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What causes hairballs in cats?

Cat on couch hairball causes

Hairballs or trichobezoars, as veterinarians call them, can be gross. But they aren’t something to ignore as they can lead to blockage of the intestines in your cat. Do you ever wonder what causes this mass that your kitty vomits up? Here’s the lowdown on what causes hairballs in cats.

Cat grooming

Typically, the main cause of cat hairballs is their regular grooming activities. Grooming is simply a part of the lifestyle of a content cat. Their digestive system can usually accommodate the hair they swallow while they’re doing so.

It’s the dead hair that becomes loose that their rough tongue licks up and then swallows. In most cases, the hair goes through the intestinal tract, which is designed to process fur through it and comes out in their poop.

Some of the fur from their coats stays in their stomach and forms a mass, which they vomit up when it becomes a wet clump. This clump is the hairball.

Shortly after you hear your kitty gagging or retching, they will then vomit out the hairball. Now you know!

Variations on hairballs by feline and age

Given what causes hairballs in cats, it follows that short-haired breeds are less likely to get hairballs than long-haired ones like Persians. You can also expect your aging cat to have more hairballs than a younger one.

Over the years felines get better at their grooming habits. So, they are more efficient at removing fur using their tongues as they get older. That means you can expect your cat to have more hairballs as they age. Yes, that’s more for you to clean up.

How often do cats get hairballs?

Now that you know what causes hairballs in cats, the next question is how often do these balls of fur typically accumulate? Knowing the answer can help you sort out if it is happening too frequently so you can see a vet for answers.

Typically a cat will vomit a hairball once a week. This occurrence is normally not something to worry about. That’s good to know, right?!

If you find your cat is getting hairballs more often than once a week, though, you may want to step up your grooming routine. By brushing or combing the fur regularly – even daily, depending on the cat – you can get rid of any loose hair before the animal ingests it and it becomes a hairball.

Attention to grooming is also important. So brush your cats regularly. We recently got a softer brush that our older cat likes better than the old one. Brushing helps the fur to stay glossy, and your cat might like the attention too.

Alternatively, frequent vomiting of hairballs may be a sign to change your cat’s diet. If you notice they’re vomiting a lot, whether with or without hair in it, please take your fur kid to the veterinarian to identify the source of the problem. The vet can then recommend treatments based on their related experience and education.

Did you know what causes hairballs in cats? Do you have other cat-related questions?

6 thoughts on “What causes hairballs in cats?”

  1. I always felt sorry for our cats when they would throw up their furballs. Of course, it is better that it come up that way than cause an obstruction in the intestines. There are some foods that supposedly make that process easier to pass through the intestines.

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