Cats, during their daily care, lick their fur. Therefore, they swallow large amounts of coat. Most often, it goes through the digestive system and is excreted. However, part of it remains in the stomach, causes discomfort and, after some time, a cat vomits the so-called flock i.e. a hairball. When vomiting, cats make a characteristic sound similar to coughing.
Popular “alley cats”, or more formally European cats, rarely have problems with retained hairballs since their coat is short and even though they do not digest the coat, they excrete it in faeces. Even if a hairball is formed, it is usually not that big and can be easily vomited.
We come across the problem of hairballs in case of long-haired cats such as maine coon, Persian or Norwegian Forest. Sometimes also short-haired cats extremely caring about their fur may suffer from this ailment. Most often, the symptoms of hairballs retention are vomiting or constipation as well as general malaise. Sometimes a cat wants to vomit but cannot since the hairball is too big. In the most severe cases, the digestive system may become obstructed and surgical intervention might be necessary. If a cat shows some alarming symptoms as the ones mentioned above, you need to consult a doctor to confirm whether the grounds of the problem are hairballs and to introduce relevant treatment.
As a form of prevention, you can apply pastes commonly known as „anti-flocks” which prevent hairballs formation and make it easier to excrete hairballs with faeces.