Get ready to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the ever-present hairball!
When your feline friend assumes an arched pose and begins retching, it can be concerning. Unfortunately, this process of regurgitating a hairball happens to most cats once in a while.
Will My Cat Get Hairballs?
Long-hair breeds such as Maine Coons and Persians are most apt to create trichobezoars, the official name for the moist, oblong wads of fur that cats cough up, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Adult and senior cats cough up hairballs more often than kittens and young cats. They pride themselves on looking good and groom more often than their younger counterparts. During the changing seasons, when your pet sheds more frequently, expect the number of hairballs you may find around the house to increase.
The Grooming Process Revealed
Is this less-than-adorable cat function normal? Yes. We all know how much cats love to primp, preen, and lick their fur until it shines.
When cats use their tongues to smooth the fur, the rough-textured surface of the tongue pulls the loose hair out, which cats then swallow. Since cat fur is made of indigestible keratin, the fur must leave the cat's body. Some is excreted in the litter box, while the rest collects in the cat's stomach forming a small ball of hair.
Anatomy of a Hairball
If you've ever been curious about the contents of those little balls of fur, today's your lucky day! The tightly wound mass of fur is compounded with food particulate, mucus, and gastric secretions, which may give the hairball a slightly foul odor.
While most hairballs are simply coughed up, some can cause blockages in the cat's esophagus or intestines, according to veterinarian Jeff Johansson from the Regional Emergency Care Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Vomiting, excessive gagging, increased salivation, loss of appetite, an increase in respiratory rate, or reduced defecation warrants a call to your veterinarian.
Cat Care Tips
Keep hairballs to a minimum by brushing your cat regularly to remove loose, shedding fur. Hairball remedies are also available to help the hair pass through your cat's gastrointestinal track. Ask your veterinarian if one of these remedies would be beneficial for your feline friend.
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