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.
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.
You can help reduce the number of hairballs your kitten or cat experiences in a few ways:
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.
For adult cats, IAMS research has shown that cats fed IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Hairball Care pass 80% more hair in their feces than cats fed a leading premium dry cat food. By helping ingested hair to be passed from the digestive tract, IAMS hairball formulas help reduce the opportunities for hairballs to form. This fiber blend also includes a moderately fermentable component to promote intestinal 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 IAMS kitten formulas, 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.
Taurine is an important component found in all IAMS™ kitten and cat foods. This important amino acid is essential for cats of all ages, and critical for healthy development, normal heart muscle function, vision and reproduction. It even aids in digestion!
Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues, such as the heart and eyes, and is not incorporated into proteins.
Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids, but cats and kittens need more than their bodies can produce and rely on their food to make up the difference. Pet food’s animal-based protein ingredients are natural taurine sources, and the amino acid can also be added to pet food recipes on its own.
All IAMS™ kitten and cat foods are formulated with high-quality animal-based proteins that are naturally rich in taurine as their primary ingredient. So why supplement these foods with additional taurine? Two reasons: natural variability and the production process.
IAMS™ dry cat and kitten foods include taurine to supplement each food’s primary source of the amino acid — an animal-based protein like chicken, egg, lamb or fish. These natural sources naturally vary in their nutrient content, so adding supplemental taurine helps ensure your cat or kitten is getting enough in their diet every day.
For wet food, the canning process itself may affect the complex taurine balance of the food. That means IAMS™ wet cat foods must contain more taurine, as much as twice the taurine found in dry food, to ensure cats are getting enough.
Cats and kittens need their taurine! Kittens need taurine for healthy growth and development, and adult cats that don’t get enough taurine can develop serious health conditions. Low levels of taurine put your pet at risk for preventable health conditions that can become serious over time.
Taurine is essential to the proper development and ongoing health of feline eyes, particularly the retinas. Without enough taurine, retinal cells can’t function properly and may die, which can cause impaired vision and even blindness (a process called feline central retinal degeneration).
Taurine plays a key role in supporting cardiovascular health, too. A lack of taurine weakens the heart muscle, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.
Optimal reproductive health and growth also rely on taurine to complete a number of important health processes. Maintaining adequate levels during pregnancy, nursing and early growth helps ensure proper structural development for kittens and wellness for the mother.
Feeding your pet well is an important part of taking care of them. Learning the importance of ingredients like taurine is one way you can ensure you’re giving them exactly what their body needs. By giving your kitten a healthy start and understanding their nutritional needs, you’re giving them the best shot at a long, healthy and happy future. Your cat would thank you if they could!