Posted in cats, pet health

Take me out to the [hairball]game

Yogi Berra had an explanation for it: “I ain’t in a slump, I just ain’t hitting.” In my case, I “ain’t” been writing. I’ve been cat sitting.

Blame it on a hairball – or why not call it a spitball? In the cat’s case, it’s a bit of both cat hair and saliva, which makes cat sitting all the more exciting. (I’d describe the sounds accompanying the depositing of said spit-or-hairball but they don’t have consonants in the English language that come close. They do in French, however.)

A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of our cats was having repeated vomiting episodes after eating. At the vet’s, an x-ray revealed what resembled a hairball. I probably have told you that an impacted hairball can lead to a complete obstruction in the digestive system – there’s literally no way around it. But first you must attempt to move it along.

With advice from the vet, we’d tried some mild laxative supplements, with some success, but not enough. Then kitty had an unenviable day getting a spa treatment, ie., having his colon cleansed, plus some subcutaneous (under the skin) fluid.

This seemed to help. But the vomiting returned.

Then we agreed to change kitty’s diet to canned food in an effort to dislodge the pesky wad of hair.

In our house, getting canned food means you’re special. The other cats were jealous! It was like The Wave, beginning with the spectators on one side of the stadium and spreading to the other side almost immediately. Cats hovered by their food dishes, stealing glances in the direction of the preferred food. I could almost hear their thoughts: “Why does he get that, while I get THIS?” Mid-munch, they’d have their ears alert for sounds of leftovers: perhaps the kitty was abandoning his special scraps of much-coveted wet food.

The other cats’ noses perked up, to assess whether there was any chance of getting any lip-smacking good tidbits from Special Kitty’s bowl.

In fact, their noses were getting bent out of shape over the dry food, but a food strike was narrowly averted.

Now all but one cat are eating canned food too.

To make a long story short, if you have been thumbing through the newspaper and wondering why you can’t find my column, rest assured. I am still here. The cat sitting is progressing nicely; a big blob of cat hair was deposited on the kitchen floor recently. By the color of it, it was alleged to be from the special-kitty-with-the-special-canned-food-diet. We have reason to hope.

How long will the cat sitting require? Will we ever be able to feed our cats dry food again?

Some wise person once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Yeah, like Yogi said.



a little off-center, but full of good intentions