Is there a hairball stuck in my cat’s stomach? – find out now
Is there a hairball stuck in my cat’s stomach? Dr Platzhund gives advice to a reader:
Q: I have a Siamese cat, and suspect he has a hairball in his stomach. He’s on a special hairball-preventing diet though, and has short hair, so is there a hairball stuck in my cat’s stomach?
A: Cats have special papillae (sensory organs found on the tongue that allow the sense of taste) or spikes on their tongue for the purpose of grooming their fur, smoothing it out, removing dust and loose fur, and moistening their coat. During the process, cats swallow their fur and it passes through the gastrointestinal tract and appears in its stool. Sometimes excessive amounts of the swallowed fur remains lodged in the stomach, forming a mat, which can’t pass through into the intestines.
The presence of this hairball or trichobezoar (a compact mass of hair that forms in the stomach of animals) can cause irritation, inducing a cat to gag and eventually regurgitate a sausage-shaped hairball. You can recognise the problem when you see these masses on the floor, when your cat is constipated with hair in firm stools, a dry and matted coat, frequent gagging after meals, and fatigue.
The matted fur in the stomach can be so space-occupying, up to the size of a tennis ball, that any food eaten can be immediately vomited. A very large one may need surgical removal, but most are easily controlled with a multivitamin non-digestible oil-based lubricant, available from your vet. When given twice a day, it aids the movement of the hairball through the bowel.