Health & Nutrition | Cats | April 24, 2015

National hairball awareness day – last Friday in april

A cat sleeping in blankets

Yes, it’s true. There is such a thing as National Hairball Awareness Day. It may sound funny, but it gives us the opportunity to talk about cat hairballs and their prevention.

What are hairballs and how are they formed?
Cats groom themselves incessantly, and because their tongues are so rough, they naturally ingest some of their hair in the process. Most of the hair will pass though the intestinal tract, but some remains in the stomach. Over time, a hairball develops as the hair becomes dampened by digestive fluids. Hair which is not eliminated through the digestive tract may be regurgitated as a tightly wound sausage-shaped lump of compressed hair. Yuck!

Do hairballs pose a threat to my cat’s health?
An occasional hairball is not normally a cause for worry. But a responsible and observant owner will be able to tell whether their cat’s hairballs are routine or a cause for concern. Seek help from your veterinarian if your cat displays any of these symptoms:

  • Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching or hacking without producing a hairball
  •  Lack of appetite
  •  Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

What’s the cure?
The best cure for hairballs is prevention. Here are a few tips to help your kitty avoid those icky, unpleasant hairballs:

  •  Brush your cat daily, especially long haired cats. There are a variety of combs and brushes made especially to help rid cats of excess hair which could otherwise end up being ingested.
  • If you feed a dry food, feed one with a good fibre blend to encourage more regular and frequent elimination. NOW FRESH Cat is a good place to start.
  • Provide cat grass for your cat. Usually available in containers suitable for indoor use, cats know instinctively when they need to eat grass to increase their fibre intake and get their digestive system moving.
  •  Increase exercise. Another way to get your cat’s digestive system moving.

Hairballs are a fact of life for most cats at some point in their lives. But with keen observation and preventive measures in place, your hairball encounters will be minimized and your cat will thank you with cuddles and purrs.