A watercolor painting of a kitten sitting next to a tree, ignoring hairballs.

5 Tricky Conditions You Might THINK are Hairballs


When Karen’s beloved cat, Fluffy, began coughing and hacking in the corner, she naturally assumed it was just another hairball. However, after countless hairball remedies failed to provide relief, Karen grew concerned that there might be more to Fluffy’s condition than meets the eye.

Cats can eat just about anything, including grass, dirt, leaves, sticks, toys, paper, string, and even plastic bags. But some things you might think are harmless, like fleas and ticks, could make your cat sick. And while it sounds gross, a trichobezoar is a type of hairball that occurs when a cat swallows hair.

What is a Cat Hairball?

A hairball is a mass of loose hair that accumulates in the digestive tract of animals such as cats and dogs. It is usually caused by overeating food in one sitting. The hairballs formed in this way are often difficult to remove from the animal’s stomach because they become stuck together. They can cause severe discomfort and even death if they enter the lungs.

Hairballs are common in long-haired breeds and occur when the pet eats too quickly, causing food particles to remain in the mouth longer than usual. This causes the saliva to thicken and coat the food particles, forming a sticky mucus. When swallowed, these substances stick together to form a ball of hair.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and sometimes blood in the stool. See your veterinarian immediately if you notice your cat or dog has a hairball problem. Left untreated, it can cause underlying intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.


Dry cough and asthma are common in dogs and cats. They’re usually harmless and not serious. But sometimes, they can be mistaken for a hairball. Asthma affects between 1% to 5% of cats. There are several reasons why this happens.

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  1. When your cat swallows food, it may become stuck in its throat. This causes irritation and inflammation of the tracheal and laryngeal membranes, which leads to coughing.
  2. Some cat foods cause vomiting, which makes them appear similar to a hairball.
  3. Certain types of medications can cause coughing. Fourth, some illnesses, such as heartworm disease, can cause coughing.
  4. Many cat owners believe that coughing is a sign of a hairball problem.

Grass Ingestion

Grass ingestion is common among cats, especially when they’re eating grassy foods like hay, straw, and corn. It is usually harmless, but some pet owners mistakenly believe that their cat has ingested hairballs, and they take drastic measures to treat the problem and help their felines pass a hairball.

However, most grass ingestions are due to the pet chewing on grasses or other plant material. Grass ingestion occurs because the pet ingests grasses whole rather than breaking them down in its mouth. This causes the pet to swallow large amounts of grass, which eventually leads to stomach discomfort.

Grass ingestion can cause severe cases of diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. A vet will want to check your cat’s stomach contents to see what he ate. You can use a flashlight to look inside your cat’s mouth to see if he swallowed something. Also, watch for signs of blood in his stool. If your cat eats grass, you can give him a dose of antihistamine to reduce inflammation and prevent further damage.

Foreign Bodies

Foreign body ingestion is common in dogs and cats. The most common foreign body ingested by domestic animals is seeds, nuts, bones, toys, and feathers.

When foreign bodies enter the esophagus, they’re often mistaken for hairballs. This is especially true for young puppies and kittens who haven’t yet developed the ability to vomit. They swallow things whole and wind up getting stuck.

Another reason foreign bodies end up lodged inside the esophagus is vomiting. Frequent vomiting causes regurgitated material to travel back down the esophagus and lodge there.

Heartworm Disease in Cats

Heartworms are parasites that live inside the blood vessels of many cats. They’re spread through mosquito bites, and once infected, they cause serious health problems, including organ damage, loss of appetite, weight loss, coughing, fever, and even death.

While most pet owners understand that heartworms are dangerous, many mistakenly believe that the symptoms of heartworm disease are signs of a hairball problem. Unfortunately, this misconception leads them to treat their dog or cat unnecessarily.


Vomiting is a common symptom of many medical conditions, including food poisoning, chronic kidney disease, liver failure, and cancer. But when it happens in cats, it’s usually due to a hairball problem.

Cats vomit because they’re trying to expel hairballs through their mouth and throat. They may also be experiencing pain, nausea, or discomfort. So when they throw up, they’re not growing up food; they’re just vomiting.

 How Can You Prevent Hairballs?

If you have a dog or cat with a hairball problem, here are some tips to help keep your pet healthy:

  • Feed a high-quality diet. Your pet needs a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Keep your pet active. Exercise helps stimulate digestion and promotes proper elimination.
  • Give your pet plenty of water. Water keeps your pet hydrated and helps eliminate waste products from your pet’s system.
  • Provide a safe environment. Make sure your home is free of clutter and debris. Clean your pet’s bedding regularly so it doesn’t become an obstacle to exercise.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming removes loose hair and fur from your carpet and flooring. It also prevents hairballs from forming on the surface of your furniture.
  • Brush your cat’s fur regularly. Brushing stimulates the flow of saliva and encourages your pet to groom itself.
  • Bathe your pet frequently. Bathing helps remove dirt and bacteria from your pet’s mucous membranes.
  • Change your pet’s litter box at least once every three days. Litter boxes should always be cleaned thoroughly after each use.
  • Monitor your pet’s activity levels. If your pet seems lethargic or has trouble moving around, take them to the vet immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common symptom of a cat having a hairball is excessive drooling. In addition, the cat may lick its lips excessively and may even vomit. If this happens repeatedly, then there is a good chance that your cat has a hairball problem.

