Introduction - Tiger's Hair Ball
Cats are prone to hairball formation. Why? Cats groom themselves by licking their fur and ingest it in the process. As a result cats develop balls of hair which form in the stomach and are occasionally vomited up when the ball of hair becomes too big.
Hairballs are typically a tight elongated cylinder of packed fur, but may include bits of other elements such as swallowed food. Hairballs are sometimes mistaken for other conditions of the stomach such as lymphosarcoma, tuberculosis, and tumors of the spleen.
Cats are the only animals that have issues with fur balls. So do rabbits, cattle and tigers. Did I say a tiger? Yes I did. Afterall, tigers are a form of large cats.
Tigers can be at risk of death from fur balls, especially if they become too large.
In fact, in Clearwater, Florida a 400 pound tiger named Ty who is 18-years-old (the average life span of a tiger) became the victim of a massive hairball.
The tiger's hairball was so large it threatened his life. Ty's hairball was a football sized hairball which had to be surgically removed from his stomach. Ty was a resident of The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The fur ball inside of Ty was so big he couldn't eat on his own for about two weeks.
Ty was rushed to Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency for Pets for surgery to remove his massive hairball. The vets at Blue Pearl told the media it was the first tiger they had operated on. The huge hair ball removed from Ty weighed four pounds, the size of an average house cat.
The vets at Blue Pear who donated their service to help the beautiful tigerl said Ty's prognosis is looking good. "There's nothing else that we found. So, with domestic cats they bounce right back. So, hopefully he's going to be feeling like a million bucks," Dr. Brian Luria said.
Although uncommon in humans, some hairballs have been reported. These hairballs occur when hair strands collect in the stomach and are unable to be ejected as a result of the friction on the surface of the gastric mucosa
Hairballs are often seen in young girls as a result of trichophagia, trichotillomania and pica. In 2003, a 3-year old girl in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada had a grapefruit-sized hairball surgically removed from her stomach; and in 2004, an 18-year old woman from McAdam, New Brunswick, Canada, had a 2.3 kg (5.1 lb) hairball surgically removed from her lower intestine.
Hairballs can be quite hazardous in humans, since hair cannot be digested or passed by the human gastrointestinal system, and (assuming it is identified) even vomiting may be ineffective at removing the hair mass. This can result in the general impairment of the digestive system.
Summary - Tiger's Hair BallAlthough hair balls are common in house cats, rabbits and even other farm animals, big cats such as tiger are not exempt. Even humans can develop hair balls if they eat their hair. In all cases hair balls can become dangerous since they block the ability to consume and digest food.