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Hairballs in Cats: Everything you Should Know

 
By Olivia Grisham, Journalist specialized in animal care. Updated: June 28, 2018
Hairballs in Cats: Everything you Should Know

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One of the most common characteristics of cats is their high level of cleanliness, as they are animals who groom frequently, use a litter box to do their business, cannot stand it being dirty and we must only be bathed on very rare occasions.

But to maintain such cleaning standards without any help at all has its price, those feared hairballs can become a serious health problem for our cats if they can not be expelled, which is why a cat will need our help and aid in order to avoid this condition.

In AnimalWised you will learn everything you need to know about hairballs in cats so you can help your cat stay healthy.

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Why does my cat swallows so much hair?

Cats spend a lot of time grooming in order to keep their fur clean and in good condition, a task that can be achieved easily thanks to their special tongue that has small spines that allow them to drag all the fur that they shed effectively. The problem is that the animal is not capable of spitting that hair once they drag it with their tongue, which is why they don't have another alternative rather that swallowing it.

When fur accumulates in excessively in the animal's stomach, they will make the effort by vomiting, thus discarding the hairball. It is a serious problem that has its causes in lack of brushing and even diseases associated with the skin and fur.

However sometimes they will not be able to successfully vomit the hair ball as it remains locked in the intestine causing severe constipation and precluding their elimination. It is here when it is important to opt for home remedies to help them get rid of the hairball, however if the animal fails we will have to go to an emergency vet.

Hairballs in Cats: Everything you Should Know - Why does my cat swallows so much hair?

The climate and the cat's fur

Although the cat grooms during the whole year, it is during molting season, which is in spring and autumn, when our feline loses more hair, which is why these times of the year prove a greater risk of hairballs becoming a problem for your cat.

During these seasons, it is important to be very attentive to our animal's behavior, to watch if they eat, if they go to the toilet normally and if they are in a good mood. You should also help them as much as you can to avoidhair buildup in their stomach as much as possible by following some suggestions we will give you in the following steps. But how to know if a cat can't cough up a hairball? Here are the symptoms of this condition.

Symptoms of a stuck hairball in cats

Generally, cats expel hairballs through stool and in very serious cases by vomiting. A safe way to allow your cat to purge without risks is acquiring a plant known as catnip, or catnip herb, which will help them get rid of hairballs when they need it and will also go crazy for it too.

But in occasions the animal simply can not cough up a hairball because it is stuck in their intestine causing intestinal blockage, in this case you will notice symptoms such as:

  • Decay and apathy
  • Frequent gagging
  • Coughing up
  • Vomiting while expelling fluid and food
  • Constipation

If these symptoms continue for more than two days it is essential to take the cat to a veterinarian for a check up and diagnosis.

Hairballs in Cats: Everything you Should Know - Symptoms of a stuck hairball in cats

Prevent hairballs in cats

Although grooming is part of the natural behavior of cats and cannot and must be prevented, as owners can help our animal to prevent hairballs, particularly during their molting stages.

Therefore, it is very important to brush the cat on a daily basis, a task that will help eliminate largely the hairs that fall and prevent that the cat should swallow them all, especially if they are long-haired cats, as they are more prone to hairballs. It is recommended begin this routine during a cat's childhood, but if your pet is already an adult it may be a little more difficult for them to get used to the brush but you will eventually do it, because combing will relax the cat as much as the feeling they get when you are petting them. For this task you will have to purchase a special comb suitable for your pet's type of fur, which are sold in any pet shop.

Our cat brushing is essential if their fur is long or if it is an old aged cat, because during this stage the animal does not have the same energy to groom themselves so effectively.

Hairballs in Cats: Everything you Should Know - Prevent hairballs in cats

How to help a cat cough up a hairball

If you notice that your cat regurgitates, is down and vomits without expelling hairballs successfully, you should help them in this task. In addition to catnip, which as we have explained above is of great help for the animal, you can also help them cough up a hairball with these options:

  • Spread a little petroleum jelly on the animal's leg, due to its great capacity for cleaning your cat will begin to lick the area within a few minutes by removing and swallowing the Vaseline, which will help facilitate the expulsion, decreasing constipation due to the fat content in this product.
  • If you don't have Vaseline in hand you can also rub butter or malt, equally effective solutions.
  • Valerian is another of the plants that we can have at home to help our cat to purge effectively, if the animal need not hesitate to bite her to relieve his discomfort.
  • You can also help your cat vomit with these tricks we show you in the following article.

Make sure you take your cat to the vet if none of the methods mentioned above work.

Hairballs in Cats: Everything you Should Know - How to help a cat cough up a hairball

If you want to read similar articles to Hairballs in Cats: Everything you Should Know, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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