Every product and service on My Pet Needs That is independently selected by our editors, contributors, and experts.
If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a referral fee. Learn more
Cats love to lick their fur as a means of grooming. Sadly, licking the fur can lead to the formation of hairballs. And yes, even cats that have relatively short fur can have these balls of hair. While we cannot do anything about their licking behavior, we can somehow give them the right kind of cat food to help them better manage loose fur. Giving the best cat food for hairballs is one of the highly recommended approaches to the management of these irritating balls of fur. And here are some of our picks for the best based on the personal experiences of countless cat lovers and our own resident pet expert.
One of the best kitty diets for controlling hairball is Blue Buffalo’s Blue Indoor Hairball and Weight Control Dry Cat Food. Blue Buffalo’s Blue Indoor Hairball and Weight Control Cat Food are specially formulated with higher proportions of protein and more wholesome vegetables and fruits.
The increased fiber from these ingredients is what will help promote normal peristaltic movement in the cat’s gut, facilitating the removal of hairball from its gut instead of having to regurgitate it. The added phytochemicals and antioxidants are also known to improve the health of both the skin and fur so you minimize the tendency of shedding which is, technically, the root cause of hairball formation.
IAMS’s Proactive Health Hairball Care Dry Cat Food is another viable option for cats that are either regurgitating or passing hairballs through the gut. Like Blue Buffalo’s formulation, the IAMS Proactive comes with prebiotics and omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for promoting healthier skin and fur. This way you minimize falling hair so kitties won’t have to lick these into a ball.
It also comes with natural fibers in a natural blend that includes beet pulp as well as other peristalsis-increasing ingredients. The prebiotics included in the formulation is notable since these can also help in the promotion of healthier digestive tracts. The inclusion of real chicken also helps provide the high protein requirements of cats.
Hill’s Science Diet is popular for making specialty diets for cats and dogs. Their Hairball Control formulation is specifically formulated for kitties that are more prone to the formation of hairball. What makes the HSD Hairball Control Dry Cat Food quite exceptional is that it sources its proteins from real chicken and then blended with healthy fruits and vegetables with both dietary and insoluble fiber.
The fruits and veggies mixed into its formulation gives HSD Hairball Control the much-desired antioxidants for healthier skin and fur. We already mentioned that this means in terms of your kitty’s hairball issues. There’s one downside, though. Hill’s Science Diet doesn’t necessarily believe in not using corn, wheat, or soy in their products. So if you’re looking for a product that doesn’t contain these kinds of grain, then look elsewhere.
Blue Buffalo returns to our list with its Wilderness variant, the Natural Evolutionary Diet Indoor Hairball Control Adult Dry Cat Food. If you’re wondering how the Wilderness is different from the Blue, well this one is generally more expensive than the Blue Indoor Hairball Control. What really separates it from other Blue Buffalo products or perhaps even other brands is the inclusion of 5 strains of highly beneficial bacteria.
The inclusion of probiotics in the formulation of the Wilderness is nothing less than amazing since probiotics can substantially improve the health of your cat’s digestive system. This makes it a lot easier for your feline friend to manage and pass the hairball down its anus. The proteins included in its formulation are a combination of chicken and turkey with the addition of pea protein. It is not surprising why cat lovers love the Blue Wilderness for their kitties that have hairball issues.
For cat lovers who want to give their felines the best in nutrition as well as hairball management, you may want Hill’s Science Diet’s Hairball Control Minced Premium Cat Food. It’s almost the same as the HSD Hairball dry kibble except that this one comes in as a wet cat food. The benefits should be pretty obvious especially for felines that are not really fond of drinking from the bowl or even a pet fountain.
The other thing is that you’re giving your feline a really gourmet feast composed of premium meats that include chicken, turkey, and pork. Its fiber content is sourced from premium quality vegetables. Again, like most HSD pet food, the HSD Hairball Minced Premium contains gluten from wheat, corn, and soy so if you’re concerned about this then it’s best to look for another product.
