Cat licking fur

Today is Hairball Awareness Day.

Call it a marketing tactic designed to sell more hairball (scientifically known as the trichobezoar) remedies, but veterinarians everywhere are undeniably on board with the simple message being disseminated on this day: hairballs = bad.

Yeah, they’re disgusting. But we get used to them, don’t we? We pick up the chunks with paper towels by the bag load. And we get treated to the unmistakable sound of that early morning "Gaaakkk!" wake-up call.

As long as there’s fur on Fluffy’s back, it seems that the ingestion of incomprehensibly copious amounts of fur will never cease. But, luckily, not all cats are seriously afflicted. Only one of my two indoor cats seems especially predisposed.

Just in time for Hairball Awareness Day, here are a few tips to make hairballs less of a hassle in your home:

Daily Brushing

I recommend that all cat owners get their lovelies addicted to daily brushing from a very early age. Five minutes of fun while watching a good movie or the obligatory TV show should do it. How hard is that?

My only caveat (of sorts) is that you use a high-quality brush that selects for the denser, finer undercoat. It’s this downy stuff that tends to gum up the works. Let me reiterate my adoration for the much-touted Furminator, which slices through undercoats like butter, releasing huge balls of fur that might otherwise end up in your cat’s stomach.

Petroleum Jelly–Based Products

For kitties who really suffer from hairballs, daily petroleum-based hairball remedies are often the best solution. The most common ones are flavored with malt and come in extra-gooey formulations to help “grab” all that hair and smooth it through.

Hairball Formula Food

If you happen to have cats who won’t accept malt-infused Vaseline, you can talk to your vet about hairball formula foods. Infused with similar petroleum jelly–like ingredients, they can often do the trick when more direct alternatives aren’t doable.

Pro Grooming

Worst-case scenario: There’s always the possibility of frequent baths and even full-body clip-down sessions at the groomer’s to keep that hair from hell from unduly influencing the quality of your cat’s life — and yours.

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