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  • Marcy Santos

What is a Hairball and How to Get Rid of Them

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Not only are hairballs gross to clean up for you, but they can also cause health problems in your cat. So, what is a hairball? And how can you get rid of them?

Hairballs happen because your cat groom’s itself. When a cat licks itself, it can swallow loose or dead hair. If you have ever been licked by a cat you know they have rough tongues. These tongues are great at removing dirt, but also remove hair. Much of the hair will be digested, but some can stay in the stomach and form a ball of hair, the hairball. It is this hairball that your cat may vomit up.

Since hairballs are a result of grooming, they occur more frequently in long-haired cat breeds like Persians. Also, if your cat grooms itself a lot it is more susceptible to hairballs. It can be unsettling to hear your cat hacking up hairballs, and uncomfortable for you to clean them up. There are a few things you can do to help prevent hairballs in your cat.

Regular Grooming

Brushing your cat regularly not only prevents hairballs, but it also is a wonderful way to bond with your cat. When he or she is regularly brushed, it will reduce the amount of loose hair that they can swallow when they are self-grooming. If your cat sheds frequently, you can consider purchasing de shedding tools.

Special Food

Some cat foods, such as high-fiber formulas, are designed to help improve your cat’s coat and help them better digest food. These improvements will minimize shedding, and help the hairballs pass easily through the cat’s digestive system. You can search for hairball-reducing cat food brands to feed your cat.


Having enough water also helps hairballs to move through the digestive track. Many cats prefer to drink running water rather than standing water. If you purchase a water fountain you can encourage your cats to drink more water, which may help them digest hairballs more easily.

Discourage Grooming

If your cat’s hairballs resulted from excessive grooming, you can try to change their behavior. When you see them licking their coat, encourage them to get involved with a new toy or activity instead. Retraining them to not engage in the activity can reduce the likelihood of them having hairballs.

Try one or more of these tricks to reduce hairballs in your cat.


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