April 28th is National Hairball Awareness Day!
It’s no secret that cats are notorious for developing hairballs. Cats have tiny barbs on their tongues that catch hair while grooming, which they then swallow. In a healthy intestinal tract, hair will pass right through and out in the stool. If hair does not pass out of the stomach, it will accumulate in the stomach into a hairball, which the cat will try to vomit up.
Hairballs are more common in long-haired breeds such as Persians, Himalayans, and Maine Coons. However, they can be seen in short-haired cats too, especially if they compulsively groom themselves. Over-grooming can also be seen with stress and anxiety disorders or it can be a sign of primary gastrointestinal disease (i.e. intestinal parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pancreatitis, neoplasia). If the hairballs are accompanied by lethargy, inappetence, excessive vomiting with no hairball production, constipation, or diarrhea; your pet should be examined by a veterinarian.
Treatment options for hairballs include:
- hairball diet formulas
- oral hairball medication (i.e. laxatone)
- regular brushing
- reducing stress/anxiety/boredom with cat toys and playtime
If you have any questions about you cat’s hairballs please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Happy Hairball Awareness day!
Dr. Rusk is originally from the DC-area and first started at FHA as a receptionist and technician. She completed a large animal surgical internship at The University of Pennsylvania before working in mixed animal private practice and then returning to FHA in 2001. Her interests include pediatrics, gastroenterology, endocrinology and geriatrics.
* Featured image courtesy of petfinder.com.