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Feline Friday: National Hairball Awareness Day

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That blue bed is as hairy as Seren-Kitty!

Do you know what today is? In celebration, Seren-kitty left me a “present.” She has good aim. She nailed the buttons on my printer, the scanner that sits next to it, AND a couple of books stacked on the scanner. One of the books was borrowed. But it’s my own fault. That hairball had to come out somewhere.

 It’s National Hairball Awareness Day! RomeoTheCat and FURminator are co-sponsoring an event to bring attention to this big-hairy-deal.

 Have you ever discovered the latest squishy “kitty creation” by stepping on it, barefoot, at 3 a.m.? Ewww!

 Cats, and some dogs (Pomeranian owners, am I right?!) swallow fur during self-grooming. Hopefully it ends up in the litter box or yard. But when it comes out the other end, the cat vomits hotdog or cigar-shaped hairballs.

Cats spend 30% of their lives grooming.

 Shedding season increases the odds kitty will “urk” more often, especially in longhair cats. The techie term for hairball is a “bezoar.”   I warn you, don’t click that link until after breakfast. I’m not posting a picture cuz I don’t want readers to “urk.” (Turns out, humans get bezoars, too, Ewww!) 

I’m fortunate that Seren has short fur, but even that can accumulate and be swallowed. We kid that fur in a pet home should be considered a condiment, but if kitty swallows too much, it stops up the system. Baseball-size hairballs have been removed from cats. Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated.

That's a wad won't go into the cat, or stain my carpet on the way out.

 The no-brainer solution is to groom kitty and pull off the fuzz before it gets swallowed. I have grooming tools–the Furminator (above) is awesome and works especially well on the Magical-Dawg. (I don’t even wanna think what size bezoars he’d produce!)  And Seren enjoys the attention. Here are 7 more ways to manage hairballs.

So yes, I know, I already admitted this was my fault. Luckily the printer, scanner, and books cleaned up with only trace evidence of kitty DNA left behind.

 Seren just smiles. She’s always been critical of my reading material.

Do your cats get hairballs? What do you do to prevent ’em? What about your DOGS and hairballs? Cats that groom dog friends increase their hairball risk, too. Do your fur-kids like or loathe grooming. What are some tricks you use to keep a handle on fuzzy-icity? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant (dogs/cats), award winning author of 30+ pet care titles and thrillers, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

15 responses »

  1. My Shady-Cat has horrible hairball seasons, Lucky-Cat not so much. For Shady, I buy this hairball ointment and put it on the tip of his nose for him to lick off. It seems to work well (Petsmart sells it). There are times though that it’s as if he’s given himself an ulcer, and my vet recommends cutting up a Pepcid AC tablet into quarters, and giving him 1 qtr a day with his food. Sounds odd, but it works & it’s cheap! One tablet lasts 4 days…

    • Hi Tiffany,it’s interesting how different cats react so differently. There are some good products out there now, too. I’ve got one of those malt-flavored hairball-remedy-in-a-tube that Seren will lick right off of the container. And I’ve some kitty treats that help prevent hairballs. A couple a month during shed-season isn’t unusual but when it gets more than that, it may be something more serious. Some folks think cats have hairballs when it’s really kitty asthma, or even heartworms, yikes! Seren got her heartworm preventive yesterday.

  2. Yo, Amy…nice post. I’ve gotten and used the Furminator and it’s quite amazing how much hair comes from one kitty.

    After the “hairball from hell” incident with MacDuff, we’ve been furminating (though not as much as we should). But we’ve also changed his (and the other puddies’) food to all wet food. And thank God, there hasn’t been a repeat incident.

    Cost of first episode: $1,543.00 in vet stay, X-rays, blood work, medicine, etc. etc.

    So I’m all fur it…..

    Allia Zobel Nolan, a/k/a KittyLiterate

  3. Urk, your writing did the job without any pictures–but fun. I’ve been meaning to pop over all day but am just now getting to it. Great job as always!

  4. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Our cats regard being ‘furminated’ as being their right as superior beings. We almost have fights over who gets to go first. It can be quite funny to see them getting all excited over it, while the dogs sit there looking totally confused…


    • Wayne, that’s too funny! Here the cat stre-ee-etches and loves it, and the dog wants it done so he can chase Frisbee.

    • Wayne – how do you get the cats to sit still for the furminator? Mine see it and run. They fight me the entire time I try and use it – and that can get a bit rough with the 17-lb RaggaMuffin tom. Even my dog doesn’t like it (nor any form of brushing or combing, for that matter). I’ve tried treats, but they don’t seem to hold incentive for any of them.

