During a routine examination, my veterinarian found a mass in Jake’s abdomen that he decided, after various tests, was probably a tumor of the spleen.
That wasn’t the case — it turned out to be an enormous hair ball in Jake’s stomach.
The vet said he’d never seen anything like it before. He kept it to show me after the surgery, and it was the size of my fist.
Needless to say, the cat feels much better and eats better with this thing gone, but what can I do to keep this from happening again?
Jake is a meticulous groomer, and he spits up hair balls like any normal cat, though that obviously wasn’t bringing up most of what he’s swallowed.
— C.H., Bowie, Md.
Dear C.H.: I hope that people with cats will take note of Jake’s massive fur ball.
This is a not-uncommon issue with cats, and if not treated, it can be fatal.
Daily brushing is part of the solution, but not for too long because it may stimulate more fur growth and shedding. Just brush your cat briefly to remove already-shed fur trapped in the coat.
A few drops of fish oil or a half teaspoon of organic butter in your cat’s food daily may help improve coat health.
Adding a teaspoon of soaked psyllium husks or cooked mashed green or butter beans to the food can provide some fiber in the diet that can stimulate digestion and the passage of small accumulations of fur in the stomach.
Some people find a teaspoon of olive oil helps prevent fur balls and periodic retching of fur from the stomach.
For one of our cats, providing a few leaves of crushed catnip triggers almost immediate vomiting and is done once a month or so.