You may be disgusted or upset when your cat coughs up a slimy fur sausage of a hairball, especially when you’re barefoot or on a cherished rug. You may also wonder if this is typical.
An occasional hairball isn’t causing concern. Still, if your cat has hairballs often, it could mean that they are nervous, have allergies, or have an unbalanced gut microbiome, which is the community of bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract.
What happens if your cat can’t cough up its hairball?
Hairballs are not harmful in and of themselves. But if your cat is pacing around the house and retching all the time but doesn’t have a hairball, especially if it’s tired and won’t eat, you should take it to the vet immediately. It could indicate that the hairball has passed from their stomach to their gut. It could be a dangerous condition that a veterinarian should treat immediately.
If your cat shows signs of having a hairball, like gagging, vomiting, or retching for a long time, you should take them to the vet. Other symptoms that could mean something is wrong are loss of appetite, lethargy, constipation or diarrhea in cats, overeating grass, and a stomach that is bloated or hurts.
How do I know if my cat has a hairball stuck?
A vet can tell if a cat has hairballs in several ways, like with an x-ray or a physical exam. If the hairball is massive, it may need surgery to get rid of it, which can be expensive in terms of vet bills.
Asthma symptoms include constant retching without the presence of a hairball and tiredness. The veterinarian should be able to determine the underlying cause. Either way, you’ll have found a problem with your cat’s health and fixed it before it worsens.
It is common for a cat to pass hairballs on occasion. You should be concerned if your cat vomits up a hairball every few weeks or for more than 48 hours. Your cat’s vomiting is a warning that too much hair ends up in the gut.
5 Tips to Help a Cat with Hairball
Tip #1: Brush Your Cats Regularly
Cats are remarkable for their ability to groom themselves. On the other hand, if your cat sheds a lot, it may swallow a lot of the loose fur, increasing the likelihood of developing a hairball. They can be made less hazardous by being brushed regularly.
Brushing your cat at least once or twice a week is ideal. If your cat has long hair, you should brush it more regularly than usual. Many cats benefit from having their fur brushed daily.
Some cats enjoy having their fur brushed, while others do not. If your cat falls into the second type, you might want to explore combing them with gloves instead of using a brush. Brushing your cat while wearing these pet-friendly gloves feels more like petting it. You may want to consider shaving their hair if they are opposed to having their hair combed or petted.
Tip #2: Use Baby Wipes on Your Cat
After brushing your cat, clean them with a baby wipe that does not contain any aroma and is hypoallergenic. You might also use a wet paper towel instead. This moist cloth helps remove any loose fur left behind, minimizing the amount of hair in your cat’s stomach and lessening the risk of hairballs.
By brushing your cat, you can keep it from grooming itself too much, which can cause hairballs to form in its digestive system if it keeps doing it.
Tip #3: Up Your Cat’s Fiber Intake
Just like humans, cats need fiber in their diets to maintain healthy digestive tracts. Adding more fiber to your cat’s diet can help reduce the chance of them getting hairballs by making it easier for food and other things to move through their digestive tract.
Pumpkins, apples, carrots, and cat grass are some foods containing fiber. Keep in mind that a human’s needs in terms of fiber intake are very different from those of a cat. If you give your cat too much, it might get sick. If you are still determining how much to add, see the veterinarian who treats your cat.
Tip #4: Encourage Your Cat to Hydrate More
If your cat eats dry food, the water it gets from its food won’t be enough to keep it hydrated. Consequently, the individual’s digestive system might not function as well as it should.
Make sure your cat can access fresh and clean water. A lot of cats prefer moving water over still water, and they might not enjoy the smell or taste of the water that comes out of the tap. You might acquire a water fountain for your cat if you want to encourage them to drink more water. Canned food may also provide sufficient water to keep the digestive tract running correctly, reducing the likelihood of the animal developing hairballs.
Tip #5: Feed Your Cat Hairball-Resistant Food
If your cat coughs up hairballs regularly, you should think about switching them to a food specifically formulated to help reduce this issue.
Many manufacturers that provide cat food also sell something that can help with hairballs. Recipes typically call for increased quantities of components like fiber, oil, minerals, and vitamins, all designed to facilitate the natural passage of hair consumed through the digestive system.
How long does it take for your cat to pass a hairball?
After 48 hours of persistent gagging and retching, a cat can expel a hairball. When cats develop a hairball or show signs of constipation and lethargy, they may consume grass to induce vomiting. Hairballs are particularly common in the spring when your cat is shedding its winter coat and performing increased grooming to clean the fur.
Some experts think a hairball per week or two weeks is typical, while others suggest one or two a year is a better indicator of a healthy cat. It’s critical to understand what’s normal for your cat and to pay attention if their hairballs grow more often, as this could indicate a health issue.
There is no substitute for simply being an attentive and caring owner of your cat; spending much time together will give you the best opportunity of recognizing any signs or changes that could indicate sickness.
Cats groom themselves up to 50% of the time they are awake. Their tongues feature barbs on the back that serve like combs to groom their fur.
They stay clean, keep their coats in good condition, stay calm, comfort themselves, and even socialize with other cats in their habitat. Some hairs will enter the cat’s mouth due to this combing action. They are usually swallowed and excreted with the cat’s food.
A cat will usually be able to clear a hairball on their own. Allow them the space and time they need to achieve this, and avoid stressing them out by hovering over them. It would be awesome if you kept an eye on your cat from a safe distance to catch the hairball and dispose of it.