Your Cat and Hairballs
By Steve Fuller
Ok, Fluffy is hacking, maybe even wheezing a bit. She has her little tongue sticking out, ready to eject what you know is going to be the largest hairball the world has ever seen. Of course, Fluffy does this often, astounding the human mind with her ability to produce hairballs that could be used in some creative way to stabilize a small nation's economic woes. Poor little Fluffy. You cringe with each hack, anticipating Fluffy's gift. You begin hacking with her, just to show that you sympathize. You believe this is normal, one of those little endearing things cats go through. Of course, Fluffy thinks you are sadly deluded for thinking this. Fluffy is one unhappy little kitty. You want to help, but what can you do?
First, I am sure, Fluffy wished you just knew what a hairball was, and how she is always getting them. Hairballs are a buildup of hair that collects in the cat's intestinal tract. This buildup occurs from Fluffy's excessive grooming of herself. Now, Fluffy knows what hairballs are, and she also knows that her grooming produces them. Yet, her desire to look good, her desire to be, well, gorgeous, outweighs the health aspects of this whole hairball mess. It is up to you, Fluffy's most generous benefactor, to care for her health. In order to care for her health, there are a few things you must know to help Fluffy overcome this most daunting condition.
Ok, so you know Fluffy has hairballs. Those grayish lumps of hair can be seen when she hacks them up. You know those hairballs are formed from Fluffy's grooming habits. What you may not know, are some things that can develop from hairballs. If Fluffy's hairball problem is not taken care of, it could lead to vomiting, a decreased appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) blockage, choking, and even death. There are ways to help. The best way, of course, is prevention. Brushing Fluffy on a daily basis will remove excess hair, allowing Fluffy to ingest less hair during her daily preening. Plus, Fluffy is sure to like the attention.
Fluffy already has hairballs; we know it, and she most definitely knows it. So, what to do now? Spread some Vaseline on her paws. When Fluffy licks her paws clean of the Vaseline, she will swallow it. The Vaseline will coat the hairball, thus allowing it to pass through her system easier. If you do not wish to subject Flusshy to the glories of Vaseline, there are some natural remedies that may help. You can try one or more of these to get Fluffy feeling like the Fluffy she was meant to be.
Combine one or more of the following ingredients to Fluffy's food because I do not believe Fluffy would like having it spooned down her throat.
1 tsp. of bran daily.
¼ tsp. of unflavored fiber product, or unprocessed psyllium hulls daily.
1 tsp. canned pumpkin or strained prunes daily.
1/8 teaspoon slippery elm daily.
These are all natural products and can be used individually or combined as needed. Also, there are many manufactured, capsulated products on the market that can be combined with food.
If Fluffy continues to show signs of a hairball or if you are concerned that something else may be wrong (the same symptoms associated with hairballs can also indicate other problems such as decreased GI motility, and/or inflammatory bowel disease), call your veterinarian and have Fluffy examined.
Fluffy is an important part of the stable and home environment. Not only does she keep rodents at bay; she provides companionship for the horse, and the horse owner. As with all companions, a healthy Fluffy is a happy Fluffy. Fluffy's health is important. Keeping her healthy will benefit all of you, and in the long run will keep her happy as well.