Fun Facts About Cat Hairballs

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
HACK! Let’s learn a bit more about hairballs

Cat hairballs aren’t just gross – they can be dangerous to your kitty. You may find a lot of hair on your clothing and furniture (especially in the warmer months when your cat is shedding), but some of that gets stuck into your cat’s belly – until it’s a disgusting blob on your living room carpet. Let’s go over some need-to-know info for cat hairballs.

What Causes Cat Hairballs?

They may be icky, but cat hairballs are a part of your cat’s healthy grooming routine. A cat’s tongue features tiny hook-like structures that grab loose and dead hair. This hair is swallowed, which makes its way through the digestive tract. Some of this hair, however, will sit in the cat’s stomach, forming a hairball. To get rid of it, your cat will puke up a hairball – gross! In order to make its way through the narrow esophagus, the hairball tends to be thin and tube-like, so it doesn’t actually look like a ball at all.

Long-haired cats, such as Persians and Maine Coons, are more prone to cat hairballs, as well as kitties that tend to shed or groom a lot. Your kitten may not have hairballs while it’s young, but it’s not unusual for them to develop this issue as it grows up.

Cat Hairball Symptoms

If you hear your cat retching, gaging and hacking, chances are a hairball is on its way up. Nothing to be alarmed about – it shouldn’t take long. However, if your cat has ongoing retching with no hairball in sight, it won’t eat, it is lethargic, constipated or has diarrhea, you should take your cat to the vet.

Cat Hairball Remedies

Hairballs will happen, but there are a few things you can do to decrease the frequency of this yucky problem:

  • Special Formula Food: Feed your cat a specialized hairball formula cat food. Hairball-reduction cat foods contain lots of fiber. You should notice a change in the health of your cat’s coat, and it will lessen the amount of shedding while encouraging hairballs to pass through the cat’s digestive system.
  • Regular Grooming: It just makes sense – the more loose or dead fur you take off your cat, the less likely you are to clean up hairballs. Make combing or brushing a part of your daily routine… it’s a great way to pamper your pet. For longer-haired cats, you may want to take your cat to a professional groomer for grooming and haircuts a couple times a year.
  • Hairball Products and Laxatives. Go to your local pet store to check out all the hairball products on the market. Many of these are mild laxatives that help hairballs pass through the digestive tract easily.
  • Just Say No To Excessive Grooming. There is such a thing as too much grooming. If you think that your cat is an excessive groomer, train it to partake in another fun activity instead. When you catch your cat grooming, distract it with a fun toy to play with or give it a tickle behind the ears.
Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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