Every cat owner knows the sound of a cat about to cough up a hairball. The sound itself is disgusting enough, let alone the gooey, hairy mess that follows it. Hairballs are a natural consequence of all the grooming your cat does, but that doesn’t mean you can’t control them.
Making changes to your cat’s diet could reduce hairballs and make life that much better for both you and your cat.
Keep reading to learn more about what causes hairballs in cats and what you can do to control them? You’ll also receive our top 5 picks for the best cat food for hairball control.
Quick Look at Our Top 5 Picks
- Best Overall: NomNomNow Flavorful Fish Feast Fresh Cat Food
- Best Affordable: Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball Control Chicken & Brown Rice Cat Food
- Best Grain-free: The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Dehydrated Cat Food
- Best Wet Cat Food: Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Chicken & Chicken Liver Canned Cat Food
- Best For Allergies: Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Duck Recipe Canned Food
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What Causes Hairballs in Cats?
Your cat spends a majority of its day sleeping, but when it is awake, much of that time is spent grooming. Grooming is a natural behavior for cats, and it helps keep the coat smooth and shiny. Grooming distributes the natural oils produced in your cat’s skin that hydrates and softens the coat.
The problem is when your cat ingests too much hair during the grooming process and is then unable to digest that hair. The result is a slimy wad of hair coughed up on your floor or furniture. But what actually causes hairballs in cats?
Your cat’s tongue is covered in tiny little hooks that catch dead hair, which is then swallowed during the grooming process. Most of that hair passes through the cat’s digestive tract with no issue, but some of it gets stuck, forming a hairball over time. Hairballs are more common in long-haired cats and in cats that shed more than normal. Increased stress can cause your cat to compulsively groom itself, swallowing more hair in the process and making hairballs worse.
Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best cat food for hairball control. Here’s what you need to know:
How to Choose the Best Cat Food for Hairball Control
One of the easiest ways to reduce hairballs is to brush your cat more frequently. By removing some of the dead hair from your cat’s coat, you can reduce the amount of hair your cat swallows during grooming. Making changes to your cat’s diet may help as well by improving the quality of the cat’s coat or by encouraging the digestive system to pass hairballs instead of regurgitating them.
Here are some things to look for in a cat food for hairball control:
- Higher fiber content. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion, but, in most cases, you want to keep the fiber content of your cat’s diet low-to-moderate to avoid digestive upset. If your cat has hairball issues, however, a slightly higher fiber content could be beneficial.
- Digestible ingredients. The more digestible the ingredients in your cat’s food, the more easily they will pass through its system, pushing out collected hair along with it.
- Higher moisture content. Cats tend not to drink a lot of water, but proper hydration is essential for healthy digestion. Feeding your cat wet food or moistening its dry food can increase its moisture intake to support healthy digestion and healthy skin and coat.
- Prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotic fibers and probiotic supplements support healthy and regular digestion in your cat, helping its system pass hairballs instead of vomiting them up.
- No artificial additives. Things like fillers, by-products, and artificial flavors serve no nutritive value for your cat and are only likely to trigger digestive upset that can mess with your cat’s digestion and reduce its ability to pass hairballs.
Also Read: Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach
Keep reading to see our top 5 recommendations for the best cat food for hairball control.
The Top 5 Best Cat Foods for Hairball Control
The best cat food for hairball control will be highly digestible and made from wholesome, natural ingredients. It should start with a premium source of animal protein with plenty of animal fats, plus fiber for digestion as well as beneficial supplements like prebiotics and probiotics.
When it comes to reducing hairballs, you need a cat food that is rich in protein and moisture. Fresh cat food meets both of these requirements with the added bonus of being extremely high in nutritional quality. NomNomNow is a fresh pet food company that sends monthly deliveries of small-batch, fresh cat food right to your door in perfectly portioned pouches according to your cat’s daily calorie needs. Their Flavorful Fish Feast recipe is a perfect choice for cats with hairball issues because it is rich in omega fatty acids for skin and coat support.
High-quality nutrition is a must for all cats, but the digestibility of your cat’s food matters even more when hairballs are a concern. This Blue Buffalo cat food is uniquely formulated for indoor cats and features real chicken as a protein-rich main ingredient. It also contains digestible whole grains like brown rice, barley, and oatmeal with plenty of healthy fats from menhaden fish meal, chicken fat, and flaxseed. Overall, it is a highly nutritious and digestible recipe your cat is sure to love.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of fresh food, but you want your cat to have the same nutritional benefits, dehydrated cat food is a good option. This Honest Kitchen formula is dehydrated instead of cooked, so it retains more of its original nutritional quality which comes from wholesome, natural ingredients. Simply add water to rehydrate the food, giving your cat a rich source of nutrition and moisture to reduce hairballs and improve digestion.
Formulated to support the five signs of wellness, this canned cat food recipe supports your cat’s digestive health, energy, immune system, eyes and teeth, and skin and coat. It features real chicken as the main ingredient with chicken liver as a supplemental source of protein and essential nutrients. Made with grain-free carbohydrates and supplemented with prebiotics and probiotics, this recipe is also highly digestible, which is great for hairball control.
Another excellent option in wet cat food and one specifically formulated for cats with food allergies or sensitive stomach is this Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet. Featuring real duck as a novel source of premium animal protein with grain-free carbohydrates, this recipe is highly digestible and nutritious. Plus, as a canned food, it is high in moisture with supplemental fiber for healthy digestion.
Before changing your cat’s diet, talk to your veterinarian to rule out any potential underlying health problems that could be making your cat’s hairballs worse. If dietary changes are all that is needed, look for a recipe featuring premium animal proteins, supplemental fiber, and wholesome, natural ingredients. This is the key to healthy and regular digestion as well as reduced hairballs.
Now that you understand what causes hairballs and how to resolve them with a healthier diet, you’re ready to start shopping for new cat food! If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our top 5 picks reviewed above!