When your cat passes a hairball, you might wonder if a feline is a right pet for you. Cat hairballs are gross: whether you are witnessing one being passed or the poor person who has to clean it up afterward.
However, the problem with hairballs extends far beyond them being unpleasant as they can endanger your cat’s life. Hairballs may cause intestinal blockages and disrupt your cat’s digestive system.
Here is some vital information about hairballs that every feline owner should know:
What causes hairballs?
Any cat owner will tell you that, apart from sleeping, grooming is a cat’s favorite activity. Cats are fastidious about keeping themselves clean, far more so than their canine counterparts. The feline grooming routine includes plenty of licking, and this is where a hairball problem could occur. To avoid this becoming an issue, consider trying a natural hairball remedy to reduce hairball formation. Many well-known brands like Vet’s Best, Nutri Vet, and Scruffy Paws Nutrition offer many such products that are both affordable and of high quality.
Cats have specially adapted tongues that help them groom themselves. Their tongues are far rougher than a dog. A feline’s tongue surface is covered in tiny hook-like structures. These hooks catch loose fur when a cat is cleaning itself. A cat swallows this fur, and it enters its digestive system. In most cases, the fur passes through the system with ease. However, an accumulation of hair in the stomach may form a hairball.
After an accumulation of cat fur forms a solid ball in a cat’s stomach, the feline will vomit it out. Cat hairballs are not round when a cat eliminates them. They have a more tubular shape from passing through the cat’s esophagus on their way up.
Do some cats get more hairballs than others?
As a cat owner, expect to see a few hairballs during your kitty’s lifetime. However, these incidents might be more frequent in longer-haired cat breeds, such as Persians, Siberians, and Maine Coons. With their long hair, these cats tend to accumulate enough hair in their stomachs to form a ball more quickly than short-haired felines.
Cats that groom compulsively will develop hairballs more often than those who do not. If you are worried that your cat spends too much time grooming, ask your vet about it. Some cats calm anxiety or alleviate boredom by grooming.
Adult cats are more prone to hairballs than kittens and juvenile cats. As cats get older, self-grooming becomes more important to them than it was when they were younger. Older cats are also better at cleaning themselves due to experience and will use their tongues more adeptly to remove excess fur.
How to know if a cat has a hairball
If you see your cat trying to vomit without much success, this should be a red flag warning you to expect a hairball. The cat will gag and retch as its system tries to move the furball up its esophagus and into its mouth. This process might take quite some time, and a few efforts before the feline eliminates its hairball.
Other signs of a hairball include any digestive system interruptions. These include constipation, diarrhea, and appetite loss. The effort of trying to get rid of a hairball may be exhausting and frustrating, so cats may exhibit behavioral changes, such as lethargy or unusual aggression.
While you might not prevent hairballs, you could reduce their frequency and any distress levels they create. The following are suggested treatments. They might not work individually, and it is recommended that cat owners try them in combinations for optimal success.
Regular grooming is a feline owner’s first line of defense for preventing hairballs. Removing excess fur while brushing a cat reduces how much gets into their digestive system. You should brush your cat at least once a week, although daily grooming will be more effective in getting hairball production under control.
As mentioned before, some cats over-groom due to issues like anxiety and boredom. Distract your cat with a toy or other activity to remove their focus from excessive grooming.
Hairball remedies include mild laxatives that help the hairball move through the digestive tract and be eliminated as feces. Some cat foods advertise their brands as being hairball preventers. The cat food contains additional nutrients to keep a cat’s fur healthy and prevent excessive shedding. Additionally, the food’s high fiber content help hairballs travel through the digestive system.
When to see a vet
Most cat owners wind up visiting a vet the first time their cat passes a hairball. It is so distressing that they might worry their feline is ill. With time, they learn to recognize the signs of a hairball and respond accordingly.
However, sometimes a vet’s intervention is necessary, especially if your cat is unsuccessful in passing the hairball and you suspect that it is causing an intestinal blockage. Your vet might prescribe medication to help the hairball leave your cat’s body. Alternatively, in severe cases, a veterinarian may opt to operate to remove the blockage.