If your cat has been throwing up hairballs daily, you’re likely frustrated and concerned. Excessive hairballs can disrupt your home and daily life, not to mention cause discomfort for your beloved feline. But don’t worry – with some simple tips and solutions, you can get the problem under control.
What Causes Frequent Hairball Vomiting in Cats?
Hairballs occur when your cat grooms themselves and ingests loose hair, which accumulates in the stomach. Cats need to periodically vomit up these trichobezoars, or hairballs, to clear their digestive tract. So some hairball vomiting is normal.
Daily or excessive hairball vomiting usually indicates an underlying issue. The most common causes include:
- Excessive grooming and hair ingestion. This can be from overgrooming due to stress or anxiety. Seasonal shedding leading to more loose hair being swallowed. Or gastrointestinal issues causing nausea and more self-grooming.
- Gastrointestinal motility issues. When food and hair moves too slowly through the digestive tract, more hair builds up. Diseases like inflammatory bowel disease can contribute.
- Diet and hairball remedy problems. Low-fiber diets or insufficient hairball remedies leads to more vomiting. Allergies or intolerances to ingredients can also be a factor.
- Stress and environmental issues. Stress, lack of enrichment, and anxiety causes overgrooming and hair swallowing. Conflict with other pets also contributes.
- Excessive shedding. Heavy shedding cats or certain seasons lead to more loose hair being ingested.
- Medical conditions. Thyroid disease, diabetes, parasites, cancer, and infections can potentially play a role.
So in summary, anything that disrupts your cat’s gastrointestinal tract, causes excessive shedding, or leads to overgrooming could cause daily hairball vomiting. The trick is identifying the underlying cause in your individual cat.
Tips to Stop Excessive Hairballs in Cats
You can try a variety of solutions to deal with your cat’s excessive hairballs and vomiting. Addressing the root cause is key, but you can also implement tips to minimize symptoms.
1. Brush Your Cat Daily
Daily brushing helps remove dead hair from their coat before they can swallow it during grooming. Using a rubber grooming glove or slicker brush is ideal. Make sure to be gentle – this should be an enjoyable experience for your cat!
Tip: Focus on problem areas like the belly, behind the legs, and around the neck where mats and loose hair collect.
2. Consider DIY Lion Cuts or Seasonal Shaving
For long-haired cats, consider giving them a lion cut or shave during peak shedding seasons. Removing excess hair can drastically reduce the amount that ends up ingested and formed into hairballs. Ask your vet for guidance on length and technique.
3. Use Deshedding Tools
Deshedding tools can work wonders at extracting dead hairs from your cat’s coat during heavy shedding periods. The Furminator is a popular deshedding tool that attractively removes undercoat and loose hair.
4. Switch to Hairball Control Cat Food
There are many commercial cat foods made specifically for hairball control. They contain extra fiber and oils that lubricate the GI tract and allow the hair to pass through more easily.
5. Increase Hydration
Making sure your cat is drinking plenty of water helps keep things moving through the digestive system. Cats with kidney disease and cats eating only dry food are prone to dehydration. Provide multiple fresh water sources throughout your home.
6. Use Hairball Remedies
Supplements like vaseline, coconut oil, and commercial hairball gels lubricate the throat and allow the cat to pass hairballs more easily. Follow package directions.
Tip: Refrigerating coconut oil helps keep it solid for easier dosing.
7. Rule Out Underlying Illnesses
Daily vomit warrants an exam by your vet. Issues like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, parasites, cancer, and allergies can cause frequent hairballs. Diagnostic tests like bloodwork, imaging, and endoscopy can check for underlying problems.
8. Adjust Your Cat’s Diet
Eliminating ingredients your cat is allergic or intolerant to can reduce nausea and vomiting. Some cats do better on high protein, grain-free diets as well. Work with your vet to identify diet issues.
9. Add More Playtime and Enrichment
If stress or anxiety is the culprit, focus on keeping your cat’s mind and body active. Increase playtime, offer puzzle toys, use pheromone diffusers, add cat towers, and consider getting a second pet if your cat enjoys companions.
