Yes, today really is Hairball Awareness Day. As all cat owners know, hairballs happen. They’re usually normal and nothing to worry about, but sometimes they’re an important warning sign of a potential problem.
First, the normal scenario: As a cat grooms, dead hair is ingested. Most passes right through the digestive tract to the other end, but occasionally some remains in the stomach and becomes an irritant, triggering the cat to vomit a hairball.
While occasional hairballs are normal, frequent hairballs may mean something else is wrong. Contact us if your cat throws up more than one or two hairballs each month, and especially if the frequency suddenly changes.
Hairballs can occasionally lead to severe medical problems
. If a large hairball passes into the intestines, a blockage could occur that can become life-threatening. Signs of a problem include loss of appetite, unproductive retching, inability to defecate, diarrhea or a swollen abdomen.
You can minimize hairballs with regular grooming. Short-hair cats are just as prone to hairballs, so groom them, too. Some specialty cat foods contain high fiber and other nutrients that can help as well. Talk to us about the best course of action if your cat has a chronic hairball problem.