A Letter Regarding Hairballs

Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker!
Long-haired-cat-hairball

A beautiful piece of artwork gifted to my human

Dear Baker,

My humans seem to regard my hairballs as “messy” and “gross.” I don’t understand it. What, aside from a half-eaten sparrow, could be a better symbol of my affection for them? I consider my hairballs a multimedia form of feline artistic expression: the sound, the odour, even the look of these objects d’art meld together to provide a commentary on my innermost feelings. But my humans continuously refer to them as “disgusting furry piles of vomit.” I try to encourage my humans to make full use of my gifts, collect them and perhaps build sculptural pieces, but now my humans have begun discussing a “remedy” for these wonderful little things. Please help, Baker.

Your fan,

Fluffy McFurcloud

cat grooming

Lance demonstrates a good licking

Dear FF,

While it certainly is difficult to comprehend the thoughts that must be going through the minds of our humans, I have good news for you regarding your hairball horror: this “remedy” your humans seek may actually be your free ticket to a better life!

Causes of Hairballs

Cats get hairballs in a good way – through our regular and fastidious grooming routine. The cleaner you keep yourself, the more hair you’ll swallow. Most of our swallowed hair passes through our digestive tract, but occasionally it will accumulate in our belly. When your belly is full of hair, you don’t have room for tuna, so you have to vomit it up.

Remedies for Hairballs

  1. cat brush filled with fluff

    Get rid of excess fur before you swallow it!

    Human assistance with grooming.

If your humans don’t want you swallowing and subsequently barfing up your hair when you groom, they can remove it daily with a brush. This is a win-win situation: you get a daily scritchy massage, and your humans can collect your excess hair before it becomes a sticky, vomity mess.

2. Dietary Changes

taste of the wild

This food is delicious, it makes your coat smooth and shiny, and it has a picture of a mountain lion on it! Yum!

Your coat will improve with an improved diet. Have your humans talk to your vet about purchasing an “indoor” or “hairball” formula. A healthier diet leads to healthier skin, less shedding, and better digestion. Also, it’s yummier! I recommend Royal Canin or Taste of the Wild. Your humans may also be able to give you supplements to aid with your digestion, so your hair passes through more effectively and doesn’t accumulate in your tum.

 

3. Vet visit

Much as I hate to recommend a trip to the vet, where you are likely to get poked with needles and such, if you suspect that you have a grooming problem (too much grooming), it could be a symptom of an underlining psychological or physiological cause. In other words, if you lick yourself too much, have your human take you to the vet for a thorough examination. You may have a skin condition or a parasite, or you might be an overly stressed cat.

So there you have it, you fluffy beast. A few good ways to improve your life and cut down on the hairballs that your humans hate so much!

Baker - ask me anything byline

Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker.

Your pal,

Baker

 

How to Get Your Cat to Take Medicine

Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker!

A letter regarding cats taking pills:

Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker.

Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker.

Dear Baker,

The vet said I have gingivitis and now I have to take pills. I hate taking pills, and as a cat, I have no concept that I need the pills or my teeth will get infected and have to be pulled out. Any advice? Please tell me it’s all a bad dream.

Your fan,

Stinky Cat Breath

 

Dear Stinky,

In our house, we consider pill time happy time! Are you psychocats, you may ask? Actually, it’s because we get our pills served in treats.

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Pills in treats

My cat bro Lance also suffers from gingivitis, so we aren’t allowed wet food most of the time. Happily, whenever the vet says we have to take pills, our human smushes them up into a nice little bowl of delicious wet food. Mmm! Take twice a day, you say, Mr. Vet? Will do! How about thrice?

We find tuna canned in water (for humans) is the best wet food for masking the nasty taste of the pills. Of course, a cat can’t eat tuna all day every day (or can he? We have not been given the opportunity to try!) but a spoonful of tuna to help the medicine go down will not hurt anyone.

We have also had the good fortune of getting liquid medications in wet food.

After growing up on the streets, Lancy suffers from recurring dental problems. Luckily, that means lots of medicine, which means lots of treats for both of us!

After growing up on the streets, Lancy suffers from recurring dental problems. Luckily, that means lots of medicine, which means lots of treats for both of us!

Pills that Can’t be Given in Food

Some pills work on an extended-release formula and can’t be smushed, or need to be taken on an empty stomach. Have your humom ask your vet if your pills can be smushed and served in wet food. Some pills are so yucky that no amount of wet food can mask the taste (we think! Our humans have never let us try taking pills in, say, a gallon of wet food…)

If it is essential that you take your pills whole, or worse yet, you have to take a big pill that’s cut into a smaller piece so it’s all jagged and crumbly, there are a couple of options.

Butter: Ever found the butter dish left unattended and helped yourself to a couple licks? Mmm, butter… Have your humans coat the pill in this slippery delicious yellow stuff to make it easier to swallow.

