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Understanding Fluffy’s Hairballs

January 15, 2021

Have you ever watched your cat cough up a hairball? It’s not exactly pleasant. But are hairballs harmful in any way to your cat? And are there ways you can help Fluffy cough up fewer hairballs? Read on as your Coral Springs, FL veterinarian discusses your cat’s hairballs. 


Why do hairballs happen in the first place? 

Your cat grooms herself quite often, as you know. She swallows a lot of loose hair from the coat, and most of that hair travels through the digestive tract normally and gets expelled in the fecal matter. Some hair, however, stays in the gut and clumps together over time, forming a hairball. Eventually, it gets expelled, along with a bit of stomach fluid in most cases. 


Note that hairballs, contrary to their name, are usually more tube-shaped than round. That’s because it’s just passed through your cat’s narrow esophagus before being expelled.


Are hairballs harmful to my cat?

The occasional hairball is a perfectly normal part of life for your feline friend, unpleasant as it may seem. If you find a hairball every now and then, it’s really nothing to be concerned about.


It’s when hairball production becomes frequent that you’ll want to check in with your veterinarian. Something might be causing Fluffy to groom herself more than she should, therefore swallowing more hair and producing more hairballs. And it’s important to note that vomiting is not the same as coughing up hairballs—if your cat is vomiting frequently, it’s time to call the vet.


Can I help my cat have fewer hairballs? 

If your cat is one to produce a lot of hairballs, ask your veterinarian about a hairball-formula diet. This type of food is specially formulated to help hair pass through the digestive tract more easily. And don’t forget to ask your vet for tips on transitioning your pet to a new diet, and be sure to check that the portion size you’re feeding Fluffy is right for her size and age. 


Brushing your cat on a regular basis is another key way to help her experience fewer hairballs. You’ll trap a lot of loose hair in the brush itself, meaning that your cat swallows less. That means fewer hairballs in the long run. 


Do you have questions about your cat’s care needs or grooming routine? We can help with that. Get in touch with your Coral Springs, FL veterinary clinic right away.

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