Cats And Their Hairballs

By: Pam Wiese Email
By: Pam Wiese Email

As the seasons change our feline friends tend to shed more, which means you could be finding more hairballs.

When a cat assumes an arched pose and begins retching, it can be concerning. Unfortunately, this process of regurgitating a hairball happens to most cats once in a while. The rough texture of a cat's tongue is designed to pull out loose hair during grooming, which the cat then swallows. Since cat fur is made of indigestible keratin, the fur doesn't break down but it still has to exit the cat's body. Some comes out in the litter box while the rest collects in the cat's stomach forming a small ball of hair.

Long-hair breeds like Maine coons and Persians are most apt to create these lovely surprises you find when walking barefoot in the dark at 2 a.m. During the changing seasons when pets shed more frequently, the number of hairballs found may increase.

Adult and senior cats statistically cough up hairballs more frequently than kittens and young cats. The reason seems to be that they pride themselves on looking good and groom more often than their younger counterparts.

While most hairballs are simply coughed up and exit a cat's body, some can cause blockages in the cat's esophagus or intestines. Vomiting, excessive gagging, increase salivation, loss of appetite and an increase in respiratory rate or reduced defecation warrants a call to the vet.

You can work to keep hairballs to a minimum by brushing your cat regularly to remove loose, shedding fur. Hairball diets and supplements are also available to help the hair pass more easily through a cat's gastrointestinal track.

The Nebraska Humane Society at 8929 Fort Street in Omaha is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can always look up animals and find information at

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