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If you are a cat owner, there’s a good chance you’ve found them in many places, such as behind your furniture, on your bed, and on your rugs. Maybe you’ve even seen your cat hack up a hairball or two. This is definitely not a pretty sight, right? The truth is that nearly every cat is going to suffer from a hairball every now and then, but if you find that your cat is vomiting up hairballs on a regular basis, you may need to visit the vet for some help or even take some preventative measures.

Hairballs Explained

Cats are naturally clean animals, and therefore, they groom themselves on a daily basis- several times a day, in fact. During the cleaning process, he will often end up swallowing some of his hair. Most of the time, this hair will go through the digestive system just fine, ending up in his feces. On the other hand, the hair that does not completely go through the digestive system will collect in the small intestine or even the stomach. He will eventually hack this up. Even though they are referred to as “hairballs” they very rarely look much like a ball and are not fun to step on, especially in the middle of the night when walking around barefoot.

Risk Factors for Hairballs

The older your cat is, the greater his risk for developing hairballs. In addition, the more hair your cat has, the more likely he is to develop hairballs. During the season when your cat will be shedding, he will be much more likely to develop them. One of the side effects of being the proud owner of a fastidious cat is increase in development of hairballs.

Preventing Hairballs

If you’d like to help your cat avoid hairballs- or at least decrease the frequency of them- you should brush your cat on a regular basis. If he has long hair, it should be done on a daily basis. You may even want to splurge a little on a groomer for cats with very long hair. You can use petroleum-based, fish/liver-flavored to help keep your cat regular. This should be given to your cat once to twice a week. If you can’t get him to lick it off of your fingers, you should smear it on his paws and he will lick it off from there. If you have a cat that has constant problems with hairballs, there are special hairball prevention foods you can find.

Problems Caused by Hairballs

The truth is that in some cats, hairballs can cause some serious problems. If you notice that your cat is refusing to eat, or seems to be constipated, you may want to get in touch with your vet. If he is always vomiting, but not getting anything up, this is another issue that will warrant a visit to the vet. In some cases, a hairball can end up passing into the intestine, which causes a blockage. This is a very serious situation, which may require surgery to save your cat’s life. If you have a cat that is vomiting up hairballs on a regular basis, it could be indicative of a more serious condition such as gastrointestinal diseases or cancer.