5 Best Cat Foods for Hairballs: Hairball Prevention Food Recommendations

car eating the hairbell prevention cat food

Looking for the best cat food for hairballs? Here it is! Purina One Hairball Formula

Hairballs are a very common problem for cats and cat owners. They are dirty, inconvenient, and give you a lot of concerns about your cat’s health. One way that you can solve this problem is to identify the best cat foods for hairballs in cats and start feeding them a diet that will curtail the issues that you’re having. Many people have problems with hairballs, but not many know that the problem can often be solved with a simple food change.

In this complete guide to finding the best hairball cat food, we’ll go over the causes of hairballs, what can be done to prevent them, and what some of the best foods are for hairball prevention. We know that the health of your cat is a priority, so you’ll be happy to know that we’ve done extensive research and have used multiple credible resources to find this valuable information.

Best Overall

Our first cat food is this Hairball Formula Adult food by Purina. Purina is a long-standing member of the pet food community and they do have a reputation for producing high-quality foods. They also have an expansive line of foods to meet almost any need.

This particular bag of food is a natural formula with added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help to promote your cat’s digestive and coat health. It lists chicken as the first ingredient, which is good to know. This means that the food is likely made from high-quality ingredients and will serve as a valuable protein source.

The formula is easily digestible and doesn’t contain fillers that would otherwise bog down your cat’s digestive system and cause other long-term health problems. The high natural fiber in this food will promote digestive health and help your cat pass their hairballs more easily.

We definitely recommend this cat food to help with prevention and control of hairballs.



Wide Variety Of Benefits

This wet cat food from Hill’s Science Diet is more of a premium option for those looking to get something very specialized. While this food doesn’t appear to be exclusively optimized for hairball issues, it does help with a wide range of other problems that definitely add value to it.

It features an easy-to-digest formula that will help your cat pass their hairballs in addition to all the benefits they enjoy from the nutrients and quality chicken protein source. This food is best suited for a cat that has mild hairball problems and prefers wet food.



Essential Nutrients

If you liked the Purina food that we showed you earlier but couldn’t pull the trigger because it was a dry cat food, this is a great option. It delivers all the same benefits of the dry food except this one comes in a wet food.

This food contains a premium real salmon protein source that is complemented with tasty rice. It has essential nutrients to support general health and helps to control the formation of hairballs through digestive and coat health.



High In Fiber

This dry cat food by Blue Buffalo kicks things off right by listing real meat as the first ingredient. Aside from being a high-quality protein source, it also has a number of grains, vegetables, and fruit to give your cat a wide range of wholesome nutrition.

This food helps your cat’s hairball problems by providing a great source of fiber. As we discussed earlier, fiber will promote digestive health and increase your cat’s ability to pass hairballs more easily. It also helps to control your cat’s weight through its nutritious offering of ingredients.



High In Fiber

This food, also by Blue Buffalo, is very similar to the prior food that was discussed. It contains a high-quality protein source and utilizes a myriad of healthy ingredients to help promote internal and coat health in your cat. It contains high fiber for digestive health.

The difference in this food is that it does not contribute to weight control. So, if you liked the first Blue Buffalo food but don’t see yourself needing the weight control aspect, you can get this one which is specially designed specifically for hairballs. It’s a great choice from a reputable company.



Causes of Hairballs in Cats

Hairballs are often disgusting and inconvenient, so it’s not everyone’s favorite topic to talk about. However, if you want to prevent them, it’s good to know what exactly causes them. If you know what causes them, you can take the necessary steps to get the right hairball control cat food.

Hairballs are the product of healthy grooming routines by your cat. When your cat is grooming themselves, their tongue picks up their loose or dead hair. It’s easy to do, considering a cat’s tongue is hooked and latches onto things extremely easily. It’s no surprise, then, that your cat ingests a lot of hair through the course of grooming themselves.

When your cat’s tongue captures the hair and they swallow it, most of it passes through their digestive tract with no issues and is excreted at the next opportunity. However, this system isn’t perfect. Some hair gets left behind in the stomach and over time it can build up to cause problems. When that hair builds up enough, it becomes a hairball.

Appropriately named, a hairball is just a collection or wad of hair that has entered the system and gotten trapped inside your cat. What usually happens is that when your cat has a hairball, they vomit it out and that’s the end of it. You may be surprised that your cat’s hair balls are actually not round in shape but in fact shaped like a tube. That’s because when a hairball is vomited, it has to pass through the esophagus of your cat, which is long and skinny.

While hairballs can occur in any cat, they are most common with long-haired breeds. Some examples would be Maine Coons or Persians. These breeds have a lot of long hair, meaning they will have more dead and loose hair to pick up with their tongue when they are grooming. In addition, this long hair becomes more easily trapped inside the stomach and forms larger and more dangerous hairballs.

