Q How Can You Tell When A Hairball Is A Problem
A In healthy cats, the most common symptom of a furball is a cough-gag-retch sound so-called because its tricky even for vets to work out if a cat is coughing , gagging or retching . Occasional hairballs and retching are nothing to worry about, but if your cat is gagging every few weeks, or for more than 48 hours at a time, too much excess hair could be ending up in her gut. She may be over-grooming as a result of a skin condition or an allergy. If you notice your cat licking herself more than usual, or any bald spots appearing on her body, its worth discussing allergy testing with your vet. When it comes to the cough-gag-retch reflex, its perfectly normal for your cat to do this several times in a single session and the retching action shouldnt bring up anything except the hairball itself. However, if your cat is bringing up bile it could be a sign of pancreatitis, and youll need to see your vet as soon as possible. Other hairball symptoms can include your cat nibbling on grass, as well as constipation and lethargy. If your cat doesnt pass the hairball, and these signs last for more than two to three days, book a check-up with your vet to make sure nothing else is amiss.
Signs That Your Cat Is Sick
Jenna Stregowski, RVT has worked in veterinary medicine for more than two decades. Her veterinary experience ranges from routine wellness care and preventive medicine to emergency and specialty care, where she has performed duties ranging from specialized nursing to clinical administration. Jenna has been writing about pet care for over 10 years, including for publications like DVM 360 and DogTime.
Illustration: The Spruce / Ellen Lindner
Could your cat be sick? It may be difficult to know if subtle changes in your cat indicate a health problem. Cats are experts at hiding illness. In the wild, this instinct can protect them from predators or other cats that might be a threat. Today’s house cat has the same tendency to avoid vulnerability, even if the only potential threat is a housemate. Even cats in single-pet homes tend to have the instinct to self-protect.
There is another reason why cats and many other animals are less likely to show pain or illness: they simply do not have an emotional relationship with their discomfort. Animals tend to accept the pain or illness as the new normal and move on. It may not be until they are extremely ill that their sickness becomes obvious to humans.
Hairballs In Cats: Causes Symptoms And What You Can Do About Them
If youve ever seen your cat gagging and eventually cough up a hairball, then you know the situation. You know theyre no fun to clean up, and worse, they can cause health problems for your cat. What you might not know is what causes hairballs, what symptoms to look for and what you can do to prevent them.
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What Exactly Is A Hairball
When your cat grooms their coat, they will naturally ingest a small amount of the fur that they lick. The tongue of the cat is very rough, and so naturally pulls loose hair away when they lick and groom themselves. The proportion of the hair that they ingest is actually fairly minimal, and the main part of that which they do ingest is passed naturally in faeces.However, on occasion, some of the hair that remains in the stomach forms a big matted knot, which is what we know as a hairball. Hairballs can actually be quite firm and hard if they have formed over a long period of time, and can potentially cause a blockage within your cats digestive tract or intestine.The vast majority of hairballs are regurgitated by your cat naturally, which is actually a good thing. A hairball in your cats vomit will generally be sausage-shaped rather than round, and normally dark in colour.Its also worth noting that the common phrase cough up a hairball is not technically correct, as while your cat may retch and cough as part of vomiting, they are not actually coughing the hairball out of their lungs, but from inside of their stomach.
What Is The Correct Dosage Of Laxatone For Cats
Although Laxatone is considered a gentle and safe remedy, its important to follow the guidelines for recommended use. As with all medications, its also crucial to consult your vet before starting treatment. As cattime.com advises, the typical recommended dosage for the treatment of constipation and hairballs is between half a teaspoon and a whole teaspoon each day for the first two to three days of treatment. If you intend to use Laxatone on a longer-term basis for preventative reasons, decrease dosage after the first three days to a quarter to half a teaspoon, administered between two and three times a week. Remember, the above dosage recommendations should be considered as guidelines only. If your vet recommends an alternative dosage based on the needs of your particular pet, follow their advice.
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Is It Necessary To Induce Vomiting In Cats
Before teaching you the best technique to make your cat throw up, you should know that it is not advisable to make a cat vomit. The best thing you can do is call your local veterinarian for guidance as forcing them to vomit may cause the situation to be worse than before. Be very careful and try to contact your veterinarian before trying to make your cat vomit. This is to be used only as a last resort if they are truly in danger.
Vomiting should only be done when you are very sure of what the cat has eaten. In this sense, it is only recommended in cases where they have eaten a plant that is toxic for cats , or any kind of plant that you are sure has had recent contact with pesticides or artificial fertilizers.
