How to Lessen Hairballs for Your Cat

Every cat owner is well familiar with the ‘horking’ sound that their cat makes every week or two that results in a compact hair sausage being deposited on the floor. Owners generally become fairly blasé after cleaning up a few hairballs, but you should also be aware of how they form, how to prevent them from developing as frequently, and the complications that can arise.

Unlike most dogs who will take a lick of two at their paws and consider that they have groomed enough, cats are grooming dynamos. Even tiny kittens will start grooming at a very early age and this continues throughout the life of the cat.

The tongue of a cat is covered with little hooks which easily pick up dead and loose hairs when the cat licks herself. Cats spend a considerable amount of time during the day cleaning, so the opportunity of collecting hair is great. The hair that is taken up by the tongue is inevitably swallowed and enters the digestive system. The greater portion of the swallowed hair passes harmlessly through the stomach and intestines and is deposited in the litter box. However, some always remains and will develop into a hairball in time.

Other than being disgusting, most hairballs cause no problems at all for your cat. Unfortunately, sometimes a hairball blockage can occur in the stomach or intestines – at times a mega-hairball will form in the stomach that takes up the entire space of the organ. There are clues that will tell you that your friend may be having problems with a hairball:

• You cat may become constipated – normal passage of stool will be prevented by the hairballs.
• Conversely, your cat may have diarrhea as the intestinal irritation from the hairballs causes food to pass too quickly through the system.
• Cats with blockage have no energy and will simply lie around.
• If your cat attempts to vomit (dry heaves), but is unable to bring anything up, the hairball may be too large to expel in the normal way.
• Appetite will fall off dramatically when blockage occurs.
• A large hairball can press against the lungs, causing the cat to wheeze and cough.

At this point, you will have to consult your vet to have him or her resolve the hairball problem. The first step will be palpation of the cat’s abdomen, followed by an x-ray. If a large hairball is present anywhere in the gastrointestinal system, surgery must be done to remove it. This can be very expensive so owners should make every effort to prevent hairballs from forming in the first place.

It would be completely unrealistic to suppose that you can prevent your cat from swallowing hair at all, but there are some things that you can do to help keep hairball problems at a minimum.

Brush your cat. Not surprisingly, long haired cats are much more likely to develop problem hairballs than short haired ones. However, a daily brushing of your cat will help remove most of the loose hairs before they do begin to form a ball. Starting this when your cat is young is a good idea not only to help prevent hairballs, but also to provide a nice time for you and your cat to interact together. After the brushing session is complete, run a damp cloth over the fur to pick up any stray hairs. Brushing will be very important if your cat undergoes an annual shedding.

Some cats are more dedicated to grooming than others, and these super-groomers are more likely to develop hairball problems. You can help to keep the cat’s tongue in his or her mouth by providing a new toy or two and by playing with the cat – both of you will probably have a great time.

Oral lubricants are available at pet supply stores or through your vet. These help keep matter moving through the digestive tract more quickly and getting the hair out of the system will prevent the formation of hairballs.

Fiber rich cat foods have been found to be valuable at preventing hairballs. As with any new food, however, introduce it slowly to prevent any stomach upsets.

Cats can pick up human hair from the floor when they groom, and this can be a problem especially if the humans in the house have long hair – it will go down right along with the cat hair. Regular vacuuming can help keep these hairs out of your cat’s insides.

And lastly, don’t let your cat become obese; fat cats are more likely to be constipated, which slows down the normal passage of matter through the intestines and contributing to hairball accretion.

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For Earth’s Sake

by Publisher on April 22, 2015 · 0 comments

in Special

Happy Earthy Day 2015

This fantastic list of  four “green” cleaning ingredients of baking soda, vinegar, salt and lemon juice is great in a variety of cleaning situations. SinceEarth Day 2015 these ingredients are nontoxic and safe to use around animals, they make special sense in households with pets.From cleaning pet litter to bath time, check out these green pet cleaning tips to naturally sanitize your pet pad. Go to



by Publisher on April 20, 2015 · 0 comments

in Rescue Monday

Bobbi- Prince William SPCA

Brought to the Prince William SPCA because my people couldn’t afford to keep me any longer, I’m a pretty girl, just 2 years old, with a plush gray coat and lovely green eyes. I may not be as flashy as some of the other kitties, but I deserve a loving home just as much as anyone, don’t you agree? (I might be in another room at the shelter, awaiting my turn in the main cat room, so if you don’t see me when you come for a visit, just ask the nice folks at the front desk to bring me out.) Click HERE for more information.


