Friday 8 February 2008

Cat hairballs

Cat hairballs, or otherwise known as trichobezoars are literally balls of hair. Hairballs are completely normal as a cat is bound to ingest hair when grooming. The more so obviously if the cat is long haired, such as the Persian. Some Persian's hair is it could be argued abnormally long through selective breeding.

Because hair is not in actual fact a piece of matter that can be digested, cats will pass hair either through their digestive system or the hair builds up inside the body which results in them coughing and retching to eliminate it. If you are a person that is not too familiar with cats, then the first time that you experience a cat doing this can be rather disturbing.

The reason that cats ingest a great quantity of hair, is due to the fact that they have great grooming habits. Cats spend a considerable amount of time licking their coats in order to keep it clean. Cats have a very special tongue that has firm "hairs" on it (made from keratin), and as they lick their fur they easily capture loose and dead fur. Cats cannot spit out the fur because of their rough tongue, therefore it is swallowed. Most of the hair passes directly through their bodies and is eliminated through their feces. However, when a great amount of hair is swallowed, it can become accumulated resulting in a build up of hair, which becomes matted inside their tummy. For this reason, it cannot be passed through the digestive system which is why a cat coughs up hairballs.

If you notice that your cat is constipated, then the cause could be because of cat hairballs. In order to avoid losing your beloved cat, there are some simple steps to follow in order to prevent the chances of hairballs.


You can reduce the work that your cat needs to undertake by grooming her yourself on a daily basis. This will reduce the amount of hair that the cat digests. Dead hair will be taken away from your cats coat when brushing it. You can also wipe the fur of your cat with a damp towel in order to capture any stray dead hairs.

Hairball Treats

There are special hairball treats readily available on the market today, which contain ingredients that assist in breaking up hairballs. Mineral oil is contained in a majority of the treats. There are also certain cat food companies that produce special types of food specifically for cats that suffer with hairballs.

Facilitate a Hairball

If your cat is suffering from continuous hairballs, then a lubricant is required to assist your cat in digesting and passing the hairball through the stomach and intestines. The best products for facilitating this process are those which contain petroleum, which are readily available in a variety of flavors.

Fleas are a factor, which encourages a cat to groom herself, along with ectoparasites such as harvest mites, lice and ticks. Certain skin disorders such as inflammation of the skin will also stimulate your cat to lick itself more regularly. There is also the matter of stress causing displacement actions. If you think that your cat may be suffering from any of these problems, then it is advised to visit a vet immediately.

Overweight cats also tend to have a problem with hair balls. Because of their inactive nature, their bowel motility is poor and the passing of fur slows down, which can lead to blockages.

Cat hairballs are not dangerous in most cases. However, if you witness symptoms such as a swollen and hard stomach, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite, then it is imperative that you visit your vet immediately so that your cat can have a thorough examination.

This article has been written by hjtmarlin for cat chit chat

photograph copyright and by johnbullas

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