Little bone pieces in hairballs? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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Little bone pieces in hairballs?

I guess this is more a curiosity question than anything else... and since I'm still relatively new to raw feeding, I'm hoping maybe someone here can shed some light on this.

I've been feeding my kitties grinds from hare today for about six months now. My Sky eats the rabbit exclusively due to allergies, and I get the grind with the organs and bones ground in. I've noticed that when she barfs up hairballs, there's always a ton of little bone pieces mixed in with the hair. No one else appears to be barfing up bone pieces, just her.

Should I worry about all the little bone pieces in her hairballs? I thought that the bone pieces were supposed to be more or less digested... and I've never seen any bone pieces in her poop (yes, I checked). It just seems a little bizarre... her hairballs are like 75% hair and 25% bone pieces.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 11:03 PM
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I have customer who had a similar problem with his dog. He was getting a grind from his breeder (or maybe from a place his breeder suggested...don't remember). In his case the dog was having digestive issues and they found he had a bunch of bone pieces stuck in his digestive tract. Gave him medication to help him pass the pieces. The guy said the dog's poop was "sandy" for days. So it seems it is something that happens with some animals. This guy's solution won't help you...he went to a very high quality kibble.

Maybe giving a hairball remedy will coat the bones pieces and help them pass. Or another possibility would be to add some fiber.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 05:58 AM
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Hi Skyrun,

I buy Hare Today for my cat as well - the "fine" meat/bone/organ grinds, not the "coarse".

I noticed a while back that she seemed to be "leaving" a lot of the bone shards in her dish - I'm guessing she either spat them back out or ate around them. Some of them looked terrifyingly sharp to me:

I wrote into Tracy and expressed my concern that my cat's inner bits were going to get shredded by these shards. Tracy reassured me that carnivores often gnaw through their prey, which results in splintered bones - so the shards, although they look sharp, are harmless as long as they're RAW bones.

I'm fairly sure that a carnivore doesn't truly fully digest the bones in the prey they eat - they probably absorb whatever calcium and nutrients they can, then they pass the pieces (or, in an owl's case, regurgitate in a pellet).

TL;DR I think it's okay that you're finding shards in her hairballs. However, it sounds like she barfs up a LOT of hairballs?... if she really seems to be horking out a lot of them, that seems unusual. Is she amenable to being groomed/brushed to help remove some of her loose hair before she can lick it up?

If the shards seem to be too worrisome of an issue, you could switch to their boneless ground rabbit and use Alnutrin with Calcium (or any other raw-nutrition supplement with added calcium that's designed to be used with boneless meats). That way, Sky would still get her calcium, but no more bone shards at all :}

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 08:25 AM
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I wonder what size rabbits they're using? Cats don't usually take down full grown adult rabbits for prey and eat them as they're just too big. The bones on a baby rabbit might be the right size for a cat to eat, but perhaps the bones of a full grown large meat rabbit (8-12 pounds) are bit too dense and large?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 09:25 AM
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I'm not sure what size rabbits Hare Today uses to produce their grind, but their "larger critter" grinds are meat-bone-organs as well, and my cat has eaten most of them - beef, mutton, pork, llama, goat, pheasant, venison - without any problems with the bone bits in these grinds. I imagine Hare Today uses the same size of grinder-plate for all their meats that they offer in "finely" ground form, because all the bone shards from the various proteins are about the same size and thickness/heaviness. Again, my cat has eaten nearly all of their meats for three years, and has had no problem with the bone shards. And my cat is OLD ;}

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for your responses!

doodlebug- Thank you for your suggestion! I am definitely going to try giving her a little bit of hairball remedy, and see how that goes down (pun intended).

LakotaWolf- I get the fine grinds as well. And she LOVES it, so I've been wary of trying the boneless grind... she's easily put off of her food and doesn't handle change well. There's also a pretty substantial price difference between the boneless and the bone-in, so I will likely only switch if it seems to become a big issue.

She actually does have hairballs more often than she used to, but they're much smaller. Her allergies have caused severe overgrooming, which she is recovering from nicely, but she still licks more than she should. However, she used to hack up big, tightly packed hairballs, which she would hack about for a day or so before actually getting them up. Now she just barfs up little ones- about the size of a quarter, or smaller, and they're loosely packed, and full of bone pieces. My theory is that the bone pieces might cause her to barf up hair sooner, before it's had a chance to form into the huge hairballs she used to have. Which might be a good thing? She barfs up these smaller hairballs maybe about three times a month- at most, once a week. I'll definitely try brushing her a little more- she loves it for a little bit and then hates it... I think her skin is still sensitive from the overgrooming issue.
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