Hairballs In Maine Coons

Maine Coons are one of the most popular cat breeds, but hairballs in Maine Coons are decidedly less popular.

Hairballs can range from a mild annoyance to a serious health problem. Owners with long-haired cats need to understand what causes hairballs, and what they can do to prevent them.

Maine Coon are more likely to suffer from hairballs than short-haired cats because their fur is long and thick. As a Maine Coon grooms itself, it naturally ingests loose hair, which usually passes through the digestive system without incident. However, if these hairs build up in the digestive tract, it can cause the cat to vomit up a hairball.

Hairballs are a natural byproduct of cats grooming themselves, but most owners do not appreciate clumps of vomit and wet fur all over the house!

Thankfully, there are ways you can reduce hairballs.

Sometimes, hairballs can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, so it is important to talk to your vet if your cat’s hairballs have become larger or more frequent.

Read on to find out if your cat could use some help managing hairballs, and what you can do about it.

Hairballs In Maine Coons

The Maine Coon is a large cat breed that originated in the snowy state of Maine.

These cats developed wide paws to help them walk on snow, and their thick, triple-coated fur helps to insulate them against the cold.

With all that long, thick fur, you might be wondering, do Maine Coons get hairballs?

While this breed is quite popular for several reasons, they are, unfortunately, more prone to hairballs than short-haired cat breeds.

So, how do cat hairballs work?

If you have ever brushed your cat, you will know that cats can shed quite a lot.

Cats like to keep their coats fastidiously clean, so they spend a lot of time grooming their coats with their tongues.

Unlike many animal tongues, cat tongues are relatively dry, and contain tiny hooks that make the tongue feel like sandpaper.

As a cat grooms itself, these tiny hooks:

  • Pick up debris
  • Comb through tangles
  • Remove loose fur

Cats end up swallowing much of this fur.

While cats cannot digest their own fur, it usually passes easily through the digestive tract.

If your cat swallows a lot of fur, however, pieces of fur can collect in a cat’s stomach or esophagus.

As this fur builds up over time, it can lead to a clump of fur known as a hairball. To expel a hairball, a cat will retch or vomit until the hairball is removed (source 1).

What Causes Hairballs In Cats?

If your cat has been dealing with hairballs, you might want to know, do all cats hack up hairballs?

The first thing to note is that not all cats have hairballs.

Cats with short, fine coats or cats who are groomed regularly are less likely to have hairballs, but hairballs are not always a sign that something’s wrong.

Below are 6 causes of hairballs in cats:

1. Natural Causes

In most cases, hairballs are perfectly natural.

Fur builds up in a cat’s digestive tract as it swallows loose fur while grooming. Eventually, the buildup is big enough that the cat has to vomit the hairball out of its system.

2. Skin Conditions

If you are wondering why is my cat suddenly having hairballs, it could be due to an underlying medical problem, like a skin condition.

Dry skin, parasites, and other skin problems can cause irritated skin or shedding.

If your cat is grooming itchy patches of skin or shedding more than usual, it is more likely to ingest more fur, leading to hairballs.

3. Digestive Problems

If your cat is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, food allergies, internal parasites, or any other problem that affects the gastrointestinal tract, it can lead to hairballs.

Cats that do not get enough fiber in their diet may have a harder time passing fur naturally through their digestive system, causing more fur to build up over time.

4. Stress

Most cats groom a healthy amount, but cats that are stressed or bored may overgroom as a self-soothing mechanism.

Unfortunately, this can lead to consequences like increased:

  • Hairballs
  • Dry Skin
  • Bald Patches

5. Obesity

Cats are famously flexible, which allows them to groom every part of their body.

Cats that are overweight, however, may have difficulty reaching certain spots, which can lead to a buildup of dead, loose fur in the coat.

This can cause the cat to ingest more fur than usual, leading to an increase in hairballs.

6. Improper Grooming

Many cats, particularly shorthaired cats, can keep themselves clean without help. However, most cat owners know that it is good practice to brush your cat once every week or so.

If you are worried about Maine Coon cat hairballs, there is a chance you are not brushing your cat often enough.

Maine Coons should be brushed at least two to three times a week, plus more during shedding season (source 1).

These are my favorite Maine Coon cat brushes.

Hairballs In Cats Symptoms

There usually are not any symptoms that a cat is about to produce a hairball unless that hairball is particularly large or has been there for a long time.

In most cases, the only way an owner knows their cat has coughed up a hairball is if they happen to see them throw it up or if they discover it later.

