Hairballs in cats - Symptoms and treatment to eliminate them


This attitude, especially in long-haired cats, can lead to some digestive problems. The normal transit of hair occurs through the stomach and, subsequently, through the small intestine and large intestine, until it is eliminated by feces. An excessive intake of hair, can lead to the appearance of balls, which usually remain accumulated in the stomach, causing irritation, vomiting, lack of appetite and, in some cases, constipation or intestinal obstructions.

Under normal conditions, the amount of hair ingested is usually small. But in others, such as in times of molt in which your cat loses more hair than usual, or when it is subjected to dermatological problems, this aspect can trigger more serious disorders.

If your cat is prone to ingesting hair, you should consider the following aspects to minimize its consequences.


Some of them are:

- Brush your cat regularly with the help of specific brushes that you can buy in specialized stores. This routine will help you eliminate the amount of dead hair that accumulates in the animal's fur.

- Make him drink malt. It is an oral paste that you can also buy in specialized stores, and that favors the removal of hair through digestive and intestinal transit due to its lubricating and laxative effect. The administration process is very simple. The paste is supplied directly through the cat's mouth, or mixed with its usual food. The taste is treated to be appealing to your cat, so you should not make great efforts to eat it. If you still have difficulties, you can apply it on your leg. Your cat will identify that it is dirt and will proceed to lick it.

- Another option is the use of fiber, which in itself has properties to improve intestinal transit. The most natural way to supply it is through some products that contain herbs, and they are sold prepared with substrates of barley or pumpkin seeds. It is only necessary to apply water, and wait for the grass to grow. As your cat ingests this herb, you will favor the excessive elimination of her hair.

- The last option can be found in dry food varieties, made using formulations that contain essential nutrients. From here, we recommend Purina ONE, fur and hairballs, rich in chicken and whole grains. This variety contains a high fiber content (compared to the adult formula), and a special combination of fibers with cellulose to help minimize the formation of hairballs.
Of course, not all digestive or intestinal transit problems come from this cause. For any disorder of this nature, it is recommended that you keep your cat fasting for at least 24 hours, hydrating at all times. See if you have vomiting or diarrhea, and if these symptoms stop easily. If not, the most convenient thing is that you go to the veterinarian to explore it, and can give you the relevant guidelines for your recovery.

An excessive intake of hair, can lead to the appearance of balls, which usually remain accumulated in the stomach, causing irritation, vomiting, lack of appetite and, in some cases, constipation or intestinal obstructions.

Why does my cat swallow so much hair?

The cats they spend a lot of time grooming To keep your fur clean and in good condition, a task that can be easily achieved thanks to its special tongue that has small spines that allow you to drag all the fur that falls effectively. The problem is that the animal is not able to spit that hair once it is dragged with its tongue, so it has no alternative but to swallow it.

When the fur accumulates excessively in the stomach of the animal, he will make the effort to vomit, thus discarding the hair ball. It is a serious problem that has its causes in the lack of brushing and even diseases related to skin and fur.

However, sometimes they do not successfully vomit the hairball because it remains locked in the intestine causing severe constipation and making it impossible to eliminate it. It is here when it is important to opt for home remedies to help in its expulsion, however if the animal does not get it we must go to the veterinarian urgently.

The weather and the fur of the cat

Although the cat is groomed all year is in molting season, that is, in spring and autumn, when our feline loses more hair, so it is a time of the year when there is a greater risk that hairballs become a problem.

During these seasons of the year it is important to be very attentive to the behavior of our animal, to watch if it eats, if it makes its depositions normally and if it is animated, in the same way we will have to help the maximum to avoid the least possible accumulation of hair in your stomach following some suggestions that we will take in the following steps. But how do you know if a hairball cannot be ejected? Here are the symptoms of this condition.

Symptoms of stuck hairballs

In general, cats expel hairballs through feces and in very serious cases through vomit. A sure way to allow the cat to purge without risk is to acquire a plant known as catnip, cat grass or catnip, which besides liking cats a lot will help them purge when they need it.

But sometimes the animal simply can't remove the hairball Because it is stuck in your intestine, in this case you will have symptoms such as:

  • Decay and apathy
  • Frequent Arcades
  • Regurgitation
  • Vomiting in which expels liquid and food
  • Constipation

If this picture continues for more than two days it is essential to take the cat to a veterinarian for a review and diagnosis.

