Because cats are known to be hygienic, especially when it comes to their coats, a lot of cat owners out there would like to think that producing hairballs is normal among felines. But although it may look pretty usual that pet parents would have to deal with their kitty producing hairballs at some point, hairs being swallowed by your feline friend during her normal grooming sessions are supposed to pass through her gastrointestinal tract in the form of feces without any complication. In other words, it is not normal for cats to produce hairballs, and it can be a sign of a far greater underlying health condition that needs to be addressed promptly.
Can vomiting hairballs mean something else?
The brief answer is “yes.” Vomiting hairballs would either mean an obstructed gastrointestinal tract, or too much ingestion of cat hair because of too many loose hair or abnormally fastidious cat grooming routines.
When your kitty gags hairballs, it could be that she is suffering from any of these gastrointestinal conditions:
- Inflammatory bowel disorders
- Parasites in the intestines
Seeing a veterinarian immediately would help check if your cat suffers from any of these serious health conditions.
Sometimes, cats produce hairballs when they ingest too much loose hair from their coats. Vomiting hairballs is most common among breeds of cats that have longer fur, such as Birman, Himalayan, Norwegian Forest, and Persian cats. However, cats with shorter fur, such as Bombay and American Shorthair, can also produce hairballs at times. Too much loose hair can be a result of fur mats, which may form when cat owners fail to comb their kitty regularly. In some instances, producing hairballs caused by too much loose hair can sometimes be a result of poor diet, and allergy to food and certain products.
In some cases, though, cats may groom unnecessarily a lot, causing her to swallow as much loose hair as she can. Too much grooming among cats can sometimes be a sign of boredom, stress, and compulsive behaviors.
How to help my kitty prevent hairballs
There are a myriad of different ways on how you may help your kitty from producing hairballs, here are some of them:
- Visit a vet – A veterinarian would help you determine other health conditions that may be causing the production of hairballs. With a vet’s help, you may also be able to promptly deal with any health condition your four-legged fur friend is facing, making her healthy and safe from any disease.
- Modify her diet – There are instances when certain food products cause cats to shed hairs. You may try another product if you believe her cat food causes her to lose too much hair. You may also want to try some cat foods that promote healthier skin and hair to prevent hairballs. Finally, a fiber-rich diet would help the cat eliminate hairs out of her digestive system naturally without having to vomit.
- Help her with her grooming – Medium and large-sized mats cannot be removed by your cat alone. She needs some help and care from her pet parent who knows well how to remove those mats with the use of a brush. Gently comb your critter’s coat in the direction where her coat naturally flows. You get to help your kitty groom herself while spending a quality time with her.
- Play with her some more – Too much loose hair may be a result of anxiety and stress, while too much grooming can be a sign of boredom. You can prevent hairballs by spending more time with your pet. Play with her some more, let her lie on your lap more often, and pet her more than you usually do. This way, you would help her ease the tension, stress and boredom she feel when you’re not around, which can be helpful in relieving her hairball problem.
Producing hairballs should never be assumed as a normal cat behavior. In fact, it can be painful and uncomfortable for your feline friend. Furthermore, cleaning up the mess would also be inconvenient for pet parents like you. To ensure that your fur friend is at its optimum health, and to enjoy the most out of that feline-owner bond, take the steps in trying to prevent hairballs from forming.