Foods

Best Cat Food for Hairballs

The first time your cat throws up a hairball, it can come as quite a shock, especially if you don’t know what to expect. These tubular balls of hair and slime are pretty gross, and it is not a pleasant surprise to find one in your home.   

It is perfectly normal for cats to bring up a hairball every once in a while. However, if your cat is producing hairballs very frequently, then it might be a sign that your cat needs some help dealing with them. Your veterinarian can rule out if your cat has any other underlying health problems and give you advice on how to reduce your cat’s hairball production.             

The good news is that by regularly grooming your cat and changing to specialized hairball control cat food, you can help your cat deal with these pesky hairballs. These changes can encourage your cat to be the best cat they can be. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about hairballs in cats, the causes and symptoms, the best ways to prevent hairballs in cats, and our favorite six cat food diets for hairballs!

Our Top Picks:

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken Recipe
  • Promotes healthy digestion and prevents hairballs using a natural fiber blend

  • Helps your cat maintain an ideal weight with balanced calories from proteins and fats and added L-carnitine for a healthy metabolism

  • 100% Grain-free diet

  • Contains “Lifesource Bits,” an exclusive blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support a healthy immune system and overall wellbeing

  • Made in the USA

  • Zero grains, chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, gluten or soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
  • Contains high-quality natural fibers to reduce hairball formation

  • Healthy mineral balance and controlled urinary pH supports urinary health from the kidneys to the bladder

  • Contains clinically proven antioxidants, vitamin C & E for a healthy immune system

  • Made with natural ingredients without any chicken by-product meal, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Healthy Digestion Dry Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs with Chicken and Turkey
  • Real Chicken is the #1 ingredient

  • Complete and balanced diet for adult cats helps your cat maintain a healthy weight, reduce hairballs and reduce litter box odors

  • Natural fiber blend with beet pulps to help reduce hairballs and promote healthy digestion

  • Less fat and lower calories, plus L-Carnitine to help burn fat and maintain a healthy weight

Purina ONE Natural Dry Cat Food, Hairball Formula
  • Natural fiber blend helps minimize hairballs

  • Real chicken is the number one ingredient for an irresistible flavor and helps support healthy muscles and meet all your cat’s energy needs

  • Easily digestible kibble with a crunchy texture to help keep your kitty’s teeth clean 

  • Proudly made in Purina-owned facilities in the USA

  • Contains NO fillers

Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Natural Adult Dry Cat Food
  • Real deboned chicken is the #1 ingredient, providing lots of high-quality protein for all your cat’s energy requirements 

  • Reduces hairballs using natural sources of fiber

  • Promotes weight control with balanced proteins and fats and added L-carnitine for a healthy metabolism

  • Contains wholesome grains, garden vegetables, and antioxidant-rich fruit

  • Made with LifeSource Bits, a unique blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins 

  • All-natural cat kibble: No poultry by-product meals, No corn, No wheat, No soy, No artificial flavors or preservatives! 

Royal Canin Hairball Care Dry Cat Food
  • Reduces hairball formation using a blend of natural fibers (including psyllium seed husk) and insoluble fibers to encourage intestinal movement naturally

  • Selected highly digestible protein for improved digestion and improved stool quality (less stinky stools!) 

  • Complete and balanced nutrition for adult cats, and suitable for neutered cats too 

  • Unique kibble shape and texture helps care for your cat’s teeth and reduce plaque

Top 6 Cat Hairball Reducing Diets 

There are some remarkable feline food diets on the market that help excess hair pass through your cat’s digestive system and safely out the other side. We have come up with a list of our favorite hairball diets, which will help your cat deal with all that extra hair. All our choices are complete and balanced diets for adult cats, so they will meet all the nutritional needs of your cat to help keep him healthy. 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken Recipe

The Blue Buffalo brand is famous for its focus on healthy and holistic recipes, using only high quality, natural and wholesome ingredients. This product is made with real chicken as the first ingredient, so you know that your cat is getting lots of high-quality protein to fuel all his adventures. The natural diet of the Lynx inspires the wilderness range, that’s why it is high in protein but does not include any grains, gluten, wheat or by-products, which some cats may be allergic or sensitive to. This recipe is a complete and balanced diet, which is a good option for those indoor adult cats who quickly put on weight and tend to suffer from hairballs too! Natural sources of fiber help promote good digestive health and nutrient absorption, while a unique blend of cellulose and psyllium seed fibers help reduce hairballs. This formulation helps your cat maintain an ideal weight, with carefully balanced calories and optimal levels of fat and protein. It also has added L-carnitine, an amino acid that helps to increase metabolism. 

