What Does a Cat Hairball Look Like?

As a cat parent, you probably dread that sound. You know the one: the ack, aaaccckkk, retching sound your beloved kitty makes when she is about to heave up a hairball.

You probably know one when you see one, but to be clear, hairballs are thick mats of hair that are usually tubular in formnot shaped like a ball, despite the nameand are covered in a slippery or slimy substance (mucus). Even longtime pet parents of the most fastidious felines might be surprised to learn that a cat spends 30 percent of her waking hours grooming herself, Lund says.

Hairballs become a problem when the cats digestive system fails to move the hair efficiently through the stomach and intestines and out of the body as waste. Its basically a mechanical problem, whether it (the hair) makes it past the stomach is a question of motility (how quickly matter moves through the digestive system), Lund says. Other underlying gastrointestinal issues that can make your cat prone to hairballs include gastroenteritis, intestinal cancers and valve problems.

The only way to determine if a simple change in diet is enough to resolve the issue or a more serious health problem is present, is to have your regular vet examine your cat, both doctors stress. Treatment requires identifying and addressing the underlying cause, whether it is an inflammatory bowel disease, cancer or dietary issue.

How do I know if my cat has a hairball?

Symptoms of Hairballs in Cats. The most visible hairball symptom you’ve probably noticed is the retching and gagging that usually precedes the actual vomiting of the hairball. In addition to retching/gagging, your cat may exhibit: Lack of appetite. Litter box troubles such as constipation or diarrhea.

What does a normal cat hairball look like?

What Do Cat Hairballs Look Like? You probably know one when you see one, but to be clear, hairballs are thick mats of hair that are usually tubular in form—not shaped like a ball, despite the name—and are covered in a slippery or slimy substance (mucus). The more-oval shape comes from passing through the esophagus.

What does a cat hairball throw up look like?

Hairballs usually come out some shade of their fur with a brown, green, or orange tint because they are made up of your cat’s hair, discolored by stomach acid, and mixed with mucus or dyed with cat food.

Do cat hairballs look like poop?

A hairball is usually shaped like a cylinder. If you see one on your favorite rug, you might mistake it at first for feces. Hairballs are often about the same size and shape as a log of cat poop.

All that cleaning and removing fur you see your cat constantly do, leads to them swallowing a lot of hair, which can collect into balls in their stomachs. Here is what cat hairballs are and how you can help a cat with hairballs.

Most hairs swallowed from grooming will pass through the digestive system and out into the litter box without a problem. Numerous cat hairballs could be a symptom of a problem in the gastrointestinal tract in this case, it is best to check this out as soon as possible.

Cats tend to over-groom when they are stressed a bit like us biting our fingernails and thus will consume more hair, leading to more hairballs. Kittens and younger cats usually have fewer hairballs because they are not as fastidious in terms of grooming. Fluffy cats make the perfect companion, but are also predisposed to producing more frequent hairballs.

Cats with longer fur, such as Persians and Maine Coons, naturally produce more hairballs as their hair accumulates into a clump faster. Although its difficult to watch your cat struggling and gagging, the best thing you can do to help them with hairballs is to give them plenty of space. The key is not to get too distressed and just keep an eye on your cat to ensure they bring up the hairball and then stop gagging.

You can buy a specialist cat hairball treatment paste that contains a laxative and lubricant to help them pass through the digestive system. These kibble-based products contain lots of fibre to help take excess fur through the digestive system. They also contain vitamins and minerals to keep your cats fur in good condition and reduce hair loss.

However, if your cat is wandering around the house and repeatedly retching with no sign of a hairball (and especially if theyve lost energy and are unwilling to eat), then take them to the vet immediately. Prolonged gagging, vomiting, retching without producing a hairball A drop in appetite Lethargy Cat constipation or diarrhoea Excessive nibbling on grass A swollen or sensitive stomach In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to remove the hairball if it has grown particularly large; this can be expensive in terms of vet bills.

You have probably heard of hairballs from cartoons or movies, but what is a hairball? Is it normal, or is it a sign that something is not right with your cat?

We’ve all heard of hairballs, and if we’ve had a cat for very long, we’ve seen them vomit in some form or another. How do you know when they’re vomiting up a hairball and what to do about it? Should you be concerned, and when? Answering the question, “what do cat hairballs look like?” is the first step to knowing what to do.

