Cats are cute friends and no one in my knowledge will deny it. However, if a cat is getting hairballs, there are a few people at least who will shirk at the activity. The viscous cylindrical hair lump that comes out of a cat’s mouth is not to be ignored and there is a lot to know about it.
Why is a cat vomiting hairball?
As you might know, cats groom themselves by licking their fur. In the process, some hair gets into their stomach. While most usually pass through excreta, a few might get lodged in the stomach or stuck in the esophagus. After some time, you might have noticed that the cat would have arched its back, extended its neck, retched, and would have gagged a lump of hair with liquid which is a hairball.
The liquid is basically vomited which consists of bile and saliva. Though it is called a hairball, it is usually slender and cylindrical. It is common for cats to vomit hairballs once a week or two. This is a mechanism to prevent blockages in the stomach or esophagus.
Symptoms that indicate a hairball is stuck inside your cat’s digestive tract
Usually, a cat behaves normally and vomits a hairball. But sometimes there could be conditions where a hairball is stuck inside and doesn’t come out. These conditions are very dangerous to a cat’s life.
Do you see your kitty with the following conditions?
- A bit lethargic
- Retching for a long time without any hairball
- Refusing to eat for more than a day
- A large amount of hair in stools
- Abdominal pain
It is time to rush to the vet immediately. One of the most possible reasons could be that the hairball has passed to the intestine and can’t come out. Surgery is done to save cats during such situations.
Are there Conditions that Mimic a hairball condition?
You might notice that your cat might be coughing or retching a lot but there might not be any hairballs coming out. The reason for the cat’s behavior could hint at other health issues such as upper respiratory infection or asthma. Whenever you have the slightest doubt, don’t forget to take your cat to the vet.
My cat is getting hairballs and what are preventive measures?
There are at least 4 effective ways by which you can reduce a cat getting hairballs.
1. Regular grooming
Use a cat brush and regularly brush your cat’s hair and remove loose hair. If your cat is long-haired, try trimming it down so that you can avoid large hair from entering your cat’s mouth.
If it is the first time, your cat might feel weird when you bring the brush closer. Try introducing the brush to your cat. Make your cat play with it and then slowly use it to groom and remove excess loose hair.
Also, use wet wipes and remove strands of hair that might not get removed by the brushing technique.
2. Periodic vet visit
Your vet can offer suggestions to bring a disciplined lifestyle to your cat. Grooming and food recommendations can be offered by your vet which can help in reducing hairballs significantly.
3. Distracting with toys
If your kitty is excessively fond of grooming itself, there are high chances that a lot of hair can enter your cat’s mouth. When you notice such habits, introduce toys to your kitty so that they can play with them and not go back to being obsessed with grooming.
4. Hairball diet
By feeding your cat with food that contains a lot of fibers, you can facilitate the smooth passage of hair into the stomach without getting lodged and creating issues. A few of the best diets recommended by our vet Dr. Iulia Mihai who is qualified with a Master’s degree in Pet’s Pathology and PhD in Pets’ cancer can reduce hairballs are as follows:
If the cat is getting hairballs once a week or two, it is normal. However, if you think they retch and no hairball comes out or they express other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or stretching out the neck consult a vet immediately and get it treated. I hope this article provides you with a perspective on handling hairball the right way.