Hairball WoesPublished August 20, 2008
Once you know that distinctive sound of a cat trying to rid itself of a hairball, you also know that it can hardly be mistaken for anything else.. The second my ear becomes attuned to the familiar racket, I am on it like white on rice, armed with a moist paper towel or two, hunting down that nasty looking, partially digested or undigested tightly packed material hurled somewhere on the carpet or furniture. While we usually refer to them as hairballs, technically they are called trichobezoars. Tricho refers to hair; a bezoar (meaning a rock) refers to those hard substances coughed up ending somewhere around the house. For cat lovers who share your heart and home with felines, more likely than not you already are familiar with what a hairball looks like and how they are made. For those new to cats, hairballs are formed as the cat grooms himself and of course, ingesting its indigestible fur. While the feline's digestive system is designed to handle its own hair, and the hair of prey animals, with an overload of fur, the lining of the intestine becomes irritated. While most of the time the hair passes harmlessly out the other end, however, if hair builds up inside the cat's tummy and is not easily expelled, cats will generally cough up the offending material. Occasionally hairballs may cause a dangerous intestinal blockage, which needs immediate veterinary intervention. If your cat is vomiting up hairballs more often than twice a month, it is prudent to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any other medical condition that may resemble hairball hacking. Coughing without producing hairballs may be a sign of feline asthma and frequent vomiting should always be reported to your veterinarian. It is a good idea to discuss hairball prevention with your vet. Daily combing and brushing will of course help eliminate much of that excess fur, especially during shedding seasons. Discuss the pros and cons of adding fiber to your cat's diet with your veterinarian. Fiber rich foods and supplements are designed to assist the passage of hair through the intestinal tract more easily. There are many excellent products on the market also which help to lubricate the digestive tract to facilitate hairballs passing through the stool. Is your cat prone to hairballs? What is your treatment of choice? Leave a comment and share your suggestions.