Why Your Cat Is Getting Hairballs

Jan 27, 2023 | Health & Wellness

Are you a cat owner? If so, you’re probably familiar with the dreaded hairball. Hairballs are a common problem for cats and can cause them to vomit or have other digestive problems. This blog post will discuss everything you need to know about cats’ hairballs. We’ll cover what they are, why your cat is getting hairballs, how to prevent them, and what to do if your cat vomits from a hairball.

What Are Hairballs?

A cat looking at its hairballs

Hairballs are a clump of fur and other debris from your cat’s coat that gets trapped in its digestive system. They can vary in size but typically look like small balls of fur. They may also contain food particles, saliva, and other debris.

For many years, both veterinarians and cat owners have believed that cats’ intermittent vomiting of hairballs was normal behavior. However, recent research has shown that this is not the case, and cat parents should be aware of potential risks associated with hairballs as they can cause serious health complications in cats. Over time, hairballs can build up in the cat’s stomach and lead to vomiting or other digestive problems.

Hairballs can occur in any cat regardless of breed, coat length, or age. Long-haired cats are more likely to experience hairballs because they have more fur and need to groom more often. Younger cats may also be more prone to hairballs due to inexperience with grooming and cat hygiene.

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Why Your Cat Is Getting Hairballs

A person picking up her cats hairballs

-Excessive Grooming:

The most common cause of hairballs is excessive licking or grooming. Cats are naturally very clean animals and groom themselves with their tongues often. In doing so, they ingest whatever fur or loose hair is on their coat, which can lead to the formation of a hairball in their stomach or intestines.

Cats with long, thick coats typically need more grooming, which can lead to more hairballs.

-Inadequate Nutrition:

Inadequate nutrition is another cause of hairballs in cats. Hairballs are caused by a cat’s digestive system not being able to break down the ingested fur, so if your cat isn’t getting enough nutrients, their digestive system may have difficulty digesting it.


Shedding is another common cause of hairballs in cats. Cats tend to shed their fur every season, and if it’s not brushed out regularly, it can become ingested and form a hairball.


Allergies can also cause hairballs in cats. If a cat is allergic to something, their body may react by producing more fur than usual to protect itself. This excess fur can be ingested and form a hairball.


Stress can also trigger the formation of hairballs in cats. When stressed, cats may groom themselves more frequently to calm down, leading to increased fur ingestion and a greater chance of forming a hairball.


Certain medications can also lead to hairballs in cats. Medications such as steroids and antibiotics can alter the cat’s digestive system, increasing the chance of forming a hairball.

Symptoms Of Hairballs In Cats

A person grooming a cat


Vomiting is the most common symptom of hairballs in cats. Your cat may vomit fur, bile, or other debris that looks like a small ball.

-Loss Of Appetite:

Loss of appetite can also indicate cat hairballs. If your cat is experiencing digestive problems due to hairballs, it may not be interested in eating or drinking.

-Weight Loss:

If your cat is experiencing digestive problems due to hairballs, it may also experience sudden weight loss. Hairballs can interfere with a cat’s digestion and cause them to lose weight quickly.


Hairballs can also lead to irritability in most cats. If your cat feels uncomfortable due to hairballs, it may become more aggressive or irritable.


Lethargy can also be a sign of hairballs in cats. If a cat’s digestive system has difficulty breaking down the ingested fur, it may become weak and lethargic.

-Constipation And Diarrhea:

Constipation can also indicate the presence of hairballs in cats. If your cat is having difficulty passing hairballs they may become constipated and have difficulty using the litter box. This is a sign that your cat may need medical attention.

Hairballs can also cause diarrhea in cats. If your cat has difficulty digesting the hair, it can lead to loose stool or diarrhea as its body attempts to eject the foreign material.

How Can I Prevent Or Treat Hairballs And Vomiting In Cats?

A cat eating food from a pan

There are several ways to treat cat hairballs. It’s important to do the following.

-Regular Grooming:

The most effective way to prevent frequent hairballs in cats is regular grooming. Brushing your cat’s fur every day will help reduce shedding and the amount of fur they ingest while grooming themselves.

-Good Diet:

A cat’s diet also plays a role in hairball formation. Make sure your cat gets all the nutrients they need and supplement its diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and help them digest fur more easily.

