Hairballs in Cats – Are They Dangerous?

Ahh yes, the rewards of owning a cat; the affection lavished on you maine coon kittens for sale near me when you come home, the cuddles and purrs as you fall asleep, the vermin snuffing, the funny antics, and the unmistakable “cat hacking” that precedes a hairball making an appearance… well, no one is purrfect.

If you are a cat parent, especially to an indoor cat, sooner or later you will become intimately acquainted with a hairball; just a cat fact of life. If you are new to cat rearing, your first experience witnessing your furball expel a rodent-like mass, will likely leave you fearing for Fluffy’s life, or recoiling in disgust, or probably both. Joking aside, while hairballs are – for the most part- just a gross annoyance for you and your cat, they can also pose a potential danger to your cat’s health. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to decrease the number of hairballs your cat develops, and help ease elimination of hairballs that do occur.

What exactly is a Hairball?

Yes, it is a ball of hair, but there is more to it, and you are about to enter the “yuck” part of this article. A hairball, technically known as a trichobezoar, is a mass of undigested hair mixed with digestive fluids and, on occasions, undigested food. The term hair “ball” is somewhat misleading. Hairballs that are expelled are actually shaped more like a cylinder due to the journey through the cats’ esophagus, thus they are frequently mistaken for feces – cue the “yuck” – especially if the cat’s fur is dark. The masses vary in size from about an inch to several inches in length, based on the amount of hair a cat ingests.

How Does a Hairball Develop?

A cat will spend a great deal of time grooming itself, ingesting hair with each lick. Most of the hair that is ingested will pass through the digestive system with no incident. However, some hair will accumulate in the stomach and small intestines. Like any other foreign, undigested mass lying in the pit of one’s stomach, the body will eventually try to dislodge the intruder, which leads to the cat hacking, retching and vomiting of a hairball.

The frequency and severity of hairballs depends greatly on a cat’s coat, and grooming habits. Long haired cats are obviously more affected because they ingest more hair. Short haired cats have an easier time with hairballs. I personally have four cats, two long haired and two short haired, and while I have witnessed more than my share of hairball hackings, I have yet to see my 6 year old short haired cat spout a hairball.

Leave a Comment