The coquetry of cats and their hairballs
Before leaving home in the mornings, we must wash our face and comb our hair. Doing it just once is enough... Unless you are a film star, you don't need to spend two hours in front of a mirror.
Without going to such extremes, cats do something similar. They groom themselves much more frequently than dogs do and during that process they swallow plenty of hair. This is very common, especially in breeds like Persian cats or Maine Coons, which are characterised by their long and beautiful fur. Most cats never have health problems related to the amount of hair they swallow because it eventually passes through the animal's digestive tract and is excreted intact in the faeces. However, for other cats things are quite more complicated, since hairballs remain in the stomach blocking their intestinal tract.
Vomiting is the first sign that something is wrong. As hair is not food, it may irritate the intestinal tract, so the easiest and simplest way to get rid of it is by vomiting. However, if the hairball is not expelled, it may remain in the stomach or even in the oesophagus or intestines, thereby acting as a barrier that prevents food from passing through their digestive system. When this happens, cats are lethargic, refuse to eat, cough, have attacks of retching and are constipated, which is not good for their health.
Given that hairballs are inherent to cats, we should find a way to minimise their development. One of the preventive measures to be taken may be feeding your cat with high fibre food to push hair through the digestive tract. You can also use products that are specifically created to eliminate these hairballs.
Another recommendation is to get into the habit of combing your cat's hair daily, since the more dead hair is eliminated, the fewer hair the cat will swallow. In addition, this daily contact with your cat will help you strengthen your relationship with it and ¿ – why not – it will show your hair-styling skills.