Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Can you really prevent cat hairballs?
The web is full of list-based articles (or "listicles," as we call them in the biz) about cat hairball prevention. "Keep hairballs away for good!" or "Banish cat hairballs for life!" these headlines scream. And it seems like a good idea, as there are few things worse than an early morning walk through barfed up cat hair. If I could keep these things out of my household for good, I'd be so happy.
But here's the thing: It's almost impossible to keep hairballs 100 percent out of your cat's life. And I should know, as I have one of the hairiest cats in the world. Even her wee little feet have a ton of hair.
Long-haired cats like Lucy just have a ton of hair to manage on a daily basis. And they manage that hair through licking and chewing. Every single lick comes with a swallow of dead and discarded hair. And sometimes, that hair just can't pass through the digestive tract. When it can't, it comes back up as a hairball.
Brushing cats, especially with really good cat brushes, can help to reduce the amount of hair a cat pulls in during a grooming session. During the spring and fall, when cats are changing from one type of coat to another, frequent grooming sessions are really vital. The more you can pull off, the less work the kitty has to do.
But the occasional hairball is likely to slip out of your kitty's mouth from time to time. And in most cases, it's not a terrible issue to deal with. Lucy's two or three yearly hairball issues are dense, so I can pick them up quick with no stains left behind.
To me, that isn't a huge sacrifice. But for those people who are really squeamish and don't want to deal with hairball issues at all, I do have a suggestion. Cats with shorter coats don't have the same amount of hair to process, and that can mean that they have a smaller hairball risk. If you can't bear the thought of barfed-up hair at home, choose one of these guys instead. You might still have the rare hairball from time to time, but you might not get the epic hairballs long-haired cats can throw.