Hairballs

The first time your cat brings up a hairball it can be quite disturbing!  The tube like mass of matted hair can be sizable – uncomfortable for the cat to retch up and unpleasant for you to clean up!

Hairballs are a common problem, and most cats will produce them.  They occur as a result of your cat grooming its coat and swallowing the loose hairs, which accumulate in the stomach or upper intestine.

Spring and autumn are common times of year for hairballs to become a problem, when cats are moulting and shedding large amounts of hair.  However they can occur at any time during the year.

Any cat which swallows a large amount of hair is predisposed to developing hairballs.

  • Long haired breeds ingest more hair through grooming, and therefore commonly suffer from hairballs. 
  • Cats which over-groom and create areas of bald or patchy hair.  This may be due to flea irritation, allergies or stress.
  • Obese cats are often affected.

To treat hairballs, a lubricating bowel preparation such as “Furlax” or “Cat lax” can be used.  These are flavoured gels which are given by mouth to help hairballs move through.

If your cat is regularly affected by hairballs, using a specially designed diet such as Hills Science Diet Feline Hairball Control formula is advisable.  This food contains a special vegetable fibre which helps reduce hairball formation.

Ensure flea control is regular, and you are using an effective product as irritation from fleas will increase grooming and therefore the amount of hair ingested.  Regular brushing will help to remove some of those loose hairs.

If your cat continues to vomit, despite taking the steps discussed above they should come in for a full health check with one of our vets.