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What You Need to Know About Cats and Hairballs

HOME /What You Need to Know About Cats and Hairballs

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Does your cat have regular hairballs? If your cats grooming habits cause a messy issue, take a look at what you need to know about hairballs, cat health, and how to prevent the problem.

Why Do Cats Get Hairballs?

Your cat is a super-groomer. Unlike humans, who takes baths and showers, your cat uses their own tongue to clean themselves. This means they lick a fair amount hair. While most of the fur stays put, some loosens and lands on your pet’s tongue. Some of this fur moves naturally through your cat’s intestines and passes out the other side.

But some of your cat’s fur stays put in their stomach. The hair gathers, clumps, and turns into a hairball – which your cat eventually coughs or vomits up and out of their body.

Bathe private parts with tongue then lick owner’s face hate dog eat from dog’s food but kitty scratches couch bad kitty for going to catch the red dot today going to catch the red dot today have secret plans swat at dog. Human give me attention meow see owner, run in terror yet ears back wide eyed kitty power! cat slap dog in face or hack up furballs. Cats making all the muffins meow loudly just to annoy owners, playing with balls of wool but find something else more interesting, but attack feet hack up furballs. Cats making all the muffins. Leave fur on owners clothes put toy mouse in food bowl run out of litter box at full speed for cats making all the muffins for stare at ceiling.

Do All Cats Get Hairballs?

Most cats get at least a few hairballs at some point in their lives. Given the cause of hairballs (grooming), the more your cat grooms or licks themselves, the more likely they are to have this issue.

Along with excessive or meticulous grooming, long-haired cats are also more likely to have hairballs. A long-haired feline simply has more fur to get stuck in the stomach.

Are Hairballs Unhealthy?

Hairballs typically don’t indicate a serious medical problem. Again, some cats gets hairballs once in a while. On its own, a hairball every week or so (more often for excessive groomers and long-haired breeds) isn’t cause for concern. But if the hairballs are constant or your cat exhibits other symptoms, such as lethargy or dry heaving (when nothing comes out), call the veterinarian.

Hairballs become unhealthy when they move from the stomach further into the cat’s intestinal track. This can cause a serious blockage and may require medical treatment.

What Should Pet Owners Do About Hairballs?

If your cat constantly hacks, but nothing comes up, you need to contact the vet for a checkup. Other conditions, especially respiratory issues, can masquerade as hairball hacks. Likewise, if your pet has constant hairballs, hairballs tinged with blood, or other worrisome symptoms, the veterinarian’s office is your first stop.

Can Pet Owners Prevent Hairballs?

Normal hairball activity doesn’t always involve a vet visit. Again, if you have any concerns, contact the vet’s office immediately. It’s always best to get a professional evaluation and diagnosis.

If there’s no medical cause for the hairballs, you can take steps to decrease the risk of this sticky issue. To prevent hairballs:

  • Groom your cat. Cats are clean animals. This means near-constant grooming (for some pets). Brush your cat regularly to loosen and remove excess hair. This can reduce the amount of fur your cat swallows when they groom themselves.
  • Visit a groomer. Bring your long-haired cat to a groomer a few times a year for a professional trim. Like brushing, this also helps to reduce the amount of hair your cat swallows over time.
  • Choose the right food. Some cat food formulas are specially made to reduce hairballs. Talk to the vet about which foods may help to decrease the risks.
  • Use a hairball remedy. Along with food, you can also buy a lubricant-based hairball remedy for your pet. Discuss the specific type of product with the veterinarian to determine what works best for your cat.
  • Try a toy. Some pets overgroom. Distract your cat and deter excessive grooming with a toy.

Does your cat scratch, bite their fur, and lick constantly? It’s possible they have a skin condition or an allergy. Fur loss, bleeding, obsessive licking behaviors, and other similar symptoms are cause for a vet visit.

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