Posted on April 11, 2011 under Pet Health & Safety
Posted by: HR
For Pets Best Insurance
You’re probably wondering if National Hairball Awareness Day is a joke. As funny as it may seem, hairballs are really quite misunderstood and often a preventable irritation for cats. This misunderstanding can go both ways, as well. While cat owners generally ensure proper pet health with good nutrition and cat insurance, it’s important to make sure kitty is as healthy as possible– especially when it comes to the dreaded hairball.
To one end, vomiting can be mistaken for—and even shrugged off as—”just hairballs,” when in fact the cat may need medical attention. Conversely, hairballs can be mistaken for vomiting and the opportunity to improve a cat’s grooming routine may be missed.
Hairballs can usually be identified by their long, smooth appearance. They are caused when a cat grooms with their scratchy tongue, made up of hundreds of tiny barbs specifically designed to remove excess hair. Spring often brings an increase in hairballs when cats begin to shed their extra winter coat.
According to a pet column by Jennifer Stone, published on the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne website, “One of the most effective ways of reducing hairballs is to brush the cat on a regular basis. This will reduce the amount of hair that is swallowed.”
One effective tool for removing excess hair before the cat does is the Furminator, which gently removes more hair than a brush or comb.
Another method for hairballs is lubrication using a petroleum jelly-based gel called Laxatone. The gel is often flavored, and many cats readily lick it off a finger or spoon. The lubricant assists the hair through the cat’s digestive system.
According to Stone’s column, hairballs are usually harmless unless the cat is dehydrated. Dehydration can cause any blockage to become dry and stuck. Because blockage is dangerous for cats, pet insurance can assist in treatment in case of an emergency.
With proper pet health care, frequent vomiting and hairballs should not be an all-too-common occurrence.