Cats are clean creatures. They continually clean and groom themselves throughout the day. They do this by licking their fur with their tongue. Their tongue is composed of a rough surface with small barb type bumps call papillae. The papillae is made of the same sustains that human fingernails are made of, keratin. The papillae forms backward hooks that provide the roughness needed to comb through the cats fur. This action causes the cat to ingest its hair. Unfortunately, cats are unable to digest hair but some fur does pass through the digestive tract. The problem why cats can not pass the hair most likely is because of the lack of fiber in their diet. When the cat has a fiber deficiency the undigested hair accumulates in the back of their throat or stomach.
Symptoms of an impending hairball episode will be forewarned by gagging and retching in an attempt to it throw-up. An occasional hairball is not something to worry about but if it is a constant problem it could be cause for concern. Frequent bouts with hairballs can cause your pet to have loss of appetite and constipation. Digestive track trouble may also result.
There are steps you can take to help cut down the amount of hair your pet swallows. Brushing your cat’s hair will lower the consumption of fur that is ingested. Long haired cats need to be brushed every day while a short hair cat will only need to be brushed 2 to 3 times a week. Commercial products are available to increase your cat’s fiber intake and natural remedies can be tried as well.
Other things to try are specialized cat food and treats made with the intent to prevent hairballs. Some owners add canned pumpkin to their cat’s diet. Grass, such as rye, wheat, or oat is another remedy to try. Do not let your cat eat chemically treated lawn grass.
There are various reasons why your cat might throw-up. For this reason it is advisable to check with your veterinarian to make sure there are no other issues plaguing your cat. Following your veterinarian’s suggestions and trying some of the products mentioned earlier will make it possible to eliminate your cat’s hairballs.