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Your Cat’s Hairball Habits

It’s almost certain that your cat will cough up a hairball at least a few times in her life. It’s not pleasant, for your cat or you, but is it harmful? Below, you’ll learn all about your cat’s hairball habits from me, your Marion, IA veterinarian.

Why Do Hairballs Occur?

When a cat grooms herself, tiny barbs lining her tongue pick up much of the loose hair from the coat. This hair is swallowed, and most of it flows through the digestive tract and gets expelled naturally in your cat’s stool. Some hair remains in the gut, clumping together into a hairball, which eventually gets regurgitated.

Do Hairballs Hurt My Cat?

When your feline friend coughs up a hairball, you’ll see a moment or two of retching before the hairball itself appears, likely accompanied by some stomach fluid. It might not look pleasant, but the occasional hairball is a normal part of life for your cat and shouldn’t hurt her.

Is your cat suddenly producing a lot of hairballs when it was usually an occasional event? It’s worth a call to your vet’s office, as skin infections, parasites, and other medical concerns could be to blame for an increase in shedding or other problems. Is your feline friend gagging and retching, but not actually coughing up a hairball? She might be choking, so rush her to the emergency room as soon as possible.

It’s also worth noting that vomiting is entirely different than coughing up a hairball. Any cat who is consistently vomiting should be examined promptly.

Is It Possible to Help My Cat Cough Up Fewer Hairballs?

Yes, there are a few steps you can take to minimize your cat’s hairball production. First, groom her on a regular basis. Brushing your cat not only keeps her coat clean, smooth, and well-moisturized, it traps loose fur in the brush itself. That means that your cat swallows less, lengthening the time between hairballs.

Another way to lessen hairball production is to feed your cat a great diet. When your cat gets all the right nutrients through food, the skin and hair follicles stay healthy and your cat ultimately sheds less, leading to less swallowed hair and fewer hairballs as a result.

Want a recommendation on a great diet choice for your pet? Does your cat need a veterinary checkup? Allow me, your Marion, IA vet, to help. Set up an appointment today!

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