Hairballs. Yuck. If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably come across one of these gifts from your feline at one point or another. While they aren’t the nicest to deal with (and clean up), no need to be concerned, this is completely normal behaviour for cats! However, if you do find your cat is getting continuously ill and vomiting frequently, then there may be an underlying issue, which could use veterinary attention.
Hairball Awareness Day is a day intended to shed light on the normalcy that is hairballs, but also to raise awareness that excessive hairballs may be a symptom of a bigger issue. A hairball is quite literally a ball of hair that has accumulated in the digestive tract from your cats normal grooming behaviour. Your cat will swallow some fur as they clean themselves and it will then make it’s way to the stomach. Most of the hair will exit the body through your cat’s feces, however some of it can remain in the stomach and cause your cat to vomit for its removal. Once again, occasional vomiting to remove hairballs is completely normal and you should not be worried. However if the vomiting is continuous or excessive, you should get a veterinary examination of your cat.
To help your cat with their hairball situation, you may be able to reduce them by brushing their fur regularly and removing any excess hair that could get ingested during their own grooming process. You may also be able to make alterations in their diet to help pass hairballs. Certain cat foods and types of diets have been found to prevent hairballs in some cats so it is worth doing your research. Your veterinarian may also be able to give you a product which helps the hairballs pass more easily through the feces.
If you think the vomiting is abnormal, or too frequent, then veterinary examination including blood and thyroid screening may be needed to help diagnose what may be wrong with your cat. Through these screenings, your veterinarian may be able to determine if there are issues coming from organs such as the kidneys or liver. In addition to these screenings, fecal examinations may also be required.
Don’t forget – spread the word on National Hairball Awareness Day to help bring awareness on the normal symptoms of hairballs, and what might not be so normal.