As a cat owner, hairballs are likely no surprise to you, despite how slimy they are. You may encounter more hairballs than you’re used to, depending on your cat’s hair coat length. If you’re worried about how many hairballs your furry friend is producing or want to know more, this guide is for you!

How are hairballs formed?

As cats groom themselves, the tiny hooks on their tongues trap dead or loose fur that they ingest. Whether your cat is long- or short-haired, they will still ingest enough fur to create hairballs. Most of the hair passes easily through the gastrointestinal tract, but some can become clumped in the stomach and, in rare cases, become too bulky to be passed. These uncommon instances require surgical removal. 

How many hairballs should my cat normally produce?

The general consensus is that cats should produce no more than one hairball per week, no matter their coat length. So, if your cat is vomiting hairballs more frequently, retching without any production, or not eating, schedule an appointment with our veterinarian. 

How can I reduce hairball development in my cat?

If you’re not a fan of cleaning up slimy fur clumps, you can take steps to reduce the number of hairballs your cat produces. Try the following methods:

  • Brushing your cat daily
  • Switching to a hairball-control diet
  • Using an oral gel that binds hair in the stomach and allows easier passage

How does my cat get rid of their hairballs?

In most cases, your cat will vomit up the hairball, which will pass from their stomach to the esophagus and then flatten out into a thin tube, rather than an actual ball, as it goes through the esophagus. So, no, cats do not cough up hairballs—they vomit them. 

It’s normal for your feline friend to produce hairballs! However, if your pet is not eating or vomiting, please contact us to schedule an appointment with our team right away!