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Learning More About Fluffy’s Hairballs

June 15, 2019

Hairballs are a standard part of the household for most cat owners (save for those sharing their lives with a hairless feline). How much do you really know about your cat’s hairball production? Here, your Thorold, ON veterinarian tells you everything you need to know about this unsightly part of your cat’s life.

Why Do Hairballs Happen, Anyway?

When your cat grooms herself, tiny barbs that line her tongue pick up the loose or dead fur from her coat. Your cat swallows this hair, and most of it progresses naturally through the digestive tract and is eventually expelled in the feces. Some of that swallowed hair, however, remains in the gut, clumping together over time to form a hairball. That hairball gets regurgitated, along with a bit of stomach fluid.

Take note: hairballs are more often tubular than round, since they’ve just passed through your cat’s narrow esophageal tube.

Are Hairballs Dangerous for Cats?

No, hairballs aren’t dangerous for your cat—it’s a natural process that almost all of our feline friends have to deal with. If your cat coughs up a hairball every now and then, there’s nothing to worry about.

If your cat is coughing up hairballs frequently, she could be having digestive issues, or something could be causing her to shed more, thereby ingesting far more hair than normal. Also, recognize that vomiting and coughing up hairballs is not the same thing—a cat who is vomiting frequently should be examined at the vet’s office right away.

How Can I Help My Cat Cough Up Fewer Hairballs?

You’ll be pleased to learn that you can take steps to help minimize your cat’s hairball production. First, brush her on a daily basis; it’s a great way to trap much of your cat’s loose or dead fur in the brush itself, preventing her from swallowing it in the first place. Consult your veterinarian to find out what sort of brush and bristle type works best for your cat’s coat of fur.

Second, feed your cat a high-quality diet. When your feline friend gets the right nutrients through food, the skin and hair follicles stay healthy. That makes for a clean, shiny coat of fur and minimal shedding, resulting in fewer hairballs in the long run.

Want to learn more about your cat’s grooming and nutritional needs? We’re here for you. Make an appointment with your Thorold ON, vet clinic.