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Hairball problem?

April 30, 2014
(CatDancing photo)

(CatDancing photo)

Today is Hairball Awareness Day! We all know that cats produce hairballs from time to time, but have you ever really thought about why? What is a hairball, anyway?

Cats love to groom themselves and they do a very good job of it. But, wait, they use their tongues to groom don’t they? Of course, some hair does get carried down the digestive tract after it gets attached to the tongue. The hair then has two choices within the cat’s digestive system. First, the hair can be passed out in the stool. Second, the hair may begin to pile up within the upper portion of the digestive tract, including the stomach. This may cause irritation. Since the bundle of hair fibers clearly does not belong, the cat regurgitates the bundle of hair up. So cats do not “cough up” hairballs because the hair does not get stuck in their lungs, but they do vomit the hairballs.

Hairballs are normal and occur in more than half of cats around the world, but they do not happen that often. A hairball might make an appearance twice a year or maybe even once a month, but anymore than that might cause some concern. If a hairball gets too big, for example, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Cat vomiting is not always associated with simple hair build up. Cat vomiting may be associated with a change in diet, eating grass, spoiled food, intestinal parasites, diabetes, kidney or thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Always check with your veterinarian if you feel that something is different with your cat, hairball or not, OK?

– By Taylor Crampton

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