Friday, April 24, 2015

Everything You Need to Know About Hairballs

Though hairballs are quite common for cats, they are unpleasant for kitties and their human companions.  In addition, hairballs can cause a stomach or intestinal blockage, which is a very dangerous situation.

What Causes Hairballs?

Hairballs result from a cat's natural grooming habits.  According to WebMD, when your cat bathes herself, the hook-like structures on her tongue (papillae) grab loose and dead hair.  She will inadvertently swallow some of her fur while she's grooming herself.  According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, the main structural component of a cat's hair, keratin, is not digestible.  However, hair usually goes through the digestive system without any problem.  When some of the hair stays behind in the cat's stomach, hairballs form.  Eventually, your cat will vomit up the hairball in order to get rid of it.  Despite their name, hairballs usually have a thin, tubular shape rather than a round shape because they have to travel up through your kitty's narrow esophagus to be expelled.  

Some cats are more prone to hairballs than others.  Specifically, long-haired kitties, like Persians and Maine Coons, cats who groom excessively, and those who shed excessively are especially prone to developing hairballs.


Cats usually gag, hack, and/or retch before they vomit up a hairball.  According to Dr. Richard Goldstein, DVM, assistant professor of small animal medicine at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, it is not uncommon for a kitty to have a hairball every week or two.  However, hairballs can pose a serious threat if they become too large and are not able to pass through the narrow sphincters that lead from the stomach to the intestinal tract or from the stomach to the esophagus.  It is also very dangerous when a hairball gets stuck in the small intestine.  Stomach and intestinal blockages are life-threatening and typically require surgery to remove.  Signs of a possible blockage include: gagging, hacking, retching, or vomiting without producing a hairball,  diarrhea, constipation, lethargy, and lack of appetite.  Please call your veterinarian if your cat exhibits any of these signs.  

Preventing Hairballs

There are several things you can do to help prevent or reduce the incidence of hairballs for your cat.

  • Groom Your Kitty: Jewel never had a problem with hairballs, and maybe that was due to the fact that she absolutely loved being brushed!  Brushing your kitty on a regular basis reduces the amount of loose and dead hair she will swallow while she bathes herself.

    If you have a medium or long-haired feline that doesn't like being brushed, you could take her to the vet or a professional groomer to get a haircut twice a year.  Cat Care graduate Ginger is a gorgeous mediumhair orange ladycat.  She hated being brushed, though, so every so often, the vet tech at Cat Care gave her a cute lion cut.  You can see how adorable she looks in the photo on the right.
  • Discourage Excessive Grooming: Cats groom excessively for a number of reasons.  Please don't automatically assume that if your cat is grooming excessively that he has a behavior issue.  Take your kitty to the vet.  Your vet will be able to determine if your cat's excessive grooming is caused by a medical or behavioral issue.  
  • Increase Your Cat's Fiber: Doctors Foster and Smith suggest adding fiber to your kitty's diet as it adds moisture and bulk to your feline's stool, which makes it easier to pass.  Cat grass is easy to care for, cheap, and a good source of fiber.
  • Laxatives: There are many petroleum-based laxatives and hairball treatments you can purchase at most pet stores that coat the hair in your cat's stomach, making it easier to pass through the digestive system.
  • Hairball Formula Food or Treats: You can find hairball food or treats at most major pet stores.  Hairball food is designed to promote a healthier coat, less shedding, and to help hairballs pass through your kitty's digestive system.  Carmine and Milita enjoy Greenies hairball treats.  An added bonus of these treats is that they are also good for dental health!
Remember, it is always best to consult with yourveterinarian before you try any new food or over-the-counter or home remedies for hairballs.  It's also important to consult your vet if you have any concerns regarding your kitty's health.  

How do you treat hairballs? 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jewel's Journey

Jewel was such a beautiful kitty.  She was the only kitty in the house that liked being brushed.  Sometimes when she was just hanging out in her bed, I'd pick up her brush and start grooming her.  She really loved that!  I miss brushing her.  Carmine and Milita really don't like being brushed.  In fact, if I try to brush Carmine, he tries to chomp the brush!  It's a good thing that Carmine and Milita have short fur.

One thing that can happen as a cat's kidneys fail is that his or her fur begins to feel greasy.  This happened with Jewel, and I wanted to help her feel better.  So approximately every week, I would give Jewel a little kitty "bath" with a cat wipe made for grooming.  Jewel did protest a little to this, but I hope it made her feel better.

Does your kitty enjoy being groomed?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Sammy Sparrow's First Flight" Benefits Nine Animal Rescue Organizations

I was thrilled when Tracy Ahrens contacted us to review "Sammy Sparrow's First Flight," because I know that proceeds from her book help nine animal welfare organizations.  I really love it when authors give back to animals in need.

"Sammy Sparrow's First Flight" (ages 2-8) is about a young bird who wants to fly.  His parents know that his wings are still too weak, though, so they tell him he can't fly yet.  After they fall asleep, Sammy decides to try flying despite what his parents said.  He ends up falling into a bush and finds out the world is a lot bigger and scarier from the ground.  A kind owl gives Sammy a lift back home where he falls asleep snuggled up to his parents.

