How to Treat Fur Balls in Cats

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How to Treat Fur Balls in Cats
Furballs can be a nuisance, but most often they are harmless. (cat image by saied shahinkiya from

Most cats will have fur balls or hairballs at one time or another. A fur ball is a bit of hair that the cat has swallowed, usually in the process of grooming itself. The fur ball can be very small or quite a thick glob. Some cats cough up a fur ball occasionally, whereas others seem to have a constant problem with them. If your cat seems to have severe fur balls or has great difficulty coughing them up and these steps do not help, you should take the cat to the veterinarian.

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  1. 1

    Brush your cat regularly. Brushing pulls out the loose hair so that the cat will swallow less hair when it grooms itself. The frequency depends on the length and texture of your cat's fur. Longer haired cats will need brushing daily, while short-haired cats may only need a weekly brushing.

    How to Treat Fur Balls in Cats
    The more loose hair you pull out with the brush, the less your cat will swallow. (cat brush image by Allyson Ricketts from
  2. 2

    Feed your cat a dry catfood that provides hairball control. These usually indicate "hairball control" clearly on the label, and they contain fibre to help the cat pass any swallowed hair. Try cat treats that are made for fur ball control, too.

  3. 3

    Use a product to control shedding on the cat's fur weekly, or as directed on the product label.

    How to Treat Fur Balls in Cats
    Longhair cats may have more trouble with hairballs. (silver cat image by T.Tulic from
  4. 4

    If your cat needs further support for fur balls, offer it some petroleum jelly once or twice a week. It must be plain with no fragrance or added ingredients. Just a small amount that many cats will lick right up is enough. Most cats seem to like it, but if your cat refuses the petroleum jelly, just smear a bit on the paws or nose and the cat will lick it off during grooming. Petroleum jelly is particularly good if your cat coughs frequently without any fur coming up. It coats the hair and helps it pass through the cat's system. You can also buy similar products that are specifically made for cats with fur balls.

Tips and warnings

  • Although fur balls don't usually cause serious problems, they can cause your cat a lot of discomfort; therefore be sure to treat the cat if the fur balls seem to be a frequent problem.
  • If your cat does not respond to any of these steps and the fur balls continue, take the cat to the veterinarian. The veterinarian can rule out other, more serious problems.
  • If your cat is vomiting a considerable amount along with the hair, it should be brought to the veterinarian.

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