No animal is more obsessed with grooming than cats. By nature, they are heavy groomers and their idle time is spent mostly on removing loose fur on the body. Not to mention, cats groom even more when they are uncomfortable about something.
The amount of fur falling on your carpet perhaps could be just the same amount of hair your cat may have ingested. The more fur swallowed, the more hair combines to form a ball-like piece more so known as the hairball.
The ball of fur that is foreign to your cat’s stomach will eventually lead to an unpleasant experience not just for them, but for the cat owner, too.
Why Do Cats Get Hairballs?
Cat’s notoriety in excessive grooming causes them to swallow too much fur in the process. The occasional hairball is typical for cats. It happens to long and short hair cats and may occur from the kitten stage to old age.
When moggies groom, they ingest tiny amounts of fur through their tongue that picks up loose or dead hair. Cat’s tongue is hooked making it easy to latch things to swallow. This leaves no surprise that your cat ingests a lot of hair in the course of grooming.
The problem starts when these furs accumulate. Being the unfamiliar object hairball is, it is very unlikely that it will go on with the digestion process. In its place, the feline will attempt to get rid of it. The most common way they release hairball is through vomiting.
It will surprise you that hairballs vomited are not actually round in shape but, like a tube. This is because when these balls of hair are spewed, they have to pass through the esophagus which is a long and skinny pathway within the cat’s body.
Vomited hairball is not at all a pleasant sight to see. As disgusting as it is for us, it is an awful experience for your cat.
Symptoms of Hairballs in Cats
Properly identifying a hairball situation is the most important step when considering the course of action for treatment. Seeing your cat spit up a hairball can be alarming and as a cat owner, you may instantly think something is wrong. This is an even further reason for you to accurately identify whether or not it is an immediate concern.
Cats hacking, gagging, vomiting, or coughing up as they try to eliminate hairball is unpleasant to hear. But, it should be encouraged in a way. At least, it is an indication of success in getting rid of the hairball. Most of the time, cats can get rid of them pretty quickly and won’t have to be the source of worry.
However, some cats are just not that capable of doing such and they may require the assistance of their owner. These are when you should be on the lookout for symptoms to know if there is a need to contact the vet.
The signs you should be on the lookout for are:
Continuous vomiting, gagging or hacking without hairball coming out
Lack of appetite
These symptoms may vary in a range of severity, yet each of them points out that hairball may be causing severe problems in your kitten’s system. If your cat appears to choke, take advantage of 24-hour emergency services in your area. CPR also helps.
Best Cat Food for Hairball Control and Prevention
Now that we are aware of hairballs, what causes them, or when to check with the vet, another area we should tackle is control and prevention. We can’t do much about their licking behavior, but we can provide them a good kind of cat food to help them manage loose fur better.
Providing the best cat food for hairballs is part of the highly suggested approaches in managing hairball in cats. We’ve compiled a list of cat foods that we believe are the best for hairballs based on personal experiences as well as experiences of other cat lovers, too.
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#1. Indoor Hairball & Weight Control for Adults (with LifeSource Bits) by Blue Buffalo
4.7 out of 5 stars
- Available in: 3 and 7 lbs. bags
- Crude Protein: 32%
- Crude Fat: 15%
- Crude Fiber: 6%
- Moisture: 9%
A brand famous for using only the very natural and the best ingredients, Blue Buffalo comes with its hairball control cat food - Indoor Hairball & Weight Control. It kicks things off by listing real meat as its first ingredient.
Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control is a high-quality source of protein. In addition, it has a number of grains, vegetables, and fruits to provide the cat with a wide range of wholesome nutrition.
This specially formulated cat food has increased fiber that promotes normal peristaltic movement in the cat’s digestive system. It facilitates the elimination of hairball from their stomach instead of the cat having to throw it up.
The supplementary phytochemicals and antioxidants are also known to develop and improve the health of both skin and fur, minimizing the chances of shedding which is, exactly the main reason for hairball formation.
Indoor Hairball & Weight Control for Adults comes from Blue Buffalo’s Blue Line. This means that its recipe features life protection formulation that is supplemented with [LifeSource](https://bluebuffalo.com/why-choose-blue/lifesource-bits/) bits. These kibbles that are mixed with Blue Buffalo’s cat food contain the precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are carefully selected not just by holistic veterinarians but animal nutritionists, too.
#2. Hairball Control for Adults by Hill’s Science Diet
4.7 out of 5 stars
- Available in: 3.5, 7, and 15.5 lbs. bags
- Crude Protein: 33%
- Crude Fat: 19.3%
- Crude Fiber: 9.1%
- Moisture: 9%
A household name popular for making specialty diets for cats and dogs, Hill’s Science Diet developed a specifically formulated food for cats who are prone to hairball formation. Hairball Control for Adults by Hill’s Science Diet is relatively exceptional because it sources its protein from real chicken at the same time blending it with healthy fruits and vegetables with both dietary and insoluble fiber.
Hairball Control for Adults by Hill’s Science Diet provides Omega-3 and Omega-6 as well as vitamin E. These nutrients are responsible for maintaining your kitten’s fur and skin into a healthy state, reducing risks of hair loss.
Hill’s Science has a team of about 200 vets, food scientists, and nutritionists, all helping with preparing the superior pet food using locally available and imported ingredients. They prepare the food using high-grade ingredients like real chicken, lamb, or salmon to ensure that the cats get all the nutrients it needs.
The formulation also includes the blend of antioxidants to help strengthen your mouser’s immune system. Perfect for cat aged 1 to 6 years old that have neem suffering from a hairball, this cat food is also formulated to enhance your cat’s normal weight and build muscle instead of accumulating fats.