On the other hand, you should not make your cat throw up when:
- It’s been 2 hours or more since the cat has ingested the poison.
- The cat has ingested a sharp object that could pierce their stomach or esophagus: needles, small pieces of metal, chopsticks, among other sharp objects.
- The cat has taken tranquilizers or other medication.
- Your cat has swallowed flammable substances, alkaline, acidic, corrosive or petroleum compounds: chlorine, fuel oils, gasoline, car maintenance products, household cleaners, some poisons, etc.).
- The cat is unconscious or semi-unconscious.
Cat Hairballs Can Be Deadly
If a cat goes on gagging and retching without any help, they could end up dealing with a life-threatening blockage in their throat. An increased frequency of hairballs may also be a sign of an underlying condition within the gastrointestinal tract where it is difficult for cats to pass the hair normally. If untreated, this could pose a risk to life. These masses are called trichobezoar and require surgical intervention.
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Risks Of Too Much Fiber In Cat Food
As with many things, too much of even a good thing can have bad results. The same is true of fiber.
Too much fiber in cat food can irritate the GI tract. In addition, hairball control cat food is often lower in fat than regular formulas. According to Vetinfo.com veterinarians, this can result in indigestion or constipation.
Over the long term, fiber can draw fluid into the intestines. This has two effects. One, as fluids are drawn away from other parts of the body, cats are at a greater risk of dehydration. Two, with less fluid in the bladder, the concentration of urine increases. This can lead to cystitis, an inflammation of the urinary bladder. Cystitis is painful and can be serious and requires veterinary medical attention.
Why Do Cats Produce Hairballs
Hairballs are the result of grooming habits. Cats lick themselves to stay clean and deal with any problems in their fur. But, the cats tongue is rough. You will know this from when they lick you. This has its benefits for grooming each other as they can remove unwanted items from the fur and can easily catch hold of dead hair.
The problem is that the cat then swallows this hair during the grooming process. Small amounts of this hair will pass through their digestive system with little problem. You will see below how their diet and extra aids can ease this process. But, larger quantities can collect within the cats stomach, forming this ball of matted hair. The best thing for the cat to do is regurgitate to pass it back up. It isnt dissimilar to wild birds bringing up pellets of fur from their kills. It seems unpleasant to us but functional for the animal.
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If Your Cat Is Prone To Hairballs A Change To Their Diet Can Make A Huge Difference Heres Our Advice For Choosing A Cat Food That Minimises Hairballs
Cat owners know that hairballs are a fact of life and while issues with hairballs can be kept in check with a dedicated grooming schedule, there are some dietary adjustments that can help to lessen the likelihood of hairballs. Heres how a change to your cats diet can help to avoid issues with hairballs.
Have a specific question in mind? Jump to:
How Do I Stop Hairballs
3 Ways to Naturally Reduce Hairballs
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Asthma And Bronchitis In Cats
Asthma or chronic bronchitis is a condition where the lower airways of cats become narrow and produce excess mucus in response to a noxious stimulus such as cigarette smoke, dust, or fragrances. The most common clinical sign is coughing. A diagnosis is made through a combination of chest radiographs, heartworm testing, bloodwork, urine and fecal testing, and may also require bronchoscopy or airway lavage. As asthma cannot be cured, treatment is aimed at management of the disease using a combination of steroids and bronchodilators, usually given by inhalation to avoid or reduce negative systemic side effects. Adjunct treatments include modifying the environment to reduce exposure to the noxious stimulus, hypoallergenic diet trials, and acupuncture.
How To Help A Cat With Hairballs
Many cat owners are concerned when a cat has hairballs because it seems like they are choking or struggling. Whats the best way for owners to help a cat throw up a hairball?
Although its difficult to watch your cat struggling and gagging, the best thing you can do to help them with hairballs is to give them plenty of space. Its perfectly normal for your cat to gag several times to be able to vomit the hairball.
The key is not to get too distressed and just keep an eye on your cat to ensure they bring up the hairball and then stop gagging.
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Can Hairballs Be A Problem For My Cat
If too much hair is building up and cannot be passed in the feces or as a hairball, it may cause an obstruction in your cats upper intestinal tract. This will cause vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and, if not treated, serious fluid and electrolyte problems. If a hairball is stuck in your cats intestines or stomach for a long time, it may mineralize and become very hard. Sometimes, when a cat is vomiting a hairball, it can get stuck and cause damage to the esophagus .