10. Maintain a Routine
Cats thrive on regular schedules and predicability. Feed, play with, and groom your cat at the same times each day. Keep food bowls, litter boxes, and beds in consistent spots. This helps reduce stress.
By identifying the underlying cause and implementing solutions like daily brushing, hairball remedies, and dietary adjustments, you should see a reduction in the frequency of vomiting. But some hairballs are inevitable – be prepared to deal with the occasional regurgitated furball despite your best efforts.
When to See the Vet for Excessive Hairballs
Most mild to moderate hairball problems can be managed at home through the tips above. But if your cat continues vomiting hairballs daily or multiple times a week despite your efforts, they need medical attention.
Seek immediate vet care if your cat shows any of these symptoms:
- Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
- Lethargy, depression, or other signs of illness
- Gagging or signs of blockage when trying to vomit
- Weight loss from excessive vomiting
- Blood or bile in vomit
- Straining to defecate with no stool
- Abdominal pain or distended belly
These can indicate a severe blockage, gastrointestinal disease, or other urgent medical problem requiring hospitalization. Don’t try to treat these issues at home.
Work closely with your vet to identify the cause of the daily vomiting through diagnostic testing. Treatment may include medications, diet trials, supplements, antibiotics, steroids, or surgery for underlying conditions.
Long-Term Management of Frequent Hairballs in Cats
Dealing with daily hairball vomiting takes patience and persistence. But with a proactive multi-pronged approach, you can successfully minimize the problem.
Here are some tips for ongoing management:
- Keep up with daily brushing and grooming. This is the #1 preventative step. Enlist help from family to share brushing duties.
- Stick to a hairball control diet. This may be needed long-term to keep the GI tract moving. Wet food can also help with hydration.
- Utilize hairball remedies like vaseline or coconut oil several times per week.
- Maintain an enriching, low-stress environment. Keep up regular playtime, pheromone diffusers, puzzle toys etc. Monitor for signs of anxiety.
- Schedule annual vet exams. Your vet can check for underlying conditions and monitor your cat’s health. Senior cats may need biannual exams.
- Record all vomiting episodes. Note date, time, contents, and circumstances. Look for patterns and discuss with your vet.
- Clean up vomit promptly. Hairballs can cause re-ingestion and blockages if left in the environment. Use an enzymatic cleaner to remove stains and odor.
- Brush after vomiting episodes. Vomiting loosens additional hair that can be removed.
With diligence and patience, you can successfully minimize excessive hairballs even in chronic cases. The key is identifying contributing factors and being consistent with solutions. Working closely with your vet is also essential.
Signs Your Cat’s Hairball Problem is Under Control
When your multi-pronged hairball reduction efforts start working, you should notice:
- Decrease in vomiting frequency – longer stretches between episodes
- Hairballs are passed more easily, less gagging or distress
- Vomit contains more food and less hair volume
- Your cat’s energy, appetite, and attitude improve
- Weight stabilizes instead of declining
- Your cat’s coat appears glossier with less loose hair
- Less hair is being shed around the home
- Your cat seems calmer and less stressed overall
While the occasional hairball is expected, your goal is to limit vomiting episodes to once a week or less. Daily or constant vomiting warrants an exam and further treatment.
The Takeaway: Reduce Stress and Remove Hair
Excessive hairballs stem from some combination of:
- Excessive hair ingestion
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Anxiety and stress
Focus on minimizing loose hairs your cat could swallow through thorough brushing, shaving, and deshedding. Supplement their diet with hairball control foods or oils.
Most importantly, create a stable, enriching environment. Cats experiencing frequent stress or anxiety tend to overgroom. Determining and addressing the root cause of anxiety is key to reducing hair ingestion long-term.
While frustrating, daily hairball vomiting can be managed with some detective work and a thorough action plan. Pay close attention to your cat’s symptoms and needs. With consistent effort, you can get the problem under control and restore your cat’s health and happiness.