Cats are notorious for being clean. To achieve their high need to be clean they spend a large part of their everyday life grooming themselves. Grooming is done by licking its fur with a course brush. In this case the brush is their tongue.
A cat's tongue is a rough surface which is comprised of many small bumps that are similar to barbs. The barbs are called papillae that are made of keratin. Keratin is the same material that human fingernails are made of. The barbs are arranged on the tongue and lean backs toward the back of the throat. When your cat rakes its tongue against its fur these barbs are raised and form many backward type hooks. While these hooks are beneficial in combing through the fur it also catches lose hairs which are then swallowed.
Some of this fur is passed through to the intestinal track but most of it can not be ingested by the cat. The main reason cats can not readily pass the fur is because of a lack of fiber in their diet. Cats that suffer from a fiber deficiency will have an accumulation of hair in the back of their throat or stomach. The only recourse a cat has is to expel the hairball by throwing it up. These hairball episodes are preceded with gagging and retching.
The elimination of a hairball should be expected from time to time but if it is a regular occurrence it could be a cause for concern. Cats that have many bouts with hairballs can develop a loss of appetite and become constipated.
Your first course of action should be to cut down on the amount of hair ingested by your kitty. Brushing your cat will remove excessive hair. Short hair cats require 2 to 3 times of grooming per week while daily brushing might be advantageous for a long haired cat.
Increase the amount of fiber your cat receives. There are commercial products as well as natural remedies that can be tried. Specialized cat food and treats are available with the intent of reducing hairball build up. Some owners supplement their cat's food with canned pumpkin. Grass is another form of fiber that can be tried. The grass comes in a variety of types ranging from wheat, rye, and oat. These grasses can be purchased at pet stores. Please do not use lawn grass that has been chemically treated as this can be dangerous to your pet's health.
If your cat is frequently expelling hairballs and is exhibiting a lack of appetite you should consider consulting with your veterinarian. They will be able to determine if you cat is plagued by an under lying illness which needs to be addressed.
The elimination of hairballs may be reduced greatly with a little help from you. It is well worth a try and it will most certainly be a relief to you and your cat.
Jay Grey has owned and cared for his own pet cats for years. He is also owns and runs Cat Care Zone [http://catcarezone.com] at [http://catcarezone.com]
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