Hacking hairballs on National Hairball Day

BJ Bangs

BJ Bangs is an established journalist, photographer, and an aspiring author. She loves everything about cats, including writing about them.

8 Responses

  1. Last year, Bear REALLY struggled during shed season. I got a Furminator this year – and so far, so good. He doesn’t purr while I brush him like he did with the slicker brush, but I can’t believe how much fur I get every other day! Bear overgrooms a bit – mostly on his belly. I’ve tried everything – playing, de-stressing, etc – in the hopes it would improve – with little luck. I suppose cats are much like us in that the coping strategies they employ become their own beasts of habit.

    • BJ says:

      Good to know about the Furminator. I’ve never tried one, but maybe I should. It’s funny how the kitties are so different. Two hardly ever have hairballs, but the other two, well, it’s frequent.

  2. While avoidance of ingestion is an important tool in managing hairballs, cats are not like owls, and hacking up more than the occasional hairball means there may be a problem brewing. Healthy cats with healthy GI systems pass all that hair. If they are not, there is a problem with gastric emptying. Indigestible solids – like hair – are the last thing to leave the stomach. Free feeding is one cause of this: cats need the powerful peristaltic waves of hunger pangs to trigger gastric emptying that pushes hair on through.

    In 2014 Dr. Gary Norsworthy and associates published the rather shocking finding, in a review of 100 cats presenting with

    – frequent vomiting or
    – vomiting a hairball more than once every two months in any cat and more than once every two months [yes, you read that right] in a short haired cat, and/or
    – chronic small bowel diarrhea,
    some weight loss, or a combination of these

    that 99 of those 100 cats had either Inflammatory Bowel Disease (“chronic enteritis”) or cancer. The retrospective case history was expanded to 300 cats, results published in 2015. Unfortunately, study results were substantially similar. So no, hairballs are not normal. They are a sign of inadequate small bowel motility and improper gastric emptying.

  3. 15andmeowing says:

    Excellent post. I have stepped in and sat in many a hairball.

  4. I never get hairballs, believe it or not, but Lexy does. They’re yucky. Mommy tries to brush us regularly, and she buys hairball control food which works for Lexy.

    • BJ says:

      Two of our cats rarely get hairballs, but the other three do. Our Siamese cries when he has a hairball, so we always know what’s coming. The other two, don’t give an y warning though.

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