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Discussion Starter #1
I was just wondering if there was a correlation here between wet food and hairballs. Or maybe it's water intake and hairballs. I'm not really sure. I've had cats for 4 years now, and up until about 4 months ago I fed an all dry diet. During that time my cats drank water generously. Also, during those 4 years I never and I repeat, never had one single hairball.
Now that they are all now on an all wet diet I have at least one to two hairballs a month. And it's not just a rolled up hairball that looks like a stool.
It looks like a hairball mixed in with what I'm guessing is vomit. ( orangish in color )
I noticed now that they are on wet food they almost never drink the water even though I empty it and refresh it several times a day. I was told it was because my cats are getting enough water from the wet food that they don't need the extra water.
But now I have hairballs..........
I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm going to continue with the wet food but I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this or maybe noticed a similar situation when switching to an all wet diet.
 

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She's not drinking much water because she's getting the moisture she needs from the canned food. As far as the hairballs are concerned, perhaps now that her system is better lubricated with the increased hydration in her diet, it's easier for her to expel hairballs. Gross, perhaps, but perhaps also indicative of a system that is running more efficiently than it was on dry food.

Laurie
 

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My cats don't drink any water since switching them to canned wet food either. However, I always have a fresh bowl of water available. I never noticed a hairball until the switch from dry to wet. Up until then, I had never known what a hairball was so I was wondering the same thing. It doesn't happen often enough to cause concern though. I bought hairball remedy if it happens again but I haven't needed to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
She's not drinking much water because she's getting the moisture she needs from the canned food. As far as the hairballs are concerned, perhaps now that her system is better lubricated with the increased hydration in her diet, it's easier for her to expel hairballs. Gross, perhaps, but perhaps also indicative of a system that is running more efficiently than it was on dry food.

Laurie
I never thought of it like that. But that makes me wonder how the hair was being expelled during the four years prior?
Should I be I be concerned about the vomit that is expelled with it? Not exeactly sure if all three cats are coughing up hairballs. I've only usually see it after the fact. I've seen my dsh do it twice. Other than that I have no idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I feed them fancy feast. Two cans three times a day. One can is grain free and the other is a texture of some sort. They won't eat strictly pate which is what the grain free ones are. I don't feed any fish flavors. I've looked at other brands but can't afford it with three cats. Six cans of this is quite expensive plus Ive been supplementing with an extra can or two a day ( depends) lately because my 8 month old is too boney in my opinion. Meaning, it couldn't hurt for him to gain a pound or two.
I tried to do the whole pate route but they weren't having it. I'm not willing to go back to dry. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh I forgot to mention that I read that article already as well as the readers responses. Scares me a little. I always worry I'm never doing the right thing.
 

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Whether they vomit them up or pass them with their normal stool, cats will always have "hairballs" because they cannot help but get shed fur caught on their tongue when they groom themselves. When cats eat an entirely dry diet, they are getting a lot more roughage in their diet than when they eat a wet food diet. Dry food cats will drink a lot of water because their food is so lacking in water content and you will find much more hair in their stools than with cats eating a wet diet. This is one reason why I add a tbsp of psyllium fiber (like metamucil) to a special wet food treat they get twice a week during shedding season and once a week during the rest of the year. It does cut down on the number of vomited hairballs and encourages easy elimination through the stool. This routine with the psyllium fiber has been working well for me for 22 years with no problems with diarrhea, constipation or bowel obstructions. A vet recommened it due to my complaint about the number of vomited hairballs especially with my longhair (Maine ****) cats. I know there is controversy about giving a obligate carnivore, like a cat, a vegetable product like psyllium, but don't forget cats in the wild eat grass and leaves of various plants for different medicinal reasons; so it is not so far fetched an addition to their diet as it first looks.

A cat producing a large amount of vomited hairballs should be checked out by a vet and contributing problems eliminated. The use of a hairball remedy is actually a very slow acting high sugar laxative combined with a lubricating product like oral vaseline or mineral oil. There is no fiber in these products to help normal bowel peristalsis; and fiber is the mechanical scraper and filler that makes it easy for stool to pass through the large intestine in all mammals.

If you are ever curious about how much hair you cat actually passes in his stool, it is easy to find out by just crushing a fresh stool and then rinsing away the actual stool itself with water. What is left is the hair passed by the cat rectally. It was an experiment we had to do during vet assistant training after we checked for parasites, blood, WBCs, etc....
 

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I give my kitty psyllium husk daily too. There was a period when my kitty just simply isnt eating well. He wanted to eat, but couldnt, so I suspect hairball problem, so I started giving pysllium husk, within 2 days, he passed out a whole chunk of hair. From then on, he started eating again and I just continued giving him psyllium husk on a daily basis. Psyllium husk is water soluble fiber, it does helps to lubricate their intestine, so makes it easier to pass out hairball. But never use too much of psyllium husk because kitty can get constipation. The way to feed is, soak 1/4tsp of psyllium husk in 1tsp of water until its becomes jelly, then add into wet food. Hope that helps.

I forget to mention. Switching from 100% dry to wet, you need to transition gradually, otherwise kitties will either vomit or get diarrhea or soft stools, which is pretty common. Could that possibly be the reason for your kitty vomitting?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Laurulfeathercat: psyllium fiber? Where do I get this? Can I use metamucil?

