Most people know that cats can groom themselves and develop hairballs as a result. However, did you know that your cat's hairballs may not actually be their fault? If you have more than one cat with long hair in your family, this could be the reason that your short-haired cat is coughing up hairballs. Here's why it's an issue for your entire cat family.
Fur in Gut
When cats groom themselves (or others, for that matter), they lick their fur. Any loose hairs stick to the tiny barbs on their tongues. From here, a cat typically swallows the fur.
While this is a normal process for cats to go through, that doesn't mean that their bodies can digest hair. When they consume too much in one lump, it will come back up in the form of a hairball.
When it Becomes Severe
Hairballs aren't something that pet owners want to encounter, but there's a reason why they're more than just a nuisance.
If your cat is unable to rid themselves of the lump of hair that's building up in their stomach, you could have a serious medical condition on your hands. These hair lumps can easily lead to gastrointestinal blockages that can prevent your cat from eating, defecating, or both. In a short amount of time, your cat may rapidly begin to lose weight and become extremely ill. Without medical assistance from a vet, your cat could actually pass away from this condition, so it's not something that should be taken lightly.
What to Do
If you know that your cats are friendly with each other, the most sensible thing you can do is to have the whole family professionally groomed. Removing excess hair from both your short-haired cat and your long-haired cat is essential. This means that if either of them decides to be friendly and lick both themselves and their cat friend, they'll be less likely to develop a gastrointestinal blockage or hairball.
Furthermore, talk to your vet about recommendations of anti-hairball products. Veterinarians will be able to recommend foods and treats that typically contain fiber or petroleum jelly to help hair to pass out through the gut.
Hairballs are a serious issue, even if you think that having just one long-haired cat won't impact the situation. If your cats get along in the slightest, it's important to have your long-haired cat groomed for the sake of your whole cat family. Contact Oakton Animal Hospital for further information regarding your cat's health.