Key Benefits

  • Promotes healthy digestion and prevents hairballs using a natural fiber blend
  • Helps your cat maintain an ideal weight with balanced calories from proteins and fats and added L-carnitine for a healthy metabolism

  • 100% grain-free diet

  • Contains “Lifesource Bits,” an exclusive blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support a healthy immune system and overall wellbeing

  • Made in the USA

  • Zero grains, chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, gluten or soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control Dry Cat Food

Did you know that Hill’s Science Diet is the number one veterinary recommended pet food brand in the United States? This leading brand gives you and your kitty years of scientifically backed nutrition using high-quality ingredients. We love this pick because it tackles two prevalent feline issues, urinary health problems, and hairballs. If your cat is prone to hairballs and recurrent urinary problems or has recently had some urinary trouble, then this diet is an excellent option for you. This diet does not need a veterinary prescription, but you can ask your veterinarian if it’s an appropriate choice for your cat. It supports the health of the cat’s whole urinary system by producing a controlled urinary pH and controlled levels of magnesium, which can help prevent many common urinary issues. Additionally, this diet contains natural fibers to help reduce hairballs and promote proper nutrient absorption. This is a complete and balanced diet for adult cats, but Hill’s do mention that it is only suitable for cats aged between 1- 6 years. The great news is that this Hill’s Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control is available in both dry and canned food options, so you can mix and match if your cat likes having both.

Key Benefits

  • Contains high-quality natural fibers to reduce hairball formation

  • Healthy mineral balance and controlled urinary pH supports urinary health from the kidneys to the bladder

  • Contains clinically proven antioxidants, vitamin C & E for a healthy immune system

  • Made with natural ingredients without any chicken by-product meal, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Purina ONE Hairball Adult Formula Dry Cat Food 

Purina ONE Hairball Formula is a complete and balanced diet for adult cats. This food will give your cat a premium hairball diet but at a more affordable price than some of our other picks. It is made with real chicken as the main ingredient and packed with a special natural fiber blend to reduce hairball formation and encourage healthy digestion. The kibble is deliciously crunchy, which can help to clean tartar off your cat’s teeth, and different shaped bites offer different textures to increase your cat’s interest. This vet-recommended diet has everything your cat needs, including all the essential vitamins and minerals, added taurine for healthy heart and eyes, and added omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. 

Key Benefits

  • Natural fiber blend helps minimize hairballs

  • Real chicken is the number one ingredient for an irresistible flavor and helps support healthy muscles and meet all your cat’s energy needs

  • Easily digestible kibble with a crunchy texture to help keep your kitty’s teeth clean

  • Proudly made in Purina-owned facilities in the USA

  • Contains NO fillers

Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice 

Another offering from the Blue Buffalo range uses only the finest natural ingredients for adult indoor cats who are prone to weight gain and hairballs. Blue Buffalo’s Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe utilizes lots of real chicken, wholesome whole-grains (brown rice, barley, oatmeal) garden vegetables (peas, carrots, sweet potatoes) and antioxidant-rich fruit (cranberries and blueberries). This cat food targets hairballs using a unique combination of natural fibers from cellulose and psyllium seed husks. It also helps your cat control its weight with the right balance of high-quality protein and fats, and utilizes healthy wholesome grains too to keep your cat’s tummy fuller for longer.  

Key Benefits

  • Real deboned chicken is the #1 ingredient, providing lots of high-quality protein for all your cat’s energy requirements

  • Reduces hairballs using natural sources of fiber

  • Promotes weight control with balanced proteins and fats and added L-carnitine for a healthy metabolism

  • Contains wholesome grains, garden vegetables, and antioxidant-rich fruit 

  • Made with LifeSource Bits, a unique blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins

  • All-natural cat kibble: No poultry by-product meals, No corn, No wheat, No soy, No artificial flavors or preservatives! 

Royal Canin Hairball Care Dry Cat Food 

Royal Canin is one of the big players in the pet food industry with a long history of scientific research behind its diets. This Hairball Care Dry Cat Food is specially formulated for adult indoor cats prone to hairballs and is suitable for neutered cats too. This diet helps reduce hairball formation in several ways. Firstly, it contains a unique blend of dietary fibers, including beet pulp and psyllium seed husks, which are rich in mucilage to coat the hairs and prevent them from sticking together to form balls. Secondly, the insoluble fibers encourage healthy intestinal transit to help excess hair move safely through the digestive system and out the other side within the cat’s stools. There is also a canned version available, Royal Canin Hairball Care Thin Slices in Gravy, which is excellent news if you prefer to give your wet cat food or a mix of both wet and dry food. 