Prevent hairballs

Although grooming is part of the natural behavior of cats and cannot and should not be prevented, as owners we can help our animal to prevent hairballs indeed, especially during the molting stages.

To do it is very important brush the cat daily, a task that will help to greatly eliminate the hairs that fall out and prevent the cat from swallowing them all. It is advisable to start the cat in this habit from an early age, but if your pet is already an adult, it may take a little more getting used to it but eventually it will, because when combing it the cat feels as relaxed as when we pet it. For this task you must acquire a special comb suitable for the type of hair of your pet, it is for sale in any pet store.

Brush our cat It is essential if it is long-haired or if it is an elderly feline, because during this stage the animal does not have the same energy so it can not groom itself so effectively.

Effective treatments to eliminate hairballs in cats

If you notice that your cat regurgitates, is decayed and vomits without expelling the hairballs successfully, it is advisable to give it a help. In addition to catnip or catnip, which as we have explained above is of great help to the animal, you can also favor expulsion with these options:

  • Spread on the animal's leg a little vaseline, due to its great cleaning capacity a few minutes later, the cat will begin to lick itself by removing and swallowing the petroleum jelly, which will help it facilitate expulsion by reducing constipation due to the fat of this product.
  • If you do not have petroleum jelly on hand you can also spread butter or malt, equally effective solutions.
  • Valerian It is another of the plants that we can have at hand at home to help our cat to purge itself effectively, if the animal has the need it will not hesitate to bite it to get relief from its discomfort.

Of course, if after applying these products you do not see improvement, the ideal will be go to your veterinarian of trust

If you want to read more articles similar to Hairballs in cats - Symptoms and treatment to eliminate them, we recommend that you enter our Basic Care section.

Hairballs in cats, what are they?

Cats are very cute and clean animals, you can spend hours grooming. Without being able to avoid it, this hygienic custom has a disadvantage: They eat hair unintentionally. Most of them evacuate them with feces without problem, but sometimes some are trapped in the stomach and form balls. When this happens, they usually throw up, but sometimes cats have problems and If they accumulate a lot of hair, they may need surgery.

Although hairballs happen to all cats, they are more frequent in longhair cats, such as the Persians.

How do I know if my cat has hairballs?

The truth is not easy. Cats know how to hide very well when they feel bad, so To detect if your cat has hairballs you must be very observant.If you see that your cat vomits hairballs, it means that he is not expelling them well with feces. You will start to find wet hair piles at home (yes, yuck!).

In dogs it is much more common to vomit, they even do it with relative frequency to purge and is not necessarily a sign of illness. But cats don't usually vomit, so if you do, beware! If you ever throw up hairballs, nothing happens, if it is frequent, even weekly, it is almost certain that there will be a serious problem behind.

Can I only know if my cat has hairballs when he vomits them? There are not others signs that may indicate the presence of hairballs in cats:

  • Sickness
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Apathy
  • Strange behaviors, bad mood ...

Of course, these symptoms not only indicate hairballs, it may be something else. Therefore, in When you suspect that your cat is sick, go to the vet.

Why do cats have trouble expelling hair?

Although popularly, cat hairballs have been considered natural and even funny, it seems increasingly clear that they are not normal. A completely healthy cat with no problems to expel the swallowing hair should never spit hairballs.

If it happens, something is wrong. It is believed to be problem of functioning of the digestive system, specifically in the intestine, which does not move as it should to complete digestions and expel stool.

Why are cat hairballs more common today than in the past? Probably because of the type of diet of domestic cats. Commercial feed has a high percentage of cereals, which, far from being necessary in their diet, increases the hardness and dryness of the bolus, making digestion difficult. Cats are carnivorous animals and neither need cereals nor their organism is prepared to digest them. The same thing happens with dogs.

An excess of cereals in the diet of cats, such as rice, can cause stiffness in the intestinal tract and cause inflammatory bowel disease.

Healthy and proper diet

As we have commented, it is very likely that the difficulties of cats to expel hair are due to an inadequate diet, with an excess of astringent ingredients. Therefore, it is a good idea to offer your cat a Balanced diet and avoid foods you don't need.

You can change to a I think without cereals, combine it with wet canned food, and you can also prepare it homemade food with fresh food. They usually like boiled fish, liver and chicken.

Brush your cat daily

A very good way to avoid hairballs is to reduce the hair that your cat swallows. If you brush it daily, you will catch all the dead hair that is released, so when it is licked, it will swallow much less.