Suppose your cat has a hairball problem; it this best to take them to the vet immediately. It would be best if you tried to find out what kind your cat eats because some foods contain ingredients that could make your cat produce a lot of salivae is also recommended that you give your cat a special diet for a few days before taking him to the vet. This way, he will be less likely to overeat during the exam.

A veterinarian will examine your cat and determine whether or not he has a hairball problem and, if so, how severe it is. He will also check his teeth and gums and look at his tongue. A veterinarian might recommend giving your cat medicine to help reduce the amount of saliva he produces.

Vomiting is a common problem among cats. It’s usually caused by overeating food at once, which causes stomach acids to flow into the esophagus. This leads to vomiting because the cat doesn’t know how to swallow correctly. The most common symptom of this condition is regurgitation (vomiting up undigested food). Other symptoms include diarrhea, excessive thirst, weight loss, lethargy, depression, and dehydration.

Hairballs are another common cause of vomiting in cats. They occur when there’s something stuck in the cat’s throat. The cat swallows hair and then vomits it back out again. There are two types of hairballs: soft and hard. Soft ones tend to form around the base of the tongue, while hard ones often develop in the esophagus. Both types of hairballs are painful and can lead to serious health problems if they’re not treated quickly.

A hairball can get stuck in the intestines if it is large enough. Treatment may include abdominal surgery to remove the hairball and fluid from the intestine.

The best way to remove a hairball from your cat’s stomach is to push it back down into his mouth gently. If he refuses to eat, try giving him water or milk mixed with a bit of salt. You can also use a syringe to squirt the mixture up through his nose.

If none of these methods work, you should take your cat to the veterinarian. Your vet can perform surgery to remove the hairball if needed.

The average length of time to remove a hairball varies depending on the size of the hairball and how much force is used to extract it. The larger the hairball, the longer it takes to remove it. Smaller hairballs can usually be removed in one session. However, if you try to remove a giant hairball without proper tools, it could cause injury to your cat.

The most common symptom of a hairball problem is vomiting. If your cat vomits frequently, you should immediately take them to the vet. The vet will examine your cat’s stomach and intestines to determine whether they are wrong. They might recommend medication or surgery to remove the hairballs from your cat’s digestive tract. It has to be 

The symptoms of hairballs vary depending on the size and type of hairball. In general, puppies will exhibit discomfort, such as rubbing against things or vomiting. Adult dogs may have difficulty breathing and might foam at the mouth. Hairballs in cats can cause inflammation around their neck and throat, leading to eating or swallowing problems.

One cause of hairballs is eating a less high-fiber diet. Hairballs may also be caused by swallowing something lodged in the stomach and brought up along with the food. There are several ways to reduce the likelihood of hairballs. One approach is to prevent them from forming in the first place by avoiding foods that cause constipation, eating a high-fiber diet, and drinking plenty of water. 

You can do a few things to determine if your cat has a hairball. First, you may notice that your cat often tries to vomit or eat grass. This is because the hairball will cause intense stomach pain for the cat, and he will try to find a way to get rid of it. Another sign that your cat may have a hairball is when you see large clumps of fur around his mouth or in his litter box. 

Hairballs can either be visible, like small pieces of hair that have been swallowed and are now coming out in chunks, or they can be tiny balls of fur that you cannot see with the naked eye. If you see hairballs, it is essential to see a doctor. While treatments are available, the most common approach is to give your dog medication to suck up the hairballs.

Your cat can cough up a hairball or sickness, but it’s more likely that he has a cold. Visit your veterinarian for an examination and diagnosis.

Since hairballs are made up of small pieces of food, it can be difficult for your cat to digest and release them. However, you can provide him with a high-quality diet with fiber and offer regular grooming. If he continues to have trouble removing the hairball, you might need to take him to the veterinary clinic for help.

Cats usually show signs of discomfort when they have a hairball. For example, they may bury the ball deep in their territory or try to vomit it up. If the hairball is giant, cats may strain and cry while trying to expel it.

If a hairball looks like poop, it is likely that the cat has ingested some material and expelled it as a hairball. If this happens more than once, your cat may have an eating disorder or be ill. Therefore, taking your cat to the veterinarian for an evaluation is essential.

If your cat is coughing up a hairball but can’t seem to dislodge it, you may need to help her. First, try providing her with wet food or water to loosen the ball and encourage her to swallow it. If she still cannot expel the ball, you may need to take her to the veterinarian for further assistance.

The best way to treat hairballs is to follow a diet low in fiber and provides plenty of fresh air and exercise. If your cat regularly ingests hair, it may be necessary to provide him with a specialized diet that is low in fiber. This can include canned pumpkin, chicken or fish broth, and boiled white rice. In addition, fresh air and keep your cat active; exercise should also be provided to help prevent hairballs from forming in the first place.

There could be many reasons why your cat might gag and retch. First, something may obstruct his airways, such as a hairball or other piece of food lodged in his throat. Alternatively, he might have a stomach virus or another illness causing him to throw up. Four cats have been experiencing these symptoms for more than an hour and seem to be in pain; it would be best to take them to the veterinarian for an examination.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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