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Hairballs 101

Hairballs: they’re a part of life for most cats, and therefore a part of life for the owner. How much do you really know about this aspect of your feline friend’s life? Below, your Marietta, GA veterinarian tells you everything you ever wanted to know about your cat and hairballs.

What Exactly is a Hairball?

A hairball is precisely what it sounds like: a clump of hair that your cat regurgitates. When your pet grooms herself, she swallows much of the loose fur around her coat. Most of that hair moves through Fluffy’s digestive system and is expelled naturally in the fecal matter, but some of it remains in the gut. The remaining hair forms together over time, and your cat will eventually regurgitate it, along with a bit of stomach fluid. Contrary to their name, hairballs are usually more tubular than round, because they have just passed through your cat’s narrow esophagus.

Do Hairballs Hurt My Cat?

It certainly doesn’t look or sound pleasant when your cat coughs up a hairball. You’ll be pleased to know, though, that hairballs don’t hurt your cat in any way. It’s a perfectly normal part of life for most of our feline friends, and the occasional hairball is nothing to worry about.

If your cat is coughing up hairballs frequently, she might be shedding more than normal. It’s worth a trip to the vet’s office to find out what’s going on. Also, if your cat is coughing and retching but not actually producing a hairball, take her to the emergency room. She might be choking on a hairball or on some other foreign object!

How Can I Help My Cat Experience Fewer Hairballs?

There are a few things you can do to help your cat cough up fewer hairballs. The first is grooming. Brush your cat on a regular basis; this will trap a lot of her loose fur, preventing her from swallowing it, and thereby cutting down dramatically on hairball formation. Secondly, feed your cat a great diet. When she receives all of the proper nutrients through her food, the skin and hair follicles stay in peak shape and reduce shedding at the outset. For cats who shed a lot, a “hairball formula” diet may be recommended by your veterinarian.

Want to know more about your cat’s grooming needs and hair care? We’re here for you. Call your Marietta, GA veterinary clinic.