Hairballs, rather than really being round, are usually long and cylindrical because they conformed to the shape of the inside of the cat. Your typical hairball will be both slimy and coarse, made up of hair and slick, mucousy stuff.

To make matters much more enjoyable, (that’s sarcasm) the hairball may be all mixed up with mucus, stomach acid, or food. If you’ve seen something on your floor or furniture that you can’t determine if it’s a hairball or poop, comfort yourself with the knowledge that 90 people search for this every month. It is not uncommon for a hairball to be reminiscent of poop because it can be brown and cylindrical and have more substance than other types of vomit.

Sometimes things get out of whack and cats will have hairballs, but it is a sign of something out of the ideal kitty stomach environment. Long-haired cats are more likely to develop hairballs than their short-haired counterparts because they’ve got all that long hair to potentially get caught up in their digestive tract. This balance may be thrown off because they: aren’t eating enough fiber are consuming an excessive amount of hair have digestive issues because of an illness

That volatile environment helps the cat puke up a hairball that otherwise would get stuck and remain in there indefinitely and cause serious health problems. Most of the time, cats vomit up a hairball and it’s just unpleasant for everyone involved, but there are several causes for concern to be watchful for. This can cause a serious situation where a cat‘s digestive system can’t function as it should, limiting their appetite and reducing the flow of waste.

They will cough and gag like they are going to throw up for a long time without result or they may stop doing this and start drooling, keeping their mouth open, and have difficulty breathing. Cat hairball symptoms may include: a vomited-up hairball an aborted attempt to throw up reduced appetite no appetite constipation diarrhea bathroom accidents lethargy skittishness hiding swollen abdomen tenderness in the abdomen They probably have a health problem like a skin condition, flea allergy, pain, or anxiety that needs to be addressed on its own, and the excessive grooming will lead to hairball production.

There are many popular remedies involving different kinds of oil or petroleum for trying to lubricate the hairball, and they can work, but you should try them with a vet’s guidance as they may have more negative consequences than benefits. Diet and external changes can encourage the cat‘s body to get rid of the hairball the way it is supposed to. Cat-safe laxatives may be tried in an effort to remove hairballs that are stubborn enough or causing enough problems to not respond to external factors but are not too large to pass.

CBD oil eases anxiety in cats that may make them groom excessively or have digestive issues. It may also alleviate skin conditions and allergies that may make cats excessively groom, striking at another cause of hairballs. If you’re struggling to find a safe and effective way to manage your cat‘s ongoing hairball problem, speak to your vet about whether CBD oil may be the best answer.

It is a gentle way to address a wide range of hard-to-manage issues like anxiety, skin conditions, and digestive problems. Scientists have discovered that humans, cats, and many other animals have an endocannabinoid system that creates and utilizes its own cannabinoids to make organs all over the body work as they should. There are no known instances of an overdose, but when given in large enough quantities, it may cause loss of appetite, diarrhea, or sedation.

You should tell your vet about the use of CBD oil before they perform any procedures or prescribe any medication as it impacts how the liver absorbs substances and doses will not work as expected without tweaking. Treats are one of the most popular methods, allowing you to easily help manage chronic issues like anxiety, pain, or digestive problems. Capsules are also easy, taste free, no fuss ways to give cats CBD oil if they don’t mind taking pills, but they too don’t allow you room to tweak a dose.

Extract concentrates are versatile options as you measure the product out in little beads to achieve whatever dose you need. Once you’ve discovered if your cat‘s immediate health is in control, you might choose our CBD oil tinctures to aid with anxiety and digestive issues or our CBD balm to address skin problems that may be causing your cat to get hairballs.

What Do Cat Hairballs Look Like?

You probably know one when you see one, but to be clear, hairballs are thick mats of hair that are usually tubular in form—not shaped like a ball, despite the name—and are covered in a slippery or slimy substance (mucus). The more-oval shape comes from passing through the esophagus. Hairballs can be as small as an inch or up to a few inches or more in size.

How Do Cat Hairballs Form?

Cats ingest hair as they lick themselves repeatedly while grooming their coats. Because a cat’s tongue has backwards-facing barbs on it, the tongue moves hair into the mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach.Even longtime pet parents of the most fastidious felines might be surprised to learn that a cat spends 30 percent of her waking hours grooming herself, Lund says. “Hairballs are a side effect of cats being obsessive-compulsive groomers.”Any cat can develop hairballs, from long-haired breeds to domestic shorthairs, the doctors note.

What Causes Cat Hairballs?

