Does the cat have hairballs or something else?


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Does the cat have hairballs or something else?

Updated Apr 30, 2022

Dear Cathy,

Riya, my cat, has been doing this weird gag/cough/puke thing quite often the past few days. At first, I just thought it was a hairball she was working to get out, but yesterday she threw up a little food. Most of the time she doesn’t throw up, but then again in the middle of the night, she threw up on my bed. She is totally fine otherwise. She is still eating and still follows me around and loves attention. Anything I should be doing for her?

– Marlene W., Oshkosh, WI

Dear Marlene,

When it comes to cats, any new behavior, whether it’s puking, gagging or meowing when they have always been quiet, should be checked out by a veterinarian. While Riya’s gag/cough/puke could be related to hairballs, it also could be from allergies, gastric upset, or a symptom of another disease.

The fact that she is still eating and behaving normally is a good sign, but if the behavior continues, please have her checked by a veterinarian. Save a sample of the vomit to show your veterinarian and pay attention to when she is vomiting as these provide clues for your vet’s diagnosis.

If it turns out to be hairballs, she may need to receive regular hairball treatment. Some cats hardly ever cough up hairballs, while other cats are hairball producing machines. 

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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