Several years ago, one of my dearest friends and co-workers was about to mark the passage of another year. I wanted to make her birthday special and dispense with the usual office ho-hum birthday that offers wishes to the celebrant over a cake.
I searched the Web for ideas and realized that her birthday fell close to an obscure holiday that seemed to fit her to a tee.
Former features editor Betsy Lammerding is and has always been a lover of felines, one of the 33 million Americans who has been true to the one or two cats that share her home at any given time.
For many years before she retired, Betsy kept her co-workers chuckling with daily reports of her current cat’s catastrophes and craziness.
So, in her honor, we celebrated National Hairball Awareness Day, April 27.
With an amazing burst of creative energy, the features department embraced the idea, turning an ordinary day at work into anything but.
Former features clerk Telli Gulledge constructed a birthday gift basket with lots of “hairball-esque” gifts, such as fuzzy slippers that looked like cats perching on her feet, and a furry ponytail holder. One of our photographers recorded a “hairball upchuck” segment of a popular animated movie, looping it to repeat over and over again through the festivities. We listened to the enchanting sound of a sword-waving, boot-wearing cat upchucking for an hour.
There was a cake decorated with molded log rolls made of some kind of brown candy that would make anyone gag who ever experienced the joy of a coughed-up hairball. I was quite proud of my handiwork.
To say our birthday girl was taken aback by the celebration would be an understatement. I’m sure the day has evoked memories (fond, or not) on each subsequent birthday.
So, Betsy, Happy National Hairball Awareness Day — again.
No matter what entertains our resident feature creatures, cat lovers know that hairballs are serious issues.
These tips were supplied by Petco to help cat owners whose furry friends suffer from hairballs.
• Tip One: De-shed
Most hair a cat swallows while grooming is passed naturally through the digestive tract, but when it gets caught in the stomach, it can form a hairball. Removing excess hair by brushing and grooming a cat regularly can help limit the amount of loose hair that can ultimately get caught inside the kitty. Plus, petting and brushing a cat regularly will keep them emotionally happy.
• Tip Two: Nutrition
Proper nutrition is also vital in helping a pet’s physical health and preventing hairballs. Certain types of cat food can reduce shedding and help hair move through the cat’s digestive tract. Hairball control cat food contains vegetable fibers to help this process. If changing a pet’s food isn’t ideal, try hairball relief chews that can prevent hairballs from forming. Ensuring a cat has enough fiber in its diet and drinks plenty of water will also help its physical health and diminish hairballs. For cats with a more persistent problem, try a hairball lubricant that helps the cat pass the problem hair more easily.
• Tip Three: Veterinary supplements
A veterinarian can recommend a supplement that can prevent hair from clumping. If a cat has an overly matted coat, is lethargic, has a swollen stomach or is constipated, these may be signs it’s time to see the vet.
Other pets in the news:
Puppy Day at the University of Akron — The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund will sponsor an adoption event with Paws & Prayers animal rescue from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday on the University of Akron campus at West Hall. Students can relieve stress by interacting with the animals and consider adoption. Paws & Prayers will be bringing puppies and several other dogs to the event.
Give Pets a Chance 5K Run and Dog Walk — Walk registration at 8:15 a.m.; run registration at 9 a.m. with a 9:30 start time at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s Secrest Arboretum, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster. www.givepetsachanceus.org or 330-201-1757.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to email@example.com.