Health

April 2010 Issue

The Danger of Hairballs

A large clump of undigested hair can block a catís intestinal tract and pose a serious threat.

Despite the term, disgorged hairballs are not usually round. They are often slender and cylindrical, shaped more like a cigar or sausage than a ball. According to Richard Goldstein, DVM, an associate professor of small animal medicine at Cornell Universityís College of Veterinary Medicine, a spit-up hairballís elongated shape is imparted by the narrow food tube (esophagus) in which it develops or through which it passes on its journey from the catís stomach to the outside world. However, he notes, a hairball that is not disgorged and remains in the stomach will indeed be round ó "like a sponge or a rolled-up sock," he says.

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