Kittens can get hairballs, although it’s not as common as in adult cats. Kittens are adept learners, and as they grow up, their grooming habits will mature as well. This could lead to hairballs, especially if your kitten has longer hair.
How Do Hairballs Form?
Most cats spend a considerable amount of time grooming their coats. As they groom, they can swallow hair, which may build up over time in their stomach. If the hairball doesn’t pass from the stomach, the cat will attempt to eliminate it by coughing or gagging.
Many cats will get a hairball at some point in life, but some kittens, such as long-haired breeds and cats that groom excessively, are especially prone to hairballs.
How Can You Help Reduce Your Kitten’s Hairballs?
You can help reduce the number of hairballs your kitten or cat experiences in a few ways:
Change the Diet
The right diet can help provide hairball relief to both kittens and cats. For instance, the beet pulp in IAMS™ dry kitten formulas helps move hair through the digestive tract.
Ensure Skin and Coat Health
Maintaining skin and coat health may reduce the risks of excessive shedding, ingestion of hair from grooming, and, consequently, hairball formation as your kitten grows into an adult cat. High-quality, animal-based protein and fat, found in the IAMS™ kitten formula, provide important nutrients for skin and coat health.
In cats and kittens that are prone to hairballs, frequent brushing can help reduce the amount of hair they ingest, thereby reducing the risk of hairball formation.
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Cats are known for being a bit choosey about what they will and won’t do. And a little pickiness is fine when it comes to picking out toys and napping spots! But if your cat is or becomes extra-selective about what they’ll eat, it’s time to pay attention and perhaps talk to your vet. You and your vet know your cat best, so it’s always worth checking in if you think your cat isn’t eating enough and want their professional advice.
Start by paying close attention to what your cat is eating and how they behave. This information will help you, your household and your vet work together to make sure your cat is living and eating well.
Feeding Tips for the Truly Finicky Cat
Pay Attention to All the Cat Treats
Is your cat begging for table scraps or holding out on eating until you offer treats? Extras like these can be very disruptive to your cat’s appetite and diet. Think about them like snacks or desserts for you — tasty cravings that are easy to fill up on. A small portion may not seem like much, but it can make a big different for a cat-sized digestive system!
Try dialing back how much you treat your cat to tasty extras and see if their interest in the food bowl starts to return. Remember, it’s generally all right for cats to skip a few meals, but if they haven’t eaten for 24-36 hours it’s time to call the vet (even if they’ve continued drinking water).
Review Your Cat’s Food Routine
Humans often crave variety in their meals, but for cats, routine is king. It’s not likely they’d avoid their regular food out of boredom with it, but if you’ve recently changed the kind of food, the number of feedings or the times you feed your cat, they may be avoiding eating as a response.
It's a good idea to change your cat’s diet gradually (unless your vet advises otherwise). Pickiness can often be resolved by helping your cat adjust and get comfortable with their updated diet!
Help Your Cat Relax While Feeding
If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for factors that could be causing stress. Seemingly unrelated changes to their environment can shift your cat’s stress levels enough to impact their interest in food. Has another animal or person joined or left the household? Has your cat been adapting to new surroundings due to a move or renovation? As the stress of that change begins to subside, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet.
Talk to your vet about good ideas for reducing your cat’s stress levels and share any concerns you have about their diet then too. You’re both on the same team, so work together to help your cat feel better!
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