Helping Your Cat Through Hairballs
Hairballs- most cats get them, we've yet to meet a pet owner that likes them. April 28th is Hairball Awareness Day and since most cat owners struggle with preventing and/or treating them, we thought we'd help out by giving cat owners some information to help prevent and treat this frustrating occurrence.
Let's start with the basics- What causes hairballs? Cats are fastidious about grooming themselves, which is why we don't generally need to bathe our cats unless there is another issue, such as fleas. If you've ever been licked by a cat, you have felt the little hook-like structures that feel like sandpaper on your skin. These structures are designed to catch the loose hair when your cat is grooming. Most of this hair simply goes through the digestive tract with no issue. However, sometimes it gets caught in the upper digestive tract and forms a ball, which is what the cat will usually dispel through vomiting. You can win on Jeopardy by knowing the medical term for what comes out of your pet's mouth after all that retching- a "trichobezoar." Try to say that ten times fast.
Let's talk about symptoms. Most of us have seen our cat hack up a hairball. It typically consists of coughing, gagging and sometimes heaving, followed by vomiting up a tube-like mess of hair and bile. Not a pleasant thing for us to watch or for our pets to endure. Simple hairballs that are vomited up are unpleasant, but not life-threatening. However, if any of the following symptoms continue for more than 24 hours, please contact your veterinarian, as there could be a potentially life threatening blockage occurring: continuous gagging and heaving as if attempting to dispel a hairball with no hairball coming out, constipation, and lack of appetite and/or bowel problems (recurring constipation or diarrhea). The occasional hairball is a pretty normal occurrence, however if your feline has a chronic hairball problem, you may want to talk with your veterinarian, as it could be a symptom of another underlying issue in your pet's gastrointestinal tract or with his or her skin.
So how can we prevent hairballs? There are several different ways to minimize the chance of your cat getting a hairball. Brushing your cat regularly is the easiest way to prevent hairballs. This can be especially important if you have a long-haired feline friend. Also discouraging over-grooming is helpful. You can do this by distracting kitty with play time or cuddles when you notice they’re compulsively cleaning themselves. If this just isn't cutting it, you may want to try either a specific hairball-reducing food or, in more severe cases, a hairball product, such as Pet Naturals of Vermont Hairball Treats or NaturVet Natural Hairball Aid, sold at Loyal Biscuit Co.
The best way to prevent hairballs is to feed your cat a biologically-appropriate diet. As you've surely heard our teams members say- raw is best, canned is next. Feeding a nutritionally balanced diet that is high in moisture allows your cat to better absorb vitamins and minerals, which will reduce shedding, resulting in fewer hairballs. Of course there are several other benefits to feeding your cat the proper diet, such as more energy, less propensity for weight problems, and improved digestion. Ask one of our team members at Loyal Biscuit Company about how we can find the right solutions for your faithful feline friend! We are here to support your pets comfort and health right alongside you!