Did you know that April 26th is Hairball Awareness Day? It’s also National Pretzel Day, National Take Back Prescription Drugs Day, and National Richter Scale Day, but we’ll focus on the hairballs. We know, special days are usually centered around things we actually enjoy. It’s probably safe to say hairballs are not one of Fluffy’s many charms. They are, however, very common, and can actually be quite dangerous. Below, your local Thorold vet discusses hairballs.
You may already be familiar with the ‘life cycle’ of a hairball. As any cat owner knows, kitties are usually very diligent at keeping up with their daily beauty routines. Our feline friends often inadvertently swallow some hair as they are grooming themselves. Sometimes these bits of fur get stuck in Fluffy’s digestive system. We all know what happens next. Kitty may hack and gag until she is able to vomit up the hairball. The process isn’t pretty, and it can sound absolutely horrifying, but it is, to a certain extent, normal. The fact that some cats have an amazing talent for leaving hairballs where they are most likely to be stepped on is another matter entirely.
The symptoms of hairballs are mainly vomiting, retching, and hacking. Sometimes a hairball will just give Kitty an upset tummy, so you may not actually see fur in the end result. Loss of appetite, lethargy, constipation, and diarrhea are also indications of hairballs. Occasionally, cats are unable to expel their hairballs. While this is rare, hairballs can get stuck in a kitty’s esophagus or small intestine and cause a blockage. This is a serious medical issue, which may require surgery to correct.
The best way to prevent your kitty from getting hairballs is to brush her frequently. This will help trap excess fur and dander in your brush, so less of it ends up in Fluffy’s tummy. Making sure your furball is getting quality food is also important. A good diet will help your cat’s coat stay shiny and healthy, and may reduce shedding. You can also try hairball preventatives, which are available in most pet stores. Last but not least, if Fluffy is over-grooming herself, perhaps due to anxiety, make sure she has plenty of toys and comfy hiding places.
Does your kitty need an examination? Contact us, your Thorold vet clinic, for all your veterinary care needs.