By Julia Williams
It’s pretty much a given that if you have a cat, you don’t need a special day in April to make you aware of hairballs. Cat owners are, unfortunately, all too familiar with those awful things. I don’t think there’s any sound more wretched than the gagging noise a cat makes that signals a hairball is about to be deposited on your carpet.
That our cats never do the hairball hack on the linoleum is surely proof that they’ve all been carefully trained by someone other than us. (And you thought cats couldn’t be trained. Ha!). Ah yes, there it is…right there in chapter one of the Cat’s Handbook on How to Annoy Your Human.
Now, you might think it’s funny that, some years back, some unknown person declared the last Friday in April to be National Hairball Awareness Day. I would chuckle right along with you, except that hairballs are really no laughing matter. Aside from the carpet cleanup and the likelihood that sooner or later, you’re going to “find” a hairball with your bare foot, frequent hairballs could be a sign of trouble with your cat’s digestive system.
How frequent is too frequent? That depends upon who you ask. Some say even one hairball is one too many. For me, more than one every few months per cat would cause me to take a much more proactive approach. While I’m not sure you can ever completely eliminate hairballs, there are some things you can do to greatly minimize them (more on that later).
By Julia Williams
Does your cat like to eat grass? Mine sure do. The minute I let them out for a romp in the morning sunshine, they make a beeline for the lawn. Of course, immediately after this grass gorging, they come back inside to redeposit it on the carpet. When I hear that telltale sound I race over to scoot my cat into the kitchen. The life of my carpet depends on it!
This daily act of carpet preservation was the first thing I thought about when my friend gave me a “cat grass kit” last Christmas. “Are you nuts?” was the second thing I thought about. Like I don’t have enough trouble – now I’m going to grow grass so they can ruin my carpet in the middle of winter, when there isn’t a blade of grass to be found outdoors?
Well, in a moment of weakness (insanity?) I decided to try growing cat grass. The little planter was so cute, and the kit said cat grass was a nutritious snack that provided several health benefits, so it sucked me in. Thankfully, the grass I grew for my cats did not have the same undesirable after-effect. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with the type of seed; it was a welcome surprise nonetheless. My cats also took to it immediately. The first time I put the cat grass down, they nearly mowed it into oblivion. I had to put it on top of the fridge so they couldn’t eat every last blade on the first day.
Cat grass is very easy to grow. It sprouts in just a few days and grows quickly – as much as one inch a day! It’s recommended to let the grass get at least four inches high before letting your cat snack on it. The grass will continue to grow for a few weeks. If your cat is like mine and tries to eat too much grass at once, you may want to put it down for just a few minutes and then put it someplace out of reach.
|Illustration by Deborah Leigh
By Julia Williams
First off, let me be clear. I’m combining two topics into one post, but they’re not even remotely related. I just checked my calendar and noticed that today is “National Hairball Awareness Day.” So I wanted to mention it, but mostly because I found it funny that someone dedicated an entire day to the almighty hairball. My good buddy “Mr. Google” refused to tell me who that person was, but never mind. I’ll just give you some hairball facts and then move on to the really important stuff.
What are Hairballs?
Every cat owner is familiar with that dreadful gagging sound indicating that a hairball is about to be hacked up on their carpet. Cats seem to have some unwritten rule that they never cough up hairballs on easy to clean surfaces like the kitchen floor. But I digress. The formation of hairballs is a common feline condition caused by the ingestion of hair when a cat grooms itself. Sometimes the ingested hair collects into a tight ball in your cat’s stomach, which they will then vomit up.