They keep themselves neat and clean by spending a large part of their day licking their coats. As a result of this, cats tend to swallow great amounts of loose hair, which then collect and form into a hardened mass called a trichobezoar within their guts. These hairballs are, more often than not, harmless, but in severe cases can cause constipation and blockage of the digestive tract.
Here are some solutions:
The simplest and most effective solution is to brush your cat’s hair. Regular brushing will lessen the chances of your cat swallowing his own loose hairs. The longer your cat’s hair is, the more often you should be brushing it.
Your cat should drink sufficient water to help flush out ingested hairs before they begin to clump in the stomach. A great way to encourage this habit is to place bowls of water at different areas in your home. If your cat likes to drink from running taps, it may be useful to purchase a fountain-type water dish for your cat.
More fibre in your cat’s food can help to regulate your cat’s bowels, which help elimination of hairballs. Cat nutritionists advise feeding your cat more vegetable fibre or feeding cat food with at least 3.5 to 10 percent of fibre. (Source: http://www.ehow.com/how_5948119_prevent-hair-balls-cat.html) Additionally, some commercial cat food are formulated to help reduce hairball formation but it is important to check with a reliable veterinarian before making any changes to your cat’s diet.
Butter, Petroleum Jelly and Olive Oil
Adding any of these substances to your cat’s diet will help to make digestion smoother and flush out hairballs more efficiently. Adding about half to one teaspoon of any of these substances daily will be sufficient but take care not to feed too much butter lest your cat gains too much weight. Another alternative is to feed your cat commercially available hairball lubricants that may be available at your veterinary clinic or any pet store. However, do check with your cat’s veterinarian before adding any of these substances to your cat’s food.