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Hairballs are more of a problem in longhaired cats than short, but no one like to listen to a gagging cat. Hairballs are caused by too much hair in the cat's stomach from their own grooming. Although there are many different remedies, I prefer preventative health care measures and training:
Daily brushing is my number one tip to prevent cat hairballs, especially during the warm months of the year. If you start brushing your cat during this time of the year, it is easier to train them to enjoy it. They are naturally trying to get rid of that excess undercoat, and your daily brushing will do that for them.
But if your cat's pattern of coughing up the occasional hairball changes, take your cat to the vet to find out why.
Another suggestion to stop cat hairballs (or at least reduce them) is to feed your cat or kitten Iams or Science Diet's Hairball Control. It has worked wonders for my longhaired cat.