Gigantic Hairball Removed from British Kitty

When a Cambridgeshire, England, couple brought their 8-year-old cat to the vet, they were very worried. Gemma was obviously hungry, but she hadn't eaten for...

 |  Jan 30th 2012  |   5 Contributions


Gemma would have died if vets hadn't removed a 5-inch hairball from her stomach. Image courtesy of BBC News

When a Cambridgeshire, England, couple brought their 8-year-old cat to the vet, they were very worried.

Gemma was obviously hungry, but she hadn't eaten for three days.

A physical exam and X-rays revealed a huge mass in her abdomen. Fearing the worst, the couple consented to exploratory surgery. I'm sure they were thinking they'd have to have their beloved puss euthanized because cancer was destroying her body.

But what the vets found when they opened up the cat was about the most startling thing they'd ever seen.

The object in Gemma's stomach was not a malignant tumor, but a hairball five inches in diameter.

That's bigger than a baseball, y'all!

It "filled the entire stomach cavity and she had not eaten for days," said veterinarian David Fennell, who performed the surgery. "It would certainly have killed her."

Photoshopped X-ray of cat with baseball in stomach

As we all know, cats do groom a lot, and we've all discovered hacked-up hairballs on our floors (and on our furniture, and even in our beds). However, when a hairball reaches a certain size, the cat can no longer throw it up or excrete it through their intestines. And that's what had happened to poor Gemma.

Long-haired cats like Gemma are particularly prone to hairballs because there's just so much more fur to groom.

Fennell said it was clear that Gemma's owners cared a lot about their kitty, but they'd never gotten the memo about the importance of daily grooming.

Gemma is recovering well from her surgery, her owners have learned how and when to groom her, and Fennell is confident the cat will never wind up in this predicament again.

I don't know about you all, but as soon as I read this article, I whipped out my grooming tools and gave all three of my cats a good brushing. Even short-haired cats like my Siouxsie, Thomas, and Dahlia can do with a regular grooming.

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