#3. Feline Smartbites Hairball Control by Greenies
4.8 out of 5 stars
- Available in: 2.1 oz, 4.6 oz, 16 oz, and packs of ten 4.6 oz
- Flavor: Chicken and Tuna
- Crude Protein: 30%
- Crude Fat: 17%
- Crude Fiber: 6.5%
- Moisture: 11%
Here’s introducing to this list a formulation for cat’s hairball control by Greenies. Not cat food but, a premium quality treat that is specially prepared for cats one year or older. Feline Smartbites Hairball Control by Greenies is another way to manage hairball without having to change your cat’s current diet.
As cats are obsessed with routine and similarity, changing their cat food to do something against hairballs can be stressful for them. Thus, the idea of being able to do manage hairball without having to do that is the brainchild of Greenies.
Feline Smartbites Hairball Control by Greenies may appear to be a simple treat, but each bite is jammed with real chicken protein, added with fiber for wholesome grains. The FiberBlend formulation is your cat’s source of roughage to help sweep the hairball in the gut as efficiently as possible.
You may disagree that this treatment is included in this list, but treats are something to eat, too. So, technically they are still food. Toms will surely love Feline Smartbites Hairball Control by Greenies double texture where the inside is soft and the outside, crunchy.
This snack is perfect for your cat for the balanced and complete nutrients it has. Plus, it doesn’t just aid in a hairball, it also helps in food digestion.
#4. Indoor Intense Hairball 34 by Royal Canin
4.6 out of 5 stars
- Available in: 3, 6, 14 lbs bags
- Crude Protein: 34%
- Crude Fat: 15%
- Crude Fiber: 7.5%
- Moisture: 8.1%
Backed with 50 years of scientific research, Royal Canin has garnered its reputation as one of the top foods to give to your pets. Therefore, it is no surprise the food line they have for cats is included in this list.
What makes Indoor Intense Hairball 34 by Royal Canin is the formulation of both insoluble and dietary fibers it features. Insoluble fibers help your cat sweep the hairball down the gut. Dietary fiber ensures that all the nutrients contained in the food are completely and properly absorbed.
Indoor Intense Hairball 34 by Royal Canin comes in kibble form in a triangular shape for that easy chewing with the least amount of food particles left between your cat’s teeth. This helps in keeping tartar and plaque build-up. So, it is not just about hairball, it is for dental issues, too.
The formulation of Indoor Intense Hairball 34 by Royal Canin assists in the movement of swallowed hair through the tabby’s intestinal tract. In turn, it is eliminated correctly without the regurgitation leaving your cat with less digestive issues.
Marked appropriate for one year and older, Indoor Intense Hairball 34 by Royal Canin uses a combination of fatty acids and certain fibers to reduce inflammation. This makes it even more ideal for cats that frequently get an upset stomach.
#5. Hairball Formula by Purina One
4.7 out of 5 stars
- Available in: 3.5, 7, 16, 22 lbs bag
- Crude Protein: 34%
- Crude Fat: 14%
- Crude Fiber: 4.3%
- Moisture: 12%
Start your adult cat’s nutritional needs to support her optimal health inside and out. Hairball Formula by Purina One contains Omega-6 fatty acids that are essential in the promotion of stronger and healthier fur and skin. Very efficient in minimizing if not elimination shedding in cats that cause them to get hairballs.
Just like Hill’s Science Diet, Purina ONE believes that wheat and corn gluten are not totally that bad to your cats. For this reason, you can expect these ingredients to as well be present in Hairball Formula by Purina One.
It still comes with chicken protein from real chicken meat, although it may have poultry by-product as one of its ingredients listed. Animals' proteins are vital in controlling shedding. Hairball Formula by Purina One makes up for it by having natural fiber as the main ingredient.
Natural Fiber as the main ingredient helps reduce hairballs and control their formation. With that, you can be sure your feline is in perfect health and shape with the meals you give them. Just remember, when your cat’s skin is well-fed and nourished, you won’t have to worry about them shedding so much hair.
The market presents so many choices for cat foods related to managing hairballs and it can be overwhelming to decide which one to pick for your precious furball. We’ve sure narrowed them down to 5, but that is still so many choices to choose from.
Going through a comparison of each of the cat foods for hairballs on the list, it gave us a better understanding of the best cat food for hairball control and management. The review should be able to give you all the reasons we chose it as Top Pick.
Indoor Hairball & Weight Control for Adults (with LifeSource Bits) by Blue Buffalo makes it as our favorite. The LifeSource Bits Technology, the high proportions of protein, vegetables, and fruits, the antioxidants and phytonutrients that it comes with, we did not see with other cat food.
Deciding on your cat’s diet to help with managing hairball issues can be downright infuriating. But, as we have pointed out in this article, there are things you can do to help your cat.
The most important thing is to provide them the best food that is beneficial for their health. This is especially true whether they get hairball or not.
You may also, as always, reach out to your veterinarian to find out more about these products and ways in proper managing of hairballs.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What can I give my cat to prevent hairballs?
A: Most of the cat foods we reviewed are appropriate to give to your cat to manage hairball. However, there are also other things you can do to control these balls of hair. On top of finding the right diet, you may go with altering your cat’s lifestyle like brushing them regularly and a good amount of exercise. You may also distract them if you notice too much grooming going on by offering toys they can play with.
Q: Does wet cat food cause hairballs?
A: Cat’s diet that causes hairballs is not just limited to wet food. Your cat’s food may be dry or wet and they may still get hairball. This is because, it is not from the diet, rather from their constant grooming and swallowing of their fur. There are wet and dry cat foods that are specially formulated to go against the process of hairball formation.
( Check out our full guide on best cat scratching post here )