We’ve got hairballs – is that a problem?


Since we wrote this column on our hairball “problem” last year, it seems to have gone away on its own. Our Decca is really baffled, because nothing changed in our diet or our behavior. Maybe it was just a teen-ager thing?? What do you think?

*Cough* Hairballs *cough*

There's something donw thre on the floor...

Pardon us, but there’s something disgusting down there on the floor you need to take care of. (Trouble, left; and Mischief)

Friends, are you embarrassing yourself in front of yourself and others? Does your pep suddenly turn into pooped when you stop in the middle of a good run to hack and heave? Are hairballs making you unpopular around the house?

Friends, the answer to all of your problems is — well, to tell the truth, we don’t know what the answer is. But now that we’ve gotten older, hairballs are more of an issue in our lives. They’re interfering with our play time. They’re interfering with our social life.

Yes, we do too have a social life! People come to our house. They fuss over us, they play with us, they admire us.

And then one of us hacks up and everybody backs off. Talk about bad timing. But, sheesh! You’re around cats and you don’t expect a little lump of wet, compacted hair on your carpet once in a while? It’s what we do.

Even our dearest Decca is giving us the hairy eyeball more often.

Now we’ve checked, and there’s nothing abnormal going on with us. Once a week, each, especially now that the weather’s hot and we’re eager to shed some of our gorgeous fur.

Hairballs are actually a sign we’re grown up and become better at grooming ourselves (as long as we don’t overdo it. We’ve also read that “excessive” grooming can be a sign of health problems.)

But that’s not how Decca sees it. She keeps trying to get us to eat stuff that’s supposed to “help” us with our hairballs. Just because she doesn’t like stepping on them in her bare feet… Put shoes on! Wear your glasses!

Have we mentioned that we’re picky about what we put in our mouths — when it comes to food? (We’ll give anything else a try: Bugs — dead or alive — paper, organic matter that isn’t intended to be food, like leaves or grass, a blueberry that falls on the floor; you name it, we have to taste it.)
This hairball “treatment” thing isn’t going so well, from her point of view.

The best-selling commerical products, according to Amazon? We’ve spurned them all, from the Pet Naturals Fun-Shaped Chews (fish!) to the Nutri-Vet Hairball Paw-Gel for Cats (both flavors). We liked the caped super-cat on the chews package, so we gave that one a trial.

Decca got so excited when Trouble ate two pieces — he’s the primary hairball producer of the two of us — that she couldn’t wait to grab the package the next day to give us “treats.” (Really? You think we were fooled?)

There was no repeat performance, so she snuck them into our food bowls. That worked once, too. Now, instead of white emptiness in the bottom of our bowls after we eat, these gooey, sad-looking fish-shaped bits appear. Yuck.

As to those gels and pastes in tubes, no thanks. It’s not that we’re bothered over the controversy over whether petroleum-based hairball treatments are a bad idea, we just think they’re icky. And don’t you dare smear it on our beautiful paws!

We’re been reading the Internet over Decca’s shoulder as she looks for new ideas. There are some pretty crazy home remedies out there. Mayonnaise? Crisco? Yogurt? (We know she won’t try that one – like many adult cats, we’re lactose intolerant.)

Hmmm. Canned pumpkin puree? Is that a vegetable?? You do know we’re carnivores, right?
But, hey, here’s one that sounds good — catnip!!

This one is even better, though: The experts at Cornell University say you should brush and comb your cat frequently.

Yes! We’d like that. A lot. Bring it on.

We’ll start purring now.

This is an updated version of a post that first appeared on Central Penn Parent.

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A Day in the Life: Mischief goes to the vet


I knew something was up right away. Decca kept stopping and looking at my face while she was getting ready for work.

Mischief loves his new blanket.

Mischief loves his new blanket.

Sure, I’m handsome, but this was different.

Then she was on the phone — at 7:15 in the morning! I didn’t know — then — who she was talking to, but I heard my name and something about a “weeping eye.” My eye??

Before she stopped talking I was halfway up the steps, and when she started calling me, I was under the bed. In the guest room, just to throw her off.

