Hairballs (scientific term: trichobezoars) are quite common in cats. Sadly, they are the source of many misconceptions among the people who live with feline companions. In this post I attempt to set the record straight about these misunderstood and quite unsavory moist clumps of hair.
All cats groom. As they do this, they swallow hair. (Hairless cats such as Sphynxes, of course, are exceptions.) Most cats move swallowed hair through their digestive systems and pass it in their feces. Some cats, however, are not able to move the hair through their digestive systems in a normal fashion. This causes hair to clump together in the stomach or intestines–a hairball. Most hairballs are vomited onto the floor, where they are later stepped on by someone living in the house. Rarely, hairballs can cause intestinal obstructions and other problems.
Let’s move on to some hairball fallacies.
Any cat that produces hairballs (or that appears to be trying to produce hairballs) should go to the vet. The problem could be more serious than you think.