14 August 2011

Battling hairballs with grooming

RavenRaven had 5 hairballs in the past 3 weeks. Our poor kitty has been vomiting up food & hairballs left and right. The first hairball I expected because it was a few days after her bath. The cats always groom themselves thoroughly after a bath so it's not surprising that a hairball comes up. Even the second one wasn't too concerning since Raven is a very furry long-haired cat. But the third, forth, and fifth told me my little girl needed help.

Besides creating a mess, hairballs are not healthy. Here's an informative article by a vet describing how hairballs form and how a cat with hairballs might vomit food without any fur in it.  What concerned me most with Raven's recent battle with hairballs was during one episode she must have choked a bit or maybe something irritated a nerve as she regurgitated the hairball because she rolled onto her side, looked scared, then hunched down on the floor for about 15 minutes breathing very quickly and shallowly.

I decided it was time to get serious about grooming. These are the grooming tools I use:

  1. Good quality slicker brushes that have gentle wire bristles.

  2. The Zoom Groom rubber grooming brush

  3. A wide-toothed comb where the tines rotate in the holder.

  4. A flea comb

  5. A natural boar-bristle finishing brush

grooming toolsRaven is very sensitive and grooming is not her favorite activity. I was combing her every few days to make sure her hair didn't get tangled, but didn't really focus on getting her loose fur out.  That has changed.

Now, every day she gets a thorough brushing. The Zoom Groom works by gently grasping the loose fur and by static attraction between the rubber and fur. You're instructed to use circular motions so the hair wraps around the rubber nobs, but Raven will not tolerate that so I use straight strokes down her back and sides.  This tends to leave the loose fur everywhere (and I mean everywhere - on kitty, floor, my shirt) so you have to gather the fur up somehow. That's when I use the wide-toothed comb and slicker brush to get the loosened fur off, and follow that with the flea comb to get the last stragglers of fur. I use only the slicker brush or wide-toothed comb on her belly. The natural boar bristle brush works well to brush her head, cheeks and chin (the kitties love that).  One of the best things about using a boar bristle brush is that it does not create static like a nylon bristle brush does. The entire grooming take less than 5 minutes, which is about all Raven will tolerate.

Each day I brush out a small to medium sized clump of fur. Any amount is good because that means it's not going into her tummy to create a hairball. We've been grooming daily for about a week and she had not produced a hairball yet. Here's keeping our fingers and paws crossed that there are no hairballs in the works.

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