Home Sweet Hairball

Anyone and everyone who has ever been owned by a cat knows that from time to time, the inevitable occurs: that choking, hacking, coughing, and gagging sound we have all come to know and love as throwing up a hairball. Yes, it’s a true delight, a serendipitous occasion where we may all observe true cat behavior within the domestic environment.

Because they have a lot less fur to lick and ultimately swallow, short hair cats present us with their hairy gifts rather infrequently. And that’s a good thing. In contrast, our little long-haired friends like the Persian build up such an abundant supply of gullet hair that the production of a hairball is often a daily, if not twice daily extravaganza. Uhhh, not so good …

Curiously enough for hairball aficionados, the surface upon which the hairball is ultimately deposited is directly proportional to how expensive it is to clean, replace, or refinish. No self-respecting cat worth their weight in catnip would think of spewing its fuzzy ball of flop upon a tiled floor—even if said surface happens to make up 90 percent of a home’s walking area. Rest assured, if there is a postage stamp-sized carpet in a far off room, Tinkerbell will find it at just the right time and christen it with her indigestible delights.

The same can be said for genuine wood floors, concrete, marble, slate, laminates, Linoleum, Terrazzo, Silestone, granite, Corian, Astroturf, or the myriad of other long-wearing materials that are often picked by pet lovers as durable flooring or counter top material.

Whether we like it or not, cats possess an internal sensor that steers them away from these slick surfaces and directs them—however inappropriately—to areas that are “softer” and more receptive to their upchuck activities (i.e. carpet). Why heave up a hunk of hairball upon the plain old ordinary floor when you can hurl it skyward so it lands in the middle of an easy chair arm or right between the couch cushion cracks where you sometimes find loose change? You can always find lost money in your furniture, but the occasional hairball uncovered accidentally by a guest attending your next cocktail party is a much more thrilling trophy to behold.

For this reason, the hairball and any accompanying vomit, bile, and/or stomach acid are routinely revisited by the feline upon our fine, expensive Persian rugs, shag carpeting, Berber, and other fibrous surfaces. After all, these are the friendly materials which are eager to absorb and trap the various fluids expelled by our companion critters. These are the types of surfaces that hold color forever and are difficult to clean, leaving us with a lasting reminder of our furry friends and just how much we love them …

Eliminate all of the rugs on your floor you say? Nice try. Your cat knows better and will home in and leap up upon your bed, chair, or any other comfortable surface inside the home and ultimately grace its presence with his or her hairballs. Hairballs and porous fiber just go together; it’s one of the immutable laws of pet ownership.

The only recourse that you have is to accept the situation as it is and revel in the wonder of it all. Let nature take its course without meddling. After all, your cat’s hairball is a small part of him or her, no matter how distasteful you may find it. Truly, when it’s deposited in just the right spot, it’s a lasting greeting card— a precious gift that keeps on giving.

©2009 Michael Karl Witzel
All Rights Reserved, No Reproduction Without Permission