And, he has no interest in Petromalt. Seriously.
November 24, 2007 6:59 AM   Subscribe

What to do for a cat with a sensitive stomach who's developed a new problem with hairballs? (Probably unusually long.)

Our four year old Turkish Van mix, Daksha, has recently started horking up hairballs. This is new for him - he's never had hair balls before at all. Ironically, we've switched his food in the last year to Royal Canin Special 33 which has made his fur softer and shinier than it has been ever before.

Complicating factors: He probably has IBS (it's $1500.00 to know for sure) and he spent a lot of his young life at the vet's for very violent barfing episodes wherein he yowled all night. Throwing up the hairballs is clearly painful for him - he does not "shake it off" like other cats I've had over the years - and he hides afterward and shows signs of distress (which pass, and then in about 15-20 mins he's back to normal). He has no interest in Petromalt (his sister loves it).

I've considered feeding him straight oily salmon or tuna - generally unadulterated protein is OK for him - to get some additional oil into his system. I don't really know if it will work. Recommendations for our boy are welcome.
posted by Medieval Maven to Pets & Animals (16 answers total)
In a case like this, your best bet is to reduce the amount of hair he consumes. Comb daily, use a Furminator if it works on him - it's hard to tell from his picture whether he's got that coarser undercoat that tends to make the worst hairballs and is also easiest to comb out with shed combs. Pretty much all hairball-relief products are meant to make the hairballs come up - the front way - easier, as hair in quantity doesn't pass through easily.

Shed combs of all kinds work great on my two fluffy cats and are useless on my sleek-haired tortie. She will eat hair off the carpet (and pull anything fuzzy-furry off toys, rugs, etc and eat that too), so regular carpet-sweeping and vacuuming keep her under control.

If you smear Petromalt on the top of his foot he will lick it off to clean himself, which is what they recommend for cats who don't love the stuff. Or he will fling it all over the walls trying to shake it off - sometimes it takes a few rounds to figure out exactly how much you can get away with.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:12 AM on November 24, 2007

Ditto on the Petromalt smear on the foot. I usually go for a back foot (decreasing the ability to flick it off) and really grind it into his foot fur as much as I can. Rub it in circles. It'll take him a while to get it all out of his fur, but he will.
posted by divka at 7:15 AM on November 24, 2007

+1 for the "smearing on the paw" technique. one of my cats doesn't show enthusiasm for petromalt, so i smoosh it on her paw when it's time to lubricate the inside of the cat.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:31 AM on November 24, 2007

I should say that when I put a similar product to Petromalt on my cat's paw (in my case it was Vitalax), he scampered away and I got the stuff all over my apartment. So if you will try the paw thing, do it in a small closed room (like the bathroom) so if there is any cleanup to do, it will be minimal.

I have seen food on the market that claim to be good for kitties with hairballs, but I don't know if they are effective.

How about mixing the petromalt with his food?

As a last resort, how about using an oral syringe? I saw a vet tech administer it this way. I don't know how difficult it is to get the stuff inside though.
posted by bitteroldman at 8:44 AM on November 24, 2007

When I had a cat with a bad skin allergy and associated hairballs, the vet suggested a change to Iams Hairball Care. Regardless of how you may feel about the Iams brad, it did seem to help quite a bit.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:34 AM on November 24, 2007

I have seen food on the market that claim to be good for kitties with hairballs, but I don't know if they are effective.

My flatmate feeds some sort of fairly expensive anti-hairball cat food to his long-haired cat who we think is a Persian. She vomits up less hairballs, and seems to like the food well enough. Apparently it works by softening the fur in the cat's stomach, making it pass more easily through her system.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:43 AM on November 24, 2007

re: antihairball food - that's probably Right Out. He has fairly severe and specific digestive tract issues that we have to monitor fairly carefully (no tap water, for example) and I think introduction of hairball food falls in the category of bad for his crazy digestive system.

