Cat Hairballs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


As a beloved pet owner, the sight of your feline friend retching a hairball may lead to a lot of concerns and questions. At Orlando Vets, our dedicated team understands your apprehension and we’re here to ease your worries with a comprehensive guide about cat hairballs – what they are, what causes them, their symptoms, and how to treat them.

cat hairballs orlando fl

What are Cat Hairballs?

Cat hairballs, also known as trichobezoars, are clumps of undigested hair that accumulate in a cat’s stomach and are eventually coughed up. They are a common issue for many cats, particularly those with longer coats.

Causes of Cat Hairballs

The primary cause of hairballs in cats is their grooming behavior. As part of their regular cleaning routine, cats use their tongues to lick away loose hair. The tiny, hook-like structures on their tongues trap the hair, which is then swallowed. While most of this hair passes through the digestive system without issues, some may stay in the stomach, gradually forming a hairball.

Symptoms of Cat Hairballs

Most cat owners are familiar with the tell-tale signs of a hairball being coughed up. A hacking, gagging, or retching noise is common. However, it’s essential to know the more serious symptoms indicating potential complications, including:

  • Continuous vomiting, gagging, retching, or coughing without producing a hairball
  • Lack of appetite or weight loss
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Lethargy or decreased activity
  • Abdominal discomfort

If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, please call one of our Orlando Vets locations or book an appointment online. Timely vet care can make all the difference.

How to Treat and Prevent Cat Hairballs

While occasional hairballs are a natural part of a cat’s life, frequent ones may indicate an underlying health issue. Fortunately, there are several ways to treat and prevent hairballs in your feline friend:

  1. Grooming: Regular brushing can help minimize the amount of hair your cat swallows, reducing the likelihood of hairball formation. It can also be a great bonding activity!
  2. Hairball Formulas: Many pet food companies offer specialized formulas designed to reduce hairball formation by improving skin and coat health, and aiding in the passage of swallowed hair through the digestive system.
  3. Laxatives and Medication: Vets may recommend over-the-counter cat-friendly laxatives to help pass the hair more easily through the digestive tract.
  4. Hydration: Fresh water should be available to your cat at all times. Hydration can help hair pass more easily through the digestive system.
  5. Veterinary Care: Regular check-ups with a trusted vet are crucial to detect and treat any potential issues early on.

For any concerns regarding cat hairballs or to discuss preventive measures, don’t hesitate to contact Orlando Vets. We have multiple locations throughout Orlando, FL, ready to serve you and your furry friends with the best pet care. You can book an appointment by visiting our website or calling one of our locations.

At Orlando Vets, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive, compassionate veterinary care. We offer a variety of services, including wellness exams, vaccinations, dental care, and more. Visit our website for more information.

Remember, your cat’s health is our priority. Frequent hairballs may indicate a problem, and your cat should be evaluated by a professional to rule out any serious health issues. Don’t let your feline friend suffer silently – reach out to us at Orlando Vets today!

Please note: This blog post is meant to be informational and does not replace professional veterinary advice. If your cat is experiencing symptoms associated with hairballs, seek immediate veterinary care.

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About OrlandoVets

We are a group of veterinary hospitals located in the greater Orlando area. Our purpose is to enrich the quality of lives of pets and their families through personalized partnerships with their veterinarian.

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