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HAIR BALL IN CAT: IS IT SERIOUS?

A cat spends a lot of time licking itself, especially if it has little or no opportunity to go out. This grooming behaviour is caused by different necessities:

  • to cool itself by humidifying the hair
  • to calm down the stress and emotions
  • to get rid of dead hair.

Consequences of licking

As the catís tongue is very raspy (it is covered with corneous papilla), it ingests a great quantity of dead hair when licking itself.

Most of the time, ingested hair is eliminated by fecal route, but in some cases, hair tends to agglomerate in the oesophagus and in the stomach, forming balls that can induce digestive disorders. More than 60 % of cats breeders observe a relationship between hairballs and digestive troubles.

Actually, they can either:

  • be regurgitated by the cat: they are then called ď trichobezoards Ē,
  • go along the digestive tract, inducing an alternance of constipation and diarrhea.

Exceptionnally, hairballs mixed with fecal matter can prevent from the right emptying of the colon. Then the transit is completely stopped, it is an intestinal occlusion.

Hair balls: favorizing factors

This phenomenon is obviously particularly remarkable in long hair cats, especially during shedding periods (spring and automn).

Tangled hair and skin parasites (fleas) exacerbate the licking and increase the risk of hairball formation.

Indoor cats are the most at risk because they cannot eat grass. Spontaneous grass consumption by the cat is actually a way to stimulate the elimination of hairballs.

In older cats that have a slower digestive transit, the risk of constipation is higher.

Prevention of hairballs-induced digestive troubles

Grooming by the owner

Regular brushing and combing (everyday for Persians), is indispensable to get rid of dead hair and to limit hair ingestion by the cat.

Hair Ball Transit System

It is a special nutritional balance that is applied to Persian 30 and Hair & Skin 33 products, that aims at minimizing hairball-induced digestive troubles. It is characterized by a fiber enrichment (70 % fibers more compared to Fit 32), in order to limit hairball formation and to make their elimination easier.

In both products, there is 11 % dietary fiber that are divided into:

  • non- fermentescible fibers: pea and corn fibers (bulk role)
  • fermentescible fibers: beet pulp (for the balance of the digestive flora and the integrity of the intestinal mucosa).

All fibers are micronized, i.e grinded very finely (diameter: 250 micrometres), to increase the water absorption surface in the digestive tract, which is in favour of the production of well-formed stools.

Thanks to the very high quality of ingredients used in these two products, fiber enrichment does not impair much the total digestibility. 7 breeders / 10 estimate that the quantity of stools produced is even inferior to what they observed usually (with Sensible 33 generally). The excellent quality of the stools (consistant, dry, compact, regular), probably influences this jugment.

Conclusion

So far, Hair Ball Transit System that exists in Persian 30 and Hair & Skin 33 is unique in Europe.
Some equivalent nutritional adaptations exist however in a Hillís product commercialized only in the States (Hairball Control), but this product presents some defects:
no acidification: which is not adapted to a majority of adult cats
low protein quality: poultry meal and corn gluten (low digestible), whereas Persian 30 and Hair & Skin 33 associate poultry + fish + egg powder.


Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website


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