Cleaning the litter box isn't an enjoyable activity for anyone, but it can still surprise you. If you've recently cleaned your cat's litter box and noticed that there was hair in the box or attached to some of their waste, it's a bad sign that may require medical attention from a vet. Here's what you need to know about the hair in your cat's litter box.

Swallowing Hair

As you undoubtedly know, cats do consume some hair when they groom themselves. Even if you're the best pet parent you can be and groom them on a regular basis, many hairs loosen everyday and can still be swallowed by your cat.

When your cat swallows hair, it can't be broken down by the digestive tract. This leaves three potential possibilities: the hair comes out when your cat goes to the litter box, it comes out while vomiting, or it doesn't come out at all.

Potential Causes

While your cat could be swallowing hair just from cleaning itself and any other pets you might have, it's also possible that they could even be eating your hair.

Cats with a condition called pica feel an incessant need to chew and swallow things that aren't food. Hair is one particular trigger. Vets and scientists aren't entirely sure why this condition impacts cats, but it can be made worse by stress or anxiety.

Unfortunately, human hairs tend to be longer than a cat's, and if your cat finds a full clump of discarded loose hair, they may swallow it. This could cause some serious problems for their digestive system.

What to Do

If you've found hair in the litter box, this could mean that your cat is in danger of developing a gastrointestinal blockage. This is when hair builds up in the intestines and actually keeps things from getting through. Gastrointestinal blockages can quickly become life-threatening, so a warning sign like this is one that you should never ignore. Get your cat to a veterinarian immediately.

Your vet should be able to determine if your cat has a blockage with a physical exam and potentially an ultrasound, both non-invasive methods. If a blockage is found, surgery may be needed to remove it. If no blockages are found, your vet can help you to troubleshoot how your cat is consuming hair and can also provide you with treats and food that will help your cat to pass any hair that they do eat.

Although it might seem counterintuitive since cats clean themselves all the time, hair can be a big problem for a cat. Never ignore it if you see hair in your cat's waste products and seek help from a veterinarian ASAP.