what do hairballs look like cats

Hairballs occur when cats swallow more hair than normal. The excess hair irritates the cat’s stomach and causes the cat to vomit the hairball, which usually looks like a wet cigar with hair, saliva, stomach acid, and occasionally small amounts of digested food.

Can a cat die from a hairball?

Though it’s a somber headline, 320 people ask questions each month, so it must be addressed. Hairballs are usually just uncomfortable for both the cat and you. The risks associated with hairballs include the possibility that they indicate another health issue, that they will harm the cat’s digestive system, or that they will result in a potentially fatal medical emergency.

Thus, the majority of hairballs fall into the category of annoyances that come with having a cat, but they do present some risks, especially as the quantity of hairballs rises.

Why does a cat vomit up a hairball?

Because they impede the cat’s ability to properly digest food, hairballs cannot remain inside the animal. If a hairball doesn’t pass through the other direction and emerge in their feces, indigestion develops in the cat’s stomach as a result of the hairball and facilitates its removal. The cat’s erratic surroundings aid in the production of a hairball, which otherwise might become lodged and result in chronic health issues.

How to help your cat pass a hairball

Numerous widely used treatments involving various oils or petroleum products to try to lubricate the hairball exist, and while they may be effective, you should try them under a veterinarian’s supervision as they may have more drawbacks than advantages. Most vets will suggest you try something else less risky.

Diet and external changes can encourage the cats body to get rid of the hairball the way it is supposed to. Switch to higher-fiber cat food. Cellulose, sugarcane fiber, and beet pulp are the best kinds of fiber to remove hairballs, with beet pulp being the best of all because it adds more benefits to the digestive system as a whole. Reduce stress where possible. Try to prevent them from adding more hair to it by brushing them and discouraging excessive grooming. Try larger, harder kibble. Make sure they are getting plenty of water. Feed them less food more often to encourage better digestion.

Cat-safe laxatives may be tried in an effort to remove hairballs that are stubborn enough or causing enough problems to not respond to external factors but are not too large to pass.

Impacted hairballs may need to be surgically removed. It cannot escape on its own if it is too large.

FAQ

How often should cats throw up hairballs?

While most of the swallowed hair eventually passes through the animal’s digestive tract and gets excreted intact in the feces, some of it remains in the stomach and gradually accumulates into a damp clump — the hairball. It’s not uncommon, says Dr. Goldstein, for a cat to regurgitate a hairball once every week or two.

How can I help my cat pass a hairball?

Add a hairball gel or paste to your cat’s food, or put a dollop on their paws. They will lick enough to lubricate their digestion system, allowing the hairball to pass. Petroleum jelly is another choice and also works as a mild laxative.

Can cats poop out hairballs?

Hairballs are often about the same size and shape as a log of cat poop. But if you look at a hairball closely you’ll see that it’s made of tightly packed hair (and it doesn’t smell like poop). Hairballs that aren’t vomited up or passed in the stool can block the digestive tract.