Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cat hairballs: They're gross and gooey, and you can prevent them

Jasper the cat on top of the hot tub
Jasper the cat should be famous for his friendliness (check out the drool; he does that when he sees people he likes). Around here, however, Jasper is famous for something quite different. And it also involves drool. Yup, this old guy is a hairball-making machine. At least once or twice each month, I find a hairball in my yard.

Or (and this is an even more fun thing), someone else finds a hairball in the yard. And the finder brings it to me to either throw or break apart into bite-size pieces.

I'm talking about Liam the pug here.

We humans think of hairballs as really gross pieces of slimed-up hair that our cats leave behind in the most inconvenient of places, like walkways. But to a pug, a hairball is a really great toy that flies through the air really fast. Or, if he's caught the ball before it's been sitting out too long, it's a really yummy snack.

Liam the pug smiling

Liam's smile shouldn't be caused by a hairball. But sometimes, that's just what happens.

In a lot of ways a hairball is totally natural. A cat's tongue is rough and sandy, designed to move through a coat quickly and strip out dead and loose hair. In the wild, a tongue is the best brush a cat can get hold of. But, those barbs can cause a ton of problems, because they point back at the throat. So the hairs a cat pulls while grooming become stuck in kitty's tummy. And they simply must come back out, because they're not really digestible.

Most people are aware that cats will toss up hairballs from time to time. But, on the annual Hairball Awareness Day (which is tomorrow), the cat community rallies to get the word out about hairball prevention. Specifically, we try to get people to understand that there's a lot you can do to keep those pesky things from taking over your cat's life.

The nice people at Wellness sent me an infographic that covers this point quite well. Check it out.

Steps to take to prevent hairballs

You'll notice that none of these steps involve throwing medications at the problem. Instead, these are steps that are designed to help your pet eat the right things, drink more water and move around a little more. Brushing plays a key role too, as the more you brush, the less hair there is to remove while grooming.

Just in time for that hairball day, Wellness told me about a food that could help to reduce hairballs. I'll be trying that with Jasper, so watch for a review in just a bit. But in the interim, enjoy your awareness day! And brush those kitties for me.

1 comment:

  1. omg. I had no idea, since we only have the poodle. Of course he has hair come out the other end from licking his legs. Ewwww