Monday, February 16, 2015

Fur balls

furminator cat grooming fur furball hair ball
Michael vs the FURminator. A few minutes and the ingredients of several fur balls-worth of fur are removed. 
WARNING: this post does contain a graphic image of a fur ball. Scroll down with caution. (I've included this not to gross people out, but because some people have not seen a fur ball before and have some odd ideas about what constitutes these).

I do not advertise on this site but I need to take a moment to rave about a product that I am a bit obsessed with right now. The FURminator. Maybe spending the weekend writing lectures has sent me a little around the bend, but it needs to be said: aside from the name (I was an adolescent fan of the Terminator movies – 1 and 2 at least, and at one point in my life could recite the entire script of both movies without a prompt), it’s a very satisfying little tool indeed.

As a flatmate of two cats, one a domestic short hair, the other a domestic medium but sometimes long hair, fur is part of my life (not like I could really avoid fur given my choice of career). Fur is abundant in this household. It loves to stick to the carpet, create fur tumbleweeds that float down my hallway, and organise itself into fur dust-bunnies that dwell in the lounge room. It especially loves to insinuate itself into the shag-pile rug.

fur hair ball fur ball matts
Fur creatures. Note this is not black and white fur. These are fur mats that were groomed off a cat, and a former nurse I worked with turned them into fur kittens. 
The vacuum cleaner always wins the battle, but somehow fur ends up winning the war.

And fur sometimes occasionally reveals itself to me en masse in the form of a semi-digested, stomach-content-coated, volcanically-erupted fur ball. If I am lucky there is a warning retch, which is my cue to grab the cat and run outside, where the mess is easier to clean.

Fur ball hair ball vomitus cat
Hideous, hideous projectile furball.
If my reflexes are slow, the fur ball ends up on the shag pile rug. [Clients always ask me why, why, WHY do cats always direct their head towards the rug to unleash a fur ball when there is a perfectly acceptable and easily cleanable set of floorboards/tiles/lino in front of them? Empirical research (n = dozens of fur ball events) tells me that carpet, rugs and other absorbent surfaces are preferred due to the lack of “splashback”].

Aside from being just hideous, fur balls are a problem for cats because they can lead to constipation, vomiting and intestinal obstruction. Some fur balls - not all, but some - have to be surgically removed. They can be massive. So there's a good incentive to removing excess fur from your cat.

It costs more than your average brush, but the Furminator seems to collect more fur than other cat grooming instruments (with the exception of a pro-cat groomer who can perform a decent lion clip).

Michael and Hero love it. I do too. And if you’re looking to procrastinate, grooming your cat is a lot more gratifying than spending a solid ten minutes messing around on the internet. Plus it’s an activity that reduces the amount of fur your cat ingests and thereby reducing your household “furball load”.

The furminator also has a funky little eject switch so that when enough fur is accumulated you can eject it right into the bin. I like to imagine, when I press that little button to eject fur, that I am kicking a future furball’s butt.

If you cat puts up with it, you can groom enough just about enough fur to create a whole other cat

The one downside is that quite a bit of fur does become airborne in a furminator session, so don’t do it on carpet or in the vicinity of someone who is allergic to cats or AFTER you vacuum. Furminate first, vacuum second [I share this wisdom gleaned from the school of life, folks].

[For readers whose cats have a problem with fur balls, a dose of Cat-Lax, cod-liver oil or a prescription Hair Ball prevention diet may be enough to solve the problem - along with a good grooming regime. Chronic vomiting, weight loss and recurrent constipation should all be investigated. Fur balls are normal but they are capable of causing significant, life-threatening disease so if you are concerned have your cat checked out].