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Brushing You Cat Worries Away
By John de Jong, D.V.M. / Ask the Vet

Dear Dr. John;

My two cats seem to do a fair amount of vomiting around the house. My veterinarian finds nothing wrong with either of them.

One is a Himalayan and the other is a Persian and both are only 4 years old. Their vomit is often undigested food and sometimes there is just a ball of hair. I know that I might be dealing with hairballs, but I have them groomed once every three to four weeks and I thought that would take care of things. Since there seems to be nothing wrong with them otherwise, do you have any suggestions that might curb their vomiting? It’s especially annoying when it’s in my shoe.

- L.H.


Dear L.H.;

Your diagnosis is correct but your treatment is inadequate. Monthly grooming is not going to reduce the amount of possible hair your cats are ingesting that may be causing hairballs.

Clearly, having two long-haired cats puts the possibility of hairballs high on the list of causes of intermittent vomiting. In the worst-case scenario, hairballs may need to be surgically removed or retrieved by endoscope. There are several things one can do to prevent problems. First, the cats need to be brushed out daily or as often as can be done. This will reduce the amount of hair they can ingest by grooming themselves or one another.

The next thing that can be done is to use hairball preventative products on a regular basis. There are many brands out there, such as Petromalt or Laxatone. They are often sold over the counter or by your veterinarian. One can also use Vaseline on the cat’s nose and paws which will lubricate things and move hair along during grooming. There are also special diets that can help.

Another thing you can do is have these two cats shaved on a regular basis, but that might defeat the purpose of having cats with such beautiful coats (in addition to their personalities).

Long-haired dogs and cats are often nice to look at but require more maintenance than shorter-haired animals. Unless pet owners are understanding and willing to put in the work to keep up with long-haired animals’ needs then they should probably reconsider their ownership. I cannot begin to tell you how many dogs and cats I have seen that are so matted and dirty that the only option was to have them shaved down.

In these cases, the skin can become damaged or infected, and the animals experience pain. Monthly grooming is a step in the right direction but your job, should you choose to accept it, is to groom them yourself. Good luck!






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