Maybe you've found them on the rug, behind furniture or even on the bed. Perhaps you've witnessed Kitty hacking up a hairball. It's not pretty, needless to say. Almost every cat suffers from hairballs at some point, but excessive hairball vomiting requires preventative measures or veterinary assistance.
A naturally clean animals, your cat grooms himself daily. During this process, she often swallows hair. Most of this loose hair passes through her digestive system, ending up in her feces. Hair that doesn't pass through collects in her stomach or small intestine. Eventually, she'll hack this hairball up. It seldom resembles a ball; it usually looks like hairy feces. It's not a charming thing to come upon, especially when walking around the house barefoot.
Older cats are more likely to develop hairballs than kittens and youngsters. The hairier the cat, the more likely she is to have hairballs. In shedding season, your cat is apt to cough up more of them. One side effect of having an especially fastidious kitty is increased hairball frequency.
Brush your cat's coat frequently. If she's long-haired, do it daily. You may want to spring for trips to the groomer for long-haired cats. Commercial hairball remedies, generally fish- or liver-flavored and petroleum-based, help keep things moving through kitty. Give her this product once or twice or week. If she won't lick it off your finger, place it on her paws and she'll lick it off. For cats with constant hairball issues, special hairball prevention foods are available.
Hairballs can cause serious problems in some cats. If your cat refuses to eat or is constipated, call the vet. If she constantly retches and nothing comes up, that is another reason for a vet visit. Hairballs sometimes pass into the intestine, causing a blockage. This is a red-alert situation, which may require surgery to save Kitty's life. If your cat vomits up hairballs several times a week or more, that could be a sign of various gastrointestinal diseases or even cancer.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.