What to do about Hairballs in Cats?

cat yawning

Hairballs can certainly be annoying for both cats and their owners.

They can be a minor annoyance or a major health problem. If you own a cat, it is a good idea to learn what can be done about hairballs.

This will help you maintain your pet’s health as effectively as possible.

Why do Hairballs Form?

Cats are constantly grooming themselves, which typically involves using their tongue to pick up loose fur. They swallow this fur, which usually gets digested normally without any issues. These animals spit up any hair that doesn’t get digested.

Sometimes, however, a hairball can cause a blockage in a cat’s intestines. An intestinal blockage is a very serious issue that can be life threatening for cats, especially if it isn’t dealt with quickly. This happens more often than you might think, and it should be taken seriously.

Symptoms to Look Out for

There are certain symptoms of hairballs that you should be aware of for the sake of your cat’s overall health, including:

  • Eating less than normal
  • Sluggish behavior
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting hair
  • Violent coughing
cat hairball 2

Best Ways to Deal with Hairballs

It is important that you do everything in your power to prevent your cat from developing hairballs in the first place. There are a number of ways to keep this from happening that you should know about.

  Dry Cat Nose - Causes & Treatment

1. Start Buying Anti-Hairball Cat Food

There are plenty of different cat foods on the market that are specifically formulated to help prevent hairballs. These foods come in a variety of flavors, so you’ll want to explore the options that are available. You may have to experiment with different products before you find one that your cat takes to.

You should make a point of looking for a cat food that has a formula with lots of fiber. This promotes healthy digestion while making your pet’s coat healthier and more vibrant. These foods are highly recommended for cats with long hair, as they can help with shedding. This means that you can reduce the chances of hairballs and vacuum less frequently.

2. Distract Your Cat When it Over-Grooms

If your cat is grooming itself too much, you can always try distracting it with a fun toy. Try packing a toy it really likes with some catnip. This should be effective at getting your pet to stop licking itself, at least for a while.

The less frequently your cat grooms itself, the less likely they are to develop problems with hairballs. Some of these animals groom themselves too much, which can be an issue if they cannot properly digest all of their hairballs.

3. Use a Laxative

There are also laxative products that you can give your cat to ensure that all of their hairballs are digested without any problems. These products shouldn’t cause them any discomfort, and they tend to work very well.

cat hairballs

4. Practice Regular Grooming

You’ll want to make a point of grooming your cat on a regular basis. You can do so with a soft brush that is designed to pick up cat hair. These animals often enjoy this, but you need to be gentle. You might end up getting nipped at or clawed if you are even a little too rough when doing this.

  What Is the Average Cat Weight?

It is also a good idea to take your cat to a professional groomer every few months. This will help to ensure that a lot of their loose fur is taken care of. It will significantly decrease the chances of your cat developing any serious hair ball problems. You want to have your cat’s hair cut and brushed with each of these appointments.

5. Use a Hairball Gel

You can buy gel products that are designed to make hairballs easier for cats to digest. These products come in a variety of flavors, some of which your pet is bound to enjoy. You should look for a gel that is made with only natural ingredients. This will greatly reduce the chances of a negative reaction.

All you have to do is just squirt a little bit of the gel on your cat’s paws. It will then lick the gel off and swallow it. It doesn’t take much of this gel to work wonders for your pet. Just don’t put the gel on any of their food.

6. Give Your Cat a Supplement

A probiotic supplement can also be highly effective at maintaining your cat’s digestive health over the long term. These supplements can be very effective when it comes to keeping hairballs from becoming a much bigger problem.

There are other types of supplements that are designed to promote healthy digestion in cats. It is a good idea for you to explore some of these options before deciding on what to give your pet. You will most likely have to give them the supplement every single day for it to be truly effective.

  Hypoallergenic Cats - What You Need to Know

7. Keep Their Water Bowl Full

Another simple but effective way to prevent hairballs from becoming intestinal blockages is to ensure that your cat stays hydrated. This means keeping their water bowl full at all times. If your cat doesn’t have enough water, they could have issues swallowing hairballs.


  • Hairballs are the result of your cat grooming itself.
  • While most hairballs are perfectly harmless, they can become a serious problem if an intestinal blockage forms.
  • If your cat grooms itself too much, try distracting it with a fun toy and/or some catnip.
  • You will need to make a point of grooming your cat regularly with a soft brush. It’s also recommended that you take them to a groomer every few months.
  • Giving your cat a mild laxative will ensure that they digest their hairballs without any issues.
  • Consider switching your cat to a new high-fiber food that will help prevent hairballs from becoming a serious problem.
  • There are also hairball gels that you can rub on your kitty’s paws. They will lick up the gel, which makes digesting hairballs easier.
  • A probiotic or other digestive supplement will reduce the chances of serious hairball issues with your pet.
Was this article helpful?