Q: Polka, my Persian, keeps grooming himself. He kind of retches and vomits some fur too. How can we reduce his excessive grooming habit?
Dr KG Umesh: During the routine activity of grooming, cats swallow varying quantities of hair. Length of grooming is highly variable among cat breeds with short or long hair coat. If small quantities of hair accumulate in the stomach or small intestine, the cat can cough and retch until the hairball is vomited. Occasionally a large mass of entangled hair called trichobezoar accumulates and can be as large as nine cm long. Clinical signs include vomiting, anorexia and may lead to a potentially serious obstruction. This condition is very rare. Hairballs can be diagnosed by radiograph or endoscopy. Hair ball diets containing high fibre diets to bulk the lumen, or lubricant laxatives such as paraffin wax are prescribed to treat the obstruction. Itching in some cats, sometimes, manifests as excessive grooming behaviour. Fleas, allergies, mange or fungal infections that stimulate itching must be ruled out.
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