I’m serious. Today is Hairball Awareness Day.
In honor of the day, I’ve learned one new fact about hairballs: Popular Science tells us that in 11th century Europe hairballs were used to cure poisoning, epilepsy and the plague.

While hairballs are generally a feline condition, some cows and goat also get hairballs. And, while the word may sound funny and be the butt of numerous cartoons and gags (pun intended) it’s no laughing matter. Hairballs can be serious if stuck in the throat or lodge in the intestines.

Here are five things you can do to help prevent or treat hairballs:

1. Brush your cat daily.

2. Use a “hairball control” variety of cat food.

3. Ask your veterinarian about mixing 1 tsp mineral oil with your cat’s food.

4. Make sure your cat has plenty of water.

5. I’ve been told that offering cat a small amount of butter or mashed pumpkin twice a week can help lubricate the intestinal tract.

Check for hairballs if your cat has lost interest in food, has trouble in the litter box, or has a hacking cough, or is vomiting.