Hairballs are simply a fact of feline life. Especially in the lives of long-haired cats, cats who shed excessively and ones who groom themselves compulsively. So what is a hairball? Can they be avoided? We have your answers!
hair·ball noun: a ball of hair that collects in the stomach of a cat or similar animal as a result of the animal’s licking its coat.
1. What causes hairballs?
You probably already know hairballs happen because your cat loves to groom him or herself. Cat’s tongues are important tools in this process- they are made to catch loose or dead hair. The cat then swallows this hair, and most of it passes through its digestive tract with no problems. However, if some hair remains behind, you guessed it! Hairballs.
It’s also of note that many cats develop hairballs increasingly over time. He or she may not have been afflicted with them as a kitten, but when your cat becomes older and better at grooming, hairballs will happen more often.
2. Normal signs and symptoms of hairballs
Anyone who has a cat has seen, and probably heard, he or she hacking up a hairball. And, soon after the hacking, vomiting up the hairball is normal procedure. These are normal cat activities and are not cause for concern.
3. Signs of distress
If your cat’s gagging continues for more than one day, or if he displays any of the symptoms below, please see your veterinarian. In rare cases, hairballs can get stuck in the esophagus or cause intestinal blockages, which may require surgery to correct. These symptoms can also be signs of a more serious condition. It’s a good idea to consult with your vet if you see any of these abnormal clinical signs.
• Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without producing a hairball
• Lack of appetite
4. Tips for avoiding hairballs
Brush your cat daily to decrease the amount of hair that is ingested. Afterward brushing, wipe your cat with a clean cloth to remove loose hairs. If your cat grooms himself excessively, give him a new toy or engage him in play to distract him from this activity. You will not only reduce the incidence of hairballs, but also spend some quality social time with your furry friend.
5. Diet and over-the-counter remedies
Feed your pet commercial cat food, such as Hill’s Adult Hairball Control, that is specifically formulated to reduce hairballs. By improving skin and coat health, reducing shedding and increasing the amount of fiber in your cat’s diet, you can help decrease the occurence of hairballs.
Also, giving your cat a hairball remedy or lubricant, like this Tomlyn Laxatone Hairball Lubricant, encourages the passage of hair through the intestines. Be sure to follow the directions for the best and safest results.
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