      • Hi Mary, I’m not Wayne *s* but will see if I can help. If treats don’t hold incentive (usually they have to be smelly and ONLY offered at that time, and no ohter)–what DO they like? What’s their favorite pasttime? A particular toy? a special game? petting? massage? chase the laser light, or feather lure? Use that instead of treats. Also, there’s no rule says you must groom the entire cat or dog at one setting. Groom only the place they like the best (cheeks?) for 10 seconds, then treat with the toy. Do the other cheek, treat with the toy. And so on. Hopefully Wayne will weigh in, too.

      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

        Good question. We have five adults in the house, my wife, myself, and our three adult children (age range 19 to 24). All of us love animals. All of the animals get fussed over constantly.

        I’m sitting on the couch at 5:30 AM (I woke up at 2:30, couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided I might as well do some writing), working, with my Beagle curled up beside me. Every couple of minutes he gets petted.

        Sometimes I have two dogs and two cats sitting with me. Everyone else is the same. My daughter has a cat flap on her door. She usually has two or three cats in bed with her, if they aren’t in with my wife and I, or perched in the window, or bugging the boys…

        All of these animals love getting brushed. Mark, out big dog who died New Years day, hated it. He also wasn’t as well socialized as the rest are.

        Mark was an outdoor dog for the first half of his life, and when Dad could no longer keep up the farm and moved to town, became an indoor dog overnight. Dad was often out during the day. Mark was used to being on his own.

        If you picked up a brush, Mark hid. And he needed brushing. His Husky background meant he had a heavy undercoat which was always shedding in clumps. The poor mutt has been gone for four months now, and we are still finding pieces of Mark all through the house (pardon me while I brush a tear away).

        Mark just never got used to being petted. Now with a dog you can train them. We have Sam and Rose in Level 1 Obedience Training, and they are responding really well.

        Cats are a bit more of a challenge. They aren’t quite as intelligent, and they don’t have the pack instinct (a dog will want to please the pack leader – which should be the owner – not the dog – there’s one lady at Obedience training who is ruled by her dog – not good).

        Forcing cats is a good way to end up with a mad cats, and mad cats tend to get revenge.

        I’d suggest working on handling the cat a lot. Get the cat used to it. You can buy brushes that strap to you hand so you can groom while petting, and the cat won’t notice, once the cat is used to being petted.

        Have you considered drugs? If the cat is old enough to be affected by Catnip, get the cat good and high, and then groom quickly, while kitty does it’s best Cheech and Chong imitation.

        As Amy suggested toss in a treat at the end. Find something that the cat really goes for, and as a reward for grooming, and only then, out comes the treat.

        The grooming should be a regular event, preferably daily, until the cat is used to it, and is fully comfortable. Remember you are training an animal that doesn’t train well, which means you have to work a bit harder. Taking a day off to let kitty settle his nerves means giving kitty a day to forget what he’s learned.

        At the same time you have to consider whether you are doing more harm than good. Some cats never quite adjust. We have one cat who won’t let me touch him. I don’t know why. But he’s terrified of me. My two sons, who are both taller than I am, are his best buddies, but me he’s scared of. I just let Bandit alone, and try not to scare him. My son found him wandering on the road on day on his way to work. The same day the people across the road found a female kitten in their yard. We know nothing about him other than he’s a domestic short hair, and he’s a handsome cat. Who for some reason is totally terrified of one person in the house, who has never hurt him. We don’t know what is going on, he was young enough when we got him that I wouldn’t think that he’d have much if any memory, but…


  5. Great job with heightening awareness, Amy! My coolest cat ever, and best bud for 17 years, may he rest in peace, was Biscuit a/k/a Bisky-kitty. He was a frail little kitten, runt of the litter & received extra attention when small. Because I started early, he didn’t mind grooming at all, even nail clipping & was the only cat I’ve ever befriended who enjoyed riding in the car. We made grooming a part of lap-sitting so he could not resist. Watch tv–hold the cat–groom the cat. Read a book–hold the cat–groom the cat. I’d say if you wait until the cat needs grooming, you’ve waited too long. Make it easy on yourself and start introducing grooming tools the day you bring him home.

    • Hi Janet, you’re absolutely right–I’ve found the same thing true. Little grooming at a time, when the cat’s relaxed and comfortable, stopping BEFORE the cat wants you to stop. And yep, if kittens are introduced to the notion they think it’s normal. Tougher with the big guys. *s* Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  6. My cat is about 5 years old (i think he was 2 when I adopted him from the shelter) and he has been getting hairballs (gross!) for about the past year. I just purchased the furminator yesterday and was AMAZED by the amount of fur that came off of him! And he gets brused every few days anyway – i realize now that the normal pin brush simply was not doing the trick at all! I’m really hoping that with using the furminator the number of hairballs will be cut down drastically 🙂

    • Let me know how the Furminator works for you. It’s been a great help for my GSD and even my shorthair Siamese wannabe enjoys the grooming and has fewer hairball messes. Thanks for visiting the blog!


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