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If you own a cat, you’ve probably dealt with a hairball or two. How much do you know about your cat’s hairball production; have you ever wondered if they can cause your cat any harm? Learn more about your feline friend’s hairballs in this article from a Jacksonville, FL veterinarian.
When your cat grooms herself, tiny barbs on her tongue pick up loose hair from the coat. This hair is swallowed, and most of it moves through your cat’s digestive tract naturally and gets expelled in the fecal matter. Some of that hair, though, remains in the gut and clumps together to form a hairball. The hairball is then eventually regurgitated.
When your cat actually expels a hairball, you’ll probably see a few moments of gagging and retching before the actual hairball appears. It’s worth noting that your cat’s hairballs will be more tubular than round, since they’ve passed through your feline friend’s narrow esophageal tube.
The occasional hairball won’t cause your cat any harm—it’s a natural part of life for your pet. Although it doesn’t appear pleasant when your cat is regurgitating the hairball, and it’s most certainly not pleasant for you to clean up, a hairball every now and then isn’t a problem.
With that being said, it’s important to note that if hairballs increase in frequency and are occurring often, it’s time to see the vet. If your cat is gagging and retching but not producing a hairball, she may have a blocked windpipe; rush your pet to the emergency room right away. Additionally, vomiting is not the same as producing a hairball; if your cat is vomiting frequently, something is wrong.
Yes, there are a few things you can do to help your cat produce less hairballs. The first involves grooming. Brush your cat on a daily basis; this traps loose fur in the brush itself, greatly reducing the amount of hair your cat swallows and ultimately cutting down on hairball frequency. Diet can play a role in hairball production as well. Make sure your cat is fed a high-quality, well-balanced diet to keep the skin and fur healthy and reduce shedding. Some cats might even benefit from dietary supplements to aid in coat health.
Want to know more about hairballs? Contact your Jacksonville, FL vet today!