While all cats hack up a hairball occasionally, excessive hairballs can be a sign of something more serious going on. If your cat has hairballs regularly (especially if on a daily basis), it is cause to seek the help of your veterinarian. Check out the list below to see if any of these symptoms sounds like your cat.
1) Hairball over-production due to over-grooming: Over-grooming happens when your cat’s normal grooming routine gets out of hand. This can result in hair loss, skin damage, and even injury to the feet and tail as your kitty over licks and chews at his body. As the excess grooming pulls out more hair than normal, more hairballs are formed in your cat’s stomach. Here are just a few reasons your cat may be over-grooming:
- Stress and Anxiety
- Urinary Tract Infection (causing over-grooming in near the genital area)
2) Regular vomiting confused with hairball production: Though we want to get any cat hairball or vomit cleaned up as quickly as possible, it is best to check to make sure the mass is a true hairball. Some owners assume their cats are bringing up hairballs when the cat is truly vomiting. Vomiting can be the result of a wide variety of illnesses or ailments and is cause to call your veterinarian immediately.
3) Hairball as a foreign body: We’ve all heard horror stories of dogs swallowing toys whole and needing surgery to have them removed. You may have not heard of a cat needing surgery to remove a foreign object-including hairballs! In extreme cases, a large hairball can obstruct the digestive tract of your cat. This results in vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, dehydration, and abdominal pain. If your cat is displaying these symptoms and is determined to have a foreign body blockage, surgical removal of the object or hairball will be necessary to save your cat’s life.
While these problems seem scary for you and your cat, veterinarians are here to help!
Here at Emerald Animal Hospital, we are able to help prevent hairballs as well as provide diagnostic and treatment options for any underlying conditions (such as fleas, allergies, anxiety, or even foreign bodies). We offer Laxatone, which is an edible gel that will help your cat pass hair via stool rather than a hairball. We also offer a wide range of diagnostic testing to assess your cat’s health and, when necessary, follow through with any medications or even surgical procedures necessary to keep your cat happy and healthy. If you have any questions about your cat’s health or would like to set up an appointment, give us a call at 216-749-7161!