Does the cat have hairballs? Your guide to common causes and solutions.

So your cat has hairballs. Do not panic. This is actually completely normal pet behavior.

That’s not to say it’s not a drag from time to time. Some pet owners you may not want to deal with it and luckily there are ways to stop the habit.

To find out how often your cat should get hairballs and when to worry, we spoke to Petco’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Whitney Miller. Here’s what she had to say.

What causes frequent hairballs in cats?

“Cats have evolved. They are designed to groom themselves and ingest fur like that…we see hairballs at different levels in different cats for several reasons,” Dr. Miller explained.

Chief among these reasons is coat type. Cats that have longer, thicker hair will have more hairballs simply because they ingest a greater volume of hair when they groom themselves.

Then there are cats who simply have a habit of over-grooming and therefore consume excessive amounts of fur.

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When should I worry about my cat’s hairballs?

Besides coat type and individual habits, the frequency of hairballs can also vary depending on the time of year. As the weather changes, cats may lose their coats.

“All of these things are considered normal,” says Dr. Miller, adding that you may see your cat have a hairball every couple of months and it’s nothing to worry about.

It’s very rare to see hairballs cause a real obstruction, she says, unless there’s something else going on in the cat, like dehydration. If this is the case, your veterinarian may want to perform more comprehensive diagnostics to resolve the underlying problem.

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How do I stop my cat from making hairballs?

There are now many options pet parents can use to never have to worry about hairballs with their cat, says Dr. Miller.

“There are tons of diets that include hairball control,” says Dr. Miller. “Usually it’s a certain amount of fiber and other ways that the ingredients are formulated so that they help move the hair that they ingest through the gastrointestinal tract.”

For cats with chronic problems, some owners might consider preventative measures. A product, called Laxatone, may be helpful, she says. It’s an edible gel that your cat can ingest that will help grab the fur and move it through the gastrointestinal tract.

“It can be used as a supplement a few times a week,” says Dr. Miller, adding that it can help prevent your cat from suffering additional health problems caused by obstructive hairballs.


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