Q: How alarmed should I get when my cat throws up a hairball?
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Dear Ms. Seeter,
A: Not very. The momentary hacking, gagging, and retching it takes to throw up fur that a cat inadvertently swallowed when self-grooming may not feel good to your pet, but it’s generally not harmful. Only in rare cases might there be a problem, say, if so much fur has accumulated over several grooming sessions that it causes a potentially life-threatening intestinal blockage. Should you observe ongoing vomiting, retching, gagging, or hacking that doesn’t produce a hairball and does not pass within a day or so, get your cat to the doctor.