Cats are nothing short of fun, loving, and interesting. They make us laugh and certainly paw their way into the most skeptical hearts. However, with any pet, it’s not all fun and games.
First-time cat owners may be in for a bit of a surprise. You might be sitting down enjoying your coffee when you hear your cat hacking up a furball in the corner.
It’s not a pleasant sound and can be unsettling and scary for someone who doesn’t know what is going on with their cat. After seeing a wet ball of fur come out of your cat’s mouth, things might start to click.
Still, that brings up the question, how often do cats throw up hairballs?
The frequency a cat will have a hairball will vary from cat to cat. However, it’s normal for a cat to throw up a hairball once a week. Read on the find out what you can do to help your cat!
Is it normal to cough out hairballs often?
When you get a cat, you sign up for lots of fun, cuddles, and life-lasting memories you’ll always cherish. While there are many amazing qualities cats possess, they do have some quirks.
For example, they tend to wake their owners at dawn for some food. Sometimes they swipe your freshly made coffee off the counter when you turn your back.
Other times they will sleep right on your legs and force you to fold yourself in half for the night. Sometimes, however, they will cough up a hairball.
Hairballs are unsightly and not the best to clean up, but it is inevitable because cats love to groom themselves. It can be a little worrisome, though, for someone who hasn’t witnessed a cat hacking up a furball.
The good news, is that hairballs are normal, and you will find your cat will have one every so often. So, how much is “every so often”?
Well, depending on the cat, the answer may vary. Some cats may have a hairball every couple of weeks, while others have one only a few times a year.
Every cat is different in how they groom themselves, and how much time they spend grooming can contribute to the number of hairballs. Long-haired breeds will likely throw up more hairballs than short-haired kitties because of the amount of their hair.
That said, it is not normal for a cat to throw up hairballs more than once a week. Cats with excessive hairballs could have a medical condition that needs tending to.
What causes hairballs in cats?
Knowing how often cats throw up hairballs is useful, no doubt, but it still leaves one to wonder what causes them anyway? It’s a good question since just like we don’t like cleaning up a messy furball, cats don’t enjoy having them.
Cats get hairballs by grooming themselves. They spend several hours a day grooming themselves, and a lot of the time, loose fur gets into their mouth, and they end up swallowing it.
A cat’s tongue is similar to sandpaper, and it catches loose fur pretty easily. If that’s the case, why don’t cats have hairballs every day? Well, normally, cats can digest the fur they catch.
The times that they can’t is when the fur collects in the stomach and forms the hairball, and they will eventually throw it up. Some cats don’t have furballs as kittens but start to have them as they grow into adulthood.
This is because as cats grow, they learn and improve their grooming skills. With better grooming, they catch more fur, leading to the furballs.
Can a cat die from hairballs
Hairballs are a normal thing for cats to throw up now and again. However, there are some dangers that come with hairballs, and in extreme cases, these can result in death.
For one, this could be a problem if your cat has excessive hairballs. If your cat has multiple hairballs a week, this could point to a motility problem, and the fur isn’t able to move down the digestive tract, causing them to throw it up.
Cats that throw up a lot of hairballs may have gastrointestinal problems. More specifically, certain conditions can be behind an increase in hairballs in your cat.
They may include: inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, hernias, parasites, pancreatitis, or an object stuck in your cat’s digestive tract may cause hairballs.
There are cases when a hairball can get stuck in your cat’s digestive tract. If a hairball gets stuck in its digestive tract, it can become a blockage and may require surgery to remove it.
Fortunately, there are symptoms that your cat may exhibit, which will help you know that something is wrong. If you notice your cat has any of the symptoms, take them to the vet to get them checked.
Hairballs stuck in the digestive tract can be life-threatening! Symptoms of a hairball blockage may include:
- Decrease or lack of appetite
- Excessive vomiting or retching
- Excessive coughing
Hairball removal surgery
Sometimes, a hairball can be life-threatening, and in those cases, medical attention is needed ASAP. A hairball blockage may need surgery to remove it to save your kitty’s life.
The blockage may be in different places in your cat’s body, and the vet treats your cat according to where they have the blockage. So, if a cat was vomiting, this may indicate that the blockage is in the stomach.
While constipation may point to the hairball being in the colon, there are typically two different methods that veterinarians use to remove a hairball blockage from a cat’s body.
The first involves putting the cat to sleep while the vet uses a scooping device to get the furball from the gastrointestinal tract. The other way your vet may remove a hairball stuck in your cat’s body is by cutting the lower stomach or intestines.
After surgery, your cat will need to follow up with the vet to ensure they are healing and recovering properly.
5 Tips to prevent excessive hairballs
The dangers of hairballs and general unpleasantness makes avoiding them very appealing. Thankfully, it can be done with the help of a few useful tips.
Implementing a few changes in your cat’s life can limit the number of hairballs your cat is throwing up!
#1 Brush your cat
One of the best ways to reduce the number of hairballs your cat coughs up is by regularly brushing their fur! Brushing your cat’s fur will collect all the loose fur that your cat would normally end up swallowing and remove it from its body.
A misconception you might hear is that long-haired cats are the only ones that need regular brushing; however, that’s not the case. All breeds of cats need brushing to ensure that they don’t swallow too much fur.
The Furminator is an example of a brand of cat brush that is popular and extremely effective in removing cat fur. If your cat is wary of your brush, go slowly and let them sniff and inspect the brush.
Some cats may not enjoy brushing their fur, but giving them pets and treats should help.
#2 Avoid too much grooming
This may not be the easiest tip, but if you can get your cat to not excessively groom themselves, it can avoid a lot of hairballs.
If you notice that your cat is grooming themselves a lot, break up the groom session by playing with them or giving them some type of distraction.
It can be difficult to break their attention when intensely grooming themselves, but give it a try!
#3 Use lubricants
Intestinal lubricants help cats pass their fur through the digestive tract. Lubricants are great to help your cat from tummy troubles, and they can come in different flavors that your cat will love!
Use the correct dosage amount specified by the lubricant’s bottle for the best results.
#4 Use hairball control cat food
A diet change may be just what your cat needs to limit those pesky hairballs. By feeding your cat food that is designed to reduce hairballs, you can help yourself and your cat.
These foods, whether they are wet or dry, help to control your cat’s hairball problem. They typically have lots of fiber which helps for digestion.
#5 Go to the vet
If you notice that your cat is throwing up lots of hairballs, it’s important to take proper measures by switching foods and brushing their fur. However, taking your kitty to the vet is also a good idea to get them checked.
For example, if your cat is excessively grooming themselves, there could be an underlying issue such as anxiety, depression, or a skin problem.
Going to the vet will help to give you resources and tools to help reduce furballs and eliminate the possibility of an underlying condition.
We can all agree that hairballs aren’t the best thing about having a cat. Regardless, they are the reality for every cat owner. The number of times cats have hairballs differs from cat to cat.
Long-haired cats tend to have more hairballs than short-haired ones. It’s typical for a cat to have hairballs once a week, but no more than that.
Constant furballs are not good and could be the result of a medical condition. Furballs are caused by grooming and loose hair not being digested.
Hairballs can be dangerous when it causes a blockage and might cost a cat its life. By noticing symptoms and taking your cat to the vet, they can perform procedures to remove the blockage.
You can use some tips from this article to prevent your cat from hacking up furballs. Hairballs are just one thing you must deal with when having your furry friend.