By Susan Aiello • Published: August 1st, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

Fastidious felines groom themselves frequently, using their sandpapery tongues to remove dirt and “comb out” dead hair.

Of course, all that combed hair has to go somewhere — right down your cat’s gullet. Most swallowed hair passes through the digestive tract without a problem. But sometimes, hair wads up in the stomach and forms an irritating hairball, which can often lead to vomiting.

Because hairballs can potentially become more than just a nuisance, it’s best to keep them at bay. The best method is to brush cats frequently, especially breeds with long hair. This puts fur into the wastebasket instead of your kitty’s tummy.

Your veterinarian can help you with additional ways to prevent hairballs from forming. For example, feeding a high-fiber diet or periodically giving a paste laxative can help hair move along without blocking the gut.