Hairballs in Cats Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Treatment, Natural and Home Remedies

Hairballs in cats

In the medical field, hairballs are referred to as trichobezoars. Cats get hairballs by licking on their coats as a method of self-grooming. In the process, they swallow the loose hairs which accumulate with time and form wads. This comes with some amount of discomfort which makes the cat vomit out the hair balls. Below we explore the symptoms of hairballs in cats, their causes, hairball remedies for cats as well as hairballs in cats prevention.

Hairballs in Cats

Before we explore hairball remedies for cats, a better understanding of the condition is essential. Cats naturally groom themselves and in the process could ingest hairs. When these are expelled from the body in the form of hairballs in cats, the sight is not only unpleasant to the owner but also has a potential for being a health risk in severe cases. This is because they could also result in blockage of the digestive system.

Severe Hairballs in Cats Symptoms

If your cat occasionally vomits a hair ball, it should not be too much of a concern. However, a cat that vomits hairballs more than once in a month should have action taken. The cat will be disturbed and it will also be hard for those around it watch your feline pet expelling the hairball. The usual signs and symptoms of hairballs in cats include gagging, hacking ad retching which is then followed by vomiting. This takes a short while. Additionally, severe hairballs in cats symptoms include:

  • Persistent gagging, hacking, retching or vomiting without the expulsion of any hairball.
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Hairball hack: This is the awful coughing sound produced by cats in a bid to expel the hairball. The same is felt when a cat has asthma in case nothing is produced.

The above symptoms may be indicative of a blockage resulting from hair balls and could be life threatening. It is therefore important to check if the problem is hairballs or another problem exhibiting the same symptoms. Talk to your vet about the same.

Hairballs in Cats Causes

Like indicated above, hairballs are a result of your cat’s grooming routine. During the process, the tiny like structures on his tongue catch any loose dead hair which is later swallowed. In most cases, the hair is minimal and passes through the digestive system without problems. However, if some of it stays in the stomach, they form a hairball. To get rid of it, the cat has to vomit.

Although the name may give the illusion of some round balls, the vomiting process involves passing the ball through the narrow esophagus. As a result, they will take a thin tube like appearance.

Although short haired breeds could get them, long Persians, Maine Coons and other long haired breeds are most vulnerable. Kittens will also rarely have hairballs but as they grow they start experiencing them. This is attributed to the fact that with age cats become adept groomers. This increases the proficiency of hair removal using the tongue.

Hairball Remedies for Cats

Once your feline pet has this problem, what hair ball remedies for cats can you use? Below are some that will not only help keep your cat free of them but also prevent them from having them in the future.

Regular Grooming

Grooming the cat regularly ensures that most of the loose fur is removed in the process. As a result, less fur is present on the skin and the cut ingests less of it during grooming.

An effective way of grooming and minimizing hair balls would be by brushing or combing your cat on a daily basis. It is also necessary to take the cat to a professional groomer after every six months for a haircut as well as grooming. This is especially important for long furred dogs.

Discourage Excessive Grooming

Boredom can you your cat develop compulsive grooming behavior. Where you suspect this, introduce you cat to other fan activities that they can engage in on their own. This could be through the introduction of a new toy. If you can, find time to also play with the cat. This will keep them from licking their coat as a way of passing time.

Hairball Products or Laxatives

These are readily available in the market and offer mild laxative effects. They make it easy for the hairballs to be passed through the digestive system thus preventing blockage and vomiting.


This is among the most obvious hairball remedies for cats. Petroleum based laxatives coat the hair balls allowing for easy passing through the digestive system. There are many flavored brands that make the petroleum palatable for your cat.

Dietary Remedies

Brands have come up with cat formula food that are aimed at the reduction of hairballs. These are highly loaded with fiber that is designed to encourage the passage of hair balls through the digestive tract. They are meant to improve the general health of a cat’s coat thus minimizing shedding. More details on this remedy below.

Natural Hairball Remedy for Cats – Hair Balls in Cats Home Remedy

In cases where the hairballs are not severe, home remedies can help clear them up. Below we discuss some of the natural home treatments for cat hairballs.

Hairball Cat Food

If you are looking for a natural hairball remedy for cats, you can opt to tackle the problem with food. There are various hairball cat food options available in the market as well as at home. These can be in the form of dietary inclusion or cat treats.

Generally, they are meant to increase the dietary fiber content. This enables the cat to pass the hair through the digestive tract. Commercial products meant for this contain fibers such as powdered cellulose, beet pulp and laxatives such as mineral oil. The fiber helps to bins the hair and prompt its movement down the digestive tract.

Other examples of foods you can use include canned pumpkins. A maximum of  one tablespoon can be administered twice a day. Rice bran is another option. When offering these foods, ensure you do not overdose your cat as this could cause diarrhea. While giving these hairball remedies for cats, ensure you keep watch on the stool.

Olive Oil Hairball Remedy for Cats

Another natural remedy is olive oil for cats’ hairballs. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to your cats food once or twice a week to help expel the hairballs. This will ensure that the hair passes through the digestive tract with ease. Vaseline and other organic oils can be used in the same ways.

Butter for Hairballs in Cats

This is yet another one of the readily available natural hairball remedies for cats. It acts in the same way as olive oil by coating the hairballs thus making it easy for them to pass through the gut. This helps to prevent buildup as well as blockage.

How to Prevent Hairballs in Cats

After using the above you could still be suffering hairballs in cats. Where this is the case, talk to your vet about hairball products. These are usually laxatives that allow the hair balls to be passed through the digestive system as opposed to being vomited out. Your vet will guide you on how and when to administer them. For future prevention:

  • Daily brushing and combing of your cat can help. Once you are done with the grooming, use a fragrance free baby wipe to wipe the skin. This will clear up any loose hairs thus preventing them from getting swallowed.
  • Where the cat does not get accustomed to this and it is hard achieving the same, have a professional groomer do it. Feeding the cat a hairball remedy once a week has also been known to work.
  • Another preventive measure for the occurrence of hairballs in cats is to keep the floor free of twist wraps, thread and paper clips as when these are ingested, they could form part of the hairballs which can be dangerous.

Sources and References

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