The last Friday of April is Hairball Awareness Day. While cat owners know that hairballs are a part of the package for their feline friends, it’s essential to know when hairballs might indicate a serious issue.

Small piles of vomit mixed with fur are often mistaken for hairballs, so owners aren’t concerned about a possible underlying problem. But, serious medical issues can cause excessive hacking and regurgitating of fur, including:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Fleas
  • Allergies
  • Pain
  • Intestinal blockage

If your cat is grooming herself more than usual, she may have a flea problem, arthritis pain, or food or environmental allergies. As your cat ingests excessive amounts of hair, some may not pass through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and form into a hairball. The hairball will continue to grow and can become lodged in the intestines, which may require surgical removal, or laxative treatment, to coax out the hairball. Emergency care is needed if your cat is lethargic, refusing to eat, retching without producing anything, or vomiting.

How to prevent hairballs in your cat

Armed with the understanding that hairball accumulation can be severe in cats, here are some ways to reduce hairball formation:

  • Encourage your cat to drink more water to help keep the GI tract functioning properly.
  • Consider professional grooming for your cat to reduce shedding.
  • Play frequently with your cat, to reduce boredom and stress-related grooming.
  • Brush your cat regularly, as often as daily for long-haired cats.
  • Amp up your grooming routine during the shedding season.
  • Talk to our team about supplements, treats, and diets that may help your cat.

The most dedicated cat owners may not be able to eliminate hairball development, especially in long-haired breeds, but following these tips can greatly reduce your cat’s risk.

If you’re concerned about your feline friend or have any questions, contact us for help.