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Your Cat’s Hairballs

April 15, 2018
Hairballs are a part of life for most cats. That doesn’t mean they’re any fun for you, the owner who has to deal with them after the fact! Learn more about your cat’s hairballs below from a vet in Pickerington, OH:

How Do Hairballs Form?

Cats, as you know, are excellent self-groomers. With all that time spent licking themselves, though, they’re bound to ingest some hair. Most of the hair that your feline friend ingests passes through the digestive tract and is expelled in the feces. Some of it, though, remains in the digestive tract. Eventually, your cat regurgitates this hair in the form of a hairball. Hairballs, contrary to their name, aren’t typically round; since they’ve passed through the narrow esophageal opening, they’re usually tube-shaped. Gagging and retching will often occur for a few moments before your cat expels the actual hairball.

Do Hairballs Present Any Danger?

The occasional hairball is a natural part of life for most cats, and it isn’t harmful. If your feline friend coughs up a hairball every now and then, you needn’t be worried. There are a few cases where medical attention may be required, though. If your cat’s hairball production is frequent, or if your cat has suddenly started expelling hairballs rapidly, it’s worth a trip to the vet’s office. It’s also possible that your cat gags and retches, but never produces the actual hairball—this might mean that the hairball is causing a blockage in the throat, and you’ll want to have your cat examined right away. Vomiting is different than coughing up a hairball. If your cat is vomiting, it’s important to have them examined at the vet’s office promptly.

Can I Help to Minimize Hairballs?

Yes, there are steps you can take to try and minimize hairball production in your cat. First things first: brush her on a daily basis. Brushing traps loose and dead fur in the brush itself, meaning that Fluffy will swallow less and be less likely to regurgitate a hairball. There are also specialized foods available—hairball formulas—that are designed to help hair flow through the digestive tract more smoothly. For severe cases, there are even digestive lubricants designed to help hair move through your cat’s digestive system and get expelled in your pet’s waste. Want a recommendation on a new diet for your cat? Have more question about hairballs? Call your Pickerington, OH vet.
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