Debunking Myths About Hairballs

by | Jul 7, 2023

Hairballs. If you own a cat, you’ve most probably seen them—those cylindrical fur clumps that mysteriously appear on the carpet. It’s common for cats, but there are some misconceptions. Today, we’ll look into the subject to debunk three common myths about hairballs.

The Inside Scoop on Hairballs

Hairballs are formed when cats swallow hair during their regular grooming, which then accumulates in their stomach. In healthy cats, most hairballs pass through the gastrointestinal tract without causing issues. Occasionally, this mass gets too big to pass through the digestive tract and is vomited out. However, regular, or frequent hairball vomiting could be a sign of a more serious health problem, such as allergies, chronic gastrointestinal issues, or intestinal blockage. If your cat is frequently vomiting hairballs, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions.

Myth #1: All Cats Frequently Vomit Hairballs

Many cat owners believe it’s perfectly normal for their pets to frequently vomit hairballs. While it’s common for cats to occasionally vomit hairballs due, it should not be a frequent occurrence (think less than 3 times a month). Give The Cat Hospital a call and we can discuss next steps.

Myth #2: Hairballs are Harmless

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you” doesn’t apply when it comes to hairballs. Some cat owners view hairballs as a harmless by-product of their pet’s grooming habits, but they can pose a serious health risk.
Serious complications, including loss of appetite, aspiration pneumonia, constipation, or even severe lethargy, can result. In rare cases, a hairball can even become so large that it requires surgical removal. So, while hairballs might seem harmless, they should not be ignored, especially if your cat shows signs of discomfort or distress.

Myth #3: Hairballs Only Occur in Long-Haired Cats

While it’s true that long-haired breeds like Persians, Himalayan, and Maine Coons are more prone to developing hairballs due to their thick, luxurious coats, all cats, regardless of fur length, can produce hairballs. The reason is simple: all cats groom themselves.
Grooming is a natural behaviour for cats, and during this process, their tongue, which is covered in tiny hook-like structures, catches loose and dead hair, which is then swallowed. Most of it passes harmlessly through the digestive system, but sometimes it can clump together in the stomach or intestines to form a hairball.
cat getting checked out at the vet

Wrapping Up the Furball Facts

Separating fact from fiction can help you better understand what’s happening with your cat and prevent potential issues. It’s essential to recognize that frequent hairballs, far from being normal, can indicate potential health issues in your cat. Regardless of whether your cat has long or short hair, a good grooming routine can help minimize the formation of hairballs.
If your feline friend seems to be struggling with frequent hairballs, a trip to see the vets at The Cat Hospital in Kamloops is definitely in order. Our vets can help you understand the underlying cause and offer solutions to ensure your cat lives a comfortable and healthy life. Call us to speak to our team!
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