8 Best Cat Food for Hairballs in 2021

cat food for hairballs

Cats spend at least five hours a day grooming themselves, so it’s not surprising that most cats produce hairballs. In this article, we look at what hairballs in cats are and how to treat them. We also discuss what you should look for in cat food to help control hairballs. 

Finishing up, we’ll review our selection for the eight best cat foods for hairballs in 2021. These are:

What Are Hairballs in Cats?

Occasionally, my beautiful cat loves to leave me little gifts of undigested hair around the house, hairballs! Hairballs are sausage-shaped clumps of hair mixed with fluids from your feline’s digestive tract. 

If they’re sausage-shaped, why call them hairballs? Well, when they’re in your cat’s stomach, they’re indeed ball-shaped. Elongation occurs while traveling through your feline’s esophagus.

So what causes hairballs in cats? Cats are meticulous groomers and can spend up to 50 percent of their day keeping themselves pristine. The tiny hook-like spines on your cat’s tongue extract dirt, parasites, and loose fur from their coat when they groom. It’s not surprising they swallow some of this fur in the process. 

Most of the time, hair leaves the stomach and passes through the digestive tract. However, cat fur is made from a protein called keratin, which is indigestible. Sometimes the hair will build up in the stomach and form a trichobezoar, or as we call it, a hairball. Your cat will usually regurgitate hairballs—but sometimes they can’t disgorge them—this is when they can become dangerous. 

Long-haired cat breeds such as Persians and Ragdolls are more susceptible to hairballs, along with those cats who shed a lot of fur and excessive groomers. 


Hairball signs in cats are usually retching until the hairball is eventually disgorged. When a cat fails to regurgitate the hair, it could lead to the following symptoms:

  • Continued vomiting or retching.
  • Lack or loss of appetite.
  • Bloated abdomen.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Lethargy. 

If your cat develops any of the above disorders, contact your vet. Hairballs can lead to intestinal blockages, and they can potentially be fatal if left untreated.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your vet suspects an intestinal blockage, they will confirm this diagnosis through a physical examination, bloodwork, and abdominal x-rays. They will also take your pet’s history into account, and occasionally your pet may need an ultrasound or an endoscopy.

If a hairball is found during an endoscopy, your veterinarian may be able to retrieve it with the endoscope. More often than not, vets will prescribe cats with laxatives to help dislodge and pass the clump of hair. Surgery is a possibility if other treatments fail to remove the blockage.

Prevention of Hairballs

Prevention is always better than treatment. Unfortunately, we can do nothing that will completely protect our cats from hairballs; but several things can help us reduce them. 

Regularly grooming your cat can help prevent hair build-up in the digestive tract. Every hair you brush out of your cat is one less in your cat’s stomach. You could also try discouraging excessive grooming by preoccupying your cat’s mind. 

There are also lubricants that you can add to your cat’s food to make passing hairballs easier. They contain waxes, oils, or petroleum jelly which cover the hair in the gastrointestinal tract—this stops the hair from clumping together. You should always consult your vet before using a product like this. 

Finally, try feeding your cat on a diet specifically tailored to aid in preventing hairballs from forming.

What to Look For in a Cat Food Formulated for Hairball Control

Here’s what to look out for when trying to find good quality food to help keep hairballs at bay: 

  • Protein Source-Animal proteins contain essential amino acids like taurine, which is critical for digestion. Plant proteins are more difficult to digest for your cat; therefore, look for animal proteins as the primary source in the food’s ingredients.
  • Water Content-Cats don’t drink vast amounts of water, which makes them susceptible to dehydration. Water helps keep your cat’s digestive system functioning as it should. It also helps to flush away any hair in the digestive tract. The easy way to make sure your cat is hydrated is to purchase wet food or add water to kibble—as well as making fresh water available at all times. 
  • Fiber Content-Many manufacturers will add more fiber to their hairball diet recipes. Fibers such as cellulose, lignins, hemicelluloses, psyllium, chicory, and beet pulp help hairballs pass through the digestive tract. 
  • Fatty acids– Certain fatty acids such as omega-3 and -6 keep your cat’s coat and skin in good condition. If the skin and fur are well looked after, your feline will shed less hair. Less hair means fewer hairballs.
  • Prebiotics and Probiotics-Prebiotics and probiotics promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract helping it work more effectively.

Reviews of Best Cat Food for Hairballs in 2021 

Hill’s Science Plan Hairball Control

Hill’s Science Plan is a complete and balanced, specially formulated diet to help minimize hairballs. This dry kibble caters to adult cats and comes in a range of sizes starting from 3.5-pound.

It contains fatty acids omega-3 and -6, as well as vitamin E to keep your kitty’s skin and coat healthy. There’s no sign of any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and it’s enriched with antioxidants. Natural fibers such as dried beet pulp help process any hair in the digestive system. The first ingredient is chicken, a great protein source that’ll provide the essential amino acids needed for fantastic digestive health. 

Hill’s scores top marks for ingredients, and the majority of cats adore the taste. However, some consumers complain that the kibble pieces are just too big for their feline.


  • Good quality animal protein.
  • Contains fatty acids.
  • Contains natural fibers.
  • Great taste.
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.


  • Large kibble.

Solid Gold-Let’s Stay In-Hairball Control

Solid Gold Let’s Stay In is tailored explicitly for indoor cats. This is a complete and balanced choice that comes in two great flavors. Bag sizes range from 3-pounds to 12-pounds.

