Hairballs are a nightmare.
There’s nothing worse than stumbling downstairs half-awake in the morning, just to squish your bare foot into the gift your feline friend left on the carpet. The thought is enough to make most of us physically shudder.
While hairballs are a common part of cat ownership, if your fluffy friend is dealing with a lot of them, this could be a sign that something is very wrong. Hairballs aren’t just an issue for the person who needs to clean them up. These gross regurgitations are bad for your cat too. They’re capable of causing everything from intestinal problems to sickness.
So, what can you do to keep hairballs to a minimum?
The Ick Factor: Understanding Hairballs
Hairballs are gross, but they’re also a common issue for cats. Often, they develop as a result of your cat’s grooming routine. If you were licking your fur clean every day, you’d get hairballs too.
If you’ve ever been licked by a cat, you’ll know they have a Velcro-style tongue. The little hooks in your cat’s tongue will catch loose hair, which your cat then swallows. Usually, the majority of the hair passes through your cat’s digestion tract with no problem.
However, if some hair remains in the stomach, a hairball can form. Usually, your cat will end up vomiting the hairball to remove it. Yuck.
What Causes Hairballs, and Are They Dangerous?
Hairballs are more likely to appear with long-haired cat breeds like Maine Coons and Persians. That’s because they have more hair to deal with. Cats that shed a lot or groom regularly are also more likely to have hairballs because they swallow a lot of fur.
You may have noticed that your cat didn’t have as many hairballs as a kitten, but these issues can grow as your cat does. Excessive grooming habits caused by stress can also exacerbate hairballs. Symptoms of hairballs include:
How to Prevent Hairballs
There’s nothing that you can do to prevent hairballs from happening with your cat completely. However, there are things you can do to reduce the chances that your kitty will struggle too regularly. For instance:
Another option might be to discourage excessive grooming whenever possible. If you’re nervous that your cat’s hairballs might be a result of compulsive grooming, give them something else to do. When you notice your kitty over-cleaning, provide them with something else to do, like playing with a toy!
What is Hairball Prevention Food?
Before you can choose the best cat food for hairballs, you need to make sure that you know how these foods work.
Sometimes, the best food for hairballs will be a hypoallergenic diet. That's because undiagnosed allergies to foods, and issues with inflammatory bowel disease, can sometimes contribute to hairballs. These conditions cause your kitty’s intestinal tract to swell, making it harder to pass food so another form of hairball prevention is to look into the best food for cats with allergies.
Hypoallergenic cat food can eliminate the inflammation problem. Usually, they include limited ingredients that avoid common causes of allergies in cats. Your vet will be able to give you more guidance on the kind of food to look for here.
Another option is to look for a high-fiber cat food diet. Different kinds of fiber in your cat’s diet perform various roles. For instance, indigestible fiber – the kind your cat would usually get from its prey’s bones and fur – sweeps hair through the intestinal tract.
There are also sources of soluble fiber, like beet pulp and oats, that can support your kitty’s gut health too. Getting the right combination of ingredients in your cat’s diet will reduce the chances of suffering from hairballs.
What to Look for in the Best Cat Food For Hairballs
The ingredients you look for when you’re searching for the best cat food will depend on your moggy. All cats have unique dietary requirements, and your vet can tell you if yours needs anything special. There are many pet food manufacturers out there that now add fiber to their formulations to improve hairball management.
Usually, you’ll need to look for diets with a good percentage of fiber and plenty of extra delicious ingredients too. All cats need plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals to help them stay healthy.
Start by looking at the nutrients and ingredients on your chosen cat food. Natural fibers are often the best way to move fur and other substances through your cat’s digestive tract. Most of the best hairball prevention foods have high numbers of natural fiber. However, try not to choose something too high in fiber.
Your cat is a carnivore, and too much fiber could mean that Mr. Snowball fails to consume enough protein, because his stomach feels overly full. On top of helping hairballs move through the digestive tract, you want your food to include a low amount of carbs, to reduce obesity. Omega 2 & 6 fatty acids are also helpful as they improve the health of your cat’s hair and coat.
Spending a fortune on hairball control cat food sn’t going to do much good if your kitty refuses to eat it. Fortunately, there are different styles and flavors available on the market today. You can usually find something that appeals to your cat out of the selection.
Remember to consider the consistency of the food along with the taste. Some cats will prefer dry foods that are made mostly to replicate biscuits. Other cats love wet food, and this comes in everything from pate form, to minced and shredded morsels of meat.
You should have a good idea of your cat’s preferences based on their usual diet. If you’re not certain, take it slow when introducing your kitty to new options.