This is such a sweet story with beautiful illustrations.  It's absolutely perfect for young children.  In fact, I'm thinking about sending a copy to my sister's two little boys so she can read it to them at bedtime (they aren't old enough to read on their own yet).  I think they would really love it!  

Tray Aherns actually came up with the story 20 years ago when she was in college during a two-week long break from school.  She says it was inspired by her childhood memories of caring for baby sparrows that had fallen out of a multi-room birdhouse in her neighbor's yard.  

Aherns created the Sammy Shelter Project in order to help animals in need.  A portion of the proceeds from the sales of "Sammy Sparrow's First Flight," go to nine Illinois animal welfare organizations.  Purchasers are able to choose which organization they'd like to help when they purchase the book through the book's site.

Sammy's Shelter Project

I'd like to tell you a little about each shelter that's benefiting from the sales of "Sammy Sparrow's First Flight."

New Beginnings for Cats (Bouronnais, IL): New Beginnings for Cats' mission is to rescue cats from abuse, neglect, and indifference and place them in loving forever homes.  The cage-free, no-kill shelter cares for the cats it takes in for life.  They enjoy wide window ledges, cat toys, and furniture with soft blankets in their rooms.  Each kitty also receives medical care and a lot of love while they wait for their forever homes.  You can learn more about New Beginnings by visiting their website.

Cache Creek Animal Rescue (Union County, IL): Cache Creek Animal Rescue is a not-for-profit organization that saves abandoned and stray cats and dogs.  They work to rescue homeless animals in 11 counties in southern Illinois and have 150+ animals in their shelter at any given time.  They recently opened a new adoption center in Joliet.  The organization also offers a low-cost spay and neuter clinic for the residents of southern Illinois.  

Iroquois County Animal Rescue (Iroquois, IL): Iroquois County Animal Rescue houses and cares for the immediate and long-term care needs of abandoned dogs and cats.  They also offer a low-cost spay and neuter clinic to the residents of Iroquois county.

Kankakee County Humane Foundation (St. Anne, IL): The Kankakee County Humane Foundation is a non-profit, no-kill dog and cat rescue.  The organization encourages spaying and neutering companion animals, and they believe in teaching children how to treat pets. 

Grassroots Animal Rescue (Medinah, IL): Grassroots Animal Rescue is based in the Chicago-area and is dedicated to caring for homeless cats.  They also focus on educating cat owners and adopters about all aspects of cat care.  

Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County: Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County is dedicated to rescuing horses and placing them up for adoption.  The organization has barns located in both Beecher and Peotone, IL. 

River Valley Animal Rescue (Momence, IL): River Valley Animal Rescue takes in abandoned, abused, neglected, and stray cats, dogs, birds, and other small animals.  They provide shelter, medical care, and love for these animals for as long as it takes them to find new forever homes.

It's a Pittie Rescue (Peotone, IL): Rescuing and re-homing pit bull breeds is It's a Pittie Rescue's mission.  The organization places all dogs into foster homes while they wait for their forever homes.  Because foster parents really get to know the dog's personality, the organization can help you find a dog that will fit right into your lifestyle.  

B.A.R.K. - Because Animals Really Kount (Kankakee, IL): B.A.R.K. focuses its efforts on fundraising for Kankakee County Animal Control.  B.A.R.K. wants to raise enough funds to build a new shelter and resource center for the community.  A new shelter would allow for quarantine rooms for sick animals, space for potential adopters to visit with adoptable animals, and the ability to offer discounted services, such as vaccinations, spay and neuter surgeries, and microchips.

I would highly recommend "Sammy Sparrow's First Flight" to anyone who has a young child.  It makes a perfect bedtime story for any child who loves animals.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of "Sammy Sparrow's First Flight" in exchange for an honest review.  Receiving a copy of the book did not influence my opinions in any way.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Opt to Adopt Aries


Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue
Denver, CO

orange tabby cat
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue.

Aries is an adorable orange tabby who's waiting for a great forever home.  He is friendly, playful, and active.  He loves affection and gives people headbutts.  He enjoys sitting in laps, and he will meow at you if you try to walk away when he wants more love and attention from you.  

Aries is an adult Domestic Shorthair.  He is neutered, up-to-date on his vaccinations, and litter box trained.  

Please call Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue at 744-6076 for more information or visit Aries at the shelter, located at 2390 S. Delaware Street in Denver.

Undoubtedly, a kitty as adorable and affectionate as Aries won't have to wait long for his forever home!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mancat Monday

Hi everyone, it's mes, Carmine!

Do you know what mes recently discovered?  Mes figured out if mes hangs out in the Mom's chair during dinnertime, mes is very likely to get a bite of chicken!

My way of begging is more subtle than Milita's.  Milita pokes the humans for food, and waves her paw at them, and then pokes them some more.  It seems to work for hers, though, because hers also gets a bite of chicken.  Mes guesses wes each has our own way of getting noms from the humans.

What do yous do to get the humans to feed you some chicken?

Mes hopes everyone has a wonderful day!