close up of a cat eating potted cat grass

Best Cat Food For Hairballs

Looking for the best cat food for hairballs? We recommend Purina One Indoor Advantage Ocean Whitefish And Rice Wet Cat Food. 

In this article, we are going to look at what hairballs are, how often cats get hairballs, how you can help your cat if they suffer from hairballs, whether there are any home remedy options to control hairballs and the best hairball cat food on the market to help control hairball problems.

Best Choices Of Cat Food For Hairballs

What Are Hairballs

Cats are well known for grooming their coats with their tongue. The cat’s tongue, when viewed at close quarters, essentially has a load of hooks. In the wild, this is used for stripping the meat from carcasses. In domesticated life, this tongue structure also usefully functions to pull out dead hair, scrape grime, skin oil and muck off their coat when they groom.

Inevitably, scraping dead hair out of fur with a tongue of many hooks leads to swallowing a quantity of the hair. All this is pretty normal and cats have evolved to cope with this. Occasionally, dead hair will make it into the cat’s stomach and become trapped. Here, the hair will build up and the motion of the stomach will bind the hair together into a wad. This wad has to be expelled from the cat’s body to avoid harm. One way of expelling this wad is to vomit the wad of old hair up.

This wad of hair that is vomited up is called a hairball. Although it is called a ball, actually the excretion can look like anything from a bundle of strands of hair, to a sausage-shaped wad of old hair. Rarely does it look like a ball. Usually, this excreted hair comes up with some stomach juices, the remains of a previous meal or other bodily fluids – you don’t get nice dry, fluffy wads of matted hair being deposited!

In fairness, many cats usually give some vocal warnings prior to the ejection of a hairball. The vocalization can range from a hacking cough to a weird warble.

Check out this video of a cat ejecting a hairball….

How Often Should Cats Get Hairballs

The frequency with which a cat might get hairballs is often influenced by the length of its coat, the season, its grooming levels, its digestive health, and its age. 

If your cat is a long-haired variety you can expect more hairballs than a cat with a short coat. Essentially the digestive system is more likely to be flooded with hair with a long-haired cat and this results in more hairballs.

As the seasons change from winter to summer your cat is likely to shed its winter coat in favor of a lighter summer coat. This period of shedding is often accompanied by extra grooming which contributes to a build-up of hair in the digestive system and ultimately more hairballs!

Grooming is key to hairball formation. If your cat is grooming excessively for any reason – such as anxiety, stress, parasites, skin problems – then the frequency of hairballs is likely to rise. Indeed, if your cat has an increase in the number of hairballs it suffers and it is obviously not long-haired or molting then further investigation is needed as they might be suffering from skin parasites or suffering mental stress.

If your cat is on a poor diet, or a diet that lacks water and fiber then they may have a slow or inefficient digestive system that might result in more hairballs. Basically, out of condition cats tend to have poor digestive systems that can lead to more hairballs.  

Lastly, you won’t get a kitten or a younger cat with hairballs. They simply don’t have the density of hair, or the grooming technique to take in enough hair to cause hairballs. Your mature and senior cats are likely to suffer from hairballs.

Generally speaking, if your cat produces a couple of hairballs a year then that is pretty standard. If your cat is long-haired and produces hairballs more frequently, like several a month, then this is also par for the course due to their coat length. If your cat suffers from several hairballs a week or they suddenly get a lot of hairballs in a short space of time and there is no obvious reason like the season, then that is a problem that needs investigation.   

Can Cats Poop Out Hairballs?

Generally speaking, cats don’t poop out tufts or balls of hair. What should happen is that hair that is drawn into the digestive system makes it’s way through and out of the digestive system along with other waste. Basically, if your cat is healthy with a good digestive system you should be getting hairy poop!

Hairballs are more a sign of excess hair buildup beyond the capacity of the cat’s digestive system to remove the hair by the usual means – hairballs are a kind of blow-off safety valve for the excretion of too much hair. 

If you are seeing a hairball on the floor sitting in a puddle of brown nastiness then you should presume the cat vommed the lot up rather than pooped it out! 

Can Cats Die From Hairball?

It is possible for cats to die from hairball but the possibility is very remote. If it was to come about then it would not be a sudden, keel over, type of death. What would happen is that your cat would first go off their food. Then they would start to get lethargic. Then they would begin to lose weight. Now, as a responsible cat owner, the moment your cat went off their food – and by this, we mean stopped eating completely for 24 hours – you would recognize that your cat was in grave danger. (You would know this because you would have read our piece on “how long can a cat go without eating”).