Under normal circumstances, the grooming obsession that causes cats to ingest hair should not be a problem. The hair should move through the digestive system along with food and be eliminated in feces. Hairballs become a problem when the cat’s digestive system fails to move the hair efficiently through the stomach and intestines and out of the body as waste.“It’s basically a mechanical problem, whether it (the hair) makes it past the stomach is a question of motility (how quickly matter moves through the digestive system),” Lund says.A number of treatable health issues can cause motility problems. Some illnesses that can slow down digestion include hyperthyroidism and inflammatory bowel disease, Marrinan says. Other underlying gastrointestinal issues that can make your cat prone to hairballs include gastroenteritis, intestinal cancers and valve problems.

Cat Hairballs: How to Handle Them

An occasional hairball may not be anything serious—cats can vomit up hair and food if they eat too fast or develop a sensitivity to their regular food, Marrinan says.“Occasional vomiting also may be due to eating plants outside, but if you notice it, and certainly if it is more than once a month, it is likely a problem,” he says.Due to the seriousness of some of the potential causes of hairballs, however, Marrinan and Lund suggest pet parents take their cat to the vet if she starts producing hairballs. The only way to determine if a simple change in diet is enough to resolve the issue or a more serious health problem is present, is to have your regular vet examine your cat, both doctors stress.

Diagnosing Hairballs in Cats

To get to the bottom of the hairball issue, your vet will likely want to conduct some diagnostic tests, which can include bloodwork, X-rays and an ultrasound of your cat’s stomach and intestines, or an endoscopy—using a tiny scope to look inside your cat’s stomach while she is anesthetized and taking tissue samples to biopsy (examine under a microscope).

Treating and Preventing Hairballs in Cats

Treatment requires identifying and addressing the underlying cause, whether it is an inflammatory bowel disease, cancer or dietary issue. Some breeds, such as Maine Coon and Rag Doll, are susceptible to intestinal valve problems, which can contribute to the development of hairballs, Lund says.The occasional hairball can be prevented by feeding your cat a flavored petroleum-jelly-based remedy that will help move hair through the digestive system. “Think brown sugar flavored Vaseline,” Marrinan says of the over-the counter remedies.In addition, some vets may ecommend changing your cat’s diet.

What is a cat hairball?

A cat hairball is a collection of dead hair and digestive juices that have formed in your cat’s stomach. Cats develop hairballs by grooming themselves and swallowing the hairs, which build into hairballs in their stomachs. All cats groom themselves by licking at their fur. Their tongues have little barbs to snag the hairs as they shed. Barbs face backwards on the tongue, a design engineered by nature to help snag loose hairs, but it also means cats have little choice but to swallow the hair they groom.

Cat hairball symptoms

When a cat is trying to bring up a hairball, they may start retching, gagging or acting like they are dry heaving and trying to vomit. Sometimes the sound they make is called a ‘cough-gag-retch’. This is because your cat can appear to be coughing from the lungs, gagging with their throat and retching from the stomach.

Are cat hairballs normal?

Many cat owners find it very difficult and distressing to hear their cats gagging and retching, and they start to wonder if there is anything they should be worrying about. This self-grooming is completely normal and cats should be doing it to keep their fur in good condition.Most individual hairs will pass through the cat’s digestive system as normal, but sometimes they can form clumps which begin to accumulate in the stomach. Cats try and vomit them up to prevent them going into the intestine and causing a blockage. Don’t be worried if you see your cat stretch their neck, dry retch (their mouth opening wide) and expel a hairball before calmly walking away. It can be distressing to watch this, but don’t worry – it’s normal.

How often do cats have hairballs?

Some cat owners think that their pet brings up a hairball every day, but this isn’t true. Cats should only get hairballs occasionally, usually less than once a month. Most hairs swallowed from grooming will pass through the digestive system and out into the litter box without a problem.However, if your cat has hairballs frequently, it’s worth taking them to see a vet. Numerous cat hairballs could be a symptom of a problem in the gastrointestinal tract – in this case, it is best to check this out as soon as possible.Numerous hairballs in cats can also be a symptom that your cat is over-grooming. Cats tend to over-groom when they are stressed – a bit like us biting our fingernails – and thus will consume more hair, leading to more hairballs. If you think your cat may be stressed, take them to the vet.

Which cats produce more hairballs?

