Cat Hairballs: The what, how and why
Cat hairballs are not a first thought when we think of a cat. The grooming feline is however prone to hairballs at some point in their lives. Some cats are also more prone than others at developing this complication.
What is a cat hairball?
The name “cat hairball” is confusing. A hairball is essentially an elongated, hardened tuft of hair that lies in the cat’s digestive tract and is unable to be excreted.
Why does it form?
Hairballs form from grooming. If your cat is long haired, or if they are prone to additional shedding the chances are good of hairballs forming during the grooming process. Hairballs are formed when the cat swallows the hair and it clumps in the digestive tract. The digestive tract does not digest hair, so either the hair is expelled through fecal movements, or it becomes hardened and stuck. When cat hairballs become wedged, your cat may try and regurgitate them.
How do I know if my feline has hairballs that are stuck?
The following symptoms are typical of problematic cat hairball formation:
- Gagging (attempting regurgitation) and/or coughing
- Loss of appetite
- A general sense of being seemingly unwell
- Cat Hairball management
As a cat owner, you can assist your furry feline to manage this condition. Royal Canin Cat Hairball Care helps your feline control possible complications by assisting the hair to move through the digestive tract for fecal excretion.
Your local veterinarian will also be able to recommend additional supplementation to provide assistance to your furry feline for appropriate care and management of hairballs.
Brushing your cat regularly may also assist with prevention of cat hairball formation during the grooming process. Cats will shed their winter coat so having a regular grooming schedule is essential. Long haired breeds need extra attention. If you notice that management at home is not enough, taking your cat to a groomer for a haircut may also assist with management of hairball formation.
Medical intervention for this condition is not uncommon. Your local veterinarian may recommend X-Rays if standard of care treatments are not alleviating the problematic symptoms. It is important to remember that typical symptoms of cat hairballs may also be an indication of other underlying medical concerns. As a rule of thumb, worsening of symptoms under appropriate care and management requires veterinarian intervention.