Helping Your Cat Deal with Hairballs

By Phil / October 29, 2015
Helping Your Cat Deal with Hairballs

As cat owners, we have all seen our cat throwing up a hairball. It’s not a pleasant sight, and it can be a real pain to clean up.

It can be distressing for new cat owners, as it looks like some cats are in pain. But, unfortunately, it’s a completely normal act for a cat. It is their natural bodily reaction to having too much fur in their stomach.

All cats will throw up a furball, unless of course they are hairless – like the Sphynx. While I wouldn’t suggest you do anything other than clean up the mess in most cases. It’s good to be fully aware of why, when, and what’s going on.

If your cat is showing signs of being uncomfortable, throwing up hairballs more often, wheezing, or any other health issues. You need to consult a veterinarian immediately.

In this article I will explain more about why cats produce furballs, how it can become a problem, and everything else you need to know.

Helping Your Cat Deal with Hairballs

How and Why to Cats Throw up Hairballs?

Cats are clean animals, as a result they spend a lot of time grooming. By grooming, this means using their tongue to stroke through their fur cleaning up and dirt and grease.

Sounds a little horrible to us, but it’s how cats have evolved to become the clean and healthy animals we see today.

Thier tongues have lots of little comb like grooves, making for the perfect cleaning tool. It’s a fascinating and interesting tool when you think about it.

As they clean, the hairs are ingested into their stomachs. Hair is a very coarse substance, and will not break down. So for the safety of the cat, it needs to be brought up.

Some will pass through naturally, not most of it will not. It becomes a ball of saliva infused fur, and will eventually be brought up and thrown up.

Some cats eat grass to help the process, as grass helps form a ball that will pass smoothly. I must reaffirm though, it’s a completely natural process, and essential to the wellbeing of the cat.

Do Some Cats Bring up More Furballs than Others?

Without studying cats to see exactly how many they bring up, being as there will be some differences. Within the same breed, it’s safe to assume all those cats will be about the same.

Some breeds will cough up more than others though. It’s probably obvious, but longer furred cats will bring up more hairballs. Because they are ingesting more hair from grooming.

Longhaired breeds like Ragdolls and Persians ingest more fur. Not to the point of it becoming a frequent occurrence however, so don’t let this influence your decision on whether to get one or not.

Can Hairballs Become a Problem?

As I discussed above, hairballs are completely normal. So, although the first time you see your cat throwing up may be a bit weird, there is nothing to be worried about.

However, on occasion it can become a problem. If there is a blockage for some reason, cats start to form a blockage.

You will first notice this when your cat stops eating properly, and is being lethargic and moody. Because their stomach and intestines are becoming blocked. As you can image, this is extremely painful.

It can cause dry coughing, heaving, and laboured breathing, as well as constipation. It’s important to take your cat to a vet if you think this may be happening.

An x-ray will show the blockage. Then the appropriate action can be recommended. Sometimes some medication can loosen and move the blockage. Other instances, an operation is necessary.

As part of your normal care and attention for your cat. Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms. But, don’t be worried, it’s not a common problem.

Preventing and Managing Hairballs

There is no way to stop your cat throwing up hairballs. They will always ingest hair as part of their natural grooming routine.

You can however give your kitty a little help. Brushing them yourself to pick up a lot of loose hairs is a massive help.

Giving your cat access to a grassy area to graze is another way to help. I discussed the benefits of eating grass, and ways you can help indoor cats.

If your cat continually has problems with hairballs, there are some treatments your vet can recommend. Feeding your cat specific hairball friendly food helps too.

So there are a few things you can do to keep your cat happy and healthy. When you see that first furball coming up, you no longer need to be freaked out.

Panic not. It’s good for your cat, and it means they are removing a potential blockage. Enjoy the cleaning up!