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Your Cat And Hairballs
April 15, 2024

April features some enjoyable holidays and awareness events for our animal companions. We have National Hug Your Dog Day, Cat Lady Day, and Little Pampered Dog Day, to name a few. There are also a couple things on the calendar that aren’t exactly cute. It’s Heartworm Awareness Month, for instance. We also have Hairball Awareness Day. While hairballs aren’t the most enjoyable topic, they are something everyone with a kitty should be aware of. A Potomac, MD veterinarian provides some information about hairballs in this article.

How Frequently Should Cats Get Hairballs?

In a purrfect world, your feline companion would only develop hairballs on rare occasions. However, for most cats, it happens more frequently than you or Fluffy would like.

The exact time frames might differ from kitty to kitty. However, it is not uncommon for cats to have a hairball once or twice a week. If your feline companion is having them more regularly than that, contact your veterinarian. This could be a sign of medical problems. Contact your veterinarian for further information.

How Do I Stop My Cat From Getting Hairballs?

There are no ways to completely guarantee Fluffy won’t have hairballs, but there are a few things you can do to help your furry friend out here.

Brushing Fluffy is likely your best option. You’ll be catching the dead fur with a brush before your feline friend swallows it. Less fur on your cat eventually translates to less fur in your cat.

This isn’t the only reason to brush your pet, though. Brushing improves your pet’s circulation. It’s also a good purr starter. Many of our feline overlords really enjoy being pampered! 

Here are a few tips for brushing Fluffy:

Wait until your furry companion is feeling relaxed. (After a meal and a play session is a good time.) Start by petting her, always moving in the same direction as her fur. Then, start to include the brush. Do not pull too hard! If your cat’s hair becomes knotted and you can’t get the knots out easily with a detangling brush, you may need to trim them. Use only round-ended scissors. You can also use a plastic letter opener, which resembles a credit card with a cutout. 

Make the process more fun and appealing for your kitty by providing lots of attention and praise, as well as a tasty treat. (Catnip won’t hurt, either.)

When your feline friend decides that she’s had enough, let her go. Trying to force her to submit is a bad idea, but a good way to get scratched. Fluffy is also going to be a lot less keen to let you brush her next time!

Aside from that, your veterinarian might suggest using pet jelly on Fluffy’s paws. She’ll lick it off when she cleans herself, providing her digestive system a little extra lubrication.

You can also give your furball the occasional can of tuna or sardines; the oil in them can help a little. Check with your vet on this, though: if your pet has any issues with her thyroid, tuna may not be good for her.

There are also hairball prevention products. As the name implies, these are made to prevent hairballs. However, before offering any supplements or products, always consult your veterinarian. Not every product is going to be appropriate for every furball.

Making sure Fluffy is hydrated is also critical. You might want to get Fluffy a small fountain. 

Finally, keep your cat inside. Cats who do not go outside are less susceptible to seasonal weather fluctuations, which trigger shedding. They will also not roll around in dust or dirt. Plus, Fluffy will be safer living indoors, where she will be sheltered from automobiles, wild animals, and inclement weather.

Ask your Potomac, MD veterinarian for particular guidance.

Do Cats Purposefully Leave Hairballs In Certain Locations?

The jury is still out on this one. We can’t officially survey our feline patients about the matter, but it wouldn’t exactly be out of character for a pet that will cuddle you one moment and bite you the next.

Do Wet Foods Help with Hairballs?

It won’t hurt, though it shouldn’t be considered a cure. Cats do digest canned food more quickly than dry food, so everything will be moving through Fluffy’s system more quickly.

However, there are a number of factors to take into account when choosing whether to feed your cat dry food, wet food, or both. Consult your veterinarian for particular information on your feline companion’s nutritional needs.

Hairballs: What Are They?

Trichobezoar is the official scientific name for hairballs. Fluffy’s habit of grooming herself is generally a wonderful benefit of owning a cat, but it does have a downside. 

As we all know, kitties are extremely clean pets. Your adorable little diva might dedicate up to a third of her waking hours to grooming herself and maintaining her shiny, clean fur. Unfortunately, your pet will consume some of her own fur during her beauty ritual. 

Cats have papillae, or microscopic hairs, on their tongues. (This is why your furry friend’s tongue feels like sandpaper when she licks you.) Those hairs are angled so that whatever she consumes slides down her throat. This was meant to help Fluffy digest birds and mice, but it also makes it easy for her to swallow her own fur.

You probably know what happens next. Fluffy will retch, gag, and then leave an extremely unpleasant mess on the floor. This isn’t the best part of having a cat, and it’s no more fun for her than it is for you.

What If My Cat Cannot Throw Up Her Hairball?

It’s crucial to understand that hairballs can sometimes cause major medical problems. If a hairball gets stuck in your pet’s system and she is unable to throw it up, she could develop serious medical issues. Intestinal obstructions and ruptures are dangerous problems, and can be life-threatening. Look for other symptoms that there is something going on, aside from the typical hairball.

Some of these include the following.

  • Bloody or foamy vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry heaving
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Withdrawal and Behavioral Changes
  • Coughing

If you observe any of these, please contact your Potomac, MD veterinarian straight away. It’s critical to investigate these problems as soon as possible: these could be signs of more serious problems.

Do Long Haired Cats Get More Hairballs Than Short Haired Cats?

They can. Maine Coons and Persians, for example, are particularly susceptible to them. However, any kitty—with the obvious exception of hairless cats—can get hairballs. Kitties with short fur may have very thick coats, which may result in hairballs.

If your cat has long or thick fur, we would recommend combing her on a regular basis. This will also assist in reducing snarls and tangles. You may need to purchase a special detangling brush, especially if Fluffy is prone to hairballs.

Conclusion: While hairballs aren’t Fluffy’s cutest trick, they’re not uncommon. You can take steps to prevent or reduce the amount of hairballs your feline companion produces. It’s also important to recognize the warning indications that something more serious is going on.

Schedule An Appointment At Your Potomac, MD Veterinary Clinic

Do you have any queries concerning your cat’s health or care? Please contact us at any time. As your local Potomac, MD pet hospital, we are here to assist!