Frequent hairballs may be a sign that your cat's digestive system’s ability to move material along—its gut motility—is impaired. Reduced gut motility means that your cat's food and moisture don’t progress through the intestines the way they should, and digestion suffers. Reduced gut motility also limits the amount of time that pathogens and antigens are in contact with the intestinal walls. When these substances aren’t properly cleared away from the lining of the gut, the resulting bacterial overgrowth.
When a cat’s gut bacteria populations are out of proportion, or key beneficial bacteria are missing, we describe the gut microbiome as imbalanced. An imbalanced gut microbiome is one of the factors that can lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and chronic inflammation of the digestive tract that can severely disrupt motility.
Cats who retch up a lot of hairballs may be ingesting an abnormal amount of hair because they’re grooming too much. Excessive grooming can be a sign of anxiety, allergies, food sensitivities, or skin conditions that may be a sign of a gut health imablance. So if you think your cat is grooming too much or too vigorously, check in with your veterinarian or consider giving your cat a gut health test.