Specifically formulated for feline hairball control
Real chicken meat combined with turkey giblets, pork liver, and pork byproducts
Most of the products in this list are cat food. If you’re already giving your feline premium quality cat food, you might want to give it a treat that is specifically formulated for the control of hairballs instead. At least, you will not really have to convert your kitty from its current diet to one that is based solely on hairball control. This is what Mars PetCare’s Feline Greenies SmartBites Hairball Control Cat Treats provide.
These may just be treats but each treat is packed with real chicken protein as well as fiber from wholesome grains. Its FiberBlend formulation is what gives your kitty the roughage in its gut to help sweep the hairball as efficiently as possible. It should be noted that the Feline Greenies SmartBites are not cat food, but rather treats or snacks.
Made of real chicken protein and wholesome grains for increased fiber
The omega-6 fatty acids contained in the Purina One Purposeful Nutrition Hairball Formula Adult Premium Cat Food is essential in the promotion of stronger and healthier fur and skin. This helps minimize if not eliminate shedding which cats can lick and turn into hairballs. Like Hill’s Science Diet, Purina doesn’t necessarily believe that wheat and corn gluten are bad for your kitty.
As such you can expect these 2 ingredients to be also present in the Purina One. It does come with chicken protein, although it does list poultry byproduct meal as one of its ingredients. There are some folks who are wary of such ingredients so if you’re one of these folks, be forewarned.
The Pro Pan Chicken and Rice Entrée Canned Wet Cat Food is Purina’s wet cat food version of its Purina One Hairball Control formulation. It comes with the same omega fatty acids that can help provide for stronger and more robust skin and fur. It contains real meats and blended with a variety of wholesome ingredients like rice.
Vitamins and minerals derived from these food ingredients are what your kitty will need to control the formation of hairballs while also allowing for its more efficient removal through the feline gut. As can be expected the Purina Pro Plan also contains wheat and corn gluten so if you’re wary about these ingredients, then this kitty food is not for your feline friend.
Royal Canin’s entry in this list is the Feline Care Nutrition Hairball Care Dry Cat Food. What makes it so special is that it features both insoluble fibers and dietary fibers. The former is what your kitty will need to sweep the hairball down its gut. The latter is what will ensure all the nutrients contained in its food will be absorbed properly.
This can have significant implications in feline nutrition since this is needed for healthier skin and hair. It has high protein and fat content, too, further providing the necessary building blocks for the tissues of the skin and fur. Royal Canin also contains wheat and corn. For those who are concerned about giving these ingredients to their feline pals, Royal Canin is not for you. But if you don’t mind, then your kitty will love you for it.
This product from Nature’s Variety doesn’t have any indication that it is good for hairball control. However, an examination of the Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food will reveal that it has the right set of ingredients that will help address the different aspects of feline hairballs. First, it contains 95% real animal proteins. Proteins are necessary for tissue structural integrity.
The Instinct also contains 5% natural fibers that promote more efficient bowel movement. It doesn’t contain any grain or gluten and as such should be an amazing choice for those who are quite apprehensive about giving their felines gluten and grains. The combination of proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins is what makes the Instinct a great diet for hairball control even though it doesn’t say in its label.
Picking the right cat food that will help you control its hairball problem can be downright frustrating. This is especially true if there is no “hairball control” written on its label. However, you really don’t need any of this market labeling as we’re going to share with you a few things about feline hairball and how high-quality cat food can help.
How to Tell If Your Cat has a Hairball?
Spotting hairballs from your cat is not really a straightforward thing. Despite the name, these are not the type of hairball that you can form by putting together cut hair from a salon and gluing them together. Unfortunately, this is not the same kind of hairball that other folks may have in mind.
First off, hairball accumulates not on your cat’s fur but rather inside its gut. As your kitty performs its daily grooming ritual, strands of fur are ingested and stay inside the tummy. Most of these are eventually passed out as stool. Unfortunately, in cases where the cat’s digestive system is compromised or is not working as efficiently as it should be, there’s a strong chance that these strands of hair will grow into ball of hair. This is made possible by the constant licking of more hair strands further adding into the hairs that are already in the tummy. Since this ‘ball of hair should not even be present in the gut, the natural response of the feline body is to expel it out of its system, not through the anus but rather through the mouth. In other words, your cat will try to regurgitate the hairball.