Feeding multiple small meals rather than one or two big meals daily can help prevent dead hair from building up in the gastrointestinal tract.

-Fiber Supplements:

Adding fiber supplements to your cat’s diet can also help prevent hairballs from forming. Fiber helps the cat digest their fur more easily, reducing the chance of a hairball forming.

-Hairball Lubricant:

Hairball lubricants are also available for cats. These products help reduce hairball formation by coating the cat’s fur, which reduces their ability to ingest it when grooming themselves.

-Regular Vet Visits:

Regular visits to the vet can help identify any underlying medical conditions contributing to cat hairballs. Your vet can also recommend treatments or medications that may help reduce your cat’s hairball formation.

-Ensure They Are Hydrated:

Ensure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water at all times, as dehydration can worsen hairballs. Making sure your cat is well-hydrated not only helps keep them healthy but will also hydrate their skin and help maintain their fur’s condition. This reduces the chance of breakage and shedding.


In some cases, surgery may be necessary if the hairball is too large or if it has become lodged in your cat’s digestive tract.

What Are The Dangers Of Untreated Hairballs In Cats?

A cat being treated by a vet


The most common danger of hairballs in cats is vomiting. If a cat ingests too much fur, it can form a hairball that gets stuck in the cat’s digestive system and causes them to vomit. Vomiting can be dangerous if not monitored closely because it can lead to dehydration or other complications.

It is also important to consider that increased hairball vomiting can be due to skin diseases that cause increased grooming, such as fleas, allergies, mites, and behavioral/compulsive over-grooming.


If the cat’s digestive system cannot break down the ingested fur, it can lead to blockages in the stomach or intestines. This can cause serious health problems such as vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, and even death if not treated promptly by a vet.


Untreated hairballs can also cause chronic inflammation in the cat’s digestive tract, which can lead to further health problems like inflammatory bowel disease.


Hairballs can also cause malnutrition in cats as they are unable to properly digest their food due to the presence of fur in their stomach.

-Pain And Discomfort:

Cats may experience pain and discomfort from hairballs, as they can be very uncomfortable when lodged in the cat’s digestive tract.


Untreated hairballs can also lead to infections, as bacteria can build up in the cat’s digestive system and cause infections.

How To Properly Groom Your Cat To Minimize Hairballs:

A person grooming a cat

-Brush Cat Regularly: Brushing your cat’s fur every day will help reduce shedding and the amount of fur they ingest while grooming. Brush with a soft brush or comb in the direction of the cat’s fur.

Clean Cat’s Bedding: Clean your cat’s bedding regularly to remove any loose fur that may have accumulated over time. This will also help reduce the amount of fur your cat ingests while grooming.

Give Your Cat Regular Baths: Giving your cat regular baths can also help reduce hairballs, as it helps remove any loose fur and debris from their coat. Be sure to use a mild cat shampoo and avoid getting water in their ears or eyes.

Trim Cat Nails: Trimming your cat’s nails will help reduce hairball formation, as they won’t be able to scratch and pull out their fur as much when grooming.

Know When To Take Your Cat To The Vet: If your cat is vomiting more than usual or having difficulty passing hairballs, it’s time to take them to the vet for a check-up. They may need medication or surgery to remove any large hairballs lodged in their digestive tract.

When A Hairball Is Not Just A Hairball

There are some instances where the cat’s vomitus may appear to be a hairball but is actually not. Suppose your cat has frequently been vomiting, and it looks like there are other materials in their vomit than just fur.

In that case, it could be something like an infection including heartworm disease, feline allergic bronchitis, a blockage, or something else that needs to be investigated by a vet. In this case, taking your cat to the vet is important for a proper diagnosis and treatment.


A cat at the vet

Hairballs in cats should not be taken lightly and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Proper cat grooming, such as regular brushing, cleaning cat bedding, trimming nails, and giving regular baths, can help reduce hairball formation.

It is also important to keep an eye on your cat’s behavior and take them to the vet if needed. Cat hairballs can be prevented or treated effectively with the right care and attention.

Searching for a dependable cat groomer? Look no further than Kate’s K9 Pet Care! We offer exclusive and custom-tailored care services to maintain your cats’ well-being. Our grooming service covers every aspect of what your furry friends need so that they can stay healthy and content. Reach out to us today for more information about our amazing services!

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