By: | | Cats

It’s the only sound that will jolt you up from a dead sleep. That heh.. heh… heh.. just before the dreaded AAACK all over your carpet… or your bed.

Trichobezoar is the medical term for a hairball, and may also accurately describe that disturbing sound. Hairballs not uncommon in domestic cats, especially those with long coats. Here’s all you need to learn about them, and a little more than that.

a hairball
A hairball isn’t actually round. It’s usually tubular, shaped somewhat like your cat’s esophagus. It’s made up of mostly hair and may be cemented with a glob of partially digested food or bile.

Why Cats Get Hairballs

Despite the messes they make in your home, your cat is a hygienic creature. They use their tongue to groom themselves.  Any fur shed in the process is propelled into their stomach by the hook-like textures on their tongue.

Normally, the hair can safely pass all the way through your cat’s digestive tract. Hair is not digestible, so some may stay in your cat’s stomach. Obsessive grooming or shedding season may cause your cat’s stomach to take on more hair than it can pass. That fur forms a hairball that must leave your cat through the nearest exit.

When Hairballs Are a Cause for Concern

If your cat is puking up hairballs just a few times each month, it’s probably not a cause for concern. Even so, be sure to take your cat to the vet for a checkup at least once a year or if you’re not sure if your cat’s hairball production is normal.

You should take your cat to the vet if they’re hacking without bringing anything up; this could be a sign of feline asthma. Frequent vomiting may be a sign of a more serious gastrointestinal issue, especially if your cat is refusing to eat.

How to Reduce Hairballs

In an otherwise healthy cat, minor dietary changes can help them more easily pass hairballs. Special hairball-reducing cat foods may contain ingredients that lubricate your cat’s intestines and/or extra fiber to aid digestion.

You can add fiber to your cat’s existing diet by supplementing with pure canned pumpkin. Make sure it does not contain pumpkin pie spices, just pure pumpkin purée. A teaspoon daily per 5 pounds of weight should help move things along.

A tiny amount of krill oil, olive oil or salmon oil can gently lubricate your cat’s digestive system so hairballs slide through them.

Too much oil or fiber can upset your cat’s stomach. Start with tiny amounts and watch your cat closely for improvement.

You can also reduce hairballs by preventing your cat from swallowing the fur in the first place. Brush your cat more often to control shedding. Spring is shedding season, and, consequently, hairball season. Be sure to groom your cat more frequently as the weather gets warmer to help remove their winter coat.

Ready Pet Go Knows Cats!

Maryland and DC cats love the pet sitters at Ready Pet Go. We love them right back! Get in touch to learn more about our professional pet care services. Set up a Meet & Greet by contacting us online or give us a call at 240-221-5335.