Is It Normal for My Cat to Spit up Hairballs?

As a cat owner, you may encounter these hairballs but you  shouldn’t be worried about how often your cat spits them up? Let’s see how hairballs are formed, how they’re eliminated, and how many are considered normal for your cat.

How are hairballs formed?

Hairballs develop as a result of your cat’s healthy and fastidious grooming routine.

When your feline grooms themselves, tiny hook-like structures on their tongue catch loose and dead hair, which is then swallowed. The hair passes all the way through the digestive tract with no problems. But if some hair stays in the stomach, it can form a hairballs. Usually, your feline  will vomit the hairballs to get rid of it. Because hairballs pass through the narrow esophagus they often appear thin and tube-like, rather than round.

Feline’s that shed a lot or who groom themselves compulsively are also more likely to have hairballs, because they tend to swallow a lot of fur. As a pet owner you  may notice that your cat didn’t have hairballs as a kitten, but developed them as they grew. This is quite normal -- as feline’s  get older they become more obsessive groomers and therefore more proficient at removing fur from their coats with their tongues, which means more hairballs for you to clean up.

Symptoms of Hairballs 

These are the most common hairball symptoms include hacking, gagging, and retching. Usually, your feline will then vomit the hairball in relatively short order.

If you notice the following hairball symptoms, be sure to contact your veterinarian, as they could indicate that a hairball has caused a potentially life-threatening blockage:

  • Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without producing a hairball
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea