What To Do When Cat Throws Up Hairballs

The painfully ugly sight to see on your rug, behind the furniture, or sometimes even on the bed are cat fur rolled up drenched in sticky and clear vomit – hairball. They are unpleasant and always a sore for the person who has to clean them up.

When a cat throws up hairballs, encourage more water, examine the vomit, use petroleum jelly on its mouth and paws to form a laxative.

Aside from that, it can be the start of a serious health problem for your cat. They will always feel the urge to clean and groom themselves, but how do you keep hairballs from accumulating too much and causing vomiting?

What should you do when your cat throws up hairballs?

What Causes Hairball

As disgusting as hairball vomit can be, it is a common episode in them. Cats are neat freaks by nature. They are self-conscious. They feel the need to clean every time. With every grooming routine they do, hairball develops.


Cats have tiny hook-like spines on their tongues. When cat’s groom, these tiny spines catch loose and dead hair and they end up swallowing them. Although the majority of this hair passes from soup to nuts through their digestive tract seamlessly, some may get trapped and stay in the stomach forming hairball.

More often than not, your feline will vomit the hairball to expel it. Since the process would include the hairballs passing through their narrow esophagus on the way out, they often come out and appear thin and tube-like instead of round, like “hairball.”

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Long-haired breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons are more prone to hairballs. The same goes for cats that shed a lot or cats who groom excessively and compulsively. This is because the more they groom, the more they tend to swallow a great deal of fur.

You may not notice kittens experiencing hairballs and that is normal. As they get older, they learn how to become more proficient in grooming, making them more proficient at removing fur from their coats with their tongues. The more they groom, the more they hairball, and the more you have to clean up.

Does It Mean My Cat Is Eating Hair?

No. Your cat is not appealed with her coat being a midday snack. Being the self-conscious groomers that they are, they lick themselves almost constantly, resulting in them swallowing some or sometimes a lot of their fur.

You will understand especially if you have been kissed or licked by a cat. Their rough and spiked tongues are good cleaners but perfect catcher of cat fur, too.

Symptoms of Hairballs in Cats

The best way to approach and deal with a cat’s hairball problems is to understand the symptoms. This way, we’ll recognize the next steps we should take.

Cats vomiting due to hairball are disturbing to watch. You hear them hacking, gagging, and retching. You see them stretch out their backs in efforts to expel what they have from their throat. When they’re done, cleaning up is the hardest part.

When you suspect your feline is experiencing hairballs, be sure to observe what they do. Here are some symptoms you can use as a reference. Be sure to reach out to your veterinarian, since some symptoms may indicate how potentially life-threatening they can be.

  • Persistent vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without producing a hairball
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea

What to Do When Cat Throws Up Hairballs

You won’t miss a cat when it tries to throw up hairballs. They make the same sound humans do when they vomit. If hairball vomiting happens to your cat, take care of them by:

Step 1. Put their food and water out of their reach.

Step 2. Examine the vomit. See if there are any traces of blood or if it has a foul odor. If it does, contact your family vet immediately. Otherwise, go to step 3.

Step 3. Treat the tom by putting one or two teaspoons of Vaseline or white petroleum jelly on its mouth and paws. When they lick it off, they ingest it and may form as some sort of laxative.

Step 4. Repeat the Vaseline treatment at least once a day until you notice that your cat is no longer experiencing vomiting. If it continues for more than three days, reach out to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Managing Hairballs and Vomiting

Hairball is common with cats and there is not a lot that can be done to prevent it. However, there are ways to reduce the chances of your cat experiencing hairballs or lower the rate of recurrence.

Groom Your Cat Regularly

Cats’ hair loose regularly, thus when they groom themselves, the tendency for them to swallow their hair is big. Daily grooming your cat with an appropriate brush or comb will lessen the loose hair since the brush will collect the hair before the cat gets the chance to swallow them.

Not only that, grooming them regularly will keep loose hair off of your furniture and clothes. Plus, it can a perfect activity for you to be able to bond with your moggy. Check out the FURminator for Cats. This de-shedding tool is perfect for removing loose hair without injuring your cat.

Provide Your Cat with A Specialized Hairball Formula

Diet is a critical component of a cat’s health. Better diet results in healthy skin and healthy skin surely minimizes shedding of fur. Many cat food manufacturers now formulate a hairball recipe that is intended for cat health improvement.

Most of these formulations are high-fiber diets that encourage hairballs to pass through the digestive system with no problems. Blue Adult Indoor Hairball Control contains fiber-rich sweet potato that helps in keeping healthy skin and shiny coat.

Use Hairball Lubricants

Many advertised products target cats that need help in easily passing hairballs through their digestive tract, straight into the litterbox, instead of vomiting. Mild laxatives can aid in these situations especially for less severe cases.

Be sure to have these laxatives administered under the direction of your veterinarian. Vets should know whether they can be suitable for your cat considering their health and diet. Tomlyn Laxatone has been known to work for cats and dogs. Ask your vet about it.

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Offer More Water

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Water is still the best lubricant to help with minimizing hairballs. Make sure that your mouser has easy access to plentiful fresh and clean water. You may have water bowls or drinking fountains in different spots at your home to make sure they are hydrated everywhere they go.

Bond with Your Cats

Bored cats tend to groom excessively, increasing the accumulation of hair they swallow. Play with your cats to discourage excessive grooming. Offer new and interesting toys to distract them. Spend some time outside. Watch bird videos. Keep them entertained to keep their minds off cleaning themselves.

This also creates a connection between the two of you at the same time it improves their mental health and overall wellbeing.

Final Words

Hairballs are generally harmless for the cats, but it can also become so severe that it may cause blockages. Check with your veterinarian if you notice any development of lumps, or if their belly becomes swollen or hard. Constipation is another sign of a severe hairball case.

Be sure you are on the lookout for these signs to know what to do next.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Is it normal for cats to throw up hairballs every day?

A: While cat expelling hairball through vomiting is generally normal, there are situations when you may need to be concerned. Regular hairballs, particularly daily hairballs could be a sign of serious underlying problems. If your cat goes more than three days of vomiting hairball, contact your vet immediately.

Q: Do hairballs cause vomiting in cats?

A: Yes, hairballs are a common cause of vomiting as well as a huge contributor to cat constipation, too. However, you must not always assume that it is hairball causing them to vomit. Vomiting immediately after eating may be due to your cat eating too fast or the food they ate maybe irritating their gastrointestinal tract.

Q: Are hairballs painful for cats?

A: Hairballs can become a problem to your cat if there is too much of the hair accumulated and it can no longer be passed in the feces or through vomiting. If this happens, it may obstruct your cat’s digestive system. It will cause your cat constant urge to vomit, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and if not treated – some serious fluid and electrolyte issues.

Q: How do I know if my cat has a hairball stuck?

A: Stuck hairball is potentially life-threatening so be sure to watch out for your cat if they exhibit hairball symptoms. Stuck hairball will have them constantly gagging, retching, or hacking with no hairball produced. If this happens, contact your vet immediately.