Friday, 08 September 2017 12:49

Porky & Buddy Column: Should I Worry About Sally's Hairballs?

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Dear Porky & Buddy: My cat, Sally, throws up huge gross hairballs, maybe a couple of times per week. Is this something serious? Should I take her to the vet? They are so expensive. Signed, Jon

Dear Jon,

Hairballs are common and usually just the result of cats grooming themselves and having too much fur in their GI tract that must go somewhere. Like your carpet.

Under ordinary circumstances if your cat is depositing a hair ball less than once a week or so and does not appear to be losing weight, there are a few simple steps you can take that may lessen the frequency, (although not the grossness factor).

First try adding fiber to Sally’s diet. The bulk of additional dietary fiber “sweeps” fur through the digestive tract, preventing it from clumping together in the stomach. An easy and inexpensive way to add fiber to her diet is to mix in a little canned pumpkin. Many cats seem to love it. There are also dry and canned hairball remedy diets available and they can be good options.

Try adding lubricants to her diet. Hairball gels contain petroleum jelly, waxes, or oils. They work by making the fur in the GI tract more slippery and therefore less likely to clump together. Don’t make the mistake of force-feeding these types of hairball remedies; the stress for both of you outweighs any potential benefit. But if Sally likes the taste and will eat it herself (putting a small amount on top of her paw might work) this can be a good option.

You should also increase the number of times per week Sally is brushed. This will help any of these solutions work better since hair in the brush isn’t being swallowed. Plus it will be good for both you and Sally to have that bonding time.

But if none of these solutions seem to help, and especially if you think she might be losing weight, it’s time to make an appointment. Don’t cheap out on Sally. Your veterinarian can look for any health conditions that may be playing a role in the hairball problem and make appropriate treatment and dietary recommendations. We hope there is nothing serious wrong with her but, yes, you may have to “cough up” the money to find out for sure. Sally is worth it.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Located at 29 West Seneca Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email: [email protected] Website: Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.

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