As cute as all felines are, it’s not particularly adorable to see them wretch up a hairball on your carpet. So, why do cats get hairballs anyway?
As your cat (of any breed) grooms himself, sometimes he’ll swallow loose hairs during the process. Cats’ digestive systems are usually capable of passing these hairs pretty easily; however, sometimes the hairs bunch up in the stomach. Your cat will then try to vomit up the hair, resulting in the commonly named “hairball.”
Since the hair (mixed with the stomach’s digestive juices and saliva) must pass through the esophagus (the long tube connecting the mouth and throat to the stomach) before being eliminated, it can be more tubular shaped rather than a true ball. This causes some owners to mistake a hairball for fecal material. Upon closer inspection, the hairball will not have the normal stench of feces and will easily separate if pulled apart.
While the occasional hairball is perfectly normal for our kitties, frequent or even daily hairballs can be signs of other ailments. Also, if your cat frequently gags, hacks, has lost her appetite, or has developed diarrhea without actually producing any hairballs, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. These could be signs that a hairball is blocking her digestive tract-which can be life threatening and require surgery.
You can help reduce the number of hairballs your cat develops simply by getting into a regular brushing routine. This especially helps our long-haired and short-nosed cats.
Does your cat have a hairball problem? What has worked for you and your kitty to reduce hairball frequency? Let us know in the comments below!