How to Help a Cat Who’s Constantly Having Hairballs

Don’t want to step in any more hairballs from your cat? Try these tips.

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You’re pretty familiar with your cat, so when you hear that retching sound, you know that’s coming next. Yep—here comes a hairball. As you reach for the paper towel and eventually the mop, you can’t help but wonder why your cat keeps having hairballs. You don’t like cleaning them up, but you’re certain they don’t like having them.

Hairballs are a common byproduct of the grooming process. When your feline friend grooms themselves, they naturally end up ingesting some loose hair. Their digestive system can handle this to an extent. However, if your cat gets too much hair in their belly, they might cough them up, resulting in a hairball.

Occasional hairballs may not be a big deal. However, if your cat is continuously coughing up hairballs, you might want to make a few changes to make life easier for both of you.

Tips to Reduce Hairballs in Your Cat

You may be able to reduce the frequency of hairballs with a few key changes:

1. Change your cat’s diet

Several cat food brands offer special formulas for cats with hairballs. These foods often have extra fiber to help push hairs through the digestive tract. Your vet will likely have recommendations for what to look for when picking one out.

2. Brush them more often

Cats who ingest lots of their own hair are more likely to have hairballs. Try to brush your kitty more often to reduce those loose hairs. It’s best to catch them when they’re relaxed. You may have to experiment with different types of brushes to find the one that your cat likes best. Some cats really enjoy it!

3. Try a hairball product or laxative

There are some jelly-based products you can feed your feline friend. These may help move hair through their digestive system more effectively.

What to Do If Simple Changes Don’t Help

If these changes don’t help, talk to your vet. Cats with frequent hairballs—and don’t see improvement from diet or lifestyle changes—might be having intestinal issues. This includes inflammatory bowel disease, a dietary problem, and even cancer. (By the way, here are signs of pain in cats to look out for.)

Luckily, regular brushing seems to do the trick for most cats. Otherwise, reach out to your vet for other suggestions.