Is it normal for a cat to throw up hairballs? If you think your cat’s hairball ejection is a normal aspect of his life, think again. It may be common amongst felines but it is not part of their usual digestive functions. A cat’s digestive tract can take in a certain amount of fur and pass it through faeces without a problem. But if too much hair is ingested, the other alternative, regurgitating, will be used.
What’s a cat’s hairball?
Felines have tongues that are full of small spikes that brush against their fur when they groom themselves. These natural ‘bristles’ on their tongue catch the loose hair and eventually get ingested. As mentioned, some of the fur may be expelled through bowel movement. But some of it stays in the stomach, accumulating over time until it becomes a bigger mass of knotted fur. This is because fur is not digestible. This firm, hard mass is the hairball and is usually tubular in shape rather than round. It also has a darker hue and may also be part of a cat’s vomit.
Why are trichobezoars not normal?
The scientific term for hairball is derived from the Greek word for ‘hair’ (trich) and Persian term for ‘antidote’ (bezoar). Such furry masses are not normal, according to feline veterinarian Dr. Jane Brunt, especially if it happens more than twice a year.
‘The cat has developed a digestive tract that can handle normal amounts of fur without a problem,’ she explained. ‘Even long-haired cats should not develop more than one or two hairballs a year.’
Are hairballs fatal to cats?
Generally, the accumulated fur in a kitty’s stomach is not life-threatening. But it can compromise his health and survival when the hairball becomes very compact and big enough to block intestinal passages. There have been cases of cats feeling very weak and unable to eat because of this.
What are the cat hairball symptoms?
If your cat expels hairballs more than average or has an unusually hairy poop, she may have an underlying health issue. As such, he should be checked by a veterinarian. The vet may take X-rays, ultrasounds, or blood tests to confirm whether a hairy blockage is the culprit or some other condition. If the furball is considerably large, a surgical procedure may be conducted to remove it.
How can I help my cat pass a hairball?
When your furry friend does attempt to cough up a mass, the effort should normally take 2–3 attempts. If your pet keeps retching without successfully ejecting the furry ball, help him by giving some lubrication. A teaspoon of olive oil mixed in a bit of cat food, for example, may help. You may hold it up to his mouth and just let him lick it instead of pushing it in. Another alternative is a feline laxative.
What do I do if the hairball is stuck in my pet’s digestive tract?
If all or most of the symptoms are present and your pet is still unable to expel the mass after numerous tries, call your vet.
What are the natural hairball remedies for cats?
There are natural home remedies you can use to help a hairball-prone cat to make the expulsion process a smoother one. These natural remedies are as follows:
This is a natural laxative that will help boost the fibre content in your feline friend’s diet. This helps sweep away hairballs from his system more easily. Warning: never use pumpkin pie filling as this may contain other ingredients harmful for cats. Instead, go for whole, organic pumpkin.
Adding a teaspoon on your pet’s food every now and then helps make passing the trapped furball easier. Avoid giving this if your furry buddy is overweight though.
This will also help lubricate your cat’s digestive tract and loosen hairballs. Mix a small amount in your feline companion’s food.
Add half a teaspoon of this to water and pour into the pet’s food twice a day. It will help push furballs through the intestines.
What can I do to prevent cat furballs?
To keep the hairball phenomenon to a minimum, do the following:
- Regularly brush your pet’s coat to take out loose hair. This will help reduce the amount of fur ingested when your cat grooms himself. Do this daily if your feline is long-haired or when the seasons are changing.
- Feed your pet a high-fibre diet to help the digestive tract function normally and help expel the extra fur with it. Avoid feeding grain-based food though.
- Ensure that your kitty’s diet is moisture-rich to help lubricate the digestive process and prevent congestion or accumulation of fur.
- Observe whether your pet is overgrooming. Some signs involve patchy coat and a change in daily habits due to the abnormal fixation on grooming. Distract your furry pal with toys or playtime to help correct the overlicking.
Have you any tips on resolving a cat’s hairball issues? Tell us in the comments below! Or you can check out more cat care tips!