Key Benefits

  • Reduces hairball formation using a blend of natural fibers (including psyllium seed husk) and insoluble fibers to encourage intestinal movement naturally

  • Selected highly digestible protein for improved digestion and improved stool quality (less stinky stools!)

  • Complete and balanced nutrition for adult cats, and suitable for neutered cats too

  • Unique kibble shape and texture helps care for your cat’s teeth and reduce plaque

Now we have finished looking at all the top choices for your kitty, let’s find out a little bit more about hairballs, so you can be fully informed about this common feline problem and how you can help your cat.  

What Are Hairballs? 

The official name for hairballs is trichobezoars. Try saying that three times fast. We all know that cats groom themselves by licking their coat clean. What you might not know is that they have tiny, tough projections on the surface of their tongue called papillae that help to move any loose hair during grooming down their throat and into their stomach.  

Most of the hair eventually moves through the cat’s digestive tract and passes out in their stools. However, sometimes if there is a lot of hair, it can clump together in the cat’s stomach and form hairballs. This is where a hairball control cat food comes in real handy.  

When a cat throws up a hairball, they usually look more cylinder or tubular than a ball. It takes on this sausage shape as it passes through the narrow esophagus from your cat’s tummy to its mouth. It’s a damp and smelly combination of hair and stomach juices, and will usually be a similar color to your cat’s hair. Most hairballs are about an inch long, but sometimes they can be longer and thicker, especially in longer-haired breeds of cats. 

What are the Symptoms of Hairballs? 

If you have seen your cat bring up a hairball, you will know that it is usually not a very nice experience. Most cats will retch and gag, with their neck extended for a few seconds before producing a hairball. All the more reason to try to help prevent your cat from coughing them up in the first place. 

Frequent hairballs may create problems in your cat’s digestive system and cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. A hairball may pass from the stomach into the intestines, where it could even create a life-threatening intestinal blockage.   

However, other health conditions can sometimes cause similar signs. Therefore, if you aren’t sure if your cat is producing hairballs or if it might be another illness, then it is best to seek advice from your veterinarian.   

What Causes Hairballs in Cats? 

As all cats groom themselves and ingest hair, it is normal for your cat to produce the occasional hairball, once every week or two weeks is standard for most cats. 

All types of cats can get this problem, but older cats develop them more often than younger ones. Long-haired breeds of cats, such as Persian or Ragdoll, are also at a much higher risk of suffering from hairballs. You might also notice your cat is producing more hairballs at certain seasons of the year when he is shedding more hair, and hairball control is even more important.  

Some cats can develop hairballs from excessively grooming themselves. The excessive grooming might be due to a skin issue, matted hair, or even stress. Common reasons for stress in cats include moving home, a new family member (e.g., baby or a new cat), or building work nearby. 

Some cats may produce hairballs due to an underlying intestinal issue such as inflammatory bowel disease or a food allergy. These can reduce the normal movement of the gut, and make it more likely for hairballs to form. Other cats may only start developing hairballs after a change in diet, as the new cat food fails to safely move the excess hair through the cat’s gut as well. 

If the ingested hair can pass slowly through your cat’s system, then there will be no problems. It is when the excess hair starts to build up in the stomach and form balls, that it can begin to cause some severe issues. 

Hairball Remedies for Cats: How to Prevent Hairballs? 

If your cat is prone to hairballs, there are some easy things you can do to reduce or even prevent the problem altogether. 

1.  Daily grooming 

If you get in the habit of brushing your cat every day, you will significantly reduce the amount of dead and loose hair in your cat’s coat. Then your cat will be ingesting a lot less hair while he grooms, and therefore there is much less chance of producing hairballs. Grooming your cat is also an excellent way for you to bond with your cat. If your cat hates being brushed, over time, you can hopefully change his mind by making it a positive experience with treats.  

2. Increase your cat’s exercise 

Getting your cat to be more active may be difficult, but it will have several positive effects. Firstly, it can help to alleviate boredom and reduce stress, which are frequent problems with indoor cats. Secondly, regular exercise can get your cat’s digestive tract moving, which will encourage any excess hair to move through the gut. Good ways to get your cat be more active include chaser toys, food balls, or catnip. You could introduce climbing posts somewhere in your home too. 

3. Change to a hairball diet 

We have already mentioned some diets which we think are great choices if you are looking for new cat food to help your cat with his hairball problem. The best hairball cat food can make a real difference to cats who suffer from hairballs regularly, by supporting any excess hair pass safely through the intestinal tract and out the other end in the stools.  

