At some point, most cat owners will step into a pile of something that looks and feels like anything but hair and wonder, "Does my cat do this on purpose?" The answer is no. In fact, hairballs are the number one condition reported by 35 percent of cat owning households.* Is your household one of them? Here are some insights:
Hairballs are a common feline condition brought on by self-grooming and the resulting ingestion of hair
Ingested hair can easily accumulate in your cat's throat or stomach
The right nutrition can help make a difference
Common irritations. In most cases, hairballs are normal but unpleasant. Hair accumulates in the cat's throat or stomach and at some point causes enough irritation to trigger regurgitation — a quick fix to the problem.
More serious hairballs. In a few cases, hairballs can create a real problem in a cat's digestive system. Hair that passes beyond the stomach can accumulate and harden in the intestines. Ultimately, the hairball can block the intestinal tract, preventing the cat from regurgitating the hair or passing it in feces. In severe cases, these hairballs must be surgically removed.
Warning signs. If you suspect your cat has a serious problem with hairballs please talk to your veterinarian. Here are some signs to watch for:
Excessive coughing, hacking and vomiting
Constipation or extraordinary amount of hair in stools
Loss of appetite and/or energy
The right nutrition can assist in moving hair through your cat's system to help prevent the formation of hairballs. Certain nutrients in the right amounts can also nourish your cat's skin and coat to reduce unnecessary shedding. Ask your veterinarian.
*Hill's Pet Experience Study G02-135