The last Friday in April is National Hairball Awareness Day. How many times a month do we wake up or come home to a surprise hairball on the nicely cleaned white carpet? Ask any cat owner and they will gladly tell you.
Cats are avid groomers and like to keep themselves in tip top shape. They spend a lot of their lifetime removing old hair, surface dirt or foreign bodies from their themselves or other cats. They have rough tongues and any loose or dead hair will get caught on it as they groom themselves. That hair is then swallowed. Most of the hair will go through their stomach and intestines and make it into the litter box in their bowel movements. Some cats ingest more hair than others. If there is an excessive amount of built up hair, it will often form a ball in the stomach and won’t be able to pass through into the small intestines. This “hairball” is then regurgitated or vomited back up (and often left for us to find on the freshly cleaned pillow case or carpet or just in the middle of the floor when guests are set to arrive!).
Brushing your cat daily can help relieve hairball issues. Also making sure that your cat is not over grooming themselves can reduce the accumulation of hairballs in your cats stomach. Over grooming can occur when your cat is stressed, experiencing pain or depressed. The hairballs that do make it into the small intestine can sometimes move very slowly through the cat’s body and cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or anorexia. There are laxative supplements to give your cat to help keep things moving through the gastrointestinal tract normally. Your cat may also need a diet change to improve their bowel movement quality or improve their skin and hair coat. If you feel that your cat is having issues with hairballs, please contact your veterinarian.
Happy hairball day to you and your furry ones! Below are some pictures of our long haired clinic cat, Celine, grooming her paw this morning (we unfortunately didn’t get a photo of the enormous hairball she vomited up the other day, sorry!):