And now, we bring to you the Top 15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Hairballs:
1. The average cat spends 1/3 of their waking life grooming themselves. Let’s do the math:
- ~ Most cats sleep an average of 13-14 hours per day
- ~ Most cats groom themselves for 3-4 hours per day
That only leaves 7 hours per day to play, demand food, stare at you in a condescending manner, and vomit hairballs on to your Persian rug.
2. The average person spends 1 hour per week staring at a regurgitated hairball and wondering what it is. (Okay, we made that stat up, but the rest of the stats in this article are true).
4. The largest hairball ever removed from a cat was 5 inches wide (12.5 cm) and weighed in at a whopping 7.5 ounces. The surgery was performed by Cromwell Vet Group in Cambridgeshire, England on a cat named Gemma. (Side note: We discovered that the UK will write news stories about ANYTHING!)
5. The scientific term for hairballs is “trichobezoars.” The word Trichobezoars comes from the Persian word, Bezoar, and means “protection from poison.”
6. A Phytobezoar is a mass of undigested food particles usually from fruits and vegetables such as celery, citrus fruits, coconut, pumpkins, grape skins, prunes, raisins, and most notably persimmons (bezoars resulting from persimmons are called diospyrobezoars)
7. Hairballs were once used to prevent poisoning and act as an antidote if poisoning had already occurred.
8. All animals get hairballs – those particularly susceptible to this problem include cats, ferrets, rabbits, cattle, deer and (believe it or not), humans.
9. In 2003, an 18-year-old woman from Canada had a 5.1 lb hairball surgically removed from her lower intestine.
The World’s largest hairball is a collection from Henry Coffer of Charleston, MO. The hairball weighs in at 167 pounds and is a result of collecting hair clippings throughout his 50-year career as a barber. You can read that (and other interesting world records for cats) here. 10. Hairballs can cause a lack of appetite, dehydration, and depression in your cat. This is why it’s so important to offer them a food that is high-quality pet food and brush them daily (especially long-haired cats and during shedding seasons) to eliminate excess pet hair. Excessive grooming in a cat could indicate a health issue, just as a lack of grooming could indicate the same.
11. All animals groom, but not all animals get hairballs. If you're wondering where that hairball came from, check with the longer-coated, middle-aged, bored cat. You know - the one who prefer to lie on the couch and groom himself all afternoon. Kittens aren't nearly as self-conscious (and let's face it, they're just learning how to groom). Older cats generally have more mobility issues and can't reach those difficult spots (which is why you should implement a grooming routine!)
12. Eliminating hairballs (or reducing them) is as easy as a liquid supplement. The best ones are all-natural, and our personal favorite is the Licks Hairball - The Pill Free Solution.
13. Hairballs get big and can cause serious health concerns. One cat had a hairball so large it cut off her ability to eat. When the vets successfully removed the offending fur, it was "the size of two cricket balls". I don't know what size a cricket ball is, but it doesn't sound good.
14. The average cats swallows 173 grams of hair in 1 year, which is about the weight of 30 US quarters. I don't even like carrying change around in my purse because it gets so heavy. I think that trying to surgically remove 173 grams of hair would cost a lot more than trying to prevent it.
15. Most cat hairballs aren't even balls. Usually cats cough up something that is a long, cylindrical object. I've mistaken hairballs for everything from dead lizards to poop.
Bonus: Hairballs are perfectly natural. But to keep them moderated, be sure to give your cats regular supplements, groom regularly, and feed a healthy, natural diet.