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Shedding and Hairballs - What You Should Know About These Common Cat Health Problems

While outdoor cats may shed only twice a year, indoor cats may shed hair for the entire year. This is due to the fairly consistent temperature found inside the house. Older cats tend to shed more than younger ones because they usually have a drier coat.

If you suspect that your cat's shedding is excessive, you should take him to the veterinarian. If no illness is diagnosed, the shedding may be caused by a hormonal imbalance.

Most likely, though, it may be caused by illness, skin allergy or parasites. Daily combing and brushing, combines with hand grooming and an occasional bath, may help control the problem.

If your cat has lost his appetite, has constipation and bowel problems or is vomiting, he could be suffering from hairballs. These are formed by your cat swallowing hair while cleaning and grooming himself.

The hair forms into cylindrical shapes in the stomach, and is then vomited up. Many cats will choose your best chair, your bed, or the living room rug to relieve themselves of a hairball. Hairballs are more common in long haired cats and when cats are shedding excessively.

Daily combing combines with the occasional bath can aid in controlling hairballs. There are also hairball remedies on the market that you can administer to your cat on a weekly basis. These help the cat eliminate any hairballs by lubricating the intestines, thereby allowing the easy passage of the hairball.

Feeding a diet that contains a moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, also may be helpful in keeping your cat's intestinal tract healthy. Although a cat that is vomiting may simply have a hairball or have eaten grass, this can be a sign of a more serious illness.

If the hairball has become impacted in his gastro-intestinal tract, the problem is more complex. Watch your cat closely for any unusual behavior or signs he is not doing well. If the hairball is impacted, you may need to take your cat to the veterinarian to have it surgically removed.

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