Text Size

 Stay up-to-date with our newsletter. It's free & you'll be able to access our articles, stories, giveaways and savings. We only send you a summary of things you have missed and we never sell your information.

Subscribe Now
  • Behavior Problems? We have answers.Behavior Problems? We have answers.

    Behavior Problems? We have answers.

    Learn about behavior from our team of experts. Whether you have cats, dogs, reptiles, horses or birds, we can help you learn to live with them. Read More
  • All About HorsesAll About Horses

    All About Horses

    Learn about equine science, whether you're an aspiring rider or a long-time owner, we have the latest in products, breeds, and more. Read More
  • Traveling with PetsTraveling with Pets

    Traveling with Pets

    Be sure to check this section out before you hit the road with your pet! We've got a look at pet-friendly hotels, the guidelines of air, train, bus and auto travel, and much more. Read More
  • All About CrittersAll About Critters

    All About Critters

    Take a look at what it means to have ferrets, rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, and more. Read More
  • All About ReptilesAll About Reptiles

    All About Reptiles

    A look at our cold-blooded friends and discovering how to care for these fun loving creatures! Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Helping Dogs On Deployment with DogIsGood Purchase

    Some companies just step up to the right thing and Dog Is Good is one of them. This month, they are releasing their newest line, "No Dog Left Behind" just in time for Memorial Day.

    The thing I'm most proud to pen is that 100% of net proceeds from the sale of this product line between May 25-31, 2016 will go directly to Dogs On Deployment.

    This concept is nothing new to Dog Is Good. Each year, they choose a beneficiary who shares similar values and objectives, and which focus on the human-dog connection. Obviously, Dogs On Deployment is one of the most powerful and important missions. This is how it works...

    Read More
  • The Many Benefits of Cat Grasses

    Benefits of cat grassBenefits of cat grassBenefits of cat grassDespite being obligate carnivores, cats still require greens to stay healthy.

    Summer is upon us and that makes the perfect time to grow some grass for your finicky feline. Whether you grow organic oatgrass, wheatgrass, catnip or any other type of cat-centric plant - your cats are sure to appreciate the effort!

    Theories on why cats enjoy munching down on fresh grasses vary. Some experts consider cats’ grazing to be a behavioral trait, while others believe it to be an instinctual response and consider it an important part of their cats diets. But most believe it’s their way of increasing their intake of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, to help get all that hair they groomed from themselves moving out of their digestive tract.

    (Grass eating usually equates to more hairballs, so here are 10 Creative Uses for Hair and Hairballs!)

    Whatever the reason for making grasses available to cats, there is no denying that most enjoy some fresh grass. (Failure to provide it means your houseplants are likely to fall victim!)

    Read More
  • 15 Strange Uses for Shedded Dog, Cat and Horse Hair

    If you're anything like me, (and I suspect you are or you wouldn't be reading this) dog, cat and horse hair and fur is an ongoing problem.

    For people like us, shedding "season" is every single day. Long haired cats, short-haired dogs, horse mane and tail hair; there is no shortage of this highly renewable resource!

    So we decided to take on the challenge of finding useful ways to dispose of it.

    Here are fifteen unique (and often a bit disturbing) ways to utilize your pet's excess fur. (And if that's not enough for us, we have 10 more ways to use fur in 10 Creative Uses for Hair and Hairballs and even some creative ways you can use hairballs in this article, 15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Hairballs!)

    But here are our favorites...

    Read More
  • How to Keep Your Dog Out of the Koi Pond

    I know I’m not alone in slowly assembling a veritable menagerie. Most animal lovers would have a zoo if it were practical!

    But sometimes our pets aren’t excited about making friends with other animals. When it comes to dogs, their natural prey drive can cause some problems in our pursuit of a peaceful co-existence.

    Dogs enjoy chasing cats, pouncing on rabbits, snatching birds out of the air and diving for fish in the pond.

    So can you enjoy other pets if you have a dog? Of course! In particular, let’s take a look at how you can have the koi pond of your dreams without your dog snacking on those beautiful fish.

    Read More
  • Tabby Cats and Their Patterns

    Tabbies are a big part of our lives.

    If you follow us on Instagram, you probably know that we have three beautiful full-time tabbies: CassieKyra The Cog and Alexandra. We also have one vocal foster cat we call Kreature. Each of these cats is magnificent and it's about time someone came up with a holiday celebrating their beauty.

    And so, in Celebration of #NationalTabbyDay, we're talking about a few fun facts you may not know...

    To begin, a tabby is not a breed of cat, but a general way of referring to a coat pattern. In fact,  usually “tabby” means stripes, swirls or spots on a cat that is orange, brown, white or grey colored cat.  In fact, the word tabby is often used as a generic term for "cat" (just like "hound" is often used as a general term for dogs). Tabby cats are found in a variety of different breeds.

    Let’s take a look at the four basic types of tabby coat patterns.

    Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Keeping Pets Safe from Coyotes

No matter where you live, you’ve likely had to deal with wildlife. Whether its mountain lions and coyotes, or squirrels Read More

5 Questions to Ask Before Getting Chickens

There is a lot of interest in chicken keeping these days. With the cost of food skyrocketing, chickens can be Read More

Teaching Children to Approach Horses

I have a problem with parents who just allow their kids just run up to strange animals. In fact today, Read More

How to Keep Your Dog Out of the Koi Pond

I know I’m not alone in slowly assembling a veritable menagerie. Most animal lovers would have a zoo if it Read More

Getting Old Sucks - Cognitive Dysfuntion in Dogs (CCD)

As most of you know, we have a dog who has just turned 15 years old. He’s half blind, almost Read More

Disaster preparedness with pets

September is National Animal Preparedness Month. Some natural disasters require that you evacuate your entire family, pets included. Wildfires, floods, Read More
  • 1

Welcome to PetsWeekly

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

If you have ever stepped from a hot shower on cold winter's day, only to find yourself stepping on a cold mass of - something - you probably have a cat with a hairball. At least, I hope that's what you have. 

