Hairballs can accumulate in any self-grooming animal’s digestive tract, but we’re focusing on cats. Many feline owners believe hairballs are normal, but your cat shouldn’t be hacking up hairballs several times per week. Small piles of vomit mixed with fur are often mistaken for hairballs, so owners aren’t concerned about a possible underlying problem. But serious medical issues can cause excessive hacking and regurgitating of fur, including:

  • Allergies
  • Fleas
  • Pain
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

If your cat is grooming more than usual, they may have a flea problem, arthritis pain, or food or environmental allergies. As your cat ingests excessive amounts of hair, some may not pass through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and form into a hairball. The hairball will continue to grow and can become lodged in the intestines, which may require surgical removal, or laxative treatment, to coax out the hairball. Emergency care is needed if your cat is lethargic, refusing to eat, retching without producing anything, or vomiting.

How to prevent hairballs in your cat

Armed with the understanding that hairball accumulation can be severe in cats, here are some ways to reduce hairball formation:

  • Encourage your cat to drink more water to help keep the GI tract functioning properly.
  • Brush your cat regularly, as often as daily for long-haired cats.
  • Play frequently with your cat, to reduce boredom and stress-related grooming.
  • Amp up your grooming routine during the shedding season.
  • Consider professional grooming for your cat to reduce shedding.
  • Talk to our team about supplements, treats, and diets that may help your cat.

The most dedicated cat owners may not be able to completely eliminate hairball development, especially in long-haired breeds, but following these tips can greatly reduce your cat’s risk.

Does your cat seem to have a lot of hairballs? Contact us for help.