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Long Haired Cat Hairballs: Symptoms, Causes, Remedies, And Prevention

“Dear me! what is that my cat just vomited?” It was a sudden shout from my mother, who was in the company of our cat, Loki.

I hurried from my room and could tell something was wrong, seeing her baffled and staring at the cat in perplexity. Loki was with us for a year and what happened that day was very new to us.

Out of curiosity, I did examine the vomit, and to my surprise, I noticed hairs wrapped together. I was afraid until our vet confirmed Loki was okay, and she had only vomited a hairball. 

Here’s much about long-haired cat hairballs and how to prevent them. Prepare to be enlightened!

Long Haired Cat Hairballs

Beauty is a crucial consideration to many people looking forward to owning a pet. The long-haired cats win the attention of most cat enthusiasts due to their stunning look; they’re a copybook beauty.

If you have seen a Persian cat breed, Munchkin cat, Maine coon cat, Ragamuffin cat, LaPerm cat, or the American bobtail, then you know what a fluffy and radiant cat is. They are true long-haired cat breeds.

Depending on the breed type, the long-haired cat’s fur can grow as long as 1.5-5 inches. The bushy body and long silky fur are the true beautifiers to these felines. Long-haired cats shed frequently and therefore require regular brushing or grooming.

The long-haired cats are the archetypical beautiful cats, but their flip side is quite discouraging. These felines are more susceptible to hairballs because of their constant shedding and grooming.

What are Hairballs in cats?

First and foremost, hairballs are completely natural and are evident in a good number of cats. Wait! Even healthy and lovely felines can throw up a hairball. 

For people yet to see their cat vomiting this disgusting material, hairballs comprise a compact ball of indigestible hair that builds up in the stomach resulting from a cat licking its fur.

Long Haired Cat Hairballs
Cat trying to vomit hairballs

A cat’s tongue resembles a rasp; hence, it drums out its dead and loose hair during grooming and swallows it eventually. The hair piles up in the stomach over time, forming a hairball. 

It’s a nuisance having this package in the stomach, making the cat vomit it up. Despite being a common problem among cats, not all felines get hairballs.

Most healthy pussycats swallow the fur, it passes through the alimentary canal, and it’s expelled from the body.

Do Hairballs Affect the Health of Cats?

A cat hairball is pretty irritating to the stomach layer, and this denies your cat peace of mind. More often, hairballs mimic the shape of the esophagus; they come out slender and cylindrical, other than round.

Occasional furballs are nothing to worry about and don’t put the cat at any health risk. It becomes a big concern when the hairball is too large.

A cat vomiting a large hairball will face a tough time, and sometimes this trichobezoar can stick in the esophagus and block it. The cat’s effort to throw up fails, and this will require nothing but surgery.

It makes it even more threatening when the hairball manages to pass through the pyloric sphincter and enters into the intestinal tract, and becomes embedded there. If such a thing happens, although it’s sporadic, surgery is required.

Symptoms of Hairballs in Long-haired Cats

A successful emit of the hairball calls for a celebration to the cat. Typically, throwing up this compact package is accompanied by retching and heaving. The cat should then bring up the hairball in no time.

Sometimes the process may be prolonged when the cat is unable to vomit, even after several attempts. That is the right time to inform your vet because the cat might be in danger of hairball blockage.

Look out for the following hairball symptoms since, in such a situation, it requires a vet intervention.

  • Continuous vomiting, retching, and heaving without any signs of a hairball
  • Anorexia and your cat won’t drink
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • The cat is coughing constantly
  • The cat has a bloated, hard abdomen
  • Constipation.

What Causes Hairballs in Long-haired Cats?

Hairballs neither come by mistake, insanitary, nor invisible things. It’s not a condition of poorly kept cats. Hairballs are spontaneous trichobezoars resulting from a natural process.  So, don’t blame yourself for your cat throwing up a furball.

It is the long silky hair from long-haired cats that expose them to the risk of getting hairballs. These cats shed frequently and are proficient groomers. They groom themselves irresistibly and tend to swallow a tremendous amount of hair.

Note that kittens rarely groom themselves, and their hair is relatively small; hence, they don’t get hairballs. But this is a common condition in adults who are fastidious groomers.

It’s the swallowed loose hair, debris, and dirt that clumps over time in the stomach that becomes a hairball. A cat should only bring up one or two hairballs in a year; something above that is dangerous and requires medical attention.

