Hello Humans! William and Harry asked me, their next of cat kin, to write today’s article because of my greater experience in the subject. You see, at almost thirteen, I’ve left many a wet, slimy, soggy, black hairball on the floor of my mom’s living room but those two youngsters haven’t hacked up their first ball of orange fluff yet. Mom tells me that in short haired cats, its pretty typical for us to not have our first hairball until middle age.
Harry and William, having not hacked up anything on their mom’s carpet yet, weren’t sure what all the fuss was about. Hairballs aren’t always exactly what they sound like. In fact, they should probably be called hair tubes because that’s really what they look like, a tube, usually a few inches long, consisting entirely of wet soggy hair and transparent digestive juices with or without a little bit of white foam.
Harry pointed out to me that he yacked up his lunch last week after he ate too fast and that there was a lot of orange hair mixed in with his food. Harry has a lot to learn. If there is food in the pile it is vomit– not a hairball! William told me he coughs sometimes late at night and wondered if that could be a hairball? I made my mom go over and check him over for heartworms and for asthma since a cough that doesn’t end in a big pile of expelled hair is not really a hairball at all! She told me that she thinks William might have some seasonal allergies and mild asthma causing the cough. I know all about asthma too, but that’s a story for a different day.
I hate throwing up hairballs. My mom usually tries to prevent them by brushing me with a special brush that removes all of my older hairs. That way, when I spend my eight hours a day grooming, I won’t ingest nearly as much hair. When I take in less hair there’s a lot less that I have to get rid of later. She also tries to keep my hair healthy from the inside. She gives me a special joint supplement and special fish oils every day. She says that it helps keep my skin healthy and my hair shiny but it also helps keep my joints happy so I can reach around and get those hard to reach areas on my lower back. I know that a lot of cats who are my age or who are overweight have a lot of back and joint pain so they stop grooming that area. I’m lucky I can still reach every part of my magnificent thirteen year old body!
Sometimes I see commercials for hairball control cat food on TV. Sometimes there are birds in the commercials so I run up to the screen and get all excited about trying the new food. Mom said these kinds of foods tend to have more fiber so you poop more often, thus pushing hair more quickly out of your system. She said that I already poop twice a day which is PLENTY for her to clean up so more fiber isn’t the key to getting rid of my hairballs. Some cats, especially long haired cats, can benefit from special supplements which help lubricate the hair as it works its way through our intestines, but mom says there is no substitute for good old hair brushing and hygiene.
I don’t mind the brush too much, especially since mom always gives me a cat treat in the middle of our session and at the end. She’s otherwise pretty stingy with the treats so I’d do just about anything for one.
Until next time,
Major Mickey Giles Midnight Albers-Brooks –Defender of the Basement, is the thirteen year old feline prodigy of Drs. Albers and Brooks. According to his bio he is the handsomest, smartest, and most perfect cat to ever live. You can see pictures of Mickey in all of his glory posted around the Portage Animal Clinic where he put them up so his mommy could think about him all day while she is at work and he is at home and surveying the local bird population from his favorite window
Angela Albers, DVM
Stow Kent Animal Hospital