April has many animal-related "howlidays" during the month. Not only is it National Siamese Cat Day, Pet Owner's Independence Day, National Pet Day, National Farm Animals Day, World Penguin Day and National Pet Parent's Day, April also shines the spotlight on a rather disgusting but common condition. The last Friday in April is National Hairball Awareness Day. Purrfect!
While the topic may be unpleasant, pet parents need to be aware of the causes and potential dangers of hairballs. Because felines are fabulous, we all know most felines are neat freaks and meticulous about cleaning, right? As cats groom themselves with their tongue, some of their fur is ingested. While most hair passes safely through the intestinal tract, some remains in the stomach. As the cat continues to groom, more hair builds up until a hairball is formed, which can cause irritation to the stomach and/or esophagus. While all cats are susceptible, long-haired cats, frequent shedders and compulsive groomers are especially prone.
Help for Hairballs
Regular grooming from pet parents not only helps keep those nasty furballs at bay, many cats actually enjoy being brushed. There are also foods and supplements that help as well. According to an interview with Dr. Lorie Huston,
"Grooming is the best form of prevention. Other solutions include foods designed to prevent hairballs and various petrolatum or oil-based remedies such as Catlax and Laxatone, all of which have varying degrees of efficacy. "
Professional groomer, LeAnn Nussrallah, also has some helpful tips to keep your kitty in tip-top shape.
- Since cats groom each other, adding a new cat to the home can cause hairballs in a cat that may never have had them before.
- Brushing thoroughly with a slicker brush
- Keep cats indoors. Cats that may get fleas or ticks will do more licking, thereby getting more hairballs.
- If the problem is too prevalent, you can talk to your vet about special diet.
According to "The Cat Doctor," Dr. Shelby Neely, if your kitty displays the following behaviors, please contact your veterinarian:
- Ongoing gagging, retching or vomiting without producing a hairball. In rare cases, hairballs can cause blockage or get stuck, requiring surgery.
- Lack of appetite
Did you know cats are not the only animals who cough up furballs? According to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, cattle, deer, sheep, goats and other cud-chewing animals are also prone. Take a look! And be sure to check out these furry jewelry pieces!
Today is the "purrfect" day to pamper your kitty. Keeping those hairballs away is not only good for Fluffy, it also means you won't have to worry about stepping in a pile of it during the middle of the night! Because let's face it - nothing is more unpleasant than stepping or sitting on a big ole’ blob of barfed-up fur especially when you least expect it!
And as always, please consider opening your heart and home to an animal in need! Please visit your local animal shelter and adopt - before it's too late.
Update: The animal world has lost an amazing voice, compassionate soul and shining star. Dr. Lorie Huston passed away on Sept. 30, 2014.