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Learn All About Your Cat’s Hairballs

For most cat owners, there’s no escaping one unfortunate reality of having a feline friend: dealing with the occasional hairball. You’ve probably seen your cat hack up a few during your time together! Here, your London, ON vet tells you everything you ever wanted to know about your cat’s hairballs.

Why Do Hairballs Form, Anyway?

When your cat grooms herself, tiny barbs lining her tongue pick up much of the loose fur from her coat. Fluffy swallows that hair, and most of it moves through her digestive system and gets expelled naturally in the fecal matter. Some swallowed hair, however, remains in the gut. That hair forms itself into a hairball, which your cat eventually regurgitates.

Do Hairballs Cause Any Harm?

When your cat coughs up a hairball, you’ll see a few moments of gaging and retching, followed by the expulsion of the actual hairball. It will most likely be accompanied by some stomach fluid. It’s certainly not a pleasant process to watch, but does it harm your cat?

No, the occasional hairball isn’t harmful and is a normal part of life for almost all of our feline friends. With that being said, it’s time to call the vet if your cat is hacking up hairballs frequently; shedding issues, parasitic infestation, skin infection, and much more could be the root cause! Additionally, if you see your cat gagging but not actually producing anything, she might be choking—rush your pet to the emergency room for treatment.

How Can I Help My Cat Cough Up Fewer Hairballs?

You may be surprised to learn that there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize Fluffy’s hairball production, saving her the trouble and saving you a mess to clean up. First, make sure your cat is receiving a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet that suits her age, weight, and breed. This keeps the skin and hair as healthy as possible, keeping shedding to a minimum and thereby reducing hairball production overall. Secondly, brush your cat on a regular basis—this traps loose fur in your brush so that your cat doesn’t swallow as much, ultimately meaning that your cat coughs up far fewer hairballs.

Want a recommendation on a great diet for your cat? Would you like to learn more about your cat’s grooming and hair-care needs? We’re here to help. Set up an appointment today with your London, ON vet clinic.

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