Aside from being a long-haired breed, there are other risk factors that might increase your cat’s chance of getting a hairball. The most common of these would be excessive grooming. Even if your cat doesn’t shed a lot or have very long hair, they can easily get hairballs if they groom several times a day and ingest a lot of hair.

Hairballs in Kittens

Most of the time, kittens don’t get hairballs. That’s because whey they are young, they aren’t as good or as experienced with grooming and they don’t pick up a lot of loose hair. You might be surprised that you cat never had hairballs when they were a kitten, but have them frequently as an adult. This is common.

Symptoms of Hairballs in Cats

Being able to properly identify a hairball is going to be a very important step when deciding on a course of action for treatment. It can be alarming to see your cat cough up a hairball and you may think something is wrong. This is all the more reason to be able to accurately identify whether or not your cat needs health.

When your cat is eliminating hairball that has been built up, they will usually be hacking, gagging, vomiting, or coughing. This is unpleasant to hear, but it’s also encouraging since it indicates that they are having some success getting rid of the hairball. Often times, your cat will be able to get rid of the hairball pretty quickly and you won’t have anything further to worry about.

However, sometimes cats do have trouble getting rid of hairballs and they require the assistance of you, their loving owner. There are some symptoms that you should be on the lookout for. If you see any of the following symptoms, you should contact a veterinarian or take action immediately, as your cat is in danger:

  • Continuing vomiting, gagging, or hacking without successfully producing a hairball
  • Lethargy or reluctance to move
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite

These symptoms range in severity, but each of them indicate that the hairball is causing severe problems in your cat’s system. If your cat is choking, you should take advantage of 24 hour emergency services in your area immediately or practice CPR on your cat if you know it.

How to Help a Cat with Hairballs

If you notice that your cat is having ongoing struggles with hairballs and you want to take steps to help them out, there are a few things that you can do for hairball control. This guide is going to break down individual steps that you can take to help reduce hairballs in your cat or help your cat process hairballs more easily.

Groom Your Cat

One of the things that you can do is groom your cat. Grooming your cat yourself is going to help reduce the amount of loose and dead hair on the surface of your cat’s coat. If there is less hair for them to ingest, that will obviously help to prevent hairballs from forming in the stomach or at least make them less frequent.

In addition to helping with hairballs, grooming your cat can also help you to create a unique bond with your cat and make them more comfortable being handled. You can groom your cat yourself at home by simply using a brush designed to remove loose hair from the cat. Be sure to be gentle while grooming so as to not disturb your cat too much and make them dislike grooming activities in the future.

It’s recommended that if you are going to groom your cat, that you do it about once a day or every other day. Staying up-to-date on this is going to help you be more effective when trying to prevent hairballs from occurring in the first place.

If you can’t groom your cat or you don’t want to, you could always bring them to a professional groomer. These visits usually involve a grooming and a hair cut every six months. A lot of this is going to depend on what kind of budget you’re working on and if you’re willing to spend the money on a professional groomer, but you do have that option.

Change Your Cat’s Food

The next thing that you can try in your mission to prevent or control hairballs is to change your cat’s food. There are dozens of cat foods out there that are specifically designed for this purpose and can help your cat reduce the amount of hairballs that they have to experience or even eliminate them altogether.

Though it used to be difficult to find these kinds of specialty foods, they are becoming more common. Almost every major brand of pet food now carries a hairball control version of their most popular foods. We’re going to cover some of the best hairball control cat foods out there and give you a complete guide on how to find the best hairball cat food for you and your cat.

You might not think that simply changing the food that your cat eats can be that effective, but it’s actually one of the most effective measures that you can take to help prevent hairballs. Changing your cat’s food should definitely be one of the steps that you take to lower the amount of hair that enters your cat’s system.

The way that these cat foods work is that they improve the health of your cat’s coat through the vitamins and minerals that they include. This minimizes the amount of shedding that your cat experiences and that results in less hair entering your cat’s system to create hairballs. Additionally, they encourage digestive health that enables your cat to pass the hairballs more safely through the digestive system.

Some foods are designed for hairball prevention while others are designed for hairball control. And of course, there are some that advertise both functions. You’ll want to pay attention to what specifically the cat food that you buy does treat when it comes to hairballs. Sometimes you may only require hairball control to help reduce the amount of hairballs while other times you’re going to want to go with something more robust to help prevent them from happening at all.

Use Additional Hairball Products

Aside from food, there are some other products that you can introduce into your cat’s life to help them deal with hairball issues. Most of these take the form of laxatives. Hairball laxatives help your cat to pass their hairballs more easily through their digestive system and not have to worry about hair buildup choking them or giving them trouble while trying to vomit them up.

While this solution isn’t necessarily ideal because you would need continued and constant treatment, it is one of the more effective ways that you can deal with hairball problems. If possible, you should seek out other, more sustainable methods of hairball control and prevention. You could also opt to use this method in conjunction with others until their effects kicked in. One choice would be to use laxatives and a hairball formula cat food at the same time and then take away the laxative as the hairball cat food starts to take effect.

