Facts About Hairballs
- Did you know there is a scientific name for a hairball? Trichobezoar. Doesn’t make it sound any more appealing, does it?
- Once regurgitated, hairballs are not usually round, as their name suggests. They are cylindrical in shape and often resemble hairy cigars or sausages.
- Hairballs can vary in size, ranging anywhere from 1-5 inches long and up to 1 inch thick. 5 inches long?! Pretty impressive. Maybe we should hold a contest for longest hairball produced! Would your cat win?
- Hairballs are normally the color of your cat’s coat, sometimes darkened a bit by food and other secretions, such as bile.
Why does my cat produce hairballs?
Hairballs are unfortunately a normal side effect of cat grooming. A cat’s tongue is covered in little papillae (you know, those bumpy things that make your cat’s tongue so rough?), which are slanted backwards. These papillae help cats remove the meat from bones, and they help to collect dirt and debris from their coat. But they also make it difficult for cats to spit things back out, which is why they end up ingesting so much hair while grooming. Thus resulting in…. hairballs!
When do hairballs become dangerous?
Signs to look out for:
- loss of appetite
- repeated dry heaving
- inability to pass stool
- abdominal swelling
If your cat exhibits any or all of these symptoms, veterinary care needs to be sought immediately, as a blockage can be life-threatening. A veterinarian can run blood work and take X-rays or ultrasounds to determine if your cat has a blockage. If your cat does indeed have a blockage, surgery may need to be performed to remove it, or at the very least, your cat may require hydration therapy, laxatives, and close monitoring by a veterinarian.
Ways You Can Prevent Hairballs
Have any questions? Please comment below!