Each time your cat grooms itself, they will swallow some loose hairs. These hairs are not digested and they are passed into the cat's stomach and intestines. If the cat swallows enough hair so that it forms a ball in the cat's stomach, the cat will cough this up and this would be the hairball.
When a cat is trying to cough up a hairball you will usually hear a hack-hack-hack noise. The majority of cats do not have a problem dislodging a hairball, however hairballs can pose a potential danger by blocking the passage of digested food through the intestines, causing an impaction. In severe cases your cat may reqiure surgery to remove any impaction, in lesser cases it may cause your cat discomfort such as constipation.
To help avoid your cat having hairballs you will need to groom them everyday.
Signs of hairballs
Round/circular masses on the floor
Constipation, or hard stools with hair in,
Dry, matted coat
Frequent dry coughing or hacking,
Not eating or not much interest in eating,
Depression or lethargy.
Ways of preventing or aiding hairball relief involve feeding substances that will help the passage of hair and digestive waste down the intestinal tract.
There are many different forms as detailed below;
Special Hairball Formula Food - these are avaible at most pet stores.
Commercial Hairball Remedies - these can be granules for food or gels, these help in pasing hairballs through. If you are using one of these formulas it is best to check with a vet whether you cat may need any supplements as some remedies can affect the balance of your cats necessary vitmans and minerals.
Home Remedies - some cat owners have offered a teaspoon of canned pumpkin (non-flavored) or baby food squash these may help by adding lubrication or soft bulk to help hairballs pass.
Preventing hairballs and hairball relief