Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Is there anything worse than being woken up from a deep sleep to the sound of your
retching a hairball onto your cashmere throw? Well, maybe there is... when you stumble out of bed in the dark, only to have the soggy mess squish between your bare toes.
fastidious groomers. In the process of preening themselves, they swallow a good share of hair. Since the hair is not digestible, once it’s in the digestive tract, it coalesces into a clump called a
tricho is Greek for hair, and
bezoar is a mass trapped in the digestive system).
While some hairballs pass through without incident, others can grow large enough to block the passage of food. This leads to irritation in the digestive tract, causing
constipation, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Eventually, what goes down will probably come back up. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the tubular-shaped culprit in the middle of the puddle. If not, you may be slapping down your credit card to pay for the surgical removal of the hairball at your local veterinary practice.
An occasional hairball is normal for a cat — and even tolerable for most owners. But if you start finding hairballs with more frequency, call your vet. Here are a few things that can sometimes curtail the problem:
Brush your cat daily to remove excess hair. More hair in the
brush means less hair on your cat (and your
Longhaired cats may also benefit from a trip to the
groomer every few months.
Choose a diet designed to reduce hairballs. Most
hairball formula diets have increased fiber to help keep things moving along. Increasing the moisture content of your cat’s diet is also helpful — you can either add more canned food or encourage more water drinking with a plug-in kitty drinking fountain.
Invest in commercial hairball remedies. Your veterinarian or your local pet store can provide you with a wide range of intestinal lubricants, usually made with petroleum jelly, in kitty-pleasing flavors like malt,
catnip. Some cats will lick it off your fingers or you can plant a dollop on your cat’s paw, so she can lick it off herself. You can even try a dab of white petroleum jelly, but most
cats prefer the flavored remedies.
Increase the fiber in your cat’s diet. Try adding a tablespoon of plain,
canned pumpkin or a teaspoon of psyllium to your cat’s food each day until the problem resolves itself, and continue to do so once or twice a week, as needed.
More on Vetstreet:
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Firefighters used structural collapse tools
and digging equipment to free a dog who
was trapped under concrete…
Your first instinct may be to aww at these
pictures. But each one in this slideshow is
actually very dangerous.…
If you're looking for a chatty feline who
tends to get along with everyone, then
you may want to consider a Siamese.
It's National Walk Your Dog Week, so
there's no better time to grab a leash and
take your favorite canine for a…
Our veterinary toxicologist reveals
common autumn hazards that you need
to be aware of as the weather gets cooler.
Get ready to cringe (and laugh). We
asked our readers to share their most
mortifying pet bathroom tales.
Don't let the Chartreux's quiet disposition fool you — he can outsmart windows and cabinet doors if he so desires.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.