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Your Hairball FAQs

Hairballs—they’re one of the most unsightly parts of owning a feline friend! You may have seen your cat cough up a hairball before, but how much do you know about this aspect of your cat’s behavior and care? Learn more here from a Las Vegas, NV veterinarian as we answer your hairball FAQs.

Why Do Hairballs Happen in the First Place?

When a cat grooms herself, tiny barbs lining the tongue pick up loose hair throughout the coat. This hair gets swallowed, and most of it moves through the digestive system naturally and eventually gets expelled in the fecal matter. However, some hair remains in the gut and clumps together. This “ball” is eventually regurgitated, although hairballs are most typically tubular in shape since they’ve just passed through your cat’s esophagus.

Are Hairballs Harmful in Any Way?

No, the occasional hairball is not harmful for your cat and is simply a normal part of life. With that being said, it’s important to have your cat examined by your veterinarian if she’s coughing up hairballs frequently. Something could be causing your cat to ingest more hair, or she could have a digestive issue, and you’ll want to have these problems addressed.

If you see your cat gagging and retching, but not actually producing a hairball, rush her to the vet’s office. She might be choking! Finally, it’s important to remember that vomiting and producing a hairball are two very different things—cats who are vomiting frequently should be examined at the vet’s office right away.

Can I Help My Cat Cough Up Hairballs Less Often?

Yes, there are a few simple steps you can take to help your cat produce fewer hairballs. That keeps her more comfortable, and it saves you a mess to clean up! The first step is to feed your cat a great diet; when Fluffy receives the proper nutrients, the skin and hair follicles stay healthy and result in a moisturized coat of fur that doesn’t shed as much. Another important step is to brush your cat yourself, as this traps a lot of your pet’s loose fur in the brush itself and stops her from swallowing it in the first place.

Would you like more information on your cat’s grooming needs or nutritional requirements? Want to learn more about hairballs in cats? We’re here to help. Make an appointment with your Las Vegas, NV vet.

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