Today is Hairball Awareness Day, a day for cat lovers to think about this common condition in cats.
A hairball is a sausage-shaped collection of undigested fur which is occasionally vomited up by cats. The medical name for a hairball is a trichobezoar.
Cats are diligent groomers and the reverse barbs on their tongues (papillae) help to strip away loose fur in the coat which the cat ingests. As fur is non-digestible, it usually passes out of the digestive tract via the stool. Occasionally it will be vomited back up instead.
The odd hairball probably isn’t anything to worry about. However, there is increasing evidence that hairballs can be a symptom of a gastric motility disorder. Most often due to inflammatory bowel disease or lymphoma which cause a thickening of the gastrointestinal tract and slow down motility. While it sounds funny to have a day devoted to hairball awareness, it is an opportunity to think about hairballs and if they might be a symptom of a gastrointestinal disorder.
- Groom long-haired cats once a day and short-haired cats once a week to remove loose hair from the coat, it only takes five minutes.
- Add fibre to the cat’s diet, boiled pumpkin or Metamucil are both safe for cats.
- Increase water consumption by switching to a wet diet or encouraging your cat to drink with water fountains.
- Speak to your veterinarian about a hairball diet.
Please feel free to share the above image to raise awareness for Hairball Awareness Day. If you do have a cat who regularly produces hairballs, please speak to your veterinarian.
Read here for more information on hairballs in cats.