Hairballs are usually harmless, but not always
If your cat is vomiting a white liquid and you have determined that you don't believe it's a hairball, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. Although cats often throw up for minor reasons like overeating, it also could be a symptom of another medical condition -- think parasites or diabetes.
Another method that can help prevent hairballs is to feed a special “hairball diet,” which works in three ways. The first advantage of hairball diets stems from the fact that hairballs have a high lipid content. Hairball diets are formulated to contain high levels of soy lecithin, which acts as a detergent to solubilize the lipids, preventing the hairball from forming. Hairball diets also have a high fiber content, which promotes the movement of hair though the digestive tract. Most hairball diets also have high levels of certain amino acids that promote overall health of the skin and coat. Diets with fish oil or fish meals may have higher omega-3 fatty acids, which may aid in decreasing itching and allergy-like symptoms that will in turn decrease the risk of overgrooming. For owners who do not wish to change their cat’s diet, specially formulated treats are also available that have a similar effect, but it may be less pronounced than a change in diet. Laxative products containing petroleum jelly are another option to help ease hair through the digestive tract. Most cats like the taste of these products, so they are simple to administer.
Often, you'll only know that your cat has had a hairball after it vomits up the plaque of fur. Sometimes, however, hairballs become stuck inside a cat. Your cat may display some symptoms that can clue you in: The cat might exhibit a repeated dry cough, or may retch after eating. Some cats may be fatigued, depressed or uninterested in food.When cats fail to eliminate hairballs by vomiting, hairballs present in the stomach may create mechanical obstructions within the digestive tract. In most of these cases, hairballs are found stuck between the stomach and small intestines or between the colon and the small intestines. A cat with hairballs obstructing any part of its digestive system often suffers from unexplained loss of weight, excessive coughing, and poor appetite. Aside from non-productive gagging and retching, affected cats may also suffer digestive upsets resulting in diarrhea or constipation. If your cat is manifesting any of these symptoms, a visit to your vet should be made. Hairballs which are lodged in any part of the digestive tract can be a life-threatening condition and expensive surgery may be the only option to take out the obstructing hairballs.Cats suffering from hairballs attempt to remove the hairball orally. The cat will exhibit symptoms of wheezing or coughing along with vomiting. Very often the hair gets stuck at the back of the cat's throat during the coughing or wheezing. Sometimes pets eject hairballs along with bile. Owners may also notice pets retching or displaying stomach contractions during the hairball removal process. The symptoms could be signs of another condition, so your veterinarian will perform a physical exam to confirm the hairball. Expect to answer questions about the cat’s medical history and how often they cough up hairballs. It may be helpful to keep a log of their hairball regurgitation and the other symptoms they are displaying. Your veterinarian may also order blood tests and radiographs to check for an intestinal blockage in your cat.A cat hairball is a condition that's commonly seen in felines. Although cats are known to cough up hairballs on rare occasions, pets that cough up hairballs more than twice a month or exhibit frequent symptoms of cat hairball, require medical attention. The treatment for cat hairball is minimal and could sometimes be cured with home remedies. Cat hairball becomes a dangerous situation if the hairball causes intestinal blockage which could lead to death. All three of these symptoms could mean that your cat’s throat, stomach or intestines are blocked by a hairball obstruction. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, schedule a visit to your veterinarian’s office as soon as possible.