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Hairballs

The only thing worse than watching your poor cat vomit up a hairball, is having to deal with the mess afterwards! This is an unfortunate consequence for many cats of their diligent self grooming habits, especially for the  long-haired kitties.

Cats have tongues that have backwards facing barbs, with hook-like features on the surface. Essentially, their tongues are designed like a hairbrush- and like a hairbrush, hair gets trapped in them.  Ultimately Kitty has no choice but to swallow this hair.  Cats can normally pass a moderate amount of hair through their entire digestive tract with no issue, and this is normal.  Most cats will vomit up the occasional hairball within a year, however regular hairballs are not normal.

Some of the following problems can contribute to a hairball problem (more than 1 hairball every 30 days):

  • Long haired coats can be overwhelming for particularly fastidious cats. Helping them out with daily grooming using a brush, or even shaving them in the right seasons can reduce or eliminate the problem
  • Age related conditions that contribute to dehydration, such as kidney or thyroid disease will decrease their saliva production and reduce their ability to manage the same amount of hair they used to when they are younger. Diagnosing these problems early can help improve their quality of life and reduce the hairball problem.  Contact us for further information on how to identify and treat these problems.
  • Stress especially caused by interactions with other cats can stimulate cats to groom themselves to excess. Contact us or read some of our previous blogs to learn more about stress reduction
  • Skin itchiness or allergies will cause excessive grooming and hair ingestion, please call us if you suspect your cat has a skin problem
  • Abdominal pain from either bladder or pancreatic inflammation will often cause cats to overgroom certain spots on the underside of their belly, causing a bald patch or shortened hair in these areas. This can be treated and is uncomfortable, please call us if you note bald patches!

Once you and your veterinarian has ruled out underlying health concerns contributing to the hairball problem, the following are some additional tips to control the hairball problem:

  • Daily grooming or clipping the long hair, in strategic places, such as the belly, and inside of the back legs
  • Lubrication of the hair to aid its passage through the digestive tract. We carry a variety of products with different textures and pallatabilities for even the most discerning pallates that can be used, including a new soft treat form!
  • Increased fiber in the diet to prevent the formation of the hair into a ball, and it will bind it up and move it forward in a natural way through the tract without discomfort. We carry a fiber rich food available in both canned and dry form that is specially formulated for this purpose.

Stop in anytime, and ask our knowledgeable staff about how we can help you get out of your “hairy” situation so that you and your furry friend can enjoy a hairball free life!