What causes hairballs in long haired cats [source: AnimalWise]

How To Remedy and Prevent Hairballs in Long Haired Cats

A hairball isn’t something of great concern unless the cat is coughing them frequently.

Extremely large hairballs or those stuck anywhere in the digestive system can pose hazardous problems to cats if not promptly removed. In worst cases, when the hairball is not treated correctly, it can cause impaction or even death.

The truth is, where there’s hair, there are hairballs, and hairballs are absent until hair is present. That basically says that it’s challenging to prevent hairballs in cats entirely, but it’s possible to reduce their occurrence.

Here are some ways that can minimize and prevent hairballs in long-haired cats. Please take a look at them!

Groom Your Long-Haired Cats Regularly to Reduce Shedding

One way to prevent hairball formation in long-haired cats is to help them shed less by brushing their hair constantly. All cats are proficient self-groomers and love cleaning themselves from time to time.

Ideally, for cats that shed a lot, you should comb or brush them every day; it’s a viable way to minimize hairballs. Grooming the cat once or twice per week will still be effective.

However, if your schedule is quite tight, consider taking your cat to a professional groomer for brushing and haircut periodically; it could be after every 5-6 months.

grooming long haired cat
Regularly grooming your long haired cat will help reduce the risk of hairballs

When combing, that pack of hair you remove from the cat reduces the amount of fur that builds up hairballs in the stomachs.

Use A Hairball Remedy or Laxative

Things are getting better with technology. Allow the cat to ingest lubricant laxatives; e.g., laxatone is a convenient way to lubricate the GIT and allow the swallowed hair to pass through naturally.

Place the gel on the cat’s paw or nose periodically, and the cat will lick it off. It’s an effective way to reduce the chances of hair building up to form hairballs.

Encouraging the cat to lick petroleum jelly is also an alternative way to lubricate the digestive system and aids the hair to pass through. Dip the cat’s paw into petroleum jelly and allow the cat to lick it off.

Give Long-Haired Cats A Specialized “Hairball Formula” Cat Food

Dietary fiber does very well in keeping the GIT healthy and lubricating it. Today, there are cat formulas that provide nutrients and, at the same time, help to avoid hairball formation in cats.

Here is an excellent example of the best cat food formulated for hairballs; Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Hairball Management, Royal Canin Hairball Care, and Science Diet Adult Hairball Control

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The formulas provide natural fiber, oil, vitamins, and minerals that allow the hair to pass through the GIT smoothly and naturally. They also help to nourish the skin and coat of your cat.

You can be sure that the fiber in hairball formulas is safe for the cat, not too much, not too less. It won’t cause any side effects as long as you follow the prescriptions.

What to do to help you long haired cat with hairballs [source: eHowPets]

Train Your Cat Do Enjoyable Activity Instead of Grooming

Cats don’t shy away from playing; they are frisky. So then, if you notice compulsive grooming with your fur baby, choose an activity to break the boredom and lure the cat into having fun.

Cats can go crazy for toys; they keep them busy pouncing and hounding. The best option toys include battery-powered toys with sound and flashing lights, moving toys, toys on a string, etc.

The chances are high that your fur baby will get lost in playing and forget about grooming. It will help to reduce excessive self-grooming and minimize hairballs.

Talk To Veterinarian If Your Cat Is Lethargic And Not Eat

A regular visit to the veterinarian provides ample time to share more about your fur baby, including its health, feeding program, etc., but it won’t prevent hairballs.

However, it’s never in vain to have time with the vet. You can talk a lot aside from your cat’s health, e.g., your cat’s grooming habits and any issue you have about furballs.

This is also the best time to diagnose the cat and detect any issues arising and address them when it’s still early. All I mean is that a visit to the veterinarian is never wastage of time.

Last Sentences

Now you know what a hairball is and that this trichobezoar is a product of the natural grooming process in cats.

It’s normal for cats to throw up hairballs, but it should happen less frequently, not more than two times a year. As the name implies, long-haired cats have long silk, and they shed it in large quantities.

The more hair they shed, the more the hair they swallow, thus making them prone to hairballs. Sometimes hairballs can be life-threatening; blockage can cause the cat to choke to death.

The presence of hairballs in cats is not a permanent problem. There are many viable ways to help reduce the building up of furballs. Among these approaches is grooming your cat regularly, using hairball cat formulas, hairball lubricants, etc.

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