Cats and Hairballs: The Carpet Cleaners Best Friend
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
You just got home from a long day at work. It’s time to kick off the shoes and make some dinner. Over the sound of the bubbling water on the stove, you hear a distant, yet disconcerting sound. You realize what it is and rush into the living room. You and kitty lock eyes as she sits on the new couch making all kinds of contortionist movements and sounds. You try to do something but it’s too late. The hairball train has left the station and you are just left to helplessly stand by and let it happen...
Ah, the hairball. For any cat owner, this feline ritual has happened to us all. Why does your cat do such a gross thing anyway? In this blog, we will cover the dreaded hairball, what it is and what can be done to help our pets through it.
What Is a Hairball Anyway?
Ironically, the disgusting thing known as a cat hairball is actually the result of your pet’s fastidious need to be well groomed. Because they don’t have a comb and brush, cats have to lick themselves as they groom. The tongue of a cat has an abrasive like surface that can easily collect hair as the grooming process ensues. Instead of putting the collected hair in a nice, neat pile, the cat swallows it.
A cat hairball will normally pass through the animal with little effort, but if the hair remains in the stomach, it can create a problem and will be vomited up. Although kitty is feeling better, the ejected cat hairball is very unpleasant to clean up after and can damage carpet or fabric.
What To Know
While cats and hairballs are a normal part of a pet owner’s life, there are some things that you need to know. First, cat hairball management varies from pet to pet. Some cats will get rid of hairballs without any issues, while others may need some help to avoid an eventual GI obstruction.
Here are some ways you can help with regard to cats and hairballs if getting rid of them doesn’t come easy for your animal. There are some treatments you can give that will help a cat cough up a hairball.
- Cat Laxative/Daily Hairball Maintenance Supplements – These products are designed to lubricate the cat’s GI tract so they can pass the hairballs much more easily. There are both prescription strength laxatives that are obtained through your vet as well as daily supplements that can be found over the counter. Consult with your vet to determine which is the best option for your cat.
- Cat Food with Additives – There are some cat foods that have an added formula that can help the animal with the hairball process.
Cats and hairballs are normal and most pets can handle them on their own. However, some cats have problems, so it’s important to keep an eye out if hairballs cause your cat any difficulties. If you notice that your cat is engaged in excessive vomiting or is exhibiting other difficulties while trying to get rid of a hairball, be sure to consult your vet about it. When figuring out how to help a cat cough up a hairball, your vet will be your best resource.