by the way...

You need to brush your cats, folks. It’s a good thing


When I showed my National Day Calendar to my writing group, the “Day” that sent them into paroxysms of laughter was National Hairball Awareness Day. The “Day” is listed as one of our unofficial national holidays. It’s not just “Hairball Day.” It’s Hairball Awareness Day.”

My feline friend, Laptop, wakes me up between 1:00 and 5:00 AM with a sound that is a cross between an air raid siren and a garbage truck backing up. A brachycephalic (snuffling) dog is no match for a cat doin’ the hairball heaves. Initially I would bounce out of bed to reach the light on my nightstand, sure that there would be a pile of matted hair shaped like a mini pine cone. But then I learned: It helps to brush her.

Eliza, my cat who died in August, let me brush her during the entire Oscars production with the wonderful hairbrush for cats I’ve mentioned in this column before: the FURminator. I was doing an experiment to see how long she’d lie on my lap, purring mightily, drowning out my A/C, before deciding she’d had enough brushing. Laptop only lets me brush her when the spirit is willing. Which is rare. Rare. Rare. She allows me to brush her when she is eating, but even that is not a given.

Two things help: one is a sticky, tuna-flavored gel you can get from a pet store or your vet that helps prevent hairballs and is palatable and easy-to-use. It tastes like tuna fish, the tube tells me. I can put it on my finger and Lappy will lap it up, or you can put it on their paws or nose. It’s taken her eight years to cotton to it.

The other thing you can try is dry chow specifically for hairball elimination and/or prevention. The problem with that is some of my past cats also have had urinary tract disorders and bleed so they must be on that formula or they get into problem. Just like with people, there’s always something.

Summer is the time when fur grows the fastest, so hairballs are troublesome because cats have a hard time keeping up with grooming themselves enough. I used to think cats only needing brushing when their hair thickens, in the summer. But it’s good to keep brushing, at least through fall, if not all year ‘round.

Here’s something entirely different you cat fanciers might like to know: plastic grocery bags shouldn’t be used to dispose of the litter clumps.

If you check the bottom of the bag, you will often find a hole or tear, and grains of litter will pass through onto the floor which is not savory. So get lunch bags from a dollar store, 50 bags for $1.00, and use them.

Better for the environment too. Better get a lunch box if you are packing lunches for people so there isn’t, God forbid, a mix-up.