Dear Dr. Waffles,
Now that I’m not a kitten anymore and am all grown up something weird has started to happen. I get this funny feeling that makes me gag and retch. Then I start hacking which seems to upset my humans, especially when I end up upchucking a gross clump of matted fur on the white carpet. What’s happening to me? Am I sick?
One concerned kitty,
It sounds to me like you’ve got hairballs. But don’t worry because this is quite normal. When you were a kitten you were still leaning to groom, but now that you’re older you’ve become more adept at grooming which means more fur will be removed from your coat with your tongue. Some of the hairs from your coat end up getting swallowed and when they stay in your stomach they form a hairball. And what goes in must come out!
It’s not a pretty sight but it’s nothing for you and your humans to worry about. They should keep an eye on you though to make sure you don’t end up with a blockage which can be dangerous. Symptoms of a blockage may include ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching or hacking without producing a hairball; lack of appetite; lethargy; constipation or diarrhea. If they notice these symptoms they should contact your vet right away.
Your humans can also help you out by regularly brushing you. By combing or brushing you everyday they’ll be removing a lot of loose fur that otherwise may end up in your stomach. And you can also do your humans a big favour too by staying off the white carpet when you feel a hairball coming up!