Yeah, they’re disgusting. Nothing beats a pile of twisted, slimy fur for its gross-out factor. But we get used to it, don’t we? Picking up the chunks with Bounty quicker-picker-uppers by the bagload. Getting treated to early morning wake-up calls by the sweet strains of “gaaaaak.”

Geez!—will it never end?

Not as long as there’s fur on Fluffy’s back will it ever cease, it seems. And that’s a good thing, too, you think. At least she hasn’t completely denuded herself in the process of ingesting the incomprehensible amounts of fur that hit your floors, carpeting and counters (yuck!) indiscriminately.

This past week was hairball heaven for me. At least four fur-emitting felines in various states of physical disarray hit my doorstep...all of them fixable.

The first: A three year-old  27.6-pound monster kitty. His owners were so mortified by his size they’d failed to seek medical assistance for his hairball condition—not to mention his obesity, which we also discussed at length and devised solutions for.

This cat was hurling hairballs on a two to three times a week schedule. He’d been eating hairball formula food to no avail. Indeed, his massive frame provided plenty of surface area from which to source a perpetual font of fur. (This was not just an obese cat, this was a big cat whose normal weight might well top fifteen pounds.)

Solution: Daily Furminator “brushing” sessions at least five minutes long. Daily Laxatone (a petroleum-based hairball product) in place of hairball formula food. A higher quality diet measured down to the last kibble for a gradual loss of weight (no more than 1-2 pounds per month). No more kitty milk (his former fave).

At the risk of sounding like a broken record and an ad copy-writer, let me reiterate my adoration for the much-touted Furminator brushing tool. Sure, it took me months to warm to its charms (I can’t stand late night TV ad-style hype), but I can’t get enough of it nowadays. It slices through undercoats like butter, releasing huge balls of something which might otherwise end up in your cat’s stomach….

…or her colon, as in another case I saw this week. This poor long-haired, allergic girl was getting the fur stuck at both ends. And she’s having an ultrasound today because I suspect that lumpy stuff I can see on the X-rays isn’t a tumor. It’s probably a trichobezoar (giant indwelling hairball). Some barium (the thick white slurry we make them drink to highlight the GI tract) will also aid in the diagnosis, I hope.

In the meantime, she’s felt better with some weekend enemas to relieve her of the “reverse hairballs” that’ve accumulated in her gut and a lion-cut to control the flyaways. In case you never thought hairballs could be a serious concern, here’s one example where they’re threatening a cats life.

So for all of you tired of picking up the nasties and justifiably concerned over what havoc future hairballs may wreak, think hard about what makes your cat ingest all that hair. Is it her coat (long-haired or tons of it), allergies (whereby licking is excessive), or simply the garden-variety grooming our cats are famous for?

In any case, just give her a break. Clip her down. Furminate her frequently. And consider bathing (yes, really, it helps). It’s these simple things that might even eliminate your need for a supermarket hairball diet and sloppy OTC remedies. But whatever you do, don't ignore it...