How To Make A Hairball

Why do cats cough up hair balls?

Cats have two kinds of fur: a short undercoat and the longer hairs, which are called the overcoat.

Humans have bred some cats to get outrageously long and fluffy furs. They can get hairballs really bad.

When cats clean themselves with their tongues, some hair gets inside the cat. The more hair on the outside, the more hair on the inside. And hair can’t be digested. So the cat throws it up.

How Make A Hairball !

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin – corn syrup – vinegar – cat fur (from the cat’s brush)

Sprinkle the gelatin into 1/2 cup very hot water. Add 3 tablespoons of corn syrup and a teaspoon of vinegar. Mix until it pulls long strands out of the cup like in the drawing.

Spread the hair from the cat’s brush out into a little patty and drizzle the thick glop onto it. Roll up the hair into a hot dog shape and smear more on the outside. Let it dry. Take it to school for show and tell. You Can dip it in warm water to freshen it up.

A cat’s stomach (and your stomach) is coated with mucus, which is made from proteins and sugars. That’s like the gelatin and syrup. Stomachs are full of acids, like the vinegar.

The reason hairballs look so gross is that they are full of this thick goop from inside the cat’s digestive system.

Your stomach makes the same kind of goop – mucus.


Electron Micrograph: Wilfred Bentham

If you had this in your throat or stomach, wouldn’t you cough it up? You Can see both the small undercoat hairs and the longer overcoat hairs in this electron microscope picture of a real hairball coughed up by Beakman’s cat, Algebra.

P.S. One of the nicest things You Can do you for a cat is to brush its fur. You’ll remove the fur that might get into its stomach or throat. You’ll save the cat from all that wretching.