Everything You Wanted To Know About Hairballs

Luckily, our pal Romeo the Cat has his paws on the pulse of animal issues, and was happy to ask the big questions you always wanted to know, but were too shy to ask. He recently spoke with Dr. Arnold Plotnick, a veterinarian at Manhattan Cat Specialists and blogger behind Cat Man Do, to get the important answers all cat owners need to know.

Romeo: Let’s start with the basics. How are hairballs formed?
Dr. Plotnick: Grooming is a natural behavior for cats. When cats grooms themselves (or each other as a social activity), they swallow loose fur. Hair is not easily digested and over time forms into a ball. The cat’s stomach reacts by emitting digestive juices that cause the cat to expel the hairball through regurgitation.

Romeo: If I don’t cough them up, where does all that hair go?
Dr. P: The ingested hair needs to come out one way or another. Fur not coughed up as a hairball will pass through the digestive track and end up in your litter box. Hairballs become dangerous if they get too large or become stuck in a cat’s intestine. Stuck or impacted hairballs are a serious problem and sometimes require surgical removal. Signs of a serious or chronic hairball problem include constipation, frequent dry coughing or hacking, loss of appetite, loss of energy and depression.