Discouraging Excessive Grooming

The final thing that you can do to help your cat when it comes to hairballs is to discourage them from grooming excessively and often. Often times, hairballs are the product of excessive grooming because of the amount of hair that ends up entering the system as a result of this behavior. If you think that this is the case in your cat, you may want to explore discouraging them from grooming as often or excessively.

If you see your cat grooming excessively, try to tempt him with a different activity. It’s important to note here that we are not suggesting that you punish your cat for grooming or give them a negative association with grooming. We are only suggesting that you try and distract them with an activity that isn’t grooming when you notice that they are grooming a little too much.

One suggestion would be to start playing with their favorite toy when you see them grooming excessively. This will hopefully distract them from grooming and make them want to come play with you. As a bonus, they will also get in some exercise this way and you’ll get to spend more time with your cat. If that doesn’t work and they can’t be tempted, try offering them a tasty snack to coax them away from their grooming.

Though this method is effective, it’s also time-consuming and requires you to essentially babysit your cat. You would have no control over the situation when you aren’t home or at work. So, unless you are at home with your cat all day, this probably isn’t the most sustainable option for you.

How to Find The Best Cat Food for Hairballs and Vomiting

If you are looking for a cat food that will help your cat with hairballs and vomiting, there are a couple ingredients that you want to be on the lookout for to include in their food. The most important thing is that the food that you select has a high-quality protein source included. This can include chicken, beef, or fish.

You can easily tell if the cat food that you select has high-protein by looking at the ingredients list. You want to find a food that has one of those protein sources listed ads the first ingredient. Grain-free food won’t directly help because of the grain-free properties, but these foods tend to be higher quality and might help that way.

How to Find The Best Cat Food for Hairball Prevention

If you are looking for a cat food for hairball prevention, the best strategic route to take is to find a cat food that will promote your cat’s coat and skin health. If your cat has a healthy coat, they will be less likely to shed excessively, and less hair will get into your cat’s system. This is good for long-term health but requires some planning.

The ingredients that you should be looking for in a food that promotes cat skin and coat health are:

  • Copper
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Biotin
  • Omega Fatty Acids
  • Zinc

These vitamins and minerals are going to promote a healthy skin and coat and help to reduce the amount of loose hair that has the potential of entering your cat’s system and creating hairballs. In this way, you can help prevent hairballs before they even start.

How to Find The Best Cat Food for Hairball Control

On the other hand, other people might be looking for a cat food to control or reduce the amount of hairballs that they have to deal with. If this describes you, follow these simple steps. You want to find a cat food that is going to help promote digestive health. In this way, you can help your cat pass any hairballs more easily and not have to vomit them up as much. The hairballs will still occur, but not as often and when they do, your cat won’t have as much trouble dealing with them.

When you are looking for a food to help with hairball control, you want to find something that is high in fiber. Fiber helps to promote digestive health and will help your cat pass their hairballs more easily with less vomiting.

Best Hairball Control & Prevention Cat Foods

Now that we know everything that we need to know about cat foods, hairballs, and what we should be looking for when tackling this problem, we can review some of the best cat foods for dealing with hairballs on the market. In this review, we are going to dive into the ingredients, brand reputation, past user impressions, and many other factors to determine how good they actually are for your cat and their hairball woes.


If you are trying to help prevent or control your cat from getting hairballs, any of these foods will help you. Our carefully curated selection of hairball control foods will have you kitty feeling great and you being confident in your cat’s health.

Remember to always look at the ingredients and what specifically a cat food offers when you are shopping for the best cat food for hairballs. You also want to keep in mind affordability and what age group the food is good for. Given the right research and product selection, you can find a cat food to help mitigate your cat’s hairballs.

Ross Spark
Ross Spark
Hey Everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out our blog! We are very happy and excited to have started this journey of blogging about our two favorite fluffly cats Oscar and Joey! Please stay awhile, comment or share anything you like or let us know what you don't 🙂

4 thoughts on “5 Best Cat Foods for Hairballs: Hairball Prevention Food Recommendations”

  1. Christine Guerrero

    Thank you so much!! I will begin trying the Purina and Science Diet hairball control and prevention food first, since my cat already loves these brands.

  2. Thank you, Ross, for providing your readers with not only specific cat foods that help with hairballs, but also with LOTS of good information that can help us in what to look for in choosing the right food for our cat’s specific needs. Your recommendations are in line with my vet’s suggestions, made after a thorough evaluation of my beloved kitty, now 12 years old.

  3. Hi Ross, do you have any info on the Royal Canin hairball control wet ? I saw this one and wasn’t sure about it? Thank you, SP

    1. Wondering the same, I just started mine on Royal Canin dry food and he likes it, but now I need a good pate for him.

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