Cat hairballs are part of cats’ instinctive grooming regime and are usually nothing to worry about. Kittens and younger cats usually have fewer hairballs because they are not as fastidious in terms of grooming. Older cats, on the other hand, may have grown fussier and may produce hairballs more often.Fluffy cats make the perfect companion, but are also predisposed to producing more frequent hairballs. Cats with longer fur, such as Persians and Maine Coons, naturally produce more hairballs as their hair accumulates into a clump faster.

How to help a cat with hairballs

Many cat owners are concerned when a cat has hairballs because it seems like they are choking or struggling. What’s the best way for owners to help a cat throw up a hairball?Although it’s difficult to watch your cat struggling and gagging, the best thing you can do to help them with hairballs is to give them plenty of space. It’s perfectly normal for your cat to gag several times to be able to vomit the hairball.The key is not to get too distressed and just keep an eye on your cat to ensure they bring up the hairball and then stop gagging.

Hairball treatment for cats

When your cat has hairballs, it’s common to wonder what treatments are available. There are lots of home remedies online, especially for oils and lubricants. However, we don’t advise trying these.You can buy a specialist cat hairball treatment paste that contains a laxative and lubricant to help them pass through the digestive system. But this is not generally needed. If you do use it, follow the instructions to the letter.One particularly effective treatment is hairball cat food. These kibble-based products contain lots of fibre to help take excess fur through the digestive system. They also contain vitamins and minerals to keep your cat’s fur in good condition and reduce hair loss.Finally, vets can prescribe treatments for hairballs in severe cases.

How do cat hairballs get diagnosed?

In and of themselves, hairballs are harmless. However, if your cat is wandering around the house and repeatedly retching with no sign of a hairball (and especially if they’ve lost energy and are unwilling to eat), then take them to the vet immediately. It could be a sign that the hairball has moved from their stomach to their intestine. This is a serious condition that should be addressed by a vet immediately.You should take your cat to the vets if they have any of these cat hairball symptoms:

Are Hairballs Normal?

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. Those strands of hair in liquid (clear, frothy, or yellow liquid) are not hairballs, they are “vomit with hair.”

Are Certain Cats More Prone to Hairballs?

In an informal survey* only 10% of short-haired cats brought up two or more hairballs a year, 17% once a year, and 73% never brought up hairballs. Long-haired cats were twice as likely to throw up a hairball.

When Should I be Concerned?

If your cat vomits more than 2 real hairballs over the course of one year, you should discuss this with your veterinarian and if you find vomited liquid with strands of hair on the floor, you should take your cat to your veterinarian to investigate the cause for vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention if your cat is showing any of these symptoms:

Are There Other Things that Mimic Hairballs?

When a cat “coughs up” a hairball, they are actually vomiting. A common sign of asthma is when cats stretch out their neck and make the same “coughing” sound, but don’t vomit a hairball. You should bring these issues to your veterinarian’s attention immediately.

What is a cat hairball?

Before getting into what a hairball looks like, let’s discuss what they are. Cats groom, a lot. They don’t do it with brushes, but with their tongues, tongues with little bristle-like pieces that comb through their fur like a brush. Some of their hairs get into their mouths this way and end up being swallowed.Their bodies are supposed to pass these hairs right on through their digestive tracts, but when that doesn’t happen, they collect and build a hairball.

What does a hairball look like?

So, how does one recognize a hairball when they see it? What is the difference between a hairball and any other vomit? Well, there isn’t an easy answer because hairballs can vary a lot. Hairballs are distinguishable from other vomit. They just don’t always look the same.

Shape

Hairballs, rather than really being round, are usually long and cylindrical because they conformed to the shape of the inside of the cat.

Size

They will most commonly be about the size of a human finger. A small hairball may be more pinky-sized while a larger one may be as big as a middle finger.

Color

Hairballs usually come out some shade of their fur with a brown, green, or orange tint because they are made up of your cat‘s hair, discolored by stomach acid, and mixed with mucus or dyed with cat food.

Consistency

Your typical hairball will be both slimy and coarse, made up of hair and slick, mucousy stuff. They’ll be kind of limp but will mostly want to retain their cylindrical shape, as opposed to vomit which will lean more toward shapelessness or liquidity or taking the shape of their food, if it has been barely processed.

Just hair?

Nope. To make matters much more enjoyable, (that’s sarcasm) the hairball may be all mixed up with mucus, stomach acid, or food.Because there may be more thrown up than just a hairball, don’t be surprised if you get part hairball and part nasty mass of vomit or hairball on a pile of vomit.

