When you own a cat, hairballs just seem to come with the territory. It’s one of those quirky things that make our feline friends so unique. But how much do you really know about hairballs? And most importantly, do they cause your cat any harm? Your Bend, OR vet goes over hairballs below.
Why Do Hairballs Form?
When a cat grooms herself, tiny barbs lining the tongue pick up loose fur from the coat. Your cat swallows that fur, and most of it moves through the digestive tract and is eventually expelled in the feces. But some of the swallowed hair stays in the gut, collecting together over time into a hairball. After a while, that hairball gets regurgitated, and will probably be accompanied by a bit of stomach fluid.
Are Hairballs Harmful?
No, hairballs are not harmful. They’re a perfectly normal part of life for your cat and shouldn’t cause her any harm whatsoever. Some cats cough up more hairballs than others; it just depends on your cat’s metabolism, their hair type and length, and how much they groom themselves.
If you notice your cat coughing up hairballs frequently, something could be causing her to shed more than usual. You’ll want to get a veterinarian’s professional opinion. Also, if your cat is gagging and retching but not actually producing a hairball, take her to the vet’s office immediately—she might be choking on the hairball itself, or on a foreign object of some kind.
Can I Help My Cat Experience Fewer Hairballs?
Yes, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your cat’s hairball production. That makes things a little more comfortable for Fluffy, and it leaves you with fewer messes to clean up.
First, groom your cat regularly using a brush. This traps a lot of your cat’s loose fur in the implement itself, preventing your cat from swallowing it in the first place and thereby cutting down on hairballs. You should also make sure your cat is fed a high-quality, well-balanced diet. When Fluffy receives the proper nutrition, the skin and hair follicles stay healthy, meaning that there is less fur shed from the get-go.
Would you like a recommendation on a great food choice for your cat? Want to know more about your cat’s grooming needs? We’re here to help. Contact your Bend, OR veterinary clinic to make an appointment for your pet.