Hairballs, yuck!

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.


All of the noms!
Purred: Wed Jun 26, '13 6:13am PST 
wave New cat owner here, and I hope somebody can put my mind at ease!

My DSH cat has (I think) been trying to hack up hairballs lately... He has short fits of high-pitched coughing and deeper hacking sounds, during which his stomach muscles contract. My partner says it's hairballs, and that it's normal, but he never actually hacks anything up and that makes me nervous!

This has happened maybe three days out of the last two weeks (and he is shedding a LOT right now). Otherwise he's acting perfectly normally.

We've tried brushing him often and feeding him hairball relief treats... Sometimes we see hair coming out in his litterbox, if you know what I mean. Maybe I just worry too much! silenced


Purred: Sun Jun 30, '13 6:35pm PST 
There could be a lot of reasons for this.

Have you cleaned recently? Dust and fumes from cleaners can irritate kitties really easily. It happened to my cat when we moved and she coughed much the same way you described for a couple of days.

Have you noticed any lethargy or lack of appetite? Is he still active? If you get him to run or play, does it cause him to have a coughing fit? If not, it sounds more like an irritation caused my something in his environment. If it lasts longer than a week, I'd give the vet a call. They may ask you if his gums are pale, if he seems labored with his breathing, or if you notice any wheezing. The vet asked me those questions when I called about Zelda. Some cats are really susceptible to asthma, which is totally manageable, but would be my last guess.

Let us know how it goes!

Edited by author Sun Jun 30, '13 6:37pm PST



little stinker
Purred: Sun Jun 30, '13 6:46pm PST 
Hey West,not hacking up it could be asthma. Sammie coughed for a few yrs, never coughed up anything, a talk with your vet might be in order. here is a one way you can find out it is asthma.

Either ask your vet about getting x-rays & blood work. my vet told us that within 24hrs of a attack, you need to get the x-rays done, as close to the attack the better. because, the lungs and airway are still inflamed from the attack. if not, get a second opinion. we thought ( my vet included )it was a furball for about 4-5 yrs, then we read about another kitty that had the same symptoms. does your kitty spit anything out, or swallow it. Sammie always swallow everything he coughed up. hope this helps. fyi- my kitty lady just coughed a furball, it did not compare to sammie's attacks.

False” Hairballs or Coughing: You’d be surprised at how much asthma in cats looks and sounds like a cat trying to cough up a fur ball. Many cat guardians miss the early signs of asthma because it appears so similar to the old ‘hair ball’ routine. Viral infections, heart diseases, asthma and worms are but a few of the reasons your pet may be coughing, wheezing or sneezing and it’s simply impossible for pet owners to make these determinations on their own.


All of the noms!
Purred: Mon Jul 1, '13 11:28am PST 
Thank you for your help, guys!

I ended up calling the vet, who told me that with his history of respiratory issues (he has feline herpes), it was probably the start of something viral and to just watch and see if he gets better. They said I should only bring him in if the attacks start happening daily, or if he shows other signs of illness like fever or lethargy.

I'm not sure I'm convinced since he's otherwise very happy and active, but if they aren't concerned I guess I will just keep an eye on him for the time being!


Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
Purred: Tue Jul 2, '13 4:36am PST 
Hopefully it will clear up on its own but meanwhile you could give him some lysine. It's good for cats with feline herpes to boost their immune system. It even comes in treat form to make it easy.


Tell me again- how cute I am...
Purred: Thu Jul 11, '13 6:56am PST 
My cat Parker was just diagnosed with feline herpes last week. I got him a year ago from a friend of a friend. At that time he had just been treated for an upper respiratory infection. Parker was sneezing and hacking like he was trying to produce a hairball. The morning of his vet visit I thought to capture video of one of his hacking spells. The vet actually used this to help diagnose him since he would not stop purring for her to hear his lungs. She me losing for his food, a shot of something (can't remember what) to boost his immune system, and some anitbiotic-amoxicillin, just in case there was an upper respiratory infection. He goes back tomorrow for his recheck. He finished his meds last night. He has not hacked since day 3 on meds and only sneezes occasionally.

Good luck to you and your kitty. My cats seem to love the lysine powder I sprinkle on their food.


Play with Me!
Purred: Thu Jul 11, '13 10:47pm PST 
There are a lot of reasons cats get hairballs. If he is hacking and not producing anything, I would be concerned about asthma. It’s fairly common in cats, like people. I hope it clears up on it’s own. Rafferty has feline herpes and he does the hacking thing.