Cats are the cleanest animals. More than 10 times a day they lick their fur coat and do it not only for beauty. Thus, they remove parasites and dirt, as true hunters get rid of their own odors, relieve psycho-emotional stress, remove dead hairs.
However, every cat owner often faces the phenomenon when his pet from time to time regurgitates wet undigested fur. Since the esophagus through which it exits has a rather narrow lumen, the dense hairball is not round, but cylindrical in shape.
This phenomenon, which often frightens inexperienced cat owners, is called trichobezoar in veterinary medicine. The term literally means “stomach stone made of wool”. A dense clump of hair is formed in all cats. The mechanism of its appearance is as follows.
The cat’s tongue can be called a kind of grater, since on its surface there are many papillae that resemble hard “hooks” that comb the wool cover when washing.
During the process of licking, individual hairs remain on the tongue, which the pet spits out, but a small amount of wool is still swallowed and enters the esophagus.
After a while, most of the ingested hairs will exit through the gastrointestinal tract along with feces. The remaining hairs will gradually accumulate in the stomach and form trichobezoars, which are subsequently regurgitated by the cat.
This is a normal physiological process. A health hazard occurs only when the lump becomes too large and cannot escape either through the stomach or through the anal opening. This leads to obstruction in the small intestine, and then surgery becomes the only way to help the animal.
The risk of formation of trichobezoars from increased hair loss increases in cases of:
- intensive molting;
- impaired metabolism;
- hormonal diseases;
- improper unbalanced nutrition;
- reduced motility of the gastrointestinal tract;
- frequent licking due to infection with parasites.
Street cats or Pets that are released for a walk, solve this not very pleasant problem in a natural way.
The grass, cleaning the stomach, mostly wheat grass helps them to regurgitate the accumulated hair. Domestic cats are deprived of this opportunity.
Which breeds are more susceptible
Trichobezoars are formed from time to time in all cats, but especially susceptible to this phenomenon are representatives of long-haired, and also endowed with a rich undercoat of breeds: Persians, British, Scots, Siberians, Maine coons, etc.
This does not mean that short-haired cats do not suffer from getting hair in the stomach. For them, it is considered normal to vomit with lumps of swallowed wool, but this happens less often.
The main symptoms
Even a small kitten that is just learning to lick its fur coat can regurgitate a lump of fur that overflows its stomach. In an adult animal, the norm is to clean the stomach from 1 to 6 times a month, depending on the length of the coat and the age of the animal.
The owner should be wary if the cat has the following signs:
- constipation or rare hard stools with bits of wool;
- daily vomiting with hair;
- temperature rise;
- blood, mucus, shreds of fur in the vomit;
- inability to regurgitate trichobezoar independently;
- refusal to eat due to fullness of the stomach;
- swollen, painful on palpation of the abdomen.
The coat becomes untidy, disheveled, but the cat does not wash or lick itself. She ceases to show activity and tends to hide in a secluded corner.
There is no single treatment regimen for trichobezoars. Therapy is aimed at eliminating the underlying disease. The veterinarian can prescribe medications that improve the removal of wool from the stomach and intestines, for example, Metoclopramide, Ranitidine.
The prognosis for trichobezoars is mostly favorable. Operations are resorted to in exceptional cases, which is extremely rare.
Trichobezoars do not pose a health hazard to cats. However, if they get into the intestines, the situation requires immediate resolution. Wool stopper tightly clogs the intestines, which makes it difficult to defecate and provokes intestinal obstruction.
In addition, lumps of wool injure the mucous membranes (up to necrosis), poison the body with decay products, cause destructive changes in the intestinal walls and atony (inhibition of intestinal motility).
Note: cat hair can not only form trichobezoars in the stomach and intestines, but also accumulate behind the fangs. The cat will not be able to pull them out of these hard-to-reach places on their own, so the mouth of the fuzzy should be regularly examined and cleaned. If you neglect this procedure, an inflammatory process may develop in the oral cavity.
What to do at home
If you notice that the cat is trying to make itself vomit and at the same time it has other warning signs, you should give the pet a special paste to remove the hair. They are sold in veterinary pharmacies and contribute to the effective and painless elimination of trichobezoars naturally.
Malt pastes contain coarse fiber, which, passing through the intestines and not digested, takes with it all the “extra”. In addition, the composition contains oils and other useful elements. To increase efficiency, veterinarians also recommend adding vegetable oil to them.
Such preparations have a pleasant taste, so it will not be difficult to give them to a cat. If the fuzzy refuses, you can mix the paste in the food, smear it on the paws and muzzle.
An alternative to pastes are special tablets, oil pads and treats. If these tools do not help, you need to contact a veterinary clinic.
Some owners use vaseline oil to eliminate constipation in cats. You can’t do this! First, it contributes to intestinal disorders, causes hypovitaminosis A, E, K and atony.
Secondly, there are many contraindications for which vaseline oil can not be used: pregnancy, inflammation in the abdominal cavity, intestinal obstruction.
The best prevention of trichobezoars is systematic combing of the pet. During the molting period, the procedure should be done more often. At this time, animals swallow more wool than usual, and it is difficult for the body to cope with it. Some cats shed all year round. Long-haired animals require special care.
And Persians and exotics are also hard to lick because of the short muzzle, which makes it difficult to breathe. The more carefully the owner takes care of the pet, the less hair will accumulate in his stomach.
Choose a brush carefully, based on the condition of the coat, the presence of the undercoat and the purpose of combing. It is advisable to consult a veterinarian about this, who will tell you which tool is suitable for your pet: a pukhoderka, a mitten brush, a comb or a furminator.
If the cat is domestic and does not go outside, it can eat indoor plants. However, not all flowers, for example, are safe for her. Some plants such as oleander, asparagus, dieffenbachia can cause serious poisoning, so contact with a four-legged pet should be excluded.
But sow a bed of sprouted wheat or oats, which are very useful for animals, not only possible, but also necessary.
Many experienced owners even grow grass in the apartment. This is not only an excellent vitamin Supplement to food, but also an effective remedy against trichobezoars. You can buy the herb at a veterinary pharmacy. Most cats are happy to eat vegetation, but some whims have to crumble it and mix it with food.
It is advisable to periodically give professional therapeutic dry food, thanks to which wool does not accumulate in the stomach: hill’s Adult Feline Hairball Control, Royal Canin Intense Hairball 34, Eukanuba Adult Hairball Chicken and others. Such special foods, in addition to preventive action, also have a positive effect on the cat’s coat, strengthening it and enhancing its natural Shine.
Hi, my name is Mike Fletcher. I am 36 years old and I’m a veterinarian at a veterinary clinic in Granby Colorado. And this is my blog about Pets. I hope I can answer your questions here.