Editor’s note: Today (April 29) is a day to remember, recognize, and learn how to prevent hairballs. It’s an ideal time to republish this piece from 2013 so you can learn from it and further comment on it.
Today is National Hairball Awareness Day.
No, really. It is. It’s a day. We’re not kidding.
The aim of National Hairball Awareness Day is to promote awareness of hairballs (and how many of us cat owners are not aware of hairballs?) and also to spread the word and learn about ways to prevent them.
You’ve probably seen hairball stories on Catster. You might have also seen a bunch of other hairball-related things going around the web recently. We cat people take our hairballs very seriously.
In my house, I have two kitties, and luckily only one of them seems to get the hairballs. I think it’s because Pimp’s gotten a little older (A little older, okay? Don’t tell him I told you he is 14) and so his fur is a little loose. It just seems to clump out more in his age. When I pet him it comes off in my hands more than it used to, so I can only imagine what his sandpaper tongue is picking up.
At any rate, regular brushing with our fabulous FURminator seems to keep the hairballs down, but when he does get them, they’re awful. Break out a roll of paper towels, the carpet cleaner, and the vacuum — and don’t think for a minute that you’ll be to work on time. (His hairballs are always perfectly timed for right around 8:35 a.m., and I leave for work at 9.) Also, they’re usually mixed with food, which is even more often.
I read somewhere that the typical cat consumes 173 grams of fur in one year, which is about the weight of 30 quarters. That’s a lot of potential hairballs (or food/hairballs as the case may be) on our floors, carpets, and furniture.
Cats spend 30 percent of their time grooming, and hair can’t be digested, so it has to go somewhere (or go out somewhere, as today reminds us). Plus, if you have more than one cat, the amount of hair they each ingest is probably more, because of social grooming.
So, how do we, um, lick this problem? (That’s my only pun, I promise.) (Unless things get hairy, in which case I’ll probably throw in another.) (Sorry, I promise I won’t cough up any more.)
Oh, forget it. The fur’s really flying now, and there’s no use in avoiding it. This is officially the record for most bad puns I’ve ever used in writing. I am proud. And horrified.
Back to the subject at hand: hairballs and helping our kitties avoid them. Our kitties don’t want them, and we don’t want to clean up after them. So, here are a few things you can do to help reduce hairballs in your kitty:
Groom and beautify
Brushing or combing cats often not only makes them look pretty or handsome, but it also helps get rid of excess pet hair. Less loose hair to lick up equals fewer hairballs. Simple math.
Provide a proper diet
Many cats are picky eaters, but several cat food companies make hairball-control varieties. These have special ingredients to help your kitty digest the hair and help everything move through better.
There are also products that act as kind of a lubricant to help cats who get hairballs often. You can give your kitties some of these creamy, goopy, gel-like toothpastey substances to help them out.
Now that we have the serious stuff out of the way, let’s end on a silly note. Have you ever thought that cats coughing up hairballs look a little bit like they are dancing? Me neither, until I saw this video.
This Hairball Awareness Day (and every day, really), make sure you are doing everything you can to help your kitties avoid hairballs. It’s for all our own good.
Read more about hairballs: