Every once in a while you will hear the most disgusting sound coming from your lovely Persian cat. She will wake from one of her glorious naps, rise up on her paws, start convulsing for a minute or so, and spit up the most disgusting thing. Of course, we all know this to be a hairballs. A wad of undigested hair, a trichobezoar.
How can I prevent it?
The hairball low down
Regardless of the term hairball. Regurgitated hairballs are not usually round. They are normally slender and cylinder
like. Shaped more like a cigar or sausage than a ball.
A spit up hairball’s elongated shape is because of the esophagus (narrow food tube) it passes through. Now the hairballs we don’t see, the ones that are not disgorged, are indeed round. Waiting in the stomach like a sponge or pair of nasty socks you find in the burrows of the couch.
Spit up hairballs vary in size but most are between one and five inches long, and about an inch thick. The color is that of the cat’s coat, but darker because of the animals food and stomach acids and gasses. The hairball puke will have a smell but usually not enough to make it intolerable.
Hairballs: Why they develop
Hairballs are a normal process of kitty. As she grooms herself, she swallows loose hair. The rough surface of her tongue pushes the hair down her throat and into her stomach. Unfortunately, the main component of the hair is a tough insoluble protein call keratin. It’s indigestible. It cannot be broken down by stomach acids.
Most of the swallowed hair eventually passes through your cats digestive tract and gets excreted in the feces. However, some of it remains in the stomach and slowly accumulates into a clump. A hairball.
It’s pretty normal for a cat to regurgitate a hairball every week or so. As a cat owner, you really don’t need to worry about kitty. Now if the clump of hair grows too large to pass from either end or passes into the small intestine and becomes lodged. Different story. Go See your vet! This is not common but can be very serious, even fatal.
She’s trying but nothing
Your cat may need to see the vet if she has the following:
refuses to eat for more than a day or two
unproductive episodes of retching or real vomiting
It’s possible that the frequent hacking has nothing to do with hairballs at all. Another gastrointestinal or respiratory problem may be occurring, like asthma.
Intestinal blockages are determined by your vet performing a physical examination, blood work, x-rays and maybe even an ultrasound. If it is determined hairball is the problem the therapy involves the use of a laxative to move the hairball through the digestive tract.
Yes, laxatives may be effective in moving a stubborn hairball.
Never give your cat a laxative without approval and supervision of your vet.
There is no magic pill to prevent your cat from getting hairballs. The absolute best way is the tried and true method of brushing your cats coat on a daily basis. This removes the hair and your cat will ingest much much less when they are grooming themselves.