Clearwater, Florida -- It's a typical story of a cat with a hairball... only the cat weighs about 400 pounds, and the hairball is so large it can only be surgically removed.

Ty the tiger underwent the procedure on Wednesday afternoon at BluePearl Veterinary Partners emergency hospital in Clearwater.

PHOTOS:Tiger needs surgery to remove hairball

The hospital says Vernon Yates with the not-for-profitWildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc. brought in the 17-year-old male jungle cat to see a specialist on Monday, after the tiger had not eaten on his own for nearly two weeks.Dr. Brian Luria performed an ultrasound and took X-rays before using a scope with a camera to determine the problem, which appears to be a giant hairball.

Yates says Ty sheds quite a bit this time of year, which may be why the hairball is bigger than usual.

The hairball was too large to be removed using the scope, so Ty was scheduled for surgery.

The hospital tells 10 News Wednesday afternoon that the surgery appears to be a success and Ty is resting comfortably. And that hairball?

It weighed in at four pounds and was approximately the size of a basketball.

Yates estimates Ty, who is pretty old as far as tigers go, lost about 100 pounds, and he has been force-feeding the animal.

"He's sort of like my biggest baby, my kid," says Yates. "This tiger means more to me than any cat that I have."

Yates founded Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilition Inc. in 1980, and is perhaps best known for capturing the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay last year.

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