Signs Of Hairballs In Cats
If you have ever seen a cat trying to bring up a hairball, you know how alarming the sight can be. Your cat will retch and gag and hack, often looking like he is choking. Between the awful sounds and the posture your cat assumes, its hard to believe that most cat hairballs are harmless.
The truth is that your cat with hairballs is very uncomfortable, and could, if not properly treated, develop problems with vomiting or constipation or, even worse, an intestinal obstruction that requires surgery for hairballs that are too large to pass through stool or vomit.
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Your Cat Has Hairballs: Should You Worry
When your cat hacks up a slimy fur sausage of a hairball, you may be disgusted or annoyed . You may also wonder whether thats normal. An occasional regurgitated wad of hair isnt cause for alarm, but frequent hairballs might mean your cat has an underlying health problem, such as anxiety, allergies, or an imbalanced gut microbiome .
Is It Safe To Give Laxatone To Your Cat
If you have a cat, youll know that if theyre not napping, theres a 90% chance theyll be grooming. While dogs dont seem to give two hoots about how they look, cats are finicky about their appearance. If they muss up their hair in the morning, by afternoon itll be washed and coiffed to perfection. But their obsession with keeping themselves ship-shape and shiny comes at a cost hairballs. The sound of a cat hacking up a hairball might be one of the less well-known pleasures of owning a cat, but for many pet parents, its an ever-present backdrop to daily life. In shedding season particularly, hairballs can be a major annoyance and not just for you. Clearing up a freshly regurgitated lump of hair might not seem your idea of fun, but imagine how your cat felt when it was sat in their belly. The digestive misery of hairballs shouldnt be underestimated nor ignored. Fortunately, it doesnt have to be. Of all the hairball remedies on the market, Laxatone is one of the most popular. But is it really safe to give to your kitty? Or is there anything you need to know before you break open a tube?
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Can Cat Hairballs Get Stuck
This is a possibility. Most cats will pass hairballs very quickly. They will gag or wretch, and you will soon get used to the precise sounds that they make during this process. Developing an ear for these noises helps if you are out of the room and hear something strange. Then the hair will come out and they will move on leaving you to handle the mess.
But, there may be times where they seem to gag a little more noisily or wretch for longer. They may be struggling to pass the hairball and could choke. If this continues for too long and the cat starts to get distressed, take them to see a vet. There may be a blockage that they cant handle on their own.
Can Cats Get Sick From Eating Vegetable Oil
Cats can get sick from eating vegetable oil.
Vegetable oil wont seriously hurt your cat in any way, but there is a chance that it could hurt his stomach.
Vomiting wont happen after your cat eats vegetable oil, but he may get diarrhea, which can get messy. Once the vegetable oil passes through your cats system, then your cat will start to feel better.
Some cats will not get sick from eating vegetable oil. It depends on how sensitive your cats stomach is to new foods.
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Why Do Cats Develop Hairballs
Most cats will fall victim to coughing up a hairball at some stage of their lives- this is simply because cats are fastidious about grooming themselves and will naturally ingest some of the hair that they groom when they do so.Cats that over-groom are particularly at risk of problematic hairballs, and longhaired cats are likely to develop hairballs with more regularity than their shorthaired counterparts are.A problem can potentially develop if your cat has a hairball in their stomach or intestine but is unable to regurgitate it themselves. In this case it can become hardened and form a blockage in the intestine, and would need to be removed by your vet.It is thought that grass eating in cats, which is something that most cats do now and then, is tied to their being able to regurgitate hairballs, and is actually a good thing and something that your cat simply knows is necessary now and then, so if you find your cat eating grass and later vomiting, dont be too distressed!
Can Cat Hairballs Cause Vomiting Or Diarrhoea
We often use the term vomiting when talking about the action of regurgitating a hairball. This isnt entirely accurate. Healthy cats passing normal hairball will bring up the hair with some digestive juices but not actually vomit any other stomach contents. This is why it is important to take note of when there is any sign of cats vomiting while retching. There may be a stomach complaint or they may have a blockage caused by a hairball that wont pass.
Some cats that cant pass hairballs may also show symptoms at the other end of the digestive system through constipation or diarrhoea. Keep an eye on your pet and see whether they are acting lethargic or disinterested in their food. This could be a further sign of gastric distress. You can try some of the treatments below and go and see a vet if the situation doesnt improve.
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