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Hairballs and Cats


More recently, many veterinarians (and cat owners) have come to believe that a grain-free diet may be more appropriate for cats that vomit frequently. The theory behind this feeding strategy is that cats did not evolve to eat grains. Cats are obligate carnivores and their “natural” diet consists of a high protein level and low carbohydrate level. Grain-based foods tend to be higher in carbohydrates, leading to changes in the flora (i.e. bacteria) of the cat’s intestinal tract. These changes may change the motility in the intestinal tract and contribute to the inability to be able to pass hair normally through the intestinal tract.


While many cats vomit an occasional hairball, it should not be a common event. If your cat is vomiting frequently with or without hair in the vomitus, there may be other health problems. Inflammatory bowel disease has been associated with frequent vomiting, as has intestinal lymphoma (a type of cancer.)


Hairballs can cause problems other than vomiting as well. For instance, a hairball can become lodged in the intestinal tract causing an obstruction — a cat hairball blockage.


If your cat is vomiting frequently, you should seek advice from your veterinarian. Frequent vomiting, with or without hairballs, is not a normal circumstance for any cat. Your cat may need a change in diet or additional treatment. Your veterinarian can help you determine the cause of the vomiting and find an appropriate solution.


Image: Joyce Michaud / via Shutterstock



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