Cats are by nature very clean and spend a lot of time licking their fur. In the process, they not only free their wool from odors and dirt particles, but also swallow old hairs that are poorly retained in the hair follicles. This process is natural for cats, but sometimes it can lead to unpleasant consequences.
Why do lumps of fur form in the stomach of a maine coon cat
Every cat owner knows that even after a minor stroking, she tends to “wash up” as soon as possible, as if she wants to get rid of unnecessary odors. A reverent attitude to the purity of the skin appeared for a reason, but developed in the process of evolution and made the cat almost invisible to the sensitive noses of their prey.
For better grooming (grooming), the cat’s language has also changed in the course of evolution. He looked like a kind of comb with the bristles bent back. The rough modified tongue ensures uniform “washing out” of the hairs and removal of dense dirt particles. Such features, coupled with a noiseless gait and outstanding agility, made cats ideal pets from the point of view of hygiene.
There are negative sides to such a unique cleanliness. Licking the fur, cats swallow part of the hairs. Hair is not digested at all and normally passes through the entire gastrointestinal tract in a completely unchanged form, being released into the environment naturally. This feature does not harm cats at all and is the norm for most mammals, but sometimes wool can linger in the stomach of cats, forming small lumps. These lumps of wool are called trichobezoars and they can have a harmful effect on the cat’s body, irritating the intestinal walls. Most often, the result of such an irritating action is vomiting, followed by regurgitating a lump.
Many cat owners have repeatedly observed how a cat vomits a hairball. Often they consider it absolutely harmless, but this is not quite true. The primary irritating effect of trichobezoar on the stomach is usually not enough to cause serious inflammation. Single vomiting does not bother pets at all, but only brings hygienic and aesthetic discomfort to their owners. But in some cases, complications may occur.
Symptoms of accumulation of lumps of wool in the cat’s body
Of the main complications caused by excessive ingestion of wool into the stomach, the following can be noted:
The passage of a hairball into the small intestine. There it can get stuck and block the gastrointestinal tract for further passage of food. Symptoms in this situation usually boil down to incessant vomiting, abdominal pain, apathy and lack of appetite. Often the cat refuses water, which, coupled with vomiting, can lead to dehydration.
The sticking of trichobezoar in the esophagus is much less common, but no less dangerous and can cause similar symptoms.
The ingestion of trichobezoars into the nasopharynx with vomit causes sudden sneezing, discharge from the nasal cavity – signs of rhinitis.
All of these complications are serious pathologies and without proper treatment can have serious consequences for the health of the cat. If similar symptoms and similar patterns are detected, it is necessary to show the pet to a veterinary specialist.
What causes the formation of trichobezoars
At the moment, it is reliably known that long-haired cats form hair lumps more often than cats with short or medium-length hair. It is most likely that increased ingestion of wool and decreased gastric motility can lead to difficulty in removing wool naturally and the rapid formation of large hair lumps in the stomach.
Due to excessive ingestion of wool, the stomach’s ability to transport hair to the small intestine is not impaired, but it becomes more difficult for it to remove all the wool from the body. Long-haired cats suffer from this more often, but among the factors that contribute to increased consumption of wool, others can be noted:
infestation (infection) with fleas – causes itching in cats and, as a
result, increased licking. With a strong flea infestation or with the
appearance of allergic reactions to flea bites, hair loss often begins;
primary skin diseases – cause itching and provoke increased grooming;
excessive grooming due to pain or anxiety, for example, with diseases of
internal organs, injuries or stress. So, with urolithiasis, kidney stones
can provoke the licking of one particular side.
Chronic diseases or increased stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system secondary to other factors, such as chronic pain and/or stress, can lead to impaired motility of the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, the regular removal of wool from the cat’s body through vomiting can be not only the cause of complications, but also an indicator of primary diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, skin pathologies, as well as a sign of chronic pain and stress.
Prevention of the appearance of lumps of wool in the stomach
As a prevention of the formation of hair lumps in the cat’s stomach, more frequent feeding can be offered. Frequent feeding in small portions contributes to regular emptying of the stomach and, as a result, better promotion of wool through the intestines.
Reducing the ingestion of wool due to the resolution of pathological processes can also help. Treating itching, carrying out flea treatments, improving the quality of wool by normalizing nutrition — all this will be effective in combating excessive ingestion of wool. In severe cases, a haircut can help the animal, since short hair moves more easily through the digestive tract and less often gathers into hair lumps.
How to remove wool from a cat’s stomach
Among the simple and effective ways to help remove wool from the cat’s stomach, it is possible to note the use of specialized veterinary pastes. Usually such pastes have a good taste appeal, and the composition makes it possible to use them throughout the life of the pet without harm to health.
Although the formation of hair lumps is a common problem for cats, it is not recommended to turn a blind eye to this phenomenon. First of all, it is necessary to try to influence the factors affecting increased ingestion of wool: exclude or remove ectoparasites (fleas, ticks), reduce hair loss (deal with feeding), reduce the impact of factors that stress the cat (moving, loud noises, the presence of other animals). Good options for influencing the promotion of wool through the intestines will be the use of specialized feeds and more frequent feeding.
In case of prolonged or frequent vomiting, you should not treat the cat yourself. It is better to contact a veterinary specialist as soon as possible to get qualified help, because vomiting can be one of the symptoms of other diseases.