Understanding the danger, you would immediately get your cat to a vet. The vet would carry out a physical exam and probably spot the stomach problem in short order – confirm the blockage by x-ray and then in a worst-case scenario, operate and remove blockages…death averted.

Of course, if you are a stray cat, then the outcome may be different.

How Can I Help My Cats With Hairballs

If you want to reduce the number of hairballs your cat suffers from then there are a few simple tips you can follow to help them out :

Brush Fur Regularly 

If you can stop hair from getting into your cat before your cat grooms and introduces the hair into their digestive system then you are going to significantly reduce the risk of hairballs. The most effective way of doing this is to regularly brush your cat’s coat. 

How often you brush is up to you. Short-haired cats probably don’t need brushing more than once a week. Long-haired cats are more at risk of getting hairballs so the more often you can brush their fur out the better.

Keep Your Cat Hydrated 

There are many reasons to keep your cat hydrated ranging from avoiding bladder infections to avoiding kidney issues. You can now add hairballs to the list of reasons to keep your cat hydrated. If your cat is drinking well hair is less likely to get trapped in the stomach and bundle up into wads. The water will act as a lubricant to wash through hair whilst also promoting a healthy intestine.

Feed your cat a good diet – Ideally, you want your feline friend on a high protein, low carb and grain-free diet. This will ensure they have a diet suited to their digestive system and a happy system means an efficient system. 

Additionally, you should ensure the food is the correct type for the age of your cat – senior cats require senior food and kittens require kitten food. These different blends will provide adequate nutrients to suit their requirements and ensure they are healthy during various stages of development. 

Provide Some Fiber

We don’t want them to have cereal or grain in their diet as these are not carbs naturally suited to a cat’s digestive system, but they do need some fiber to keep things moving and healthy. The best way to cater for this need is to provide a source of cat grass and catnip that can give them some natural fiber. 

Often when a cat has a dicky tummy they will chew down some grass to get things moving. The expert theory (not mine), is that the grass makes regurgitation easier so making the build-up of hair in the stomach less likely. Additionally, they consider that chewed grass might be a natural laxative for your cat so helping to move hair out of the digestive tract in short order. 

What Home Remedy Can I Give My Cat For Hairballs

If you don’t want to go for a hairball control food just yet or things are so bad you need more weapons in your arsenal then here are some home remedies for hairballs that actually work and won’t cost a great deal:

Olive Oil 

This stuff seems to be magic stuff. Great for health in people and now great for your cat! Basically, put some olive oil on your cat’s regular food and let them eat the stuff. The oil enters their digestive system and lubricates everything up. The oil is harmless to cats – just don’t try spooning it in. That will never work! 

Aim to be at about a teaspoon per week. You can spread the amount out or go for it in one go depending on how your cat reacts to the taste.


Again, the idea here is internal lubrication. But how to get the butter in? You have two choices, either let your cat lick a lump of butter or melt the butter down and add to their normal food.

You don’t want them eating vast amounts of the stuff, just a small knob each week should help grease the wheels of digestion!

Petroleum Jelly

A slightly wacko idea, but proven in the field. Administering the treatment is hit and miss. You have two options – put a dab on their nose so the lick the stuff off and ingest it or put some on the paw. The texture should stimulate a lick and job done!

As with the oil and butter this is all about aiding the natural digestive process.

Sardines/Mackerel/Tuna In Oil

Your cat will think it is their birthday! Treat them with an oily fish that has been packed in oil. Sardines and mackerel are often big favorites. The fish has a high oil content and is coated in sunflower or olive oil for an extra dose – all wrapped in irresistible fishiness!

Again, this solution is designed to grease things up and get things moving.

Pumpkin From A Can

You could opt to give kitty some pumpkin, the type you get in a can with no added sugar, additives or fillers. Half to one full teaspoon a day mixed in with some food provides a load of fiber that will get things moving including hair transiting the digestive system! 

Pumpkin will help with constipation, hairballs and put a stop to diarrhea and cats seem to find pumpkin palatable. Additionally, pumpkin is packed with good nutrients that are useful for your cat: vitamins A, C and E, calcium, iron and lutein.

If you are in an area where canned pumpkin is not available you could feed them cleaned and roasted pumpkin seeds that are then ground to a powder or a baked fresh pumpkin. If you opt for seeds, keep doses very low at 1/8th teaspoon a day.

Pumpkin is a natural laxative so keep doses small to avoid problems – more is not better in this case!

The Best Cat Food For Hairballs Currently Available

Best Wet Cat Food For Hairballs: Purina one indoor advantage ocean whitefish and rice wet cat food.

