Cats are often dainty, graceful and elegant creatures -- except when they're loudly hacking and retching out massive hairballs, of course. Hairballs are not only unpleasant to see and hear, they also sometimes -- although rarely -- can lead to potentially dangerous intestinal blockage in your precious pet.
Intestinal Blockage Danger
A normal hairball becomes problematic when it grows too large to travel successfully through the cat's digestive tract. When this occurs, instead of leaving your cat's body via her mouth, the hairball is basically stuck and her intestines become obstructed. Without veterinary intervention, the problem can be fatal, as it can lead to life-threatening constipation. In these severe cases, veterinarians usually perform emergency surgery to remove the offending hairball. Because of the possibility of danger, never ignore any unusual or severe signs relating to this issue.
Cats have a reputation for being independent and cool creatures, but that certainly doesn't mean they don't experience stress and anxiety, especially when it comes to major lifestyle changes. When cats are especially anxious and stressed out, they have a tendency to pull out large masses of their hair, and sometimes even eat them. This, unsurprisingly, contributes to the formation of a large and overwhelming hairball in your cat's belly -- one that very likely could cause digestive obstruction.
If your cat is obsessive and meticulous about grooming, that is wonderful, but it can also have its downsides. When cats groom too much, they increase their chances of accidentally swallowing their fur. It's simple math -- the more time a cat puts into grooming, the more dead hair she accidentally ingests. When your cat swallows a large quantity of fur, her hairball becomes bigger. Especially large hairballs can lead to uncomfortable and potentially harmful intestinal obstruction -- yikes.
If you're worried that your poor kitty may be suffering from intestinal blockage, waste no time in seeking emergency veterinary attention for her. The condition can be very dangerous. Look out for telltale signs of obstruction, including exhaustion, throwing up, appetite loss, stomachache, constipation and dehydration. The sooner you get your pet to the vet, the sooner you can figure out exactly what is ailing the little dear.
Thankfully, you can help prevent hairball problems in a couple of very easy and inexpensive ways. Firstly, help your pet out with her grooming regimen. Yes, cats are indeed immaculately clean creatures, but that doesn't mean that they don't sometimes need human help. If you regularly brush your cat's coat, you help her get rid of loose hairs. The less loose hair she has floating around, the less fur she can accidentally swallow. Voila -- less hairballs, and less chance of scary intestinal obstruction. Another option is getting your kitty another hobby. If grooming seems to be her main gig, perhaps set up a comfy perch in your living room so she can look out the window at all of the pretty chirping birds. Maybe even buy her some interactive toys -- think laser pointers and motorized toy mice. Whatever you can do to minimize her excessive time spent grooming is a good thing!
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.