Most cat owners are familiar with the hack, hack noise of their favorite feline hurling up one of those lovely wads of cat hair known as a hairball. Because cats groom themselves by licking their fur with their raspy tongues, hair is collected on the tongue and then swallowed. If enough hair goes into the kitty’s stomach without passing into the intestinal tract, the hair has to go out the way it came in. That’s when you hear the lovely noises as your cat attempts to vomit. Some cats are more disposed to hairballs than others and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the length of their hair. Although long-haired cats are likely to get hairballs, short-haired cats can get them too. I have two short-haired cats that look almost exactly alike because they are sisters. One hacks up hairballs frequently; the other has never had a hairball in the seven years we’ve had her.
The best way to treat hairballs is to buy a "hairball remedy" from your vet, pet supply store or catalog. These preparations basically coat the stomach and combine with the hair so it will pass through the intestine and then out. Because hairball treatments are flavored, most cats like the taste and will eat them willingly. If not, you can smear some on the cat’s mouth and paws so she’ll lick it off.
Hairballs are a common problem that are easy to cure, but be alert for other problems. If your cat seems lethargic, has stopped eating, or if the vomiting continues for more than two or three days, the problem may not be hairballs, so call your veterinarian as soon as possible.