Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Gack! Hairballs!

I’ve a friend, Lisa, who loves to pretend that she hates her cat. She knows that myself and another friend, Amye, are big cat lovers. Lisa does not hate her cat. She does love trying to get a response out of Amye and I by telling us outlandish stories about how bad her cat is.

We were spending time together recently when Lisa announced (for the 400th time) that she wanted to “get rid” of her cat. Amye and I laughed as we know the game:
“What’s he doing now?” Amye asked.
“He’s throwing up everywhere!” Lisa exclaimed.
“Wait,” I said. The cat usually is just playful and silly. I was momentarily caught off guard by a health related problem. Throwing up could be something serious. “Is he throwing up or regurgitating?”
“Both.” She relented a bit then exclaimed, “The other morning he threw up something that looked like a furry tampon!”

Amye and I laughed in sympathy and told her that tampons coming out of cats are actually hairballs. Which made me begin thinking about all the things I do to prevent them. It seems like anytime the cats have one they leave it somewhere where I’ll step on it while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. GROSS!!!!!!!

If your cat is gacking up hairballs it’s time to refine your anti-hairball arsenal. Things such as the food you feed, the water intake your cat has and even a hairbrush can make a big difference in the war on squishy, nasty hairballs.

Hairball food: This is typically cat food with extra fiber. The fiber helps your cat pass their stool more easily. Stool is the general way cats eliminate digested hair from their bodies. However, some raise questions about the wisdom of pumping your cat full of fiber and suggest that companies who manufacture hairball food have not yet done enough long term studies on its effectiveness and potential side effects.

Hairball Remedies: These are gels that you squirt out of a tube. Typically they are flavored to be appealing to the cat. We’ve one flavor that we call “Kitten Candy” in my house. It seems we just can’t get it out of the tube fast enough for Friday! Like the fiber, they help your cat pass hair in the digestive system before it can form into a hairball.

Water: Who’d have thought that the most basic need for cats and people could help with hairballs. Doctors Foster and Smith point out that water aids in digestion. Cats are very picky about water so watch your cat. If he’s drinking out of your glass or the sink he may not like the water in his bowl. If so he may not be drinking enough. Generally, cat water fountains increase water intake as cats prefer fresh water.

Grooming: Cats lick themselves to get clean and consequently ingest large amounts of hair. To help keep hair out of your cat’s tummy in the first place, brush them! Any kind of brush will do but a shedding blade like the Furminator works great for removing quantities of hair from your cat. Just remember to follow the directions closely as shedding blades can cause skin irritation if used improperly.


Victor Tabbycat said...

Bonnie gets "hairballs" frequently and they were worse(!) with a hairball remedy cat food. She doesn't like hairball paste and brushing her is, well, suicidal.

Victor rarely has a hairball and when he does, just coughs a bit and produces nothing. He loves to be brushed with his Zoom Groom. I mean LOVES it and begs for it and sheds extra for it. One problem: in order to brush Victor, I have to let him EAT some of the hair that flies off of him! Otherwise, we'll end up spinning in circles as he chases the brush! I try to prevent him from eating too much hair, but it's ironic to me that this hairball prevention measure actually causes him to ingest more hair! At least I haven't seen an increase in hairballs for him.

Anonymous said...