Everything You Need to Know About Hairballs

March 29, 2018 6:49 pm Published by

Cats make the perfect pets, except for the hairballs. While cats are known for their cleanliness, hairballs are one of the deep, dark secrets about cat ownership that no one really wants to talk about, until now.

Hairballs are usually a normal part of being a cat parent, but they can sometimes be a sign or symptom that something is wrong with your cat. As a cat veterinarian in Alexandria, VA, we’ve put together some information that every cat owner should know about hairballs.

What exactly is a hairball?

Hairballs are wads of fur that get caught in either your cat’s stomach or esophagus and are either coughed or vomited up by your cat. Hairballs are often either tubular-shaped from being caught in the esophagus or a more circular wad from having been caught in the stomach. Either way, hairballs are often a combination of strands of hair and a clear, frothy or yellow liquid, which is actually vomit coming up with the hair.

What causes hairballs?

When your cat is grooming himself, the fur is swallowed by your cat and enters the esophagus and digestive tract. The majority of this hair should naturally pass through your cat’s digestive tract and exit through the feces. However, sometimes this hair gets caught along the way, and the only way for your cat’s body to expel it is by vomiting or coughing it up.

Are hairballs dangerous?

Generally speaking, hairballs are not dangerous and are pretty common, but hairballs can also be a sign of something else going on with your cat. Your cat should only have one or two hairballs per month. Anything more than that should be brought up with your cat veterinarian. Frequent hairballs are usually caused by two different things: 1) an issue with your cat’s skin or fur that is causing them to groom and lick themselves more than usual, or 2) an issue with your cat’s digestive tract.

What can I do to prevent hairballs?

There are some steps you can take to help decrease the chances of your cat getting frequent hairballs. Here are just a few things you can try:

  • Help reduce the amount of loose hair by combing out your cat’s fur daily.
  • Be aware of your cat’s grooming habits. If your cat is licking one area of their skin more frequently than before, this can be a sign of pain and irritation and should be brought up with your veterinarian.
  • Keep up with your cat’s flea protection.
  • Be aware of possible sources of anxiety that may be causing your cat to lick himself more.
  • You can help improve your cat’s digestive system by changing your cat’s diet or by using medication, but this should always be discussed with your cat veterinarian in Alexandria, VA first.

Hairballs are unpleasant, but it’s important to talk about them because they can be an important indicator of your cat’s overall health. If you have any concerns about your cat’s hairballs, be sure to bring them up with your veterinarian at Kingstowne Cat Clinic.

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