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National Hairball Awareness Day: Help Your Cat Celebrate

How do you celebrate hairballs? Start by working to help your cat reduce or eliminate them.

Hairballs can cause life-threatening blockages

Hairballs form naturally during a cat’s normal grooming routine. Most of the fur that a cat swallows while grooming passes naturally through the digestive tract, but when it gets caught in the stomach, a hairball forms. While long-haired cats are most prone to developing hairballs — especially in the spring and summer when warming temperatures equate to more shedding — short-haired cats are not immune.

It makes perfect sense that cats get hairballs. They spend a lot of time grooming and they swallow hair in the process. Typically the hair goes in one end and comes out the other. But sometimes hair remains and collects in the stomach or small intestine and can cause a potentially life-threatening blockage in the digestive system. Don’t wait to contact your veterinarian if your cat continues to gag, retch or vomit without producing a hairball, loses his appetite, has diarrhea or constipation, or is lethargic.

Tips to reducing or eliminating hairballs

Brush your cat regularly so he swallows less hair when he grooms and ask your veterinarian about giving a hairball lubricant or switching to a food formulated to reduce hairballs. If your cat grooms to the point of causing bald areas and irritation to his skin, schedule a veterinary exam. Your cat could have a skin problem, allergies, or parasites that require treatment.

Your cat could also be stressed if he’s bored or the household routine has changed. Learn more about making your cat’s world less stressful. Maybe he’ll reciprocate with fewer hairballs.