Hairballs are a common cause of gastric upset for cats and tend to be the first thing people think of when they have a vomiting cat. Interestingly, it should be noted that hairballs more often cause "hacking" followed by expectorating (spitting) out a hairball. Sometimes, however, it is true that hairballs will cause simple vomiting. It should be noted that hairballs do not cause illness, so if your cat is feeling badly in any way, it's vomiting is not being caused by hairballs.
When cats groom themselves, they ingest hair. The longer the cats hair coat is, the more hair it ingests. Since hair is not digestible, it wads up in the stomach and becomes an irritating ball which is often coughed up and spat out by the cat only for the process to start over once again. Using lubricants orally such as laxative gels, capsules or food additives can help encourage regular passage the ingested hair along the intestinal tract with the daily diet to prevent the accumulation of hair to form a ball.
If your cat is hacking up small bits of hair then a hairball is likely a problem. Administering a hairball medication may be a solution. If your pet is sick in any way or has any other symptom (diarrhea, listlessness, loss of appetite) then other causes of vomiting should be assessed.
Don't let hairball concerns keep your stomach "tied up in knots". If you have concerns about your cat's health, call our office today for an appointment with one of our experienced caring doctors.