllium husk fibre to your cat's diet. The soluble and insoluble fibre contained in psyllium husk powder will help move the hair through the digestive tract, preventing the formation of hair balls.
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Things you need
- 1/4 tsp psyllium fibre powder
- Canned cat food
- Psyllium fibre cat tablets (optional)
- High-fibre dry cat food (optional)
Measure out the amount of fibre you wish to start your cat out on. You should not give your cat the full dose of fibre the first time, as this can cause gas pains and stomach upset, according to the Cat Health Guide. Instead, gradually increase the dosage over the period of a week until you reach 1/4 tsp. If you cannot find a psyllium fibre powder for cats, you can use Metamucil or something similar that contains psyllium fibre husks.
Sprinkle the fibre into canned cat food and mix well. You can also purchase psyllium fibre powder for cats that comes in the form of a tablet. You can give these to your cat as a treat, or crush them and mix with your cat's canned food. Cat psyllium fibre supplements also contain other ingredients that help reduce hair balls.
Feed your cat the canned cat food with added psyllium fibre powder. If your cat won't eat the food, try heating it in the microwave for 5 to 8 seconds. Heating intensifies the food's scent, making it more appetizing to your cat. If your cat refuses to eat canned cat food (for example, a cat used to a dry food diet), feed them a dry cat food formulated with psyllium fibre to treat hair balls.
Give each cat a dose of psyllium fibre in their own dishes, if you're feeding multiple cats. Watch your cats closely to ensure that each eats only its own food and thus does not ingest more fibre than it should.
Reduce the amount of fibre you give your cat if you notice they develop very loose stools.
Tips and warnings
- In addition to giving your cat fibre, comb daily to cut down on the amount of hair it ingests that leads to hair balls. Combs work better than brushes.
- If your cat dislikes the psyllium, you can substitute 2 tbsp of canned pumpkin instead, as some cats enjoy the taste of pumpkin.
- Psyllium fibre not only treats hair balls but decreases constipation as well.
- Do not give psyllium fibre to a cat with an intestinal blockage; seek the assistance of your vet for this condition.
- Provide your cat with free access to water at all times when giving them fibre supplements, to prevent esophageal and intestinal blockage, according to the experts at Pet Place.
- If using a psyllium product made for humans, be sure it's unflavored.
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