Surgeons Remove 4-Pound Hairball From Siberian Tiger

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CLEARWATER, Fla. — While Ty reclined drowsily in the back of Vernon Yates’ white pickup, about a dozen reporters and photographers stood less than 2 feet from his open cage, snapping photos of him – and of themselves, standing within inches of the 400-pound Siberian tiger.

The tiger looked thin, and the man who’d been caring for the 17-year-old cat since he was a cub worried if Ty would make it through the day.

Yates noticed something was wrong about two weeks ago. Ty was sluggish and not eating. Yates hand-fed him for days, but he could only get him to swallow three to five pounds of meat a day, rather than the 10 to 15 pounds he normally eats.

Neither ultrasounds nor X-rays provided a clear image of what was in Ty’s stomach. So veterinarian Brian Luria broke out an endoscope. “It looked like a giant ball of hair,” he said. As is turned out, a four pound hairball.

The same kind of hairball all cats get, only too big for Ty to cough up.  In the wild, a big cat in Ty’s situation wouldn’t have made it, Luria said.

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