published Monday, July 11th, 2011

Hairballs nothing to get choked up about

For all the time they spend sleeping and lolling about, cats are industrious groomers.
(Kansas City Star)
For all the time they spend sleeping and lolling about, cats are industrious groomers. (Kansas City Star)

For all the time they spend sleeping and lolling about, cats are industrious groomers. For many cats. that fastidiousness has a consequence: hairballs.

According to veterinarian Bruce Fogle’s book “Complete Cat Care,” cats spend as much as 10 percent of their day, about two and a half hours, engaged in cleaning themselves tip to tail.

Cats use their tongues as a kind of organic vacuum to remove debris and spruce up the undercoat, but occasionally, the bag needs to be emptied, said Rachel Walker, practice manager of the Cat Clinic of Chattanooga.

“It all balls up in their stomach, and they have to regurgitate it because they can’t properly digest it,” Walker said.

Hairballs may seem disgusting, but grooming is hardwired into cats’ genetic code, so if a cat has them, he will always have them. Changes to the frequency of hairballs, however, should be addressed by a veterinarian, Walker said.

Owners can help cut down on excess dead fur by combing their cat’s coat. Bristle brushes are a good start, but Fogle recommends additional passes with a comb — wider teeth for long hair, narrower for shorter — to get the most fur.

Veterinarians also can prescribe special, higher-fiber diets to help control hairballs. Flavored gels, such as Laxatone, can also be used to help lubricate the digestive tract to ease the passage of ingested hair, Walker said.

DOGGY DOINGS

Officials in a Phoenix suburb are considering a plan that would turn dog waste collected from an area park into an energy source. Don’t pooh-pooh the idea before you hear it out. The Arizona Republic reports that students from Arizona State University would design and create a “dog waste digester” that the city of Gilbert, Ariz., could use to turn pet leavings into methane gas that in turn generates power. The proposed project would use the new energy source to run a street lamp first, and possibly other uses later. — The Associated Press

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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328Kwebsite said...

I know you didn't receive that excellence in Journalism reward for writing about furballs and dog turds.

You have a degree in German. I want you to go to the DoubleTree hotel and sit at the bar and listen to what those guys have to say when they come home from a long day of putting up with the corporate grind at Volkswagon. It is not all a rose garden.

They have some real problems to tackle, as many workers do. They have some good stories about their lives, as many travelers do.

There's some work for a features writer with your credentials over there. You probably should have already written a small book of those stories. Circumvent the PR control clowns and get over there and do some work on the street.

You will detect a radical reduction in the pooper-scooper topics if you get over there and establish some rapport with informants and develop some sources for a good features story.

These guys have at least two beers a night. They crawl every bar within walking distance of their hotel. If you don't drink, have a soda.

Their wives are all over the North Shore on Sunday mornings.

Some of those VW boys are rusty on their English. You will find them quickly. Establish rapport. Treat your subjects with respect. Gain information. Craft a story. Publish it.

No more puff pieces about furballs. What if this was your last publication? If there was some kind of emergency, would you want to close your career with a paragraph on recycling dog poop?

As those guys cycle workers through the dreaded Volkswagen USA, or whatever their local shell corporation is called to contain the potential financial damage for this venture, there is a guitar that gets handed down from one cycle of workers to another. Guitar players like to play. Get over there and find out who's got the guitar. That guy has your story.

July 11, 2011 at 11:07 p.m.
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