Brushing, assuming he will tolerate it and maybe some creative petromalt administration might be the way to go . . . no comment so far on the oily fish?
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:53 AM on November 24, 2007

The oil might be a good way to go, though fishy diets can lead to formation of crystals in his urine (male cats seem to be especially susceptible). I've got a diabetic cat who's on a high-protein diet. Because of some dry skin issues I've been mixing a teaspoon of olive oil into his food for both of his morning and evening feedings. He seems to like it all right (but he's a total munch-mouth anyway) and his fur is getting nicer. Best of all, his barfing frequency is way down (though what comes out the other end is a bit smellier - unlike the barf, at least it's in the litterbox).
posted by hangashore at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2007

Second brushing. My cat jumps on the bathroom counter every day for her brushing. She also likes "damp hands" - if your hands are damp, not wet, and you rub along the direction the fur's growing you will pull a lot of the ready-to-remove fur out. It's a stealth alternative to brushing.
posted by jet_silver at 12:09 PM on November 24, 2007

Dactylus Glomerata (??) or cat grass. But that'll get him yakking just slightly. (If he can handle that?? - helps best as a preventative)

I'd imagine anything that will slick his guts down would be helpful. They like fish and it would probably make life easier for you?

With the syringe you can get big fat ones that you could (pop the plunger out and) fill with a desert spoon. Then use that to fill a little twiddly one instead of screwing around with a paddle pop/toothpick. (argh!) I'm under the impression that stuff is like vaseline?

Mmm hope your poor kitty feels better soon!
Oh! And does he lick her much? (You've probably covered that possibility already but...)

And I have to ask - Do they swim!! Have you seen them doin' it and did it look really cute? Do you have any tales about catchin' them just kickin' back in the neighbors pool. Or running a bath - for yourself - only to come back and find a pair stinkin' ratbag cats swiming about in it...? Or any sneaky stuff like that?

I have just always wondered :)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 2:28 PM on November 24, 2007

My cat had a lot of problems with diarrhea and vomiting when he was a wee kitten. I took him to the vet numerous times and spent all kinds of money on tests and whatnot but nothing was working. The vet proposed a colonoscopy for the kitten. I happened to mention the story of my cat to a friend of mine (who i didn't know happened to be a vet from India). He told me that there was a good chance that my cat was allergic to his food. I called the vet and they said that we could try him on some new food. (he was eating science diet kitten formula). I switched him to a prescription food allergy diet from science diet and the diarrhea and vomiting stopped. Science diet now has a "sensitive stomach" formula that works for him.
posted by catseatcheese at 4:25 PM on November 24, 2007

My cat isn't exactly happy about it, but I give him Petromalt and put it on the roof of his mouth. Smearing it on his face or one of his paws is 100% guaranteed to cause a mess.

Also, depending on how much attention you want to devote to this issue, you could try getting the different flavors of Petromalt or other brands of hairball goo -- if he doesn't like the malt-flavor kind, maybe he would go wild for the tunafish-flavor kind?
posted by oldtimey at 4:38 PM on November 24, 2007

I'm just answering quickly, so I haven't looked up Petromalt yet. But when I was younger, we had a cat who would toss up hairballs frequently. Our vet told us to just use Vaseline. We would smear it on his lip, and eventually we'd just scoop it on our fingers and he'd lick it off. It helped, it was cheap, and he lived to a grand old age, so it didn't hurt.
posted by annieb at 5:19 PM on November 24, 2007

I would also recommend Olive Oil, as it has worked for me in the past. I've never tried it on food, I've just given it in the mouth by way of an eyedropper. This was also for a cat with a sensitive stomach.
posted by Breo at 5:54 PM on November 24, 2007

You might do all you can to increase your cat's water intake along with the other measures. Water helps digestion in general. Have you tried one of those pet fountains? My cats have really increased their intake (and output) since we got one.
posted by wexford_arts at 1:03 PM on November 25, 2007

Increased fiber will help with digestion of hairballs. You can give your cat a little bit of canned pumpkin (about a teaspoon a day). Catnip and catgrass are also good for adding fiber.
posted by candyland at 4:04 PM on November 25, 2007

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