Snowy: I probably could have transitioned them slower, so that could be my fault, but this would of been almost 4 months ago now.

Auntie crazy: I feed them all the varieties actually but only the ones that state chicken, turkey, or beef on the front as the main ingredient. Sometimes I throw in the chopped grill or turkey and giblets. They get one grain free which is the pate and one of the others at each meal.

As I stated earlier, choosing another wet food brand is not an option with three cats. I would be going from 63 cents a can to 1.29$ a can. I would love a solution to this but there doesn't seem to be anything in-between.
They are doing fantastic actually since the switch from wet to dry. My overweight cat is getting the weight off. My problematic Persian has been without problems since thankfully, and they all seem to have more energy than ever. Aside from the hairballs I never used to see and some cow patty like stools. ( always in the litterbox, never had an accident yet ) they are doing so well. So how do you switch foods, if food is the issue, when there are really no choices to pick from?
 

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My cats eat a mix of food - wet processed, home cooked, raw and dry (dry is the smallest part of the mix). Coughing up hairballs is very rare with mine but they all drink water.
 

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Hi Aunty Crazy

What do you think of growing plants like Wheat Grass. Most outdoor cats naturally eat grass for the roughage to induce vomiting when their tummy don't feel good, am I right? Indoor cats don't get to eat grass, and I don't grow grasses indoor, that's the reason to use psyllium husk to help kitty to get some roughage.

I totally agree that wet is certainly better than dry, just the initial transition that usually is giving problem. Like my kitty, any change in flavour or brand, whether dry or wet, he does get very loose stool and vomiting, but will go away after a couple of days, sometimes upto a week. Another reason for my kitty's vomiting and soft stools, I found out later, is chicken. Changed his diet to venison instead, he is ok now.
 

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The grain free fancy feast ingredients dont seem too bad, but the other night, i forgot to pick up cat food and i was completely out, and petco was closed. I bought a few cans of the "classic" fancy feast(grain free) at the supermarket to tide my cats over until i could get to petco the next day. My adult cats were okay, however, my 16 week old kitten became violently ill as soon as she finished eating. She vomited at least 4 times, and i felt terrible. She had eaten a few different brands previously with no issues. She regularly gets Innova cat & kitten formula, or Evo. So even though the ingredients dont seem too bad, there is something in there that upset my kittens tummy. Innova cat & kitten is not grain free because it does have rice in it, but i beleive it has better i gredients than ff does. Also, it comes in 13 oz cans, so at 2.20 a can it is cheaper per ounce than fancy feast :) and that is at petco- its even cheaper online.

My cats never have hairballs and i have them on all canned diet w/occasional raw. My previous cat had hairballs all the time. I had him on a mostly dry diet because i didnt know any better :-/
 

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It is NOT unusual for a cat to eat grass, grain seed heads or even clay dirt to assist with their digestion. SMALL amounts of psyllium will not hurt your cat's intestines. On the contrary, it is like a good scouring of their bowel walls. I would never give psyllium daily, but one level tablespoon in four 5.5 oz cans of wet food once a week with a vitamin additive for 11 cats is just like those cats deciding to eat their weekly grass laxative serving. Twice a week during shedding time really cuts down on those vomited hairballs.

I always use pure psyllium, generic but high quality fine powder which I buy either at a green grocer or at a pharmacy (always human grade). If you feel you must, you can waste money on the sugar and flavoring of a brand name like Metamucil, but is is very easy to just look on the back of the label for the listing of "active ingredients" and look for psyllium fiber as the only ingredient. Very cheap and extremely effective for the job needing done. Also, do not mix up the difference between water soluable fiber and non-soluable fiber. Water soluable is what you want as you want it to work with the stool; where as non-soluable fiber can be abrasive and even dangerous for the bowel.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hoof maiden: these are three ounce cans.

Auntie crazy: I'm only asking in reference about the metamucil and psyllium husk to gain more knowledge before taking this to my cat specialist ( vet). I always take all my advice and refer to her before making any changes.
As far as choices that are near me where I can run in on a regular basis and re-supply, there aren't that many. But the choices i have are narrowed down for many reasons. Many of the wet foods are mostly pate. Which they won't do more than a small spoonful of. Also, I've tried some of a few more expensive brands but they just go up to it and sniff it and walk away. I'm not one of those believers that say if their hungry enough they'll eat it. I had two really bad experiences with this, one of which is with a cat that passed away. ( he had health issues aside, but I'm sure this didn't help any. He just decided one day he wasn't going to eat anything I put in front of him) so having said that, I'm not willing to mess with that. I'm sorry though, it's my fault for not going into the many reasons why my choices are so limited. I will try your suggestion of keeping a journal on the different flavors to see how they respond. Thank you!

Snowy: perhaps chicken will be the first cut?

Shan841: none of my cats have thrown up after eating it. The throw-up is associated with the hairballs only. And the hairballs only started showing up after I switched to wet.

Thank you to everyone with their thoughts and advice. You've given me things to think about. I might try an all pate one more time to see if I can get a green light.

Does anyone know if liver flavors are okay to feed? Because there are some pate choices there to choose from.
 
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