Grossed out by hairballs? That’s
entirely understandable, since they are rather unpleasant. The
sound of your cat hacking one up is fairly repulsive, and it’s
also not very enjoyable to have to clean up a hairball.
However, it’s an unavoidable condition of being a cat parent,
since even the healthiest cats will occasionally have a
Read on for a few quick facts to add to your knowledge of
1. Their Name Is Misleading
Don’t be tricked by the name “hairball” into thinking that your
cat will be emitting round balls of obvious hair onto the
floor. In fact, hairballs are cylindrically shaped and may
first look quite similar to cat feces. While it’s gross, and
you may want to avoid getting too close, one way to distinguish
between hairballs and feces is to smell them.
2. Hairballs Are Not Coughed Up
It can look and sound a bit like your cat is coughing while
they expel a hairball. In fact, hairballs are formed as a
result of hair that is ingested -- so the hairballs are
actually coming from the stomach and are being vomited out
through the esophagus, and not transmitted through the cat’s
lungs. Coughing without a hairball emerging can be a sign of
3. Usually a Minor Problem, But Can Lead to Surgery
In general, hairballs are not a major problem. They are just
one of the less than lovely aspects of being a pet parent. In
some cases however, if the hairball does not exit through the
cat’s body either by being vomited or as feces, surgery will be
necessary to remove the blockage that the hairballs can form
within a cat’s organs.
4. Most Common in Long Haired Breeds
In long haired cats, such as
Maine Coons, the formation of the hairballs can be more
frequent as the result of the abundant and fluffy hair.
5. Help a Groomer Out
You can help prevent against your cat getting hairballs in
several different ways. One major way is to brush and comb your
cat so that there are less loose hairs around for your cat to
swallow. Another option is to provide your cat with a
fiber-rich diet, which helps promote healthy, shiny fur. You
can also provide your cat with supplements that act as
laxatives to help remove the hairball from within your cat’s
3 Tricks for Getting Rid of Hairballs
3 Vet-Recommended Tricks to Get Rid of Cat Hairballs
The terms cats and hairballs almost go hand in hand. Common as
they are, hairballs aren’t just unpleasant surprises that you
can shrug off as a minor nuisance as they can compromise your
Cat Hairballs Can Be Potentially Be Fatal
Hairballs are the byproducts of a cat’s natural grooming
process. As a cat licks itself clean, it inadvertently swallows
loose hair. While most of these hair strands are passed out of
the system some remain in the stomach and can cause immense
discomfort. In extreme cases, hairballs can cause severe
intestinal blockage, which can be potentially life-threatening.
Long haired breeds and heavy shedders are most susceptible to
troublesome hairballs. If you are looking for hairball
treatments and remedies, then take a look at these tips on how
to get rid of hairballs, reduce their frequency, and treat
symptoms like retching.
Trick #1: Brush!
Brushing you cat daily will not only provide great bonding
time, but it will also reduce the amount of fur your cat
swallows during self-grooming. There are many brush and comb
styles to choose from, and you may also find that your cat
enjoys soft plastic brushes more than metal prongs or that one
works more efficiently on your cat’s fur texture. If your cat
is a heavy shedder or prone to hairballs, consider using
tool, which can reduce shedding up to 90% by thinning the
After a brushing session, particularly a static-filled one, run
a slightly damp paper towel or cloth over your cat’s fur to
pick up any remaining loose hair.
Trick #2: Tabs, Treats, and Pastes
Many products that are marketed as hairball alleviators are
mild laxatives that
help your cat pass the hair through his or her system. These
can be kept in your pet medicine chest as multi-purpose, for
treating both hairballs and mild constipation. Laxatives are
usually best employed to help clear up an existing hairball
problem and not as a long term solution.
Fortunately, there are many everyday ways you can give your cat
the minerals, vitamins, and oils that can prevent hairballs by
encouraging coat health. Flavored gels that you apply
to your cat’s paw—he or she will be immediately compelled to
lick it off—are one option. You can also buy flavored treats
that contain fiber and mineral oil for hairball prevention.
Even chewable tablets are available in enticing
meat flavors and can be found in all-natural, petroleum free
The old household remedy of using Vaseline on a paw to prevent
hairballs from coming up does work. However, long-term usage of
this remedy can result in vitamin deficiencies. You also don’t
want to give your cat plain mineral oil, even though it is a
common ingredient in other hairball remedies. The unscented oil
can easily be accidentally inhaled, which can cause very
serious health problems.
Trick #3: Change Cat Food
Many pet food brands have lines specifically designed to help
prevent hairball formation. Switching to a hairball-reducing
food is one of the lowest maintenance ways to prevent them, but
some cats may also need occasional pastes or laxatives.
Hairball reducing food formulas employ a two-pronged approach:
fiber for digestion and supplements for coat
health. The fiber from things like brown rice or beet root will
help keep your cat’s digestion active to pass the fur he or she
swallows through the system. And the vitamins and oils will
help keep your cat’s skin and coat healthy, reducing both
shedding and grooming.
Try growing indoor pet grass
for an all-natural way to encourage your cat to eat more
More on Cat Health
When to Take a Cat to the
How to Wash a
Why Cats Eat Grass and
Other Self-Medicating Habits
This information is for informational purposes only and
is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or
diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to
your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed
veterinarian for accuracy.