If you are dealing with hairballs in cats, symptoms of blockage may also occur.

This is a sign that something more serious is going on and could indicate that your cat’s hairball has gotten stuck.

Here are some of the signs that your cat might be dealing with a hairball blockage:

Abnormal Bowel Movements

If your cat is dealing with constipation or diarrhea, it could be a sign that it is dealing with a blockage.

Abdominal Pain

A cat in pain will often sit in a hunched position without moving.

Cats in pain sometimes purr as a self-soothing mechanism, and they may be more likely to lash out aggressively if they are touched.


If your cat is lying down instead of doing its usual activity, it could indicate a problem.

If your cat seems less aware of its surroundings or barely acknowledges you when you call its name, offer treats, or bring out its favorite toy, then you should probably visit the vet.


A sign that your cat may have a hairball blockage is constant gagging or retching.

In some cases, the cat may expel nothing at all, while at other times, the cat may vomit some solids or liquids but without much hair.

Decreased Appetite

If your cat is showing any of the above symptoms and also refuses to eat, it is time to get your cat to the vet right away.

A cat refusing to eat usually indicates a serious medical problem, which could include a blockage (source 1).

How Often Do Cats Have Hairballs?

Some cats never get hairballs, while others get them regularly.

A cat who gets hairballs often will usually expel them every one or two weeks, while the average cat who gets hairballs will only get them once a month or so.

If your cat is producing hairballs more than once a week, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on, so it might be a good idea to visit the vet.

Are Cat Hairballs Normal?

Cat hairballs are usually perfectly normal.

In fact, one survey revealed that 35 percent of cat owners reported hairballs, making it the most common medical complaint among domestic cats.

Most cats naturally swallow a lot of fur as they groom themselves, which builds up in the digestive tract until it is big enough to be expelled, and the process starts all over again.

In some cases, however, hairballs can be caused by:

  • Digestive Problems
  • Overgrooming
  • Underlying Medical Issues

If your cat’s hairballs began suddenly, or have become larger or more frequent, then it is a good idea to discuss your cat’s hairballs with a vet.

Best Hairball Remedy For Maine Coon Cats

If you are sick of cleaning up after your cat’s constant hairballs, you might want to look into a hairball treatment for cats.

Here are some possible remedies for your cat’s hairballs:

Hairball Diet

Perhaps the most common vet-recommended hairball remedy is a specialized hairball diet.

This adult hairball control chicken recipe cat food, available on Amazon here, is a great start!


Some vets find that the best hairball remedy for cats is laxatives.

However, laxatives can cause dehydration, and they can complicate existing medical problems, so you should always talk to your vet before giving your cat laxatives.

Vetoquinol Laxatone

One of the best hairball gel for cats is Vetoquinol Laxatone, which you can buy here, from Amazon.

However, it is a good idea to talk with your vet before introducing any medications or supplements, even if they are over the counter.

Increased Hydration

If you are looking for the best natural hairball remedy for cats, you should start by providing your cat with more water.

Cats originated in the desert and got most of their water from prey.

Many cats do not drink enough water, even if they are dehydrated.

It is a good idea to provide wet food once every day or every other day to provide hydration and make it easier for your cat to pass hairballs.


Many vets recommend a fiber supplement, which will ease your cat’s digestive system and make it easier for fur and food to pass through (source 1).

Homemade Hairball Remedy

If you are looking for a hairball remedy using things you can find at home, there are some natural ingredients that can help your cat with hairballs.

Some people recommend providing oils like olive oil, butter, or lard to help with your cat’s digestive system.

However, you should never provide any of these foods to your cat unless you have permission from a vet.

Instead, it is best to provide foods that are high in fiber.

Cat grass is a common solution, and it is also a great way to provide some extra enrichment for your cat!

You can also give your cat small amounts of pumpkin, carrot, or apple to increase the amount of fiber in its diet.

How To Prevent Hairballs In Cats

If you are sick of cleaning up cat hairball vomit, then you will probably want to know how to stop cat having hairballs.

Here are the ways you can prevent hairballs in your cat:

1. Regular Brushing

If you have a Maine Coon, you should brush your cat once or twice a week, and even more during shedding season.

This will reduce the amount of fur your cat ingests as it grooms itself and may reduce or eliminate hairballs altogether.

2. Fiber

If you want to know how to prevent hairballs in cats naturally, then it is a good idea to provide adequate amounts of fiber in your diet.

For cats regularly struggling with diarrhea or constipation, you should talk to your vet about adding a fiber supplement to your cat’s diet.

