Suggestion to reduce hairballs in Maine Coon cats

This is a quick note on the topic of hairballs to which Maine Coon cats are arguably more predisposed to suffering from than shorthair cat breeds because the Maine Coon cat is a medium-longhaired cat with a shaggy coat. It is often said that the cat caregiver should assist their Maine Coon cat in grooming by brushing them regularly.

Hairball. Image: in public domain with words added.

On the basis that Maine Coon cats have more hairballs than your regular shorthair cat, a study came to the conclusion that increasing dietary fibre with the use of a psyllium husk supplement such that the total dietary fibre was at 11%-15% facilitates the faecal excretion of hair. 

In other words, the dietary fibre supplement helps the passage of hair through the Maine Coon cat's digestive system to the exterior and I think that is quite a useful bit of information if an owner believes that their cat is suffering from more hairballs than normal.

Interestingly they found that adding dietary fibre in the form of psyllium husk (which you can buy online by the way as a supplement) did not assist shorthaired cats in passing hair. The obvious conclusion there is that they are ingesting less hair than longhaired cats.

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine suggests that longhaired breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons may be at greater risk of developing hairballs than shorthaired breeds. An additional factor would be whether an individual Maine Coon cat is more fastidious about grooming than others.

There is a third factor which may predispose a Maine Coon cat to developing hairballs and that is stress. Stress in a domestic cat can lead to over-grooming or simply grooming more than normal and in doing so the cat will ingest more hair than usual. 

This will clearly predispose them to the possibility of hairballs and under the circumstances it may be useful to consider what I have written above which is based on a study published online under the Google Scholar banner and on the Wiley Online Library called: "Influence of the dietary fibre levels on faecal hair excretion after 14 days in short and long hair domestic cat". The link to the article is as follows:

Below is AI's version of the summary to the study (Chat GPT)

The provided text describes a study that aimed to assess the effects of psyllium and different levels of total dietary fiber (6%, 11%, and 15% TdF) on hair fecal excretion in short-haired (SH) and long-haired (LH) domestic cats. The study involved 21 adult cats divided into shedding, SH, and LH panels. The shedding panel was used to monitor shedding throughout the study, while the SH and LH panels evaluated the impact of the diets on fecal hair excretion.

The study had four phases: Phase 1: Cats were fed a low-fiber diet (6.0% TdF).
Phase 2: Cats in SH and LH panels were fed either diet 11 (11% TdF) or diet 15 (15% TdF).
Phase 3: Cats returned to the low-fiber diet (6.0% TdF).
Phase 4: Cats underwent a crossover to the other diet (11% or 15% TdF).

The results showed that in the LH panel, diets with 11% and 15% TdF significantly increased fecal hair excretion compared to the control diet (6% TdF). Specifically, diet 11 increased it by 81%, and diet 15 increased it by 113%. However, in the SH panel, the diets did not have a noticeable effect on fecal hair excretion. The study suggests that higher fiber levels in the diet, especially with psyllium, can reduce hairball formation in LH cats, particularly between shedding periods, within a 14-day period.

It's important to note that this study indicates the potential benefits of dietary fiber, particularly psyllium, in managing hairballs in cats, especially those with long hair. Additionally, it highlights the importance of considering dietary interventions during non-moulting seasons for short-haired cats.

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