Hairball Pain in Cats

A pesky hairball may be behind your kitty's belly ache.
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If you're an experienced cat owner, you probably know all too well the annoyance of hairballs. The clumpy messes are icky and cause your cat to make loud retching sounds -- no, thank you. Not to mention, hairballs occasionally can lead to potentially dangerous and painful intestinal blockage.

Hairball Obstruction

If your cat successfully coughs up a hairball, you won't likely miss it! From the heaving and the hacking to the emergence of a tube-shaped mass of hair and possible vomit, hairballs aren't exactly known for being inconspicuous. However, in some rare cases, hairballs can lead to blockage of your cat's intestines. When a hairball grows too large in size to normally travel through your fluffball's digestive system, it runs the risk of intestinal obstruction -- a potentially very dangerous and painful situation for your poor pet. Occasionally, hairballs can also lead to esophageal blocking, which can trigger throat discomfort and pain in kitty.

Pain Signs

When your cat just isn't acting like herself and seems full of malaise, hairball pain might just be the villain. If your cat is crouching over a lot, it may indicate severe abdominal ache -- a very telling indication of a large and potentially harmful hairball. Other warning symptoms to look out for include diarrhea, persistent hacking with no sign of a hairball, throwing up and appetite loss. In the event of any of those symptoms, seek emergency medical attention for your cat without hesitation. Hairball blockage can sometimes be deadly, so waste no time.


In severe cases of hairball obstruction, surgical removal may be the only solution. However, some veterinarians also opt to attempt to get the hairball in motion through a cat's digestive system via laxative and intravenous hydration. The removal method generally depends on the severity of the feline's blockage.

Regular Brushing

Although it may not be possible for you to fully spare your kitty the pain and frustration of hairballs, you can definitely at least help to prevent them in the future. This is especially possible when it comes to the massive hairballs that actually lead to dangerous blockage! By regularly brushing your cat's coat -- think two or three times a week -- you help her to eliminate floating, loose hairs. The less loose hair on your pet's coat, the less chance she can accidentally swallow them. Hairballs are typically caused by fur ingestion while your cat is grooming. Just a little bit of effort can make a big difference for your kitty. She's absolutely worth your time!

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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