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As far as obscure holidays go, there’s really not a more important one for your cat than Hairball Awareness Day, typically celebrated on the last Friday in April. Let’s take a look a closer look at hairballs. . . metaphorically.
First, let’s talk about how cats get hairballs. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a rare kitty kiss, you probably know that your cat’s tongue is covered in rough, hook-shaped structures that aid in eating, drinking, and, of course, grooming.
These hooks catch loose and dead fur during the grooming process, which your cat then swallows. Most of this fur passes through the digestive tract easily, but over time, hair can accumulate in the stomach and create the unpleasant surprise we all know as a hairball.
Cats with inflammatory bowel disease or other digestive illnesses are particularly susceptible to hairballs, as are long-haired breeds such as Persians or Maine Coons. Although usually harmless, hairballs can interfere with your cat’s digestive system, causing vomiting, gagging, or retching in an attempt to eliminate the unwelcome passenger hitching a ride in kitty’s belly.
They can also case lack of appetite, lethargy, and constipation or diarrhea. In extreme cases, hairballs can cause blockages in the stomach, intestine, or colon that require surgery to remedy.
The best way to treat hairballs is to prevent them before they form, and the easiest way to do this is to keep your cat well-groomed. Brush your cat (especially long-haired breeds) daily with a slicker brush, and consider a special de-shedding comb like the Furminator or similar products to remove loose undercoat fur that can contribute to mats as well as hairballs.
If your cat seems to have hairballs despite daily brushing, consider providing a hairball-remedy diet. There are several on the market, so consult your veterinarian to discuss the best options for your cat’s particular needs. Additionally, if your cat is struggling with retching or gagging in attempts at hairball elimination, you may administer a hairball jelly, which acts as a mild laxative to help get the hairball moving through kitty’s digestive tract.
With a little prevention and quick treatment, you can help keep your cat free of the scourge of hairballs. If your cat doesn’t seem to respond to these remedies, or if she seems to have very frequent hairball problems, consult your vet for further guidance. Worried about hefty vet bills?
Looking for more ways to keep your pets happy and healthy? Consider investing in a pet insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1 Get your free quote today.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.