What is the condition of hairballs? Hairballs result from accumulations of hair in the digestive tract. Cats are fastidious cleaners, spending a great deal of time grooming their hair. When a cat grooms, its rough tongue pulls loose, dead hair from the coat. This hair is then swallowed and can accumulate in the cats stomach and becomes a source of irritation. Some hair may be passed from the cats body in the feces or could be coughed up in the form of a hairball.
What are the signs of hairballs? Some typical signs of hairballs in cats are:
- occasional vomiting
- eating small quantities of food at a time
- weight loss, or even a complete loss of appetite
- regurgitation of undigested food right after it is eaten
- dry coughing from deep inside (strange noises made through the nose and throat, almost like a muted cough)
Hairball prevention starts with a regular grooming schedule using combs, slicker brushes and grooming mitts especially on long-haired breeds of cats and during shedding seasons and warmer months. Adding high fiber levels (soluble & insoluble) to the diet helps to facilitate the transition of hair through the gastrointestinal tract. This is a natural and effective way to help minimize the formation of feline hairballs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do hairballs affect certain cats and not others? Hairballs can afflict any cat, whether it is a short or long-haired breed, but tend to be more prevalent in long-haired cats. This is simply because they have more hair.
Are hairballs more common at certain times of the year or in certain regions of the country? Even though cats are prone to develop hairballs any time of the year, more occur during shedding seasons and warmer months. This is typically because cats shed more during these times.
Can a hairball lead to surgery? Occasionally a hairball can become serious if it develops into a large enough mass, causing severe or complete obstruction/impaction and possible loss of digestive function and can require surgery. This is a rare occurance.
Are hairballs more common now than they were before the domestication of cats? Do outdoor cats have as much of a problem with hairballs as indoor cats?
Both indoor and outdoor cats are prone to hairballs. The severity and occurrences of the hairballs depends a lot on the coat length, if they are groomed on a regular basis, and if they groom or shed excessively. Please help keep your cat from choking on hairballs by regular grooming. This means grooming your cat on a regular basis will reduce hairballs.
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