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Your Cat and Hairballs

April 15 2018

Did you know that April 27th is Hairball Awareness Day? This unofficial holiday isn’t to focus on the plight of hairballs. Hairballs are definitely not something to celebrate! This kitty-centric holiday is actually to raise awareness about hairballs, and the dangers they can present to our feline friends. Here, a McHenry, IL vet discusses—you guessed it—hairballs.

What Hairballs Are

As you’ve likely noticed, our feline pals are very, very diligent about their beauty regimens. Fluffy will take time to groom her pretty fur every day to keep it clean and soft. Sooner or later, your furry little diva will swallow some of her own hair during this process. It’s probably safe to say that you know what happens next. It’s not one of Fluffy’s cuter traits.


Hairballs are, unfortunately, somewhat par for the course with our feline pals. However, there are things you can do to prevent or at least reduce them. First, make sure to brush your kitty regularly. This will remove that dead fur and dander from her coat before she swallows it. (It also will help cut down on the amount of cat fur you find stuck to your clothes and furniture, but that’s another topic.) It’s also important to make sure your pet is getting proper nutrition. A good, nourishing diet will keep your cat’s fur soft and shiny, reducing the amount of dry, dead fur she sheds. Keeping your furry friend indoors will also help. Cats that go outside tend to grow thick coats in winter, which means more shedding the rest of the year. You may also want to consider asking your vet about hairball prevention products. We definitely recommend this for cats with long and/or thick fur.

Danger Signs

Occasionally, cats are unable to properly expel their hairballs. This can be very dangerous! Hairballs can cause serious intestinal blockages, which would constitute a very dangerous medical emergency. Fluffy can’t tell you if she’s having trouble, so you’ll need to watch for warning signs, such as dry heaving and/or excessive vomiting. Keep an eye out for general signs of illness as well. Some common ones are hiding, poor grooming, and unusual behavior or vocalizations. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Please feel free to contact us, your McHenry, IL pet clinic, for all your kitty’s veterinary care needs. We’re happy to assist!