Brushing your cat is important throughout the year, but even more during times of shedding (spring - summer).

(Photo via: pet darling)

How to remove hairballs with petroleum jelly

This remedy against hairballs in cats is not natural and should be used only in case of emergency, but it can be a great help. Vaseline acts fast, after only a few hours of its intake, your cat will remove the hairs through feces.

How to give petroleum jelly to your cat ?:

  1. Use transparent neutral petroleum jelly, that does not have perfumes, flavors or dyes.
  2. Full of petroleum jelly half a teaspoon of dessert and mix it well with food wet of your cat or with pate so that your cat does not notice it.
  3. If you don't get him to eat it, another option is smear the petroleum jelly on its leg. When you notice it, you will surely lick it. Spread it well, if you leave a stick it is likely to fall out before you can suck it.

To make sure you eject all the hairballs, repeat the process for a day or two more. Of course, this is for healthy cats, if you have any health problems it is better not to perform these types of treatments.

If you notice that your cat is apathetic, has a fever, nausea, which generally shows symptoms of illness, it may take a long time with clogged hairballs. Then, Go to the vet as soon as possible! These home remedies will not be enough.

How do hairballs form in cats?

If you have a cat, you will surely have seen it on more than one occasion cleaning itself. This task can take many hours ... Until you make sure you are 100% neat and combed, you will not stop. In some, even wounds or lesions caused by the “scratchy” tongue that all cats have (that tickle us when they show us their affection) may appear.

Hairballs in cats are very common due to this habit. Actually, at all times he will be swallowing part of his fur, but you won't notice. Even when? Well, until you make efforts to vomit, spit or eliminate them through feces.

There would be no problem if I could expel the hairballs. But this does not always happen. In some cases they are "trapped" in the stomach or intestine and cause pain, discomfort, constipation and even bad mood.

If your cat has nausea, swollen abdomen or decay for more than one day, a hairball may have formed or suffer from any other digestive problem. Feel free to take it to the vet for review.

When to pay attention to hairballs?

Something that we should keep in mind is also that the fact that the cat vomits hairballs is not as normal as it seems. Because, in reality, in the first instance they should not be trained inside, even if you are a big fan of hygiene.

When this happens, it can be a symptom that something is not working well in your digestive system. Or more specifically in your intestines. When the animal does not defecate properly, the hairs accumulate along with the other waste.

One of the theories to understand why the cat is prone to the formation of those disgusting hairballs is due to the type of feeding it carries today. Although the feed contains all the proteins you need, your diet should also consist of other foods, including meat and fish.

Of course also we can add wet feed to lubricate the digestive system completely and avoid what is known as "inflammatory bowel disease". This increasingly frequent pathology is caused by the amount of dry ingredients that feed has (including rice and other cereals).

1. Offer a healthy diet

Probably The vet tells you what kind of food you can consume and in what quantities. Balances cereal and carbohydrate feed with high-protein food cans. If you have a little time to cook it, do not hesitate to offer liver, chicken, fish or meat. There are thousands of homemade recipes for cats that can serve.

2. Brush periodically

If you have a cat with very long hair, such as the Persian, Angora or Maine Coon, you must brush the mantle at least once a week. We recommend that you start with this habit since the animal is small to be considered a game or a pampering, and not something bad and annoying. This way you will have less loose dead hair that you can swallow when you clean.

3. Help him remove the hairballs

There are certain herbs and plants that the cat can eat to expel more easily the hair due to its laxative properties. This is the case of wheat, barley or the so-called "cat grass". Consult with the veterinarian before putting pots everywhere.

Some owners give you a teaspoon of liquid petroleum jelly or sunflower oil mixed in food (or directly in the mouth) to help you eliminate waste more quickly.

Yamila Papa Painter is a sports journalist (Circle of sports journalists, 2006-2008). Between 2010 and 2011 he worked as sports journalist in "Argentinos Pasión".

Since 2011 he works in the article writing on different topics: health, sports, travel, pets and cooking recipes, among them. It is also radio and television broadcaster, and a great enthusiast for natural life. It is vegetarian and active participant of a foundation in charge of planting trees in his country of origin, Argentina. In terms of languages, he is fluent in English and Portuguese, and has a basic level of Arabic.

He recently completed his training with the course of: »Introduction to Food and Health» (Stanford University, 2019)

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