But it didn’t work. By 7:30, I was shivering in my cat carrier, in a cold car, torn away from my breakfast, my warm bed and Trouble, who didn’t even say good-bye. He was too busy hiding by then, looking out for his own skin. Some brother!

By now you’ve guessed what I only suspected. Decca took me to the vet. And then she left me there.

Now, don’t get me wrong. They are very nice people at the animal clinic, but this is not how I planned to spend my day. I’ve got new toys to play with, birds to watch, the fabulous fuzzy blanket I got for Christmas. And the sun was out today.

Mischief checks out his carrier.

Did I really fit in that??

Instead, I got a cage, too many distractions to count and did I mention the dogs? I couldn’t see them, but do they ever stop barking? Is that what dogs do when they’re home? Have they no self-control?

I, on the other hand, practiced my vocal scales when I was alone and purred whenever anyone came by. Everyone was so friendly! And even though I fussed all the way there (and, as it turned out, all the way home), I was a perfect gentleman while I was there. I heard Dr. T. tell Decca I was “a very good boy” and “very sweet.”

Let me tell you — it wasn’t easy. I didn’t mind so much being weighed — or even having my eyes and ears peered at. But someone took my temperature when I wasn’t looking. Delicacy prevents me from discussing that further. If you haven’t been through this, you don’t want to know.

In the end, I was pronounced fit and healthy. Since my eye wasn’t scratched — and it had stopped weeping by this time, of course — Dr. T. asked a lot of questions about new things in our home.

Christmas tree? Nope. Different litter? Nope. Plants, dust, anything heavily scented? No, no and no.

Siamese cat in carrier.

Trouble thinks it’s funny to take a nap in his carrier.

We finally narrowed it down to my new blanket, which I’ve been burrowing my face into for hours at a time, I like it so much. So Decca’s going to throw it in the washing machine and then watch to see if this happens again.

Meanwhile, I was really happy to get home tonight, only to have to put up with Trouble. He should be acting Shakespeare on the stage, he’s so dramatic. I’m the one who spent the day in a strange place with strange people and noises. So why is he hiding under the chair? He wouldn’t even come out for his dinner. So I did something I’ve never done before.

I ate it.

Water, water everywhere: Do you have enough?


Decca’s been reading too much stuff about how it’s important to keep your cat “challenged.”

Trouble inspects.

Trouble checks out the parts for the new drinklng fountain.

We were excited when the big box — a box! — came into the house just before Christmas but not so much when she told us the contents were for us, too. Not only was there no tissue paper, but the new thing had “some assembly required.”

And then we found out it was practical. “Practical” is kind of like getting underwear for Christmas (except we don’t wear underwear, we like to steal it) or socks (ditto).

two cats and a water fountain

Mischief gets it: Where’s the water? Trouble just wants the box.

Now that it’s together and operating, though, we like our new Drinkwell 360, though Decca had to experiment with the number of fountain streams before she found the one we like best and Trouble was a little slow warming up to it. He loved our old Drinkwell, but some folks just don’t like change.

Having a water fountain is a lot of fun. We can pretend we’re wild creatures in the jungle, pausing from the hunt to refresh ourselves at a clear mountain stream — or that someone left the water running at the bathroom sink. Whatever.

Mischief takes a drink.

So refreshing!

It’s good for us, too, since we drink more water and it’s filtered. Water is important for everyone, but indoor cats, a lot of experts say, don’t drink enough water, especially if they eat mostly dry food. Decca keeps a close eye on our health. Dehydration can cause problems, but drinking too much water can be a sign of trouble, too, particularly in older cats. It’s a classic symptom of feline diabetes.

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know it took a team of scientists to discover how cats drink? A lot of physics is involved. Cats lap four times a second when they drink! You can read about it here. And here is a video.

Trouble keeps his distance.

Trouble isn’t sure he likes change.

Getting back to that “challenging” stuff, another box came last week. A “puzzle” feeder?? We can hardly wait.

Update: Since we posted this, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about our water fountain. It’s called the Drinkwell 360, and you can read about the vet who invented it and where to buy it here.

Thanks for visiting our blog. We hope to see you again in 2013 — Happy New Year!