What are Hairballs?
Hairballs can actually scare the newbie cat owners. The cats groom themselves so thoroughly, that they ingest a fair amount of hair along with anything that has settled on the surface of their coat.
Commonly the cat will either pass the hair in the stool or vomit the hair back up. And that's what is generally referred to as Hairballs.
The hair can build up in the stomach or the intestines and, in rare instances, can even cause a blockage.
A cat trying to expel a hairball will make an extensive coughing, gagging noise, similar to a cough. If your cat does this frequently and no hairball appears, consult your vet it may have some other medical cause.
How to treat Hairballs?
The most common and simple way to control hairballs is to regularly groom your cat so she does not have to swallow so much hair!
Dietary supplements like lubricants help slide the hair along the digestive tract and also fibre supplements helps push the hair along. This will ease the passing of the hair along the tract.
At times Petroleum-based laxatives are also used to lubricate the hair and move it along through the intestinal tract. Care should be taken to not give Petroleum based laxatives in big amounts, as it can interfere with absorption of some vital vitamins and minerals, causing other issues with Cat's health.
How to prevent hairballs?
As by now you must have guessed, the best and cheapest approach is to regularly groom or brush your cat.
One could also administer a commercial hairball preventive available at pet supply stores.
A safe and effective home remedy for hairballs is white petroleum jelly. Use about half a teaspoon. The jelly melts in the stomach and lubricates the hairball for easier passage. Use once or twice a week. However remember extensive use or large amount of petroleum jelly can interfere with cats digestion / absorption of vital vitamins and minerals - so use carefully.