Webvet

Webvet

Social Media Icons

Follow Us:

Main Content

Cat Hairballs

Twitter Stumbleupon Mixx it! Print Email icon
Pin It
If you enjoy this article,
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.
2320081215164744catfeature

Cat hairballs are created because cats typically groom themselves every day and, in the process, ingest a certain amount of hair.  Hair is not digestible and can accumulate into a small lump called a hairball, also known by the medical term trichobezoar.  This condition is especially a problem in long-haired cats.


Hairballs can irritate the stomach, causing cats to vomit.  The vomit may or may not contain the hairball.  Hairballs can also pass into the intestines, where they can harden and lead to constipation or even intestinal obstruction.


A diagnosis of hairballs is usually based on history and clinical signs.  Your veterinarian may recommend an x-ray if your cat is showing signs of constipation or obstruction.


Initial treatment includes laxatives that help lubricate the hairball so that it can pass more easily.  These are usually sold as tubes of paste that most cats find very tasty.  Your vet will advise you on how much of the paste to give to your cat.  In severe cases with signs of intestinal obstruction, surgery may be needed to remove the hairball.


Prevention involves periodic use of paste laxatives.  There are also commercial diets that are specially formulated to minimize this problem.  Brushing your cat regularly to remove loose hair also helps to minimize formation of hairballs.

 

Q&A

Why do cats get hairballs?

The hair that cats ingest while grooming is not digestible and can accumulate into a small lump called a hairball, also known by the medical term trichobezoar. 


How are hairballs treated?

Most cats respond well to paste laxatives that help lubricate the hairball so that it can pass more easily.  However, severe cases with signs of intestinal obstruction may require surgery to remove the hairball.


How can I protect my cat?

Prevention involves periodic use of paste laxatives, and regular grooming to remove loose hair.  There are also commercial diets that are specially formulated to minimize this problem. 




 

Credit: Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhDand Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS
Did you like this article?
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.

Related content

All medical-related content on WebVet has been veterinarian approved to ensure its timeliness and accuracy.
Schmoozies
Introducing Pet-Pods...

Veterinarian with small dog FREE downloadable PDF files providing a comprehensive review of some of the most timely pet health topics: Allergies, Fleas, Summer Safety Hazards, and Vomiting and Diarrhea.

Newsletter Signup

  
Get FREE Pet Insurance Quotes Now!

Search For A Vet

Crosby