Of big cats and bezoars


Oh, sure, trespassers will be eaten. But they'll just be vomited up again 20 minutes from now.

And intentionally vomited up, no less.

In case you weren't aware, it is not an accident when your cat pukes up a hairball. Instead, cats induce vomiting—usually by eating grass or houseplants. It's just a normal part of cat life. First, they ingest a lot of hair and dirt by licking themselves clean. Then, they have to get it back out again.

Even big cats, like the ones this sign warns you about, produce hairballs. That's right. Pity the zookeepers.

Photo taken by Antony Bennison. Found in the BoingBoing Flickr Pool.


  1. People should just take a shower before feeding themselves nude to the cats. That way they will be less likely to be vomited afterwards.

  2. At bottom of page of ‘Pity the Zookeeper’ link:

    “I’ve had this idea that global warming is caused by the removal of oil from the Earth’s shell. My idea is that the massive oil deposits actually act as insulation for the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s extremely hot core. Have you heard any other theories like this?”

    Who knew?

  3. If it’s normal, what’s the interpretation when a cat never barfs?

    We got two cats.. one who chokes up a hairball with a schedule roughly once a month, and the other who never does. In the 6 years we’ve had her, I think she’s barfed a total of twice (and probably related to eating her meal too fast). Both are typical short hair cats.

    Can some cats digest their hair? Or are they able to not swallow it? Or maybe their grooming habits are less effective and they never get buildup in their stomach?

    1. Our two cats are similar; I think (in our case) it’s because the female grooms the male more than the male grooms himself. We switched to a hairball management food and she barfs up less than she did, and it’s more productive… (she used to barf a few times a day, usually just food, until the hairball would come up; now she just barfs when the hairball needs to come up. A great argument for putting in hardwood floors.)

  4. I am willing to believe that cats don’t intentionally decide to vomit. But WHERE they decide to vomit (my shoes) is obviously not an accident.

  5. they won’t eat ALL of you. just your nose and fingers, and potentially any of your genitals they can gain access to. And that’s only if you die of old age and are left unattended on the premises.


  6. We only assume that cat’s are cleaning when they lick themselves but I wouldn’t feel so clean if I did that. In my estimation it’s more likely they’re trying to build up their immune systems by ingesting local bacterium, etc. and such health concerns could equally be a factor in territorialism.

  7. Not a photoshop. This is the sign found on the front gate of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation near Ashford in Kent (UK).

    I was there to photograph a pair of Amur leopard cubs and a couple of adult Sumatran tigers. The staff find it amusing to hold raw meat above your head while you lean against the cage to get better shots of the tigers. Having a large carnivore unexpectantly jump at you certainly sharpens the mind. Oh, how we (i.e. they) laughed.

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