So how do you know if your cat has a hairball? Well, you should inspect your cat’s vomitus and look for an elongated bundle of cat hair that is typically covered in yellowish-greenish bile. This is the most definitive manifestation of feline hairball.
There are other signs to watch out for. However, do take note that these may indicate other pathologies.
Animal experts, especially cat experts, say that feline nutrition plays an important role in the prevention of hairballs. There are a lot of interesting theories on how high quality food can help control the development of such a phenomenon. We have three that are very interesting and provide an excellent theoretical foundation on how food can help control hairballs. Here’s how feline pet food can help in the management and prevention of hairballs.
It should be understood that the phenomenon is closely related to a cat’s licking behavior as part of its grooming ritual and as a kind of soothing mechanism. There really isn’t much we can do about our cats’ licking. But we can somehow do something about shedding since this naturally increases the number of cat hair that can be licked. It is quite simple. Less shedding leads to less hair getting licked by your cat. This, in turn, leads to fewer incidences of hairball formation. As such pet foods that are rich in ingredients that strengthen both the skin and the hair can help.
Ensures healthier digestion
High quality cat food can help ensure proper digestion. While some folks would want to steer clear of gluten and cereal grains, some cat lovers don’t actually mind giving these ingredients to their kitties. The important thing to recognize is that cats need more proteins than dogs since they are more obligate carnivores and as such their protein requirements are best served by animal sources. Probiotics and prebiotics can also help improve digestion. The whole idea is to allow cats to process these strands of health and move these down its gut without waiting for it to form into a ball of hair. The reason why hairballs form is that some loose strands of hair can get stuck in small crevices in the stomach and duodenum. If these gaps can be managed by improving overall digestive processes, then there’s no chance that the strands of hair will collect and form into a ball.
What we would like to see is for our cats to pass these hairs right through the gut and outside of their anuses. We already said that strengthening the digestive system can help prevent the deposition of loose hair strands in the tummy. Now, you will also have to think about improving the way in which the bowels are moved through the gut. Regular bowel movement can help remove these hair strands from your cat’s gut. This is where fibrous foods can help since they serve more like brooms that sweep the bowel – including the hair strands – across the gut.
What to Consider When Buying Food for Hairball Control?
It should be fairly obvious what type of cat food you should be looking for, based on what we have been talking about in the preceding section. However, in case you’re not really clear about what to consider, here are some factors you have to think about whenever buying food for hairball control.
As we have said above cats are obligate carnivores. As such, their diets should be rich in protein. This is important especially in hairball since protein is needed for stronger and healthier skin and hair which can help minimize shedding.
When it comes to the source of protein, your primary consideration should be animal proteins. While both plant and animal proteins are proteins at the macro level, there are certain amino acids that can only be found in animal proteins, but not in plants. It is important to read the ingredient list and make sure that the first ingredient is an animal protein.
Gluten- and/or grain- free?
This is quite tricky since there are cat foods that provide exceptional health despite containing cereal grains or gluten. Proponents of gluten-free or grain-free cat food say that kitties should never consume these kinds of food since their digestive system is not specially built for processing these ingredients. It can also lead to upset stomachs which can favor the deposition of loose hair strands.
As we have mentioned above, fiber increases the bulk of the gut content making it move more efficiently. You will have to choose between dietary fiber and insoluble fiber, though. The latter is basically your broom that sweeps fecal matter through the gut. The former also increases bulk but contains nutrients and carbohydrates. If you’ve got a Garfield in your home, you don’t want to give it extra carbs.
This is where the addition of vegetables and fruits as well as wholesome grains can help in the management of hairballs. These food items are rich in antioxidants and other substances that can help improve the overall health of the skin and hair. This minimizes hair loss and reduces number of hair strands licked and swallowed.
Feline hairballs can be life-threatening if not managed properly. If not regurgitated this ball of hair can keep on growing and lead to intestinal obstruction. A much better solution is to give them cat food high in fiber and protein and provides a good amount of antioxidants. This helps strengthen hair and skin, facilitate more efficient bowel movement, and promote healthier digestion.