If you’ve ever seen your cat cough up a hairball, you know it’s not a pretty sight. Hairballs are a part of life for most cats, as well as their owners—the question is, are they harmful to your pet? Ever wondered if you can help your cat cough up fewer hairballs? Read on as your Brant Hills, ON vet tells you all about Fluffy’s hairballs.
When a cat grooms herself by licking the coat, tiny barbs lining her tongue pick up much of the loose hair on her coat. Your cat swallows this hair, and most of it moves through the digestive tract and gets expelled naturally in the feces. Not all swallowed hair gets digested, though—some remains in the gut, clumping together in the form of a hairball. Your cat will eventually regurgitate this mass, and it’s usually accompanied by a bit of stomach fluid.
No, the occasional hairball isn’t dangerous. It’s a perfectly normal part of life for your cat, however unpleasant it may seem when your cat is retching one up. If your cat produces a hairball every now and then, you have nothing to worry about.
If your cat is producing a lot of hairballs, it’s time to see the vet. Something could be causing her to shed more, thereby swallowing more hair and making more hairballs. Also, if you see your cat gagging and retching but never producing anything, take her to the emergency room, as she might be choking.
Yes, there are a few simple steps you can take to help your cat experience fewer hairballs. The first is to feed Fluffy a great diet. When your cat receives a high-quality diet with all the right nutrient levels, her skin and fur stay as healthy as possible. This makes for a well-moisturized coat with minimal shedding; when your cat sheds less, she swallows less hair.
The second thing you can do is to run a brush through your cat’s coat every day. This traps a lot of your cat’s loose fur in the brush itself, preventing her from swallowing it. Brushing also helps to spread essential skin oils through the coat to moisturize it naturally, reducing shedding at the outset.
Want to know more about your cat’s grooming needs or hairball production? Contact your Brant Hills, ON veterinarian.