Gemma the cat had a hair-raising experience last week after vets discovered a 12.5cm wide fur-ball, weighing 214g (7.5 ounces in her stomach.

The eight-year-old long-haired-English cat was taken into Cromwell Vets in Huntingdon after her owners noticed she was poorly and unable to eat.

Staff at the clinic discovered a large lump in her stomach and suspected an abdominal growth, but the X rays proved inconclusive and they were forced to operate.

They removed the giant fur-ball and Gemma is now on the road to full recovery.

Vet David Fennell told The Hunts Post: "None of our vets at Cromwell have ever seen a fur-ball this size! They're relatively common in cats and many cats may vomit small fur-balls up once every one to two weeks - not very pleasant but generally doesn't cause any harm.

"But Gemma was really ill - there was no way she could vomit or pass an obstruction that size."

He added: "She would have died if it hadn't been surgically removed."

Mr Fennell said there were a number of ways to prevent fur-balls developing in cats.

"Fur-balls occur when cats lick themselves, and the hair either gets caught in the back of their throat or builds up in the stomach," he explained.

"To prevent the build-up of fur-balls people should ideally get into the habit of grooming their cat on a daily basis.

"Regular flea treatment is also a good prevention, as is fur-ball control food."