April 29th is National Hairball Awareness Day. The actual name for a hairball (my personal definition is ‘that disgusting, cold and squishy thing your cat leaves you to step on with your bare feet at 3 am’) is trichobezoar – but who on earth would remember “National Trichobezoar Awareness Day”? 

What Causes Hairballs?

Hairballs come about as a result of your cats’ natural grooming process.  Anyone who has ever been licked by a cat knows the surface of their tongue is anything but smooth.  When they groom themselves, loose hair gets taken down into the throat and into the stomach.  Did you know that hair is made of Keratin which is NOT digestible?  Most of this undigested hair gets passed through to the feces, but some remains in the stomach where it accumulates and becomes a hairball.  

Are Hairballs Dangerous To My Cat?

A hairball can become too large to pass through the sphincters from the esophagus to the stomach or from the stomach to the intestines.  That’s bad – very bad.  If a hairball gets lodged (this is not common, but can happen) it can be fatal.  It would most likely require surgery to remove the obstruction.  

What’s Considered “Normal”?

It’s not uncommon for a cat to regurgitate a hairball about once every week or two.  If your cat is a fastidious groomer or longer-haired, this may be more often.  You’ll want to watch for behaviors out of your own cat’s ‘normal’.  Is he retching and nothing is coming up?  That’s a red flag.  Is he refusing food or acting lethargic?  These are fed flags too.  These could be unrelated to hairballs, but still reason to pay attention.  

To 'Celebrate' This Disgusting Pet Holiday

What Can I Do For My Cat?

There are several things you can do to help with hairballs:

  • Brush your cat more often to remove excess fur
  • Increase water (put more bowls with fresh water around your house)
  • Add about a teaspoon of olive oil or melted butter to your cat’s food once a week. Provide your cat with a small amount of canned tuna or sardines occasionally 
  • Try some of the foods or treats on the market that are specifically formulated to relieve hairballs  

How Do I Celebrate Hairball Awareness Day?

That one is easy!  Do something for your cat to help relieve those nasty things!  Get some quality hairball remedy here: Hairball Remedy for My Cat