It looks a lot like poop, doesn’t it? For the first six years of living with Mr. Meow, every time I found one of these piles I thought he’d had an upset belly and hadn’t made it to the litter box in time. It wasn’t until 2005 that I learned what it really was: a hairball.
“That’s a hairball?”
In 2005, shortly after we moved to Nashville, the neighbor across the street befriended us. Her little boy loved Murphy and always begged her to stop by so he could say hi. Usually in the afternoons after they came back from running errands.
It was during one of these impromptu visits when they walked into the “play room” (i.e. the living room which has been taken over by pet toys) and I was mortified to find a gross pile on the floor. I apologized to my nieghbors as I ran to grab cleaning supplies.
“I guess Mr. Meow’s not feeling too well,” I said. (This was pre-Tabby.) “Or maybe it was Murph. I find these from time to time but I’m never sure who’s responsible.”
“Mr. Meow for sure. That’s a hairball,” my neighbor said.
“That’s a hairball? Are you sure?”
“Positive. Our cat coughs them up all the time, too.”
Interesting. I never knew. I’d heard of them, but I hadn’t realized that’s what a hairball looked like.
Still, can you believe I didn’t quite believe it?
The Proof is in the Watching
It wasn’t until about a month ago, when I watched with my own two eyes as Mr. Meow spit one out, that I got proof positive confirmation that, yep, that’s what a hairball looks like.
I don’t know which is grosser: finding it after the fact, or viewing the actual episode.
When Mr. Meow started making his noises (an awful, hacking sound like he’s choking on something) I was in the kitchen and he was just a few feet away in the play room. I ran in there as I always do when I hear the sound. Usually nothing happens. He gacks a few times as I stroke him but he always walks away.
Not this time. All of a sudden he wretched, his mouth opened wide, and the hairball spewed forth with surprising force and velocity and plopped (yes, plopped) out on the floor in front of him.
Then he walked away.
After I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat from witnessing the hairball ejection, I did what I always do: cleaned up the mess.
Note: Usually he does it on the carpet, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to grab my camera and snap a pic after the event related above. This was his most recent production, which he decided to present on his red hut of all places. I (thankfully) was not in attendance for this performance. (Seeing it once was enough!)