Indoor cats are thought to suffer more with hairballs and this wet cat food is formulated especially for indoor cats – a natural fiber blend is used to promote a healthy digestive system and reduce hairballs. 

No artificial flavors or fillers. It contains ocean fish, chicken, liver, pork and brown rice. Many owners report that their cats really enjoy this canned cat food and that it really does help combat hairballs – this is mainly due to the natural fiber used in the formula that helps keep your cat’s digestive system moving and pushing hair through.

The added bonus is that being a wet cat food the moisture content is high and we know good water intake is essential to keep digestion moving.    


  • Good value wet food
  • Reduces hairballs
  • Good for hydration which helps with hairballs
  • Uses natural fiber
  • No artificial flavor, filler, or preservatives
  • Made in the USA
  • Cats enjoy the flavor


  • One flavor seafood – dry food comes in chicken

Best Dry Cat Food For Hairballs: Purina one hairball adult formula dry cat food 16lb

This is the dry food variant from Purina that is specially formulated to minimize hairballs. The formula uses natural fiber to keep the gut moving but owners report the kibble has a slightly oily texture that helps lubricate – much like using olive oil or butter.

This is a no-nonsense dry cat food – owners say their cats love the flavor, hairballs really are reduced and the price is competitive.

However, if you want grain or soy-free because these ingredients upset your cat’s stomach you are better off looking elsewhere – this dry food is not grain-free. If that doesn’t bother you then this is a great choice for the cat who eats dry food but suffers from hairballs!


  • Owners report significantly reduces hairballs
  • Cats like the flavor
  • Price is competitive
  • Slightly oily texture to aid digestion
  • Natural fiber used
  • Made in the USA


  • Single flavor option
  • Contains corn and soy
  • Less fiber than blue buffalo senior

Best Senior Cat Food For Hairballs: Blue buffalo indoor hairball control chicken and brown rice recipe mature dry cat food

If you have a senior cat that suffers from hairballs then we think this is the best choice for you. This food is formulated to work on hairballs by having a high fiber content derived from cellulose and psyllium seed husks. 

It contains specially formulated levels of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for older cats who’s digestive system might not be as efficient as younger cats. It contains no meat by-products just deboned chicken. And is rich in all-natural ingredients – sweet potato, cranberries, carrots, turmeric amongst others for the source of nutrients.

Owners say their cats seem to like the flavor and it works well to reduce hairballs. This is corn, wheat, and soy-free cat food so it should work well for cats that have sensitive stomach or intolerances.


  • High-quality ingredients
  • Formula especially for older cats
  • Works well for older cats with hairball issues
  • Cats seem to enjoy the flavor
  • Free from corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors & preservatives


  • Expensive
  • Just one flavor option.

Best Grain-Free Cat Food For Hairballs Blue buffalo Wilderness chicken recipe indoor hairball control.

Powdered cellulose provides the fiber that gives this kibble it’s hairball control characteristics. The dry cat food is grain-free so it is ideal for cats that suffer grain intolerances or have sensitive stomachs. 

All the ingredients are high quality and nutritionally balanced – high protein meats, no meat by-product, no preservatives, no gluten just antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and good meat cuts.

Owners really do not that their cats love this food, even picky eaters – and it simply works. It cuts down on hairballs by settling the digestive tract with good quality nutrition and then increasing fiber to get hair passing smoothly and easily.


  • Grain-free
  • Cuts out hairballs
  • Cats like the taste 
  • Free from gluten
  • No preservatives


  • Premium price
  • One flavor option
  • Bag Is Not Resealable

Best budget cat food for hairballs: Iams proactive health indoor weight and hairball care dry cat food 16lb bag.

If your cat eats dry food, is an average healthy adult cat and doesn’t show any signs of food intolerance then you might well consider this Iams dry cat food hairball control formula. 

It is an effective product at a competitive price point. Owners confirm their cats really like this kibble so the flavor must be good – but more importantly, it does positively improve hairball frequency. 

Iams claims it works by having a higher than normal fiber content. This fiber is from beetroot rather than grains.

This is an indoor cat formula meaning reduced calorie (lower fat content). If your cat is an outdoor cat you might need to adjust portion sizes to keep them from feeling hungry.


  • Great price point.
  • Works to reduce hairballs
  • Cats like the taste
  • Hard kibble helps keep teeth clean
  • Minimizes filler content.
  • Wide range of bag sizes
  • High fiber at 8%


  • One flavor option
  • Contains Chicken by-product
  • It contains corn and sorghum which might lead to intolerances over time.