3. Hairball Diet

If you are looking for food to prevent hairballs in cats, try a hairball control diet for cats, like this cat food sold on Amazon.

This supplier also has a variety of hairball control foods for:

  • Adults
  • Senior Cats
  • Cats with Health Problems

Cat Cough Vs Hairball

Cats make a lot of odd sounds, which can make it difficult for their owners to tell if they are coughing, throwing up, or about to produce a hairball.

The difference between cat cough and hairball can be difficult to deduce.

When a cat is retching up a hairball, it usually only takes a few seconds before it is expelled.

A cat that is coughing, however, probably will not be gagging or retching. Cat coughs are quieter than human coughs, and may sound more like a sneeze.

Cats with asthma have longer bouts of coughing. They typically assume a hunched position and cough with their neck extended.

If your cat retches or coughs once or twice, it is nothing to worry about.

However, if your cat is consistently coughing or has frequent bouts of gagging, then this may indicate a medical condition.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Pass A Hairball?

Most of the time, cats pass any ingested fur through their stools in about seven to twelve hours.

If the fur they ingest accumulates in the digestive tract, though, it may take a day or two for the cat to finally throw up the hairball.

If you notice your cat gagging as though about to pass a hairball, then the hairball should be expelled within a few minutes.

However, if your cat is continuously gagging but does not produce a hairball, it is likely stuck and you should take your cat to the vet right away (source 1).

How To Help A Cat With A Hairball

If your cat seems to be having difficulty passing a hairball, then you might want to know how to help a cat cough up a hairball.

While it is possible to learn how to help a cat pass a hairball more easily through the digestive system, there is really no way to help a cat that is in the process of vomiting one up.

If your cat is repeatedly retching or gagging but has not produced a hairball, your Maine Coon may be suffering from a blockage.

You should take your cat to the vet straight away if you suspect a hairball may be stuck in your cat’s digestive system.

Can Hairballs Be Dangerous For Cats?

If your cat coughs up hairballs frequently, then you might wonder, are hairballs dangerous to cats?

Some owners whose cats cough up hairballs frequently even wonder if their cat is suffering from a hairball disease!

While hairballs are usually harmless, if you are wondering can hairballs be fatal, the answer is, unfortunately, yes.

If a hairball gets big enough, or if it passes into the small intestine, it can turn into a blockage, which can disrupt your cat’s digestive system and even cause death.

So, if you want to know when to worry about a hairball, you should look out for signs like:

  • Constant gagging
  • Vomiting solids and liquids with no hair
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Lethargy and abdominal pain can also indicate a blockage.

If you have heard your vet mention a trichobezoar in cats, you might wonder about the difference between a trichobezoar vs hairballs.

Put simply, a trichobezoar is a medical term for a hairball, so do not fret if your vet mentions that your cat has a trichobezoar (source 1,2).

How To Tell If Your Cat Has A Hairball Stuck

If you have noticed your cat trying to cough up a hairball but cannot seem to expel it, then you might want to know, can a hairball get stuck in a cat’s stomach?

In some cases, yes, a cat’s hairball can become stuck in the digestive tract.

Here are some signs that your cat’s hairball is stuck:

1. Weight Loss

If a cat’s hairball is stuck for a long period of time, it can make it difficult for your cat to eat properly, resulting in weight loss.

2. Retching

If your cat is gagging or retching frequently but has not coughed up a hairball, the hairball could be stuck.

3. Digestive Problems

Your cat may become constipated or develop diarrhea as the hairball affects your cat’s gastrointestinal system.

4. Lethargy

Your cat may become tired, lying down without any interest in food or playing.

If this lethargy continues for an abnormally long time, you should take your cat to the vet.

5. Abdominal Pain

When a cat’s hairball gets stuck, your cat may feel pain at the site of the blockage.

If your cat is sitting in a hunched position, it could be in pain.


Hairballs in Maine Coons may not be the most glamorous part of owning such a popular breed, but they are often completely natural.

If you are having lots of Maine Coon hairball problems, though, you may need to provide your cat with laxatives, lubricant, or fiber.

Owners wanting to know how to make a cat cough up a furball need to understand that there is no way to rush the process.

If a hairball becomes blocked in your cat’s digestive system, you should take it to the vet right away.

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 10 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the name ‘Pipsteroo’! Our enormous, kind-hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend! UPDATE: We recently adopted two 4-year-old male Maine Coon cats. They are named Mika and Bali.

Recent Posts