Hair balls. Yep, in last week’s Pet Column Zola wrote about saving the world and this week I write about slimy balls of fur. Somehow that seems unfair to me but I’ll tell you what, dealing with partially digested, then regurgitated, balls of hairy goop is real too. Fur balls need to be openly discussed and not swept under the carpet (where they would just get moldy and stinky).
So, hairballs…otherwise known as furballs or trichobezoar (in the scientific world) are simply part of the feline grooming process and really quite harmless. We lick our fur to clean it, some sticks to our tongue, we swallow it. Fortunately we have evolved a process for our stomach, intestines and esophagus to avoid being clogged up by hair through a simple vomiting process.
These fuzzy balls of fun contain other materials that our bodies are happy to expel as well, such as undigested fat, ash from food products, and mucus. These unwelcome visitors all bond tightly with the unwanted hair and upon ejection leave us with clear passageways. Voila!
Granted we haven’t developed a more refined or subtle way to purge these gooey hairy masses. And yes, we often appear to be choking and gagging to death in great agony during the process of fur ball elimination, but this is mostly for your entertainment as well as to alert you of the gooey hairy mass on the floor needing to be properly removed. I mean, if we were more discreet about it a lot more people would be stepping on them rather than deftly and properly disposing of them.
Fur ball exorcism can happen about every week or two and it is nothing to be concerned about if your cat is otherwise happy and healthy. If a hairball gets too big, it can cause problems for your cat so continued unproductive hacking or other signs of distress would require a visit to the veterinarian.
A variety of commercial products claim to prevent hairballs. Many of these are petroleum-based laxatives that grease up your cat’s digestive tract to keep everything moving smoothly. Consult your veterinarian before starting one of these products to ensure that the product is safe and effective and that you are giving your cat the correct dosage.
To reduce hair ball hacking, more prone in older and longhaired cats, groom your kitty regularly, promote hydration and provide plenty of fiber in their diet, which can even be supplemented with cat grass (not the kind you smoke) if needed.
My name is Pepper Cheenie and I would love to join your family to cough up hair balls on your floor. Kidding – but please don’t let these minor bodily function inconveniences discourage you from adopting a homeless kitty like me (truth be told I am not that much of a hair ball hurler anyway).
I am a quiet one year young boy who is unpretentiously very receptive to attention. My favorite time of the day is treat and cuddle time. I think you will find it as relaxing as I do and a great opportunity to ponder the wonders of life. Call to schedule an appointment to meet me today!
Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for over 26 years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about our Community Medical, Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, or other services. View our shelter pets and services online: www.adoptmountainpets.org.