Hairball Hell

August 8, 2012

Hairballs are common with long-haired cats.The queen of hairballs once lived with us.  Bella considered herself the queen of everything, but that’s a story for another day.  She was a relatively long-haired cat and groomed herself frequently, ingesting a whole lot of fur along the way.  The hair mixed with undigested food after it was swallowed and formed a firm wad of gunk.  Sometimes, it passed through her digestive track and didn’t become a problem.  But more often, that glob of disgusting hair mixture made an appearance where it was least welcome.  I well remember the fresh one I found in the middle of our bed!  Many of you know what that’s like.

Diagnosing hairballs as Fluffy’s problem is the first order of business.  This isn’t a topic for the squeamish, but it is a fact of life with cat ownership.  The first time you see your kitty hunched up and heaving, you’ll  immediately think she’s ill.  The heaves can go on for minutes or hours, intermittently, before results occur.  Obviously, if she actually vomits bile or food, you have cause for concern.  But don’t react too quickly.  If the first time was basically bile, wait and see if Fluffy repeats the procedure.   If she continues to vomit more than twice, I’d call the vet’s office for advice.  We have found that Chico often, but not always, loses a  pool of bile a couple of times before he hacks up that hairball.  Should you ever see blood in your kitty’s vomit, seek veterinary help at once.

Numerous hairball remedies are sold in pet supplies stores.  With the gel type, you place a bit of the get in the cat’s mouth or on the tip of its nose where it will be licked.  Chewable hairball remedies are fine for the agreeable cat that will eat them.  You can also find granules to sprinkle on cat food.  These products will all help kitty to pass the hairballs through her digestive system.  Most of the remedies contain mineral oil as lubrication.  Some cat owners feed their kitties a teaspoon or two of canned pumpkin or baby food squash as a treat to provide a bit of soft bulk, so hairballs will pass more easily.  Experience showed us that the gel that looks rather like toothpaste worked best for our animals, but you will have to experiment to find the type and brand that works best for you.

Whatever method you choose for hairball elimination, clear it first with your veterinarian.  He or she is the expert and may offer other effective options.

 

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