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.
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.
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 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.
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Confused by the ingredient list on your kitten’s food? You’re not alone. Marketing pet foods that have “human-grade ingredients” is becoming commonplace. While appealing to many pet owners, it is important to be aware that the term “human grade” has no legal definition and is used primarily for marketing purposes.
Foods, typically meats, are labeled either as “edible” or “inedible, not for human consumption.” Once a food leaves the human food chain, even if it is of outstanding quality, it has to be labeled “inedible, not for human consumption.” Therefore, meats used in pet food must be labeled as “inedible,” regardless of the source or quality of the meat. The only way to make a pet food with ingredients deemed “edible” is to never let the meat leave the human food chain and actually manufacture the pet food in a human food facility and transport it using human food trucks. Therefore, advertising a product as containing “human-grade ingredients” is untrue if it is not manufactured in a human food facility. However, just because a pet food isn’t marketed as being “human grade” does not mean that the ingredients are poor quality.
Here are some tips to help understand ingredient labels:
- The ingredient list is not the only method you should use to select a pet food, because it doesn’t provide pet owners with enough information about the quality of the ingredients or the nutritional adequacy of the overall diet.
- Instead of concentrating on ingredients, pet owners and veterinarians should look at the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement and the quality control protocols of the manufacturer. For more information, see the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s brochure “Selecting the Best Food for your Pet,” available at
Opens a new windowwww.wsava.org/nutrition-toolkit.
- The ingredient list may be arranged to make foods as appealing as possible to consumers by the order of the ingredients (e.g., having lamb first on the ingredient list) or inclusion of seemingly desirable ingredients in the diet, but often in such small amounts that they have little or no nutritional benefits (e.g., artichokes and raspberries listed after the vitamin and mineral supplements).
- Having more ingredients does not make a diet more nutritious.
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