When your cat grooms itself, their tongue is picking up any loose hair with those barbs on the tongue. Then the hair gets swallowed and it travels down into the cat's stomach, which can not be digested by the cat's stomach. As more and more hair accumulates in the cat's stomach it gets packed in there and then gets vomited out.
Some of the features of the cat's hairball as mentioned above are mostly made up of cat fur along with their food (what they have ate) and the slimy mucus that ends up on your floor! Sometimes you might even get that wonderful surprise in the middle of the night going to the bathroom, when you step on it with your bare foot! Yea! The color of the hairball depends, of course, on the color of the cat's food you feed them and the actual color of the cat's fur. The hairball can be orange or light tan in color and as time goes on it can be brown, gray, black or brick red. The hairball can be circular or tubular in shape.
The sizes of the hairball differs; however, they are similar in size as cat's poop. I have actually come home and thought my cat had missed their litter box with it's poop! As I looked closer and noticed some unabsorbed food and hair clumps at the ends of it – it was a hairball and not my cat's poop!
The frequency of your cat vomiting up hairballs on average should be about two to three times per month. If your cat is vomiting much more often, like on a daily basis, and is show signs of being sick; your cat may have a chronic hairball issue. You should take your cat to the vet to be checked out. Some symptoms of your cat having a possible chronic hairball problem are the loss of their appetite, vomiting up food, the cat training to go poop, cat has constipation, patches of fur and if the cat's coat is more matted than the norm. The most unfavorable situation would be that the cat can not vomit the hairball and it is taken into the gastrointestinal tract. If this does occur, the cat will not be able to keep any food down and can pass away. Emergency surgery would be the only thing that could save the cat's life.
A misunderstanding of long-haired cats is that they yield more hair that short-haired cats. This is not true. Both the long-haired and short-haired cats yield about the same amount of hair. Every cat has an incomparable digestive system as how it digests fur. The fur can be it's own or it's kill's fur. If you have a cat like mine, she is a compulsive groomer so she is swallowing more fur!