4.  Use a cat hairball remedy 

There are a variety of hairball pastes, gels, and chews available which claim to help cats with hairballs. Many hairball pastes contain mineral or vegetable oil to help lubricate excess hair in your cat’s tummy so it will pass more easily. It can be challenging to know which ones work! Do some research and talk to your veterinarian to check if a hairball supplement would be a good option for your cat. 

Guide on Choosing the Best Hairball Food 

There is not just one hairball diet that will suit every cat. Every cat is different, and each cat needs an individual assessment to see what is essential for them. 

Let’s take a look at some essential things to consider before choosing a new hairball food for your kitty. 

  1.       Quality

Choose a good quality brand that you trust! You want to give your cat the best quality diet to make sure he has all the essential nutrients he requires to thrive. That includes the right levels of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and all the vital vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Choosing a cat food for hairball control doesn’t mean you need to compromise on the quality of the ingredients! 

You should choose a cat food that is complete and balanced for your cat’s age. If the cat food has a statement from The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), then you know it is good quality and contains all the nutrients your cat requires. 

  1.    Ingredients

An important factor in any hairball control diet is the natural fibers, which are the most effective way of moving hair through your cat’s digestive system. However, the type and quantity of fibers are significant, not enough, and there will be no effect, too much, and they may cause digestive issues. 

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need meat to survive. Therefore they naturally need a protein-rich diet to thrive, so choose a food that is high in protein but low in digestible carbohydrates (which can be difficult for cats to digest if there is too much). The diet should also contain all the essential vitamins and minerals your cat requires. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are also great additions in cat food, as they are critical for healthy skin, coat, and overall wellbeing. 

  1. Taste & Consistency

It doesn’t matter if you buy the best hairball control cat food in the world if your cat turns her nose up at it. If you have a fussy eater, then you will have to pay extra attention to the flavors of the food. Additionally, some cats only eat dry food, while others prefer canned. 

Thankfully there are lots of different flavors and styles of hairball diet food on the market. Canned food is available in various textures such as meaty slices in gravy, minced, smooth pâté, or chunks mixed with vegetables. Some brands offer both dry and canned options, which is essential if your cat likes to eat both. 

Changing your cat’s diet too often, or mixing different brands of cat food can cause your cat to have an upset tummy. If your cat likes variety, try to stick to the same brand range but just choose a different flavor. When changing your cat’s food, it is a good idea to slowly mix small amounts of the new diet with the old diet for a week or so. This way, your cat’s system has time to adjust and will make her more likely to eat the new food. 

You know your cat’s preferences and quirks best, and it is important to choose a diet which you think will be tasty and irresistible for your cat 

  1. Other Health Considerations

Does your cat have any other health issues that you need to take into account? Does your cat currently eat a special or prescription diet for another problem? It usually doesn’t make sense buying two different diets, if one food can do both jobs. Plus, it can be costly to buy two diets. 

Thankfully some brands are now offering hairball control diets, which also help to combat other common feline issues too such as urinary tract problems or obesity. A few of our top picks were good choices at helping to keep your cat at a healthy weight as well as reduce hairballs. Another one of our top options works to prevent urinary tract issues in addition to reducing hairballs. Talk to your veterinarian if you need some advice about your cat’s health. 

  1. Price

We know that hairball control diets can be much more expensive than regular cat food. Therefore, you need to consider the price of the diet and what you can afford for your kitty. You might be able to feed a hairball diet for every other meal if you are worried about costs. 

However, a proper hairball diet is more of a long term investment in your cat’s health as it could dramatically reduce hairball production and improve your kitty’s quality of life.  

Things to Avoid When Choosing a Hairball Cat Food 

If you want the best for your cat, then you want to choose a cat food that uses high quality and natural ingredients. You should avoid artificial flavors, additives, preservatives, and colors. There are some concerns about links to cancer reported. There are natural alternatives to these harsh chemicals; for example, rosemary extract is a natural preservative. 

A healthy adult cat food needs to have the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates- your cat needs all three. However, avoid cat food that is high in carbohydrates. If your cat eats too many carbohydrates, then it may be at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and intestinal problems. 

Choose a cat food which contains lots of good quality real meat. Avoid diets that include meat by-products and fillers as the quality of these products is not always known, and avoid foods that have high levels of plant-based protein sources such as soy.    

Final Thoughts  

If you are always finding little surprises of smelly hairballs throughout your home, then it is time to make some changes in your cat’s life. Daily grooming and playing with your cat are easy ways to make his lifestyle healthier. However, changing to a special hairball control diet is the easiest way to make him more comfortable and reduce the number of hairballs he is producing. Choosing an excellent hairball control cat food could improve your cat’s quality of life considerably, and mean a lot less cleaning up around the home for you. Hopefully, our guide will make choosing the best cat food for hairball control a little easier! 

 

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