Retching, Vomiting and Hairballs, Oh My!
My bedroom is dark and peaceful. An early spring breeze wafts gently through the barely open window, making the warmth of my comforter all the more delicious. I wake, raising one drowsy eyelid a scant millimeter and listening intently. What was that sound?
Through the silence hums the steady ticking of the clock in the den and the barely perceptible drip-drip-drip of the bathroom faucet. All is well. I prepare to drift off again when the chilling sound echoes down the dark hallway. “Hurgha! Hurgha! Hurgha!” That’s right, it’s hairball season.
Much as the first pitch signals the start of baseball season, the heartbreaking (yet simultaneously humorous) sound of my retching cat signals the beginning of hairball season. I make a mental note to administer a hairball remedy to all feline family members as soon as the sun rises.
Upon the sounding of the alarm clock, I exit my bedroom my mind full of three burning questions. One: why do cats pick the areas with the heaviest foot traffic upon which to retch (as I step in cold, congealed cat vomit). Two: why are they plagued with hairballs in the first place? And three: who the heck is Justin Bieber and why are so many people obsessed with a twelve-year-old girl? I fear the answers to questions one and three are beyond comprehension.
As for question two, or why cats are plagued with hairballs, the answer is simple. When your cat grooms itself, the tiny little barbs on its tongue catch loose hair. The hair is then, unavoidably, swallowed. As this is a natural process, the majority of the hair passes through your cat’s digestive system without incident. The hair that doesn’t pass remains in the stomach and eventually becomes a hairball. The only way for your cat to rid itself of the hairball is through retching.
So what’s a good cat parent to do? First of all, keep an eye out for symptoms that could indicate a simple hairball has become a dangerous blockage. These include ongoing vomiting or retching without producing a hairball, lack of appetite, and constipation. If you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet immediately. Second, try a hairball product, such as Nutri-Vet Hairball Paw Gel, to help the hairballs pass safely through the digestive tract.
What a mess! Does your cat vomit hairballs too? What strategies do you use to help the hairball season pass as safely and swiftly as possible. Share your personal experience in the comments below.