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Hairball Causes, Treatment and Prevention

If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’re inevitably familiar with the sound of hacking and subsequent mess that comes along with coughing up a hairball. While these are quite common among felines, hairballs are more than just a nuisance – they can actually cause serious medical problems for your cat. Below, a Reynoldsburg vet shares some of the causes, treatment options and prevention tips for controlling hairballs.

What Causes Hairballs?

Cats are born with rough tongues that are designed to help in grooming themselves. Unfortunately, when there is loose fur on a cat’s body, it can get stuck to the tongue and subsequently ingested. This fur then forms a mass or “ball” which will either get expelled orally or passed through the body. Occasionally, a hairball can become lodged in a cat’s intestine, causing a serious medical emergency that requires the attention of a Reynoldsburg vet.

Treatment of Hairballs

For the most part, hairballs will pass on their own without the need for human intervention (well, unless you count having to clean them up). For more stubborn cases, there are a number of remedies that can be used to loosen or dissolve the hairball and make it easier to pass. Your Reynoldsburg vet can suggest some options to try – including over the counter products and a few home remedies. Hairballs that are completely lodged and have caused a blockage may require surgical intervention.

Hairball Prevention

As with most things, when it comes to hairballs, prevention is always the best medicine. While there’s no way to completely eliminate the problem altogether, short of shaving your cat, there are ways that you can lessen the chances and severity of hairballs. For instance:

  • Brushing frequently – daily if possible – to remove a lot of the excess fur so it doesn’t get ingested
  • Feeding a healthy diet – if your cat is healthy on the inside, chances are his or her coat will be equally as healthy, making loose fur less of a problem
  • Providing lots of clean, fresh water – simply put, water helps move things along, so make sure your cat has access to plenty of water to drink
  • Distracting with a toy – if your cat tends to groom excessively, minimize this behavior by providing a lot of toys as a distraction

For cat owners, hairballs are something that must be dealt with. The good news is you can take matters into your own hands and be proactive about preventing hairballs in excess. If you’ve tried these things and your cat still seems to suffer from a lot of hairballs, talk it over with your Reynoldsburg vet.

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