By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you live with a feline, you’re fully aware that furballs are a very normal part of your cat’s life and overall routine.

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When a cat produces a furball on occasion, say once or sometimes twice a month, it’s normal, but too frequently can be indicative of a more serious problem.

Furballs are balls of thick, matted fur that have accumulated in a cat’s stomach or intestines. These furry formations occur over time by ingestion as the cat licks his/her fur to groom and clean. This is a natural occurrence and in itself doesn’t pose a problem. Longhaired cats, of course are more prone to more frequent fur balls than shorthaired cats.

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Since cats can voluntarily vomit, this is the natural way to eliminate this problem. This is a very helpful practice to help clear the system. However, when a mass of fur has increased to where it creates a partial or complete obstruction, problems can occur.

If you notice a change in your cat’s behavior or appetite, contact your veterinarian right away.

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To prevent any problems and to help reduce the presence of furballs, brush your cat on a regular basis. Make sure your cat doesn’t have any type of skin irritation. Provide flea and tick prevention and keep your cat on a healthy diet.