I’m not sure if anyone feels like celebrating when they get up in the middle of the night and step on the cold squish (or warm squish) of a recently lovingly-delivered hairball.  UGH!  If you’re a cat owner, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  But it is National Hairball Awareness Day on my ‘holiday’ calendar, so I thought I’d share some interesting things about this unfortunate aspect of cat ownership.

What Is A Hairball?

When cats groom themselves, the barbs on their tongues catch loose or dead hair, which they swallow.  Much of this hair passes straight through them and ends up in their litter box, but some of it may get lodged in the stomach.  The cat will vomit it out to remove it from their system.  The hair that is eventually expelled (vomited) is called a hairball.

Why Does My Cat Vomit Hairballs?

It’s a natural reaction to vomit (and it’s a GOOD thing) something that would cause trouble or damage if left in the system and not passed through.  Hairballs that are not vomited or passed through can become an emergency situation and require surgery.  

Should I Worry About My Cat?

If your cat is vomiting up hairballs on a fairly regular basis, or if she is going through the motions of vomiting but nothing is coming up but saliva, you may need to take a trip to the vet.  Here’s a great read to further your understanding.  Since there might be something other than hairballs going on, you may want to get a complete checkup with your veterinarian.

Some Fun Facts About The Hairball

  • The scientific name for a hairball is: Trichobezoar
  • Cattle and rabbits can get hairballs too! 
  • They are not ‘balls’ but have a long and cylindrical shape – they are shaped by the esophagus  
  • Humans have had to have hairballs surgically removed from their intestines resulting from something called Rapunzel syndrome 


Can I Help Prevent Hairballs?

Yes!  There are several over-the-counter remedies to help prevent hairballs in your kitty.  There are tubes of tasty ointments and treats on Amazon (this is an affiliate link!)  You can even buy foods with hairball preventatives in them.  Just be careful to read the ingredients first so you aren’t giving your cat anything you wouldn’t want to.  Exercise also helps your pet eliminate  (either by passing through the back end OR the front end) – movement helps!  And if your cat likes to be brushed, this can be a tremendous help with hairballs – not to mention a very bonding experience between the two of you.