A cat getting a hairball is not usually a life-threatening situation, unless the cat in question is a 27-stone Serbian tiger, and this particular hairball is the size of a football.
But this was what happened in Florida, where veterinary surgeons were forced to surgically remove a 2 kilogramme hairball in order to save 17-year-old tiger Ty’s life.
Owner Vernon Yates, who runs wildlife sanctuary the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, in Florida, had become concerned when Ty seemed to lose his appetite and could only manage 2 kilogrammes of food a day, instead of his usual 7 kilogrammes.
A worried Yates took his cat to the vet at BluePearl vetinary centre in Clearwater, who struggled to get to a clear picture of what was in the tiger’s stomach using ultrasounds and X-rays. It was not until they performed an endoscope that they discovered a hairball, which could only be removed in a two hour operation.
Doctors said the hairball had built up as the tiger groomed himself.
In a statement, they said they had safely removed the obstruction from Ty's stomach.
Speaking to Central Florida News 13, Yates said Ty was his “biggest baby.” “This is my kid”, he said. “This tiger means more to me than any cat that I have."
Yates, whose non-profit group regularly assists law enforcement agencies with seized animals, said he's thankful the hairball was removed. Ty is believed to be recovering well from the procedure and is expected to make a full recovery within the next few weeks.