Hairballs, The Sequel: Return of the Thing!

Posted May 9, 2012

It’s a special effect you could do without. Learn to master the “hair monster.”

Dragons and dark lords have nothing on this horror-show. Cast: the star, one sleepy human. Supporting role, an apologetic cat. Setting: the bathroom, midnight. Lighting: none. Sound: heavy breathing and soft footsteps. Then it happens – the squish, the scream and, depending on the rating, a few words from our main character. The hairball has been found.

Sensitive Viewers Beware

Okay, they’re ugly. But are they dangerous? Not usually. Cats with hairballs usually vomit relatively undigested food shortly after they eat. Occasionally cats will vomit a tube-shaped mass of hair, but more commonly it’s food. These cats are otherwise normal. However, a cat that’s not eating, or otherwise acting sick needs to see a veterinarian.

Cut, Cut, Cut!

A hairball-stricken cat will usually pass the mass – one way or the other – within 48 hours. A cat that vomits repeatedly, however, may be in trouble. Either something else is causing the vomiting, or the hairball has become impacted or ‘stuck’ somewhere in the intestinal tract. A stubborn hairball may require surgical removal. No one wants that!

Coming to a Food Bowl Near You

Spring and summer is prime time for shedding – and hairballs. Remember that fleas make cats groom themselves more due to itching, which also increases the chance of hairballs, so use a recommended flea prevention product. Switching to a hairball-control diet during this time of year might help make your cat more comfortable.

Rated Mature

Kittens rarely get hairballs. The main sufferers are longhaired cats six months of age or older, and finer-coated breeds, like Persians, will have the most problems with hairballs. Coarser long hair, like that found on Maine Coon cats, usually doesn’t cause as much trouble.

The moral of the story? Keep hairballs under control and leave the horror show for the movies.

Copyright © 2012 by Roxanne Willems Snopek

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