Why Do Cats Get Hairballs?
Cats are extremely clean pets, and are constantly grooming themselves. Their tongues are built in such a way that once hair is on it, there is only one way for it to go, down the hatch. Hair is not digestible, so it just sits in the stomach, turning and churning, until it's a mass of hair, mucous and digestive acids. Eventually the cat has to throw it up. Both long and shorthaired cats can get hairballs; generally longhaired cats will get them more often.
How Can I Prevent Hairballs?
The absolute #1 way you can prevent hairballs is to brush your cat regularly. By removing excess hair, you are preventing it from ending up in your cat's stomach. If your cat still has problems even with frequent brushing, you can use any of the hairball remedy products, they look like brown petroleum jelly and most cats will readily lick them up. There are also treats that have hairball remedy hidden in the middle, and Advanced Nutrition diets with extra fiber to help prevent the build-up of hairballs.