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5 Things to Know About Hairballs

The Top Facts About Hairballs in Cats

By Madeleine Burry. January 21, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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5 Things to Know About Hairballs

Since hairballs are an unavoidable condition of being a cat parent, read on for a few quick facts about preventing and treating them.

Grossed out by hairballs? That’s entirely understandable, since they are rather unpleasant. The sound of your cat hacking one up is fairly repulsive, and it’s also not very enjoyable to have to clean up a hairball. However, it’s an unavoidable condition of being a cat parent, since even the healthiest cats will occasionally have a hairball.

Read on for a few quick facts to add to your knowledge of hairballs.

1. Their Name Is Misleading

Don’t be tricked by the name “hairball” into thinking that your cat will be emitting round balls of obvious hair onto the floor. In fact, hairballs are cylindrically shaped and may first look quite similar to cat feces. While it’s gross, and you may want to avoid getting too close, one way to distinguish between hairballs and feces is to smell them.

2. Hairballs Are Not Coughed Up

It can look and sound a bit like your cat is coughing while they expel a hairball. In fact, hairballs are formed as a result of hair that is ingested -- so the hairballs are actually coming from the stomach and are being vomited out through the esophagus, and not transmitted through the cat’s lungs. Coughing without a hairball emerging can be a sign of asmtha.

3. Usually a Minor Problem, But Can Lead to Surgery

In general, hairballs are not a major problem. They are just one of the less than lovely aspects of being a pet parent. In some cases however, if the hairball does not exit through the cat’s body either by being vomited or as feces, surgery will be necessary to remove the blockage that the hairballs can form within a cat’s organs.

4. Most Common in Long Haired Breeds

In long haired cats, such as Persians, Siamese, and Maine Coons, the formation of the hairballs can be more frequent as the result of the abundant and fluffy hair.

5. Help a Groomer Out

You can help prevent against your cat getting hairballs in several different ways. One major way is to brush and comb your cat so that there are less loose hairs around for your cat to swallow. Another option is to provide your cat with a fiber-rich diet, which helps promote healthy, shiny fur. You can also provide your cat with supplements that act as laxatives to help remove the hairball from within your cat’s body easily.

More on Cat Health

When to Take a Cat to the Vet
How to Wash a Cat
Why Cats Eat Grass and Other Self-Medicating Habits

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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