National Hairball Awareness Day

April is truly a busy month of the cat calendar. But purrhaps the most noteworthy event of all is National Hairball Awareness Day that is celebrated on April 27.

This event actually has an interesting history. In 2009, The National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington DC initiated the event with a special hands-on hairball exhibit. Visitors learned why hairballs develop in the stomach and got to opportunity to handle an actual hairball, which is technically known as trichobezoar (hairy mass). There were 24 veterinary and 3 human specimens on exhibit. Who knew that humans had hairballs too!

This may be too much information, but a bezoar is a mass of non-digestible material that collect in the stomach, such as hair, food particles, and medicine, found in humans and some animals, such as cows, horses and cats. From the 11th through the 18th centuries, bezoars were popularly used in medicinal remedies as antidotes to any poison.

Human hairballs occur most often in children and young women who have behavioral disorders such as trichotillomania (chronic hair pulling) or pica (compulsive cravings to eat nonfood items). Other types of bezoars are rare in people with normal digestive tracts, but occur more often in adults with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, renal failure, or partial gastric resection.

In both humans and animals, bezoars occur because matter is not able to pass through the narrow opening between the stomach and the large intestine. Cats are self-groomers, but digesting too much hair can cause serious intestinal complications. Thus the best way to deal with loose cat hair is to brush it out and prevent it from being ingested.

There is no shortage of excellent tools on the market for hairball relief. An awesome product that my cats love is Petromalt, which is available at pet specialty stores. It relieves constipation, dry cough and occasional vomiting associated with hairballs. Another fantastic product, that I highly recommend, is the Sergeant’s Fur-So-Fresh Groominator for dogs and cats. It is a double sided deshedding blade and rake in one. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Celebrate National Hairball Awareness Day by giving your cat an extra good brushing— with the Groominator, of course. Brushing your favorite furball is a great way to spend quality time together.

Happy National Hairball Awareness Day!

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