Things to Avoid
Just as there are essential ingredients to look for in the best cat food for hairballs, there are also things to avoid. For instance, just like with food for humans, it’s best to stay away from artificial preservatives and flavorings. These things don’t serve much of a purpose.
Avoid any food or treats that are full of fats, starches, fillers, and extras. Cornmeal is also a common ingredient in dry cat food that doesn’t deliver any value to your cat’s diet. These things are fine in moderation, but too many carbs can cause your cat to gain weight.
Even wheat gluten, which doesn’t seem like a dangerous ingredient, is often used as a substitute for muscle proteins, can cause problems. Sometimes, this food contains melamine, which may cause kidney failures.
Does Hairball Control Gel Work?
Aside from experimenting with foods specially intended to remove hairballs, you can also consider using the gels that we mentioned above. These lubricated gels contain various substances that are intended to help hairballs slide through the GI tract.
Ultimately, you need to avoid giving your cats too much of this substance, because it can make them feel sick or lead to issues like diarrhea. However, if you follow the guidelines given by your vet, then using a gel could be a safe strategy.
Vets recommend substances like the Nutri-Vet, Multi-Vite Paw-Gel for cats. Vets are responsible for this particular gel’s formula. The great thing about this lubricant is that you don’t have to force it into your cat’s mouth. All you need to do is apply the gel to your cat’s paw, and they’ll consume it as they groom themselves.
Another bonus for this particular gel is that it comes with a flavor designed to appeal to your kitties. That could make encouraging them to eat it is a much easier process.
The Best Cat Foods for Hairballs
Now we come to the most essential part of our list – the best cat foods for hairballs. We chose these options based on their versatility and performance. We’ve picked a wide selection of different consistencies and types of food, so you can find something suitable for your cat!
1. Royal Canin Feline Intense Hairball (Best Overall Hairball Control Cat Food Option)
Royal Canin is an excellent company in the special kitty diet landscape. The company has something for everyone, including a unique food for cats. Royal Canin Hairball Care is tailored to suit cats over the age of 1, so it’s best to avoid using it for kittens.
This food reduces hairballs by moving the hair gently through the GI tract. This also controls hairball development thanks to a specific blend of dietary fibers intended for healthy stomachs! Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of variety in flavor. What’s more, this isn’t the cheapest food around.
2. Hill's Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control (Best Urinary Cat Food for Hairballs option)
Another option from one of the leading cat food brands (and one of my personal favorites). Hill’s Science diet Urinary and Hairball control food support your kitty’s urinary tract and their GI system too. There’s Omega 3, and vitamin E included for a healthier coat, and you get tons of high-quality protein to support your cat in maintaining their strength.
The great thing about this particular food is that it’s a wet dish, so you can also help things move smoothly in your cat’s stomach with the extra moisture. Sometimes, a sole dry-food diet can cause constipation. Keep in mind that this food does have a pretty strong smell. Customers also note some differences in texture between different cans.
3. Hill's Science Hairball Control (Best Wet Food Hairball Control Cat Food Option)
If your cat needs help with hairballs, but urinary problems aren’t an issue, you can try this wet cat food mix instead. Available in the flavors of ocean fish or chicken, this complete adult cat food helps to reduce hairballs and support your cat’s development. The product even features a bunch of must-have protein for healthy growth.
Hill’s Science hairball food features easy-to-digest ingredients that cats love. What’s more, because it’s wet food, you don’t need to worry as much about constipation issues caused by a lack of water in the diet! Unfortunately, this cat food does stink. Sometimes, the food is also wetter than usual, causing a few consistency issues.
4. Purina ONE Hairball Formula (Best Dry Hairball Control Cat Food Option)
If your cat’s more of a fan of kibble than wet food (like my Savannah), then try the Purina ONE hairball formula. The great thing about this food is that the number one ingredient is real chicken. That means your kitty gets a fantastic dose of protein and all the vitamins they need in their carnivore diet.
There’s natural added fiber to reduce hairballs, but the calorie content is still reasonably low so that you can reduce your risk of an overweight moggy. This Purina mix is also vet recommended. However, there is only one flavor choice, so that might be a problem if your cat doesn’t like chicken. The scent is pretty bad too!
5. Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball Control (Best Indoor Hairball Control Cat Food Option)
Indoor cats often need more help with their diet than outdoor cats. That’s because your kitty doesn’t have the option to hunt when she or he is indoors. Fortunately, Blue Buffalo can help. This formula is specifically designed for indoor cats. There’s real meat as the first ingredient, as well as plenty of high-quality protein. You also get a hefty dose of natural fiber.