Cat hairball looks like poop

Don’t worry that it looks like this, just focus on preventing your cat from getting more hairballs. If you’ve seen something on your floor or furniture that you can’t determine if it’s a hairball or poop, comfort yourself with the knowledge that 90 people search for this every month.It is not uncommon for a hairball to be reminiscent of poop because it can be brown and cylindrical and have more substance than other types of vomit.

Do all cats have hairballs?

It is not a guarantee that your cat will have a hairball. They’re not exactly supposed to have them as their bodies are designed to dispose of the hair they ingest. Sometimes things get out of whack and cats will have hairballs, but it is a sign of something out of the ideal kitty stomach environment.That being said, it is likely that your cat will get at least one hairball at some point in their life. Even having up to two a year is not cause for concern over your cat‘s health.Long-haired cats are more likely to develop hairballs than their short-haired counterparts because they’ve got all that long hair to potentially get caught up in their digestive tract. Maine Coons and Persians suffer hairballs the most.

Why do cats get hairballs?

Cats need a certain amount of fiber, which they get from eating grass outside or fiber in their cat food. Like our digestive systems, they need a certain balance in there for things to work as they should.

Can a cat die from a hairball?

That’s a grim headline, but 320 people ask every month, so it needs to be answered. Most of the time, hairballs are just unpleasant for you and the cat. The dangers of hairballs range from the hairball being a symptom of another health problem, impairing the cat‘s digestive health, or causing a medical emergency that could cause death.So, most hairballs fit into the annoying thing you may have to experience when living with a cat category, but they do pose risks, particularly as the number of hairballs increases.

Poor digestion and nutrition

Hairballs limit the stomach’s ability to perform as it should. The longer the hairball stays in there, the more impact it can have. Your cat may lose their appetite because of stomach distress or feel perpetually full.

Impaction

Hairballs can get into the cat‘s intestines and can block the passage of its contents, or they may stay in the stomach and become too big to pass through the esophagus or into the intestines. This can cause a serious situation where a cat‘s digestive system can’t function as it should, limiting their appetite and reducing the flow of waste. They may also be in discomfort or pain.

Frequency

A cat having a hairball more than twice a year should be evaluated by a vet to detect potential disease or fix a lifestyle habit that is disrupting the cat‘s ability to pass a hairball.

Choking on it

If the cat tries to throw up the hairball and can’t, the hairball becomes a medical emergency. They will cough and gag like they are going to throw up for a long time without result or they may stop doing this and start drooling, keeping their mouth open, and have difficulty breathing. Call a vet 24/7 should this occur.

Signs of hairballs in cats

As funny as this sounds, hearing the characteristic sound of cat vomit and finding a hairball are the upsides of hairball symptoms. This means it’s gone! There are many more symptoms that indicate a hairball is in your kitty and hasn’t been vomited up yet or that one has become impacted.

Cat hairball prevention

All of these symptoms but the first one are serious and require a vet visit if they don’t go away in 24 hours.Once your cat has vomited up a hairball, it may be a good idea to think of preventing another one.

Diagnosing a cat hairball

Diagnosis of cat hairball problems depends on the situation. The problem to be solved is vastly different if the cat is choking on a hairball, if they simply have frequent hairballs, or if they have an impacted hairball.The vet will listen to your account of the cat‘s symptoms, so be as thorough as possible involving times, diet, lifestyle, symptoms, and maybe even the appearance of the hairballs.They will observe visible signs in the cat and then perform tests or procedures as needed.A choking cat will be treated as if they are choking on anything, with visual inspection and/or efforts to remove the hairball.Diagnosis of frequent hairballs involves listening to your information to determine what may be causing the hairballs and potentially running tests to rule out diseases.X-rays are needed to definitively diagnose and plan treatment for impacted hairballs.

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We create scientifically-backed, natural, and eco-friendly products for pets. If you’re asking, ” what does a cat hairball look like?” you’ve probably got a puking cat on your hands. Once you’ve discovered if your cat‘s immediate health is in control, you might choose our CBD oil tinctures to aid with anxiety and digestive issues or our CBD balm to address skin problems that may be causing your cat to get hairballs. While you’re in our store, you might also want to pick up some dental care or anti-pest products. If your cat is suffering from an ailment that no traditional treatment or natural alternative has fixed, contact us to see if we can’t discover a solution. We love to innovate for pets.