Every cat is going to come up with a hairball at one point or another, it is just a part of being a cat. You have probably heard your cat trying to get a hairball out. It is a natural thing and usually is not a red flag. But, by understanding what hairballs are and what causes them, you can get a better idea of how you can help. Like I said before, don’t worry if your cat has a hairball/furball once in a while, it is just a cat thing. We just want you to be more informed. This guide is all about hairballs and what you need to know about them.

Definition of A Hairball

The simple answer is that a hairball is hair that has come back up from your cat licking and cleaning themselves. They shed a lot, and when they clean themselves that hair can get caught in the throat or stomach and make its way back up. A cat’s tongue is extremely rough, I am sure you have felt it at one point or another. This causes all of the excess hair to be collected while they are grooming themselves. It is just a natural process and they need to do it to keep their coat looking nice and clean.

Here comes the nasty part, but I will try and keep it as non-gross as I can. The cat can’t get the hair out of their mouth when the clean themselves. Basically, it only has one way to go and that is down after the cat swallows it. Usually the hair is easily digested and you won’t have any problems with your cat hacking it back up.

After a while the hair that could not be digested is going to start to clump up with some of the other liquids in your cat’s stomach. Then a ball shape or clump will be completely formed by that point. Then it will start to get bigger and it will bug your cat’s stomach. They can even get sick from large hairballs. The cat will get irritated and try to upchuck the hairball to get it out. Like I said before, this is completely normal.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is going to look like a perfectly rounded ball like most people do. Often times it is going to look more like the shape of a piece of large chalk than it does a hairball. One occasion it can be mistaken for poop as well. But you should be able to tell the difference if you just look a little closer.

 

House Cats Have A Harder Time

The problem that house cats face is that they usually don’t have some type of grass or something that they can eat to help the vomiting process along. House cats also tend to have longer hair, which is going to make things even worse when they get hairballs. If your cat is sick because of what you think is a hairball build up you might want to consult your local veterinarian. It can make you laugh when you say you took your cat to the vet for a hairball, but think of it this way. Your cat can develop very serious internal health issues if the hairball is not taken care of.

Outdoor Cats Induce Vomiting

Outdoor cats have a much easier time than indoor cats with this hairball process because they can eat grass. Grass is a great nutritional benefit for cats, but it is also a tool to help them vomit the hairball up.¬† Usually when your cat has something in their stomach that they can’t get out they are going to head for the grass and try and induce getting it out. This is a completely natural process and is one of the best ways for them to get that build up out when they can’t themselves.

 

Can Hairballs Be Prevented?

There is never going to be an end all to hairballs, but there are a few things that you can try to help diminish the chances of your cat developing a hairball. Grooming your cat is going to be the best way to prevent hairballs, plain and simple. Especially you cat owners that have long-haired cats. Once a day just take your cat brush and try and get as much hair off as you can. This should give the cat a huge advantage and they should not develop hairballs nearly as often, if at all.

 

Foods To Help Digestion

There are also foods that you can get your cat that will help with the process of digestion. Most of the time they are used for indoor cats, and can be found at your local pet store. A high fiber diet is the key if you find that your cat is continuously struggling with hairball issues. It will help the cat digest the hair and get it out of its system. High fiber is basically one of the best ways to stop the hairball from forming in the first place.

Your local pet store should have plenty of options that actually say they can reduce hairballs. They can also include pumpkin, which is a very popular choice because of its high fiber. Most of the time pumpkin will be found in packages of food for cats that are organic. This is because pumpkins are extremely healthy and can be very beneficial for a cat and their digestion.

 

 

 

Medications for Hairballs

If you are still concerned after trying some of the digestive diet suggestions, you can always turn to medications for hairballs. Simply put, untreated hairballs that are growing can cause ulcers, blisters, and other painful experiences for your cat that are very serious. This is why it is important to do what you can to help prevent this from happening. Take your cat to the vet if you are worried about the possibility of this happening. Like I previously stated in the article, it is much better to always air on the side of caution when it comes to your pets and animals that are a part of the family.

Parasites/Fleas Can Also Cause Hairballs

Chances are, you already have something for your cat that helps prevent fleas, ticks, and parasites. These little suckers can cause your cat to keep cleaning themselves way more than they normally do, which as you can imagine is going to mean a lot higher chance for a hairball. Your cat is at a much greater risk of having health problems related to a hairball if they have fleas, ticks, or parasites. You should seek medical attention for your cat if you already haven’t if you don’t have something for parasites and fleas. Your local vet can tell you which medications are the best for this. Remember, it is always better to be on the safe side and get this things taken care of ahead of time.

Stress Caused By Hairballs

It is crazy to think about, but your cats hairballs could end up causing them a great deal of stress. Most people don’t even consider something like this when they think about hairballs. But, it has been proven. When cats don’t receive enough attention or interaction, they get bored and begin to fall back on grooming. So, essentially if your cat is bored a lot, they are going to be grooming a lot. Then your cat will be over anxious to get the hairball out and it will become more stressed. This is why it is so crucial to seek out the advice of your local veterinarian should your cat fall under this category. How can you combat their boredom? The simple answer is play with them. Spending time with your cat and their toys will keep their spirits up and will keep them occupied so they have less time for grooming.

 Hair Loss Excessively

If you notice that your cat is starting to lose a crazy amount of hair compared to the normal amount or they are starting to bald in certain areas, this would also be a time to get the vet involved. This could be something simple or it could be something more serious. Thus why it is better to get the vet involved right off the bat. You can do yourself a favor by getting the facts straight before you go to the vet. They are going to ask you a few questions to help them narrow down what it could be. Answer them honestly and to the best of your ability. This could be crucial in their diagnosis. Irritations of the skin can be caused by a variety of things, and your vet can help you narrow down what is causing the hair loss with your cat’s situation.