Have a Great Weekend!

by Publisher on April 17, 2015 · 0 comments

in Fun Friday

Sleep in, relax and enjoy the weekend!



April is “National Pet First-Aid Month”

by Publisher on April 16, 2015 · 0 comments

in Special

Each April, pet owners are reminded that it is crucial that they know what to do if their pets are ever injured or need of pet first aidemergency medical care.  Pets are an important part of our lives, and we need to be able to assist them in an emergency.  Just like humans there are some simple things we must have in our first aid kit for them, and knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death.

Buy or make yourself first aid kit, tape a card with the phone numbers of your veterinarian, the after-hours emergency clinic (and driving directions), and the ASPCA animal poison control center (888-426-4435).Then add these items to the first aid kit or store them nearby:

•Pet carrier and harness/leash

•Air muzzle (for cats and small flat-faced dogs) and dog muzzle

•Flashlight or penlight

•Sterile saline solution to flush eyes and wounds; artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes (both available from the pharmacy or your veterinarian)

•Antiseptic wipes and over-the-counter antibiotic ointment

•Gauze pads, self-cling bandage, adhesive tape and scissors

•Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) and oral dosing syringe to be used if your veterinarian recommends you induce vomiting

•Tweezers or forceps; tick remover

•Nail trimmer and styptic powder


Bark at Barcroft

by Publisher on April 14, 2015 · 0 comments

in Events,Special

Mark your calendar! This Saturday, April 19 is Bark at Barcroft! This fun event gives you the chance to sit beside your best canine friend while taking in a day of Colonials baseball.

Bark at Barcroft



Pick out your very own bouquet of love and get $25 off any animal  adoption kennel and pay only $25 for any pet whose kennel is marked with a bluebell!

Bluebell pets are sponsored by donations to he Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

Spend less and save a life when you adopt.


Allergies… so frustrating! We in Northern Virginia certainly know how miserable we can get in the spring with Allergies, but what about our pets and how do we know when they are suffering? dog-702976__180Allergies in pets typically show up as scratching, chewing, rubbing, head-shaking or diarrhea. What can we do to help them?

First of all, be sure you can do all you can at home. Use the proper cleaning supplies and products to reduce the dust and other irritants in your home. The right allergy-prevention cleaning regimen can help tremendously, as can implementing some of the same prevention tips that humans use – such as limiting time outdoors on high pollen count days. Also – work with your pet sitting services provider, if you use one, to implement tips such as doing a quick wipe-down with a damp towel after returning to the house to remove all loose pollen collected from the daily walk.

Over-the-counter preparations and treatments for common dog allergies exist and may be purchased at any pet store, but consult with your vet first for the best course of action. If the allergy is severe enough, over-the-counter treatments may not be sufficient to treat the symptoms and a prescription strength treatment may be required.Veterinarians can help with or offer new medications. A veterinarian can administer allergens under the pet’s skin that can be effective in treating dermatitis and itchy skin. For all that scratching and itching Atopica is commonly used. There is also the chance that the dog does not have an allergy at all. The last thing you want to do is medicate your pet unnecessarily. So just be sure and get your pet checked out.

A bath for your pet can also be very beneficial and soothing. Wash off all the allergens off their coat and skin. Use an organic shampoo or oatmeal based shampoo to ease the itching.

If you have a pet sitting service that helps you with your dog walks and pet care, check with them to see if they can reduce your “to do” list by taking your pet to the groomer for that soothing bath. Many pet sitting services in Northern Virginia offer this kind of care.



Back In Black, Adopt a Black Dog or Cat

by Publisher on April 6, 2015 · 0 comments

in Special

April is Back in Black month at Friends of Homeless Animals ! Receive a discount of $50 on all black dog adoptions. There is a discount on black cat adoptions too.Adopt Black Dog or Cat

Black and dark-colored pets are often overlooked by adopters for their lighter-colored counterparts. And we just can’t figure out why. Because black goes with everything!

FOHA has over 30 dogs that are eligible for this discount so now is the time to adopt a wonderful black dog and get more love in your life. Check out today and share it with your friends.