The Blue Buffalo collection also features LifeSource bits, which are hardened chunks of extra kibble that contain a lot of antioxidants and minerals. While these bits are great, they won’t appeal to all cats – particularly those who don’t like large pieces of biscuit. Once again, there’s only one main recipe, and that’s chicken flavored.
6. Hill's Science Diet Hairball Control Cat Food
Choosing a kibble as the best cat food for hairballs is an excellent option for many pet parents. Adding a bit of extra kibble to your kitty’s diet is usually a lot easier than changing the moggy’s meals entirely. This dry kibble from Hill’s Science includes all the natural fibers your cat needs to reduce hairballs quickly and effectively.
There are vitamin E and Omega acids (3 and 6) to help improve the health of your cat’s fur and skin. Plus, you get an extra dose of protein to help your feline build its muscles. One possible downside is that this food is quite expensive, and the price can change almost at random.
7. IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Hairball Control Cat Food
IAMS Proactive Health is one of the more convenient hairball control foods on the market, because it’s so easy to find online or offline. One bag contains everything you need to protect your cat’s system, including protein-rich chicken. The fiber blend contains beet pulp to reduce hairballs before they start bothering your cat.
Another bonus of using kibble for your hairball remedy is that it helps to protect your cat’s teeth. Crunching at biscuits will remove and reduce plaque! Unfortunately, the food has some inconsistency to it, with some customers complaining that the recipe seems to change. Additionally, your cat might not love the flavor, and there’s only one available.
8. Meow Mix Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
Here’s another great option or Americans everywhere. The Meow Mix Hairball control food isn’t just there to help eliminate hairballs. This product can also reduce the risk of your kitty, developing hairballs in the first place. The 100% complete and balanced formula gives your moggy everything they need to stay healthy, including plenty of protein and some extra fiber.
What’s more, Meow Mix is made in the USA, so you know you’re getting a high-quality product. This product also comes with seafood flavors in it, which is a nice change from all the chicken-based options out there. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other flavors to choose from. Another issue is that this product only comes in two sizes.
9. Purina Cat Chow Hairball Control (Best Premium Hairball Control Cat Food Option)
Purina Cat Chow is a popular food for a lot of pet owners. There aren’t a lot of size and flavor options to choose from, but the complete mix does come with plenty of bonuses. For instance, you get natural fiber to help everything move naturally in your cat’s stomach. What’s more, the antioxidants in this meal will help to support a healthier immune system too.
Unlike some of the leading cat foods for hairballs, Purina comes with a low-calorie content too. This reduces your risk of a fat kitty running around if they enjoy their food too much.
10. Purina Pro Plan Indoor Care Adult Dry Cat Food
If your kitty doesn’t enjoy the taste of the previous Purina food mentioned, you could always switch to Pro plan. This option comes with a range of different taste sensations, from chicken and turkey to salmon and rice. There are also plenty of sizes to pick from too.
The number one ingredient in every bag is meat – perfect for your carnivore kitty. This food also comes with plenty of protein and natural fiber to control hairballs. There are even natural prebiotic fibers to help promote better digestive health. Unfortunately, the chunks are quite large for cats with painful teeth or smaller mouths. The smell is pretty significant too.
11. Purina Cat Chow Natural hairball Control (Best Natural Hairball Control Cat Food Option)
If you love knowing that your cat’s enjoying an all-natural diet, then you might like this option from Purina. Available in just one size and flavor, the Purina cat chow for natural hairball control is made with only natural ingredients, including real chicken and turkey.
The best thing about this food is that there are no added flavors or preservatives that might cause tummy troubles for your kitty. Plus, there’s a good helping of natural fiber included to help with managing your moggy’s hairballs.
12. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Hairball Control (Best Grain-free Hairball Control Cat Food Option)
Finally, a grain-free diet is always a great thing for cats. Your fluffy friend doesn’t need a lot of grain in their food – they want all-natural meats instead. The Blue Buffalo, grain-free hairball control food, is specifically made to support a cat’s dietary needs.
Aside from helping with hairballs, this food also supports weight control with a low-calorie biscuit. There are even LifeSource bits included for that extra boost of antioxidants. However, some carts seem to stay away from these extra chunks.
Finishing Thoughts on Hairball Control Cat Food
It can be tough to find cat food that works perfectly for your kitty, particularly when they have additional needs. Fortunately, there are tons of options out there for the best cat food for hairballs. Whether you’re looking for dry food or something wet, you’re sure to find something that works for your cat.
My top choice has to be the Hill’s Science dry cat food, simply because it works perfectly for my Maine Coon. This mix has helped my fluffy kitty to cut down on hairballs. Plus, his skin and fur seem healthier than ever.
Good luck finding the food that works for your cat!
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