How to administer pills to a cat (a two-human method):

  1. Human One: Cuddle the cat and hold the scruff of its neck firmly. Alternately, you might want to try wrapping the cat firmly in a towel or fleece blanket.

    Click this picture to see an illustrated, detailed process for sticking pills down a cat's throat.

    Click this picture to see an illustrated, detailed process for sticking pills down a cat’s throat.

  2. Human Two: With one hand, squeeze the sides of the cat’s jaw joint lightly and tilt his head back slightly. This will force the cat’s mouth to open. Place the pill as far back in the cat’s mouth as possible, and close the cat’s mouth.
  3. Human Two: Hold the cat’s mouth closed gently with one hand and gently stroke the cat’s throat downwards a few times with the other hand. This will stimulate swallowing.
  4. Human Two: Give the cat a little water with a syringe or dropper to make sure the pill goes down and doesn’t get stuck anywhere in the esophagus. The butter will also help with this.
A useful tool for shoving a pill down a cat's throat. Only to be used if the treats method is impossible.

A useful tool for shoving a pill down a cat’s throat. Only to be used if the treats method is impossible.

Tools: Your vet or pet store may carry a pill gun. When Lance had to take pills that couldn’t be crushed (the jerk!), our humans had a lot of success with this little tool.

All they have to do is put the pill in one end, stick the pill end into the back of the cat’s mouth, and plunge the plunger. The pill pops right down his throat. In Lance’s case, this was also a two-human job. Our humans also held Lance’s mouth closed and rubbed his throat a little, as with the butter method above, just to make sure. The vet said to make sure they followed the pill with water administered with a syringe to ensure the pill goes down. This little baby will probably run you about twenty bucks.

A delicious way for cats to take pills. That's if the cat likes the taste of the treats. Just saying.

A delicious way for cats to take pills. That’s if the cat likes the taste of the treats. Just saying.

Greenies and some other pet treat companies make special treats designed for taking pills. We tried them and Lance said they didn’t taste good, but I ate them up even though I didn’t have to take any pills.

It’s too bad we’re more discerning than dogs. Our humans just have to shove the dog’s pill into a piece of chicken or cheese and she gulps it down obliviously! But if you try that with us cats, we will daintily nibble the cheese (or ignore it completely) and leave the pill behind.

So, Stinky, there you have it. Many ways to enjoy taking pills.

 

Your friend,

Baker

The Spot the Kitty Nail Cutting Guide…

Step 1 – Preparing preparations for the purrrfect kitty cat prevents panicking…

The day of days is here: nail cutting day. For most cat owners, this is a very happy day as it means that the little rascal kitty will finally stop clawing at furniture and be less scratchy to play with. For cats, on the other hand, this day is dreaded as it means that they will no longer be able to claw at furniture or scratch their humans. By now you and your cat should be fairly comfortable with one another because in order to do this, trust and calmness is a must. However, it is important to establish a manicure routine with your cat from a young age so he/she will get used to it.
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You will need:

  • A pair of nail clippers
  • A supply of your kitty’s favorite treats

    You can buy nail clippers from the vet that are specifically designed for trimming animal nails, or you can use household clippers (as long as they are clean, sharp, and in good working condition).

    Kitties love routine, so, if you choose a place to cut the kitties nails that you both find comfortable, you can use this spot again and again as this will establish a routine and will be less stressful on your cat when you cut their nails in the future. After finding a comfortable spot, give the kitty a treat and lay it on its back, paws up, on your lap like so…

baker-from-spot-the-kitty-about-to-get-his-claws-clipped

 Step 2 – The Cat owner’s Everest…

Now that your kitty cat is on its back and has been fed a treat, gently lift its paw and squeeze gently until the nail protrudes outwards and is fully exposed. Using your nail clippers, only clip the very tip of the nail, as clipping any deeper may expose the quick of the nail, which is very painful for the cat and can lead to infection. You can see the quick through the nail as the nails are translucent. The quick should be dark pink. Avoid cutting the quick. Give treats after you trim the nails on each paw and encourage your kitty with soothing words using the same tone of voice that you would to speak to a crying child.

If you do cut the quick, the nail will bleed. Stop the bleeding with a styptic stick or powder, which can be purchased at a drug store in the shaving section. Cornstarch can also be applied to a bleeding kitty nail.

where-to-cut

after-cutting

Step 3 – That wasn’t so hard, was it?

kitty-treats-nom-nom-nom

Enjoy your accomplishment and give your kitty his or her favorite treat – hard treats or some tinned food – for being so brave! That is of course, after you give yourself a big pat on the back for doing what many people pay professional groomers to do.

Monitor your kitty cat and make sure to take him/her to the vet if there is any damage (bleeding, etc…) to their claws. Generally speaking, if you followed the steps then Fluffy should be fine.

– By K.I Borrowman

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