what does cat hairball look like

Hairballs occur when cats swallow more hair than normal. The excess hair irritates the cat’s stomach and causes the cat to vomit the hairball, which usually looks like a wet cigar with hair, saliva, stomach acid, and occasionally small amounts of digested food.

Why Is My Cat Getting Hairballs?

While all cats ingest hair during self-grooming, why do some suffer from hairballs while others do not?

Fur is not digestible. It is mostly composed of keratin, which is not broken down by the GI tract’s acids and enzymes in cats. Additionally, fur in the tract tends to tangle into big clumps when it is abundant.

A cat’s digestive tract is made to accommodate the normal amount of fur that passes through it, but hairballs can develop as a result of two different types of issues:

Ingestion of more fur than normal, which can happen with:

  • Long-haired cats
  • Skin conditions in cats that cause them to shed more or groom themselves more frequently
  • Cats that overgroom because of stress, boredom, or behavioral problems

Diseases and issues affecting the GI tract:

Are There Home Remedies for Cat Hairballs?

For cats who frequently get hairballs, at-home treatment is not recommended. They usually develop from an underlying health issue, and if it isn’t treated, the cat won’t get better.

However, for those infrequent instances of hairballs, consider these safe home remedies:

Never try to treat your cat for hairballs by giving them mineral oil, butter, lard, cooking oils, or grease. Cooking fats and oils won’t do anything except help with digestion. Mineral oil can easily be inhaled by a cat who is vomiting, which makes it extremely dangerous.

What Causes Hairballs in Cats?

what does cat hairball look like

It is possible for adult cats to dedicate up to 25% of their time to self-washing. A cat’s rough tongue collects dirt, insects, and other debris that has accumulated on the fur and skin, including loose hair. The tongue’s backward-facing barbs, or papillae, “comb” through the hair while the cat licks. Because of a cat’s natural grooming habit, hairballs can form in the stomach over time. Hair and debris are swallowed, and hair is mostly indigestible. Your cat will throw up in order to get rid of the fur clump when it starts to irritate the lining of its stomach.

The hair on early domesticated cats was less, and while their coats may have changed over time, their digestive systems haven’t altered all that much. Because they swallow more fur when grooming, long-haired cats may experience more issues with hairballs, even though most short-haired cats manage them fairly well. These cats are more likely to experience intestinal blockage and to experience vomiting problems related to their hairballs.

Persians, Himalayans, Ragdolls, Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, Siberians, Turkish Angoras, and Domestic Long Hairs are among the long-haired breeds that might experience more hairball issues.

Fortunately, hairballs are less common a concern for kittens because they haven’t quite learned to clean their coats as thoroughly as their adult counterparts. This makes kittens less likely to develop hairballs.


What does a cat throwing up a hairball look like?

A hairball (fur ball) is the unpleasant looking cigar-shaped wad of fur your cat might vomit up. It gets the tubular shape when hair gathers in your cat’s esophagus. If the hair reaches the stomach, but doesn’t leave the stomach, the material that is vomited may be more round in shape.

How can I help my cat pass a hairball?

You can buy a specialist cat hairball treatment paste that contains a laxative and lubricant to help them pass through the digestive system.

How often should cats throw up hairballs?

While most of the swallowed hair eventually passes through the animal’s digestive tract and gets excreted intact in the feces, some of it remains in the stomach and gradually accumulates into a damp clump — the hairball. It’s not uncommon, says Dr. Goldstein, for a cat to regurgitate a hairball once every week or two.