Turns out, hairballs are pretty fascinating. They have a long history with cat folks like ourselves and have contributed to a lot of history.

Not everyone hated hairballs. In fact, it was used for medical purposes at one point!

There are many different types of species that are subject to hairballs - pretty much if they have fur or hair, they are able to get a hairball. Sometimes this is due to the physical act of grooming, other times it's due to a psychological issue (especially in humans who can sometimes have a compulsion to eat their hair).

Here are the top 15 most interesting facts about hairballs that you probably didn't know...


1. Cats have a LOT of hair to eat.

The average cat spends 1/3 of their waking life grooming themselves. Let’s do the math:

  • ~ Most cats sleep an average of 13-14 hours per day
  • ~ Most cats groom themselves for 3-4 hours per day

That only leaves 7 hours per day to play, demand food, stare at you in a condescending manner, and vomit hairballs on to your Persian rug.

2. People mostly don't know what hairballs are.

The average person spends 1 hour per week staring at a regurgitated hairball and wondering what it is.

(Okay, we made that stat up, but the rest of the stats in this article are true).

3. Cats eat a LOT of hair.

The average cat consumes 173 grams of cat hair each year.

That’s about 6 ounces, which is the equivalent of 30 quarters or $7.50. It’s also the equivalent of 86 Ruby-throated hummingbirds.


4. The largest hairball

4. The largest hairball ever removed from a cat was 5 inches wide (12.5 cm) and weighed in at a whopping 7.5 ounces. The surgery was performed by Cromwell Vet Group in Cambridgeshire, England on a cat named Gemma.

(Side note: We discovered that the UK will write news stories about ANYTHING!)

5. They're called Trichobezoars

The scientific term for hairballs is “trichobezoars.” The word Trichobezoars comes from the Persian word, Bezoar, and means “protection from poison.”

6. There are different kinds of hairballs.

Hairballs are named for what's in them. There are several different types:

  • Bezoar is just a plain old fashioned hairball.
  • Phytobezoar is a mass of undigested food particles usually from fruits and vegetables such as celery, citrus fruits, coconut, pumpkins, grape skins, prunes, and raisins.
  • Diospyrobezoars are bezoars that contain undigested persimmons. Whether that means eating a lot of persimmons can result in hairballs or hairballs are just hard to digest, I couldn't really tell you.

7. Hairballs prevent poisoning.

Hairballs were once used to prevent poisoning and act as an antidote if poisoning had already occurred. Whether that's because hairballs are super absorbent or because our ancestors were incredibly gullible and the doctors liked messing around with people's heads, I really couldn't tell you.  Whatever works, I suppose...

8. All animals get hairballs.

8. All animals get hairballs but those who are particularly susceptible to this problem include cats, ferrets, rabbits, cattle, deer and (believe it or not), humans. See #9. <shiver>

9. Humans get hairballs.

In 2003, an 18-year-old woman from Canada had a 5.1 lb hairball surgically removed from her lower intestine.

The World’s largest hairball is a collection from Henry Coffer of Charleston, MO. The hairball weighs in at 167 pounds and is a result of collecting hair clippings throughout his 50-year career as a barber. You can read that (and other interesting world records for cats) here.

10. Hairballs can cause a lack of appetite, dehydration, and depression in your cat.

This is why it’s so important to offer them a food that is high-quality pet food and brush them daily (especially long-haired cats and during shedding seasons) to eliminate excess pet hair.  Excessive grooming in a cat could indicate a health issue, just as a lack of grooming could indicate the same.

11. All animals groom, but not all animals get hairballs.

If you're wondering where that hairball came from, check with the longer-coated, middle-aged, bored cat. You know - the one who prefer to lie on the couch and groom himself all afternoon. Kittens aren't nearly as self-conscious (and let's face it, they're just learning how to groom). Older cats generally have more mobility issues and can't reach those difficult spots (which is why you should implement a grooming routine!)

12. Eliminating hairballs (or reducing them) is as easy as a liquid supplement.

The best ones are all-natural, palatable (your cats enjoy them) and are simple to digest (because cats are sensitive). Our personal favorite is the Licks Hairball - The Pill Free Solution.


13. Hairballs get big and can cause serious health concerns.

One cat had a hairball so large it cut off her ability to eat! When the vets successfully removed the offending fur, it was "the size of two cricket balls". (I don't know what size a cricket ball is, but it doesn't sound good.)

14. The average cats swallows 173 grams of hair in 1 year.

The average cats swallows 173 grams of hair in 1 year, which is about the weight of 30 US quarters.

I don't even like carrying change around in my purse because it gets so heavy. I think that trying to surgically remove 173 grams of hair would cost a lot more than trying to prevent it.

15. Most cat hairballs aren't even balls.

Usually cats cough up something that is a long, cylindrical object. I've mistaken hairballs for everything from dead lizards to poop - and none of those are fun to see or step on...

Bonus Fact: Hairballs are perfectly natural. But to keep them moderated, be sure to give your cats regular supplements, groom regularly, and feed a healthy, natural diet.

Other Articles You May Enjoy:

Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.

New in Dogs

New in Cats

New in Horses

New in PetsGEEKly

Subscribe to PetsWeekly for the latest pet news, giveaways, and more!    Stay informed!