Friday, April 24, 2020

The Purrfect 10: Fascinating Facts About Hairballs (With Help From Scruffy Paws!)

We love reading and researching anything and everything about cats, and wanted to find a fun and unique way to share the interesting facts we learn with you! Since top 10 lists are very popular in the blogosphere, we created The Purrfect 10 as a way to present 10 educational or fascinating tidbits about a wide variety of cat-related topics, everything from health issues to cat breeds to famous felines.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is coming home from grocery shopping with my parents, sitting down on the couch while wearing shorts, and landing on a freshly deposited hairball. To say I jumped up in record time would be an understatement, yet what cat mom or dad hasn't had a similar experience? 

In honor of National Hairball Awareness Day, which is observed annually on the last Friday in April, this month's Purrfect 10 features some fascinating facts about the bane of every cat's (and cat owner's) existence...

1) The scientific name for hairballs is trichobezoar. "Trich" is Greek for hair and a bezoar is any mass found in the stomach or intestines.

2) Cats are prone to hairballs because they're such fastidious groomers. Hairballs form when loose hair is swallowed and builds up in the stomach. Ideally it passes through the digestive tract and gets deposited in the litter box but sometimes it forms a mass that needs to be regurgitated. They don't end up looking like balls at all but instead become tube shaped when they travel through the narrow esophagus on the way out.

3) While cats are viewed as the most common culprits to suffer from hairballs, they are not alone. Rabbits groom themselves the same way cats do, but hairballs are especially dangerous because they cannot regurgitate them, making swift medical intervention important. Cattle are also known to accumulate hairballs but don't frequently vomit, so they are usually found after death and can be quite large.

4) Hairballs are most prevalent during the spring when cats shed their winter coats but removing as much excess fur as possible through regular brushing will help prevent them from forming year round. You can also assist your cat with hairball-fighting cat treats, increased fiber in their diet, a small addition of olive oil, pumpkin, or butter to cat food, and proper hydration.

5) Kittens aren't as likely as adult cats to have hairball issues because they have less fur and don't groom themselves as thoroughly. As cats age they become more adept groomers and therefore more proficient at removing fur from their coats with their tongues.

6) Some cats are more prone to hairballs than others. Long-haired breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons tend to form them more frequently.

7) Cats have developed a digestive tract that can handle normal amounts of fur without a problem, so don't assume that all coughing and vomiting is caused by hairballs. If your cat is frequently displaying symptoms, and especially if a hairball doesn't present, other medical issues such as asthma, allergies, cardiac disease and intestinal disorders should be investigated.

8) Innocent as they seem, hairballs can cause serious health problems. If you notice the following hairball symptoms, be sure to contact your veterinarian, as they could indicate that a hairball has caused a potentially life-threatening blockage: 
  • Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without producing a hairball
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
9) The word bezoar traces back to the Persian pahnzehr, which means "antidote." Introduced to Europe from the Middle East in the 11th century, ground-up hairballs were reputed to cure poisoning, epilepsy, and the plague. They were even set in gold during the Middle Ages!

10) In 2012 a long-haired British cat named Gemma underwent surgery for a suspected tumor that was the size of two cricket balls. It ended up being a 5″ wide hairball weighing 7.5 ounces that looked like a newborn puppy!

Long-time readers of our blog might remember that when Mudpie was diagnosed with asthma shortly after I adopted her, I initially placed the blame on hairballs even though none ever materialized. Thankfully her asthma is extremely mild and I can't even remember the last time she coughed, but I try to stay on top of any hairball issues that may develop so if her asthma symptoms flare up again I'll know the difference.

We recently received a bag of Hairball Be Gone treats from Scruffy Paws. These treats, just like all Scruffy Paws products, are carefully made of only the best natural ingredients, right here in the USA. Not only are they formulated to help with hairballs, but they're also packed with fur & skin supporting nutrients such as Lecithin for hydration, Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids which help keep the GI tract healthy, Biotin for healthy skin & hair, plus Zinc, Cranberry Powder and Psyllium, all of which further support your cats skin, hair and urinary tract health. How pawsome are treats that not only assist with a specific issue, but also contain vitamins & minerals to aid in overall health too?

It's also important to note what these treats do NOT contain: NO mineral oil which blocks nutrient absorption and disrupts normal digestion, NO diuretic herbs which can dehydrate your cat and reduce skin moisture leading to an increase in hairball formation, and NO laxatives or lubricants that disrupt digestion.

Mudpie would like to add that they're super tasty too! I give her a couple treats each day broken up into smaller pieces, and I always get an "is that all???" look

We'll be writing more about Scruffy Paws and some of their other supplements in an upcoming post, and in the meantime we encourage you to visit their website. While you're there be sure to check out their blog The Knowledge Base. They've been posting some really informative articles about cats and COVID-19.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Scruffy Paws. I am being compensated for featuring this content but we only share information we feel is relevant to our readers.


Athena Cat Goddess Wise Kitty said...

Really great and informative post!

I get hairballs too and they are not nice. Mum helps prevent them by grooming me daily.

Roshinda Zill said...
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Patricia T said...

Interesting information and I’m glad Mudpie approves the treats!

The Island Cats said...

These hairball treats helped me with my hairballs! ~Ernie

Eastside Cats said...

Thanks for the information!

The Florida Furkids said...

Mom is always surprised that short-haired Raz gets more hairballs than long-haired Allie.

The Florida Furkids

Mickey's Musings said...

Good information about hairballs.
We love getting brushed too :)
Purrs,Georgia and Julie

Erin the Cat Princess said...

Sounds like a great solution for a ticklish subject. Anything that is natural and tasty also gets my mark of approval.
Lovely well written review too!

pilch92 said...

That looks good.My Trouble has long hair so she gets a lot of furballs.

Cathy Keisha said...

concats MP on the sponsor. TW was especially innerested in this post cos for a few weeks every couple of days I was retching but only frew up a small hairball one time and I little kibble. She was afraid I had a hairball in my stomach but I've been eating and pooping regularly with no problems. A few years ago she had bought me the hairball stuff that Nicky licked like candy but I wouldn't look at it. If these treats are not soft ones we may have to get them.

Summer at said...

One thing my human has discovered is that a good probiotic helps lots with hairballs. Since giving me the one she was just giving Boodie, I’ve only hacked up one hairball.

Brian's Home Blog said...

That's some good information about those yucky balls of fur. I didn't know rabbits could have that problem.

The Swiss Cats said...

Great information about hairballs ! Purrs

Three Chatty Cats said...

These sound great! Olive and Harley get hairballs here.

The Menagerie Mom said...

I really need to look into trying these for Toby. He's our resident fuzzy boy and vomits the most hairballs. Thimble also vomits Toby's hairballs, because she steals his combed out hair from the trash can and also eats his hair off of his most frequented blankets. Perhaps these treats could help both of them. Thank you for sharing yet another purrfect Purrfect 10!