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What You Should Know About Your Cat’s Hairballs

December 1, 2019
It’s something that all of our feline friends—save for hairless cats, of course—do. Coughing up the occasional hairball certainly doesn’t sound or look pleasant, and it’s no fun for you to clean up. But are hairballs harmful for your cat in any way? Learn more about your cat’s hairball production in this article from an Ellicott City, MD vet.

Why Do Hairballs Happen, Exactly?

When your cat licks herself during grooming, tiny barbs lining the tongue pick up loose hair from the coat, which Fluffy swallows. Most of the hair moves through the digestive tract and eventually gets expelled in your cat’s feces. Some of that hair, though, stays in the gut, clumping together over time into a hairball. Then, your cat regurgitates that hairball, which will most likely be accompanied by a bit of stomach fluid.

Are Hairballs Dangerous for My Cat?

No, the occasional hairball isn’t dangerous. It’s a perfectly normal part of life for your cat, however unpleasant it might seem. With that being said, contact your vet’s office if your cat is coughing up hairballs frequently. She might be suffering from a health issue that’s causing her to shed more, therefore swallowing more hair and producing more hairballs. Additionally, if you see your cat retching and gagging but not actually producing a hairball, take her to the emergency room. She could be choking on the hairball or on some other foreign object. Last but not least, keep this in mind: coughing up a hairball and vomiting are not the same thing! If your cat is vomiting on a consistent basis, take her to the vet’s office immediately to get checked out.

How Can I Help My Cat Cough Up Fewer Hairballs?

You’ll be pleased to know that there are a few ways to help your cat cough up fewer hairballs. First, feed your feline friend a high-quality diet. This ensures that your pet receives all of the essential nutrients needed for healthy skin and a quality coat of fur, resulting in a smooth, shiny coat with minimal shedding. It’s also important that you brush your cat on a regular basis; this traps a lot of that loose hair in the brush itself, preventing your cat from swallowing it in the first place. Does your cat need a veterinary exam? We’re here to help. Call your Ellicott City, MD vet clinic to make an appointment.

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