Are Cat Hairballs Normal?

For many pet owners, the sight and sound of a cat coughing up a hairball can be both alarming and a bit gross. Yet, it’s a common part of cat ownership. But what exactly are these hairballs, and why do they happen? Let’s explore this peculiar feline behavior to help you better understand your cat’s health.

At Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic in Granger, IN, our team is always here to help you understand your cat’s health better. If you’re ever worried about your cat’s hairballs or have any other health concerns, please give us a call at (574) 277-6533.

cat hairball

What Are Hairballs?

A hairball is pretty much what you would expect it to be, but there’s more to it than that. Cats are fastidious groomers, often spending a large part of their day cleaning their fur. During this grooming process, they inevitably swallow a lot of hair. Most of this hair passes through the digestive system without issue. However, sometimes it can accumulate in the stomach and form a hairball, which is technically known as a trichobezoar. These hairballs are usually cylindrical in shape, as they pass through the cat’s narrow esophagus.

Is it Normal for Cats to Cough Up Hairballs?

How normal is it for cats to have hairballs? We consider it a typical aspect of having a cat, but is it always a benign condition?

Normal vs. Concerning Hairball Frequency

While it might seem unusual, the occasional hairball is generally normal for most cats. It’s a natural result of their self-cleaning habits. However, frequent hairballs or changes in hairball habits can signal a health issue. It’s essential to monitor how often your cat coughs up hairballs. If you notice an increase in frequency or any accompanying symptoms like changes in appetite, weight loss, or lethargy, it’s time to contact Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic.

Additional Signs to Watch For

Keep an eye out for these signs that might indicate a health issue related to hairballs:

  • Consistent vomiting, gagging, or retching without producing a hairball
  • Changes in bowel movements or signs of constipation
  • Noticeable decrease in appetite or weight loss
  • Lethargy or decreased activity levels

How to Manage Your Cat’s Hairball Issues

There are several ways to help your cat manage hairballs. Regular grooming can greatly reduce the amount of hair they swallow. Specialized cat foods are designed to improve coat health and reduce shedding. Additionally, certain supplements can help with hairball control. Always consult with your veterinarian at Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic before changing your cat’s diet or introducing supplements.

When to Seek Veterinary Assistance

If you’re concerned about your cat’s hairballs, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Persistent hairballs, especially with other symptoms, warrant a visit to the vet. Our team at Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic can provide a thorough examination and determine if there’s an underlying health issue. Some examples of underlying problems related to hairballs include:

  • Digestive Problems: Conditions like inflammatory bowel disease can affect how hair moves through the digestive tract, leading to more hairballs.
  • Skin Conditions: Cats with skin irritation or allergies might groom excessively, increasing the amount of hair they ingest.
  • Overgrooming: Stress or anxiety can cause a cat to groom excessively, leading to more hairballs.
  • Parasites: Internal parasites can irritate the digestive system, causing increased hairball production.

Remember, regular vet check-ups are essential for maintaining your cat’s health. If you have any concerns about your cat’s hairballs or overall health, call us at (574) 277-6533 for an appointment or more information. Our knowledgeable staff at Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic is here to support you and your cat every step of the way.


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About Us

Welcome to Kryder & Harr Veterinary Clinic! Our animal hospital has been a fixture in the Granger community since 1981, practicing full-service veterinary medicine for all our pet parents and their furry family members. At KHVC, we pride ourselves on our history, of providing excellent customer service for our clients, along with dedicated, compassionate, and exceptional medical care for all of our patients.