The ingredients feature prebiotics and probiotics, and it’s also grain-free, which is brilliant for cats who suffer from intolerances and sensitive stomachs. Whether you choose the chicken or the salmon recipe, the first ingredient will always be real meat. Ensuring your cat gets the quality protein they require to keep them in great shape.

Artificial preservatives are nonexistent in this product, and its high-fiber content helps your cat get rid of those pesky hairballs. Most cats seem to thrive on this diet, but a small minority have been sick after consumption. Not all foods suit all cats.


  • Good quality protein source.
  • No artificial preservatives.
  • High-fiber content.
  • Contains fatty acids.
  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Grain-free.


  • Makes some cats sick.

Iams Proactive Health Adult Hairball Care

Iams Proactive Health is 100 percent complete and balanced adult nutrition. It’s an affordable hairball control food, and bag sizes range from 3.5-pound to 16-pound.

This kibble helps support your cat’s digestive health with its rich blend of fibers, including beet pulp and prebiotics. Those hairballs will be flushed out before they get a chance to form.

The optimal omega 3:6 ratio used in this diet keeps your cat’s coat in prime condition and reduces shedding. However, some consumers stated that, with their cats, hair loss seemed to increase.

High-quality proteins sourced from real chicken and salmon promote outstanding overall health. They’ll get your cat feeling like its younger self.


  • High-quality protein sources.
  • Contains fatty acids.
  • Contains prebiotics.
  • Added fiber.
  • Affordable. 


  • Increased shedding in some cats.

Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball Control

Blue Buffalo Hairball Control is a complete and balanced formula tailored to adult cats aged seven plus. This tasty chow is popular among felines for its great taste and high-quality ingredients.

The first ingredient is deboned chicken protein, which is high in protein and promotes good overall health. Omega-3 and -6 help keep your cat’s skin and coat in good condition, minimizing shedding and the risk of hairballs. 

This Blue Buffalo food also contains natural fibers such as cellulose and psyllium, so any hairballs that form will be expelled in no time.

Your furry friend’s immune system is in safe hands with Blue Buffalos’ patented Lifesource Bits. These are a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that veterinarians and expert animal nutritionists have carefully selected.

Some consumers said that this recipe isn’t kind to their cats’ stomachs. However, some other customers said they received an expired product. These two issues could be connected, and any upset caused may be down to customer care rather than the formula. Check expiry dates on receipt of the product before giving it to your pet.


  • Quality animal proteins.
  • Contains fatty acids.
  • Added natural fiber.
  • Lifesource Bits.
  • Great taste.


  • Caused sickness in some cats.

Purina ONE Hairball Formula

Purina One is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your cat. Multiple bag sizes are available from 3.5-pounds to 22-pounds and filled with tasty ingredients that serve a purpose. 

This fabulous food is easily digestible and rich in natural fibers, like cellulose and soybean hulls, to minimize hairball risk. Real chicken is the first ingredient, which is a high-quality protein that aids digestion and general health. Additionally, a special blend of antioxidants, including vitamin B12, helps support your cat’s immune system, nervous system, and digestive tract.

The majority of consumers highly recommend Purina One, although there’s a small minority that says it makes their cat sick.


  • High-quality protein source.
  • Contains antioxidants.
  • Contains natural fibers.
  • Tastes great.


  • Makes some cats sick


Royal Canin Hairball Care

Royal Canin Hairball Care is nutritionally complete and balanced for adult cats prone to hairballs. These bags of delicious goodness extend from three to 14-pounds.

This high-fiber diet helps move any hair consumed through the gastrointestinal tract to prevent the build-up of hairballs. The first ingredient is chicken meal, which is essentially chicken that’s dehydrated to create a concentrated protein. A high protein content alongside the fats in this chow help keep shedding to a minimum.

Most consumers found that this food works great for their cat, stating that, although it’s expensive, it’s worth it! However, some customers have complained that Royal Canin frequently changes the recipe, and this puts off picky cats.


  • High-fiber diet.
  • Good quality protein.
  • High protein content.
  • Contains fatty acids.


  • Frequent recipe changes.
  • Expensive. 

Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Hairball Management

Purina Pro Plans FOCUS Hairball Management provides your adult cat with all the nutrition it needs. It comes in a good choice of bag sizes ranging from 3.5 to 16-pound. 

It is made with natural prebiotic fiber sourced from chicory root and contains probiotics to support digestive health. It also includes natural fibers that help control hairballs. Chicken is number one in this high protein diet, which is excellent for maintaining your feline’s overall health.

Vitamin A and linoleic acid, part of the omega-6 family, help maintain your cat’s coat and keep their skin healthy.

This formula works great for a large majority of cats, clearing up their hairball issues with no problem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work for every kitty, and some felines still fetch up hairballs.


  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Contains omega-6.
  • High protein content.
  • High in fiber.


  • Doesn’t always cure the hairball issue.
  • Contains by-product.

Hill’s Science Diet Hairball Control Wet Food

Hill’s Canned Hairball Control is a delicious moisture-rich food, and it’s 100 percent complete and balanced for adult felines.

Chicken comes first in this fine feast, providing a great source of protein that aids digestion and maintains overall health. Added vitamin E, omega-3, and -6 will help your cat maintain a glorious coat and minimize shedding. 

This food contains natural fibers that will help flush out any hairballs in your cat’s digestive tract. The high moisture content also helps to get rid of unwanted hair clogging up your cat.

Most consumers have said Hill’s Science Diet minimizes hairballs, and their cat enjoys the taste. However, some customers complained about this food’s “soupy” consistency, suggesting it’s not a great meal for their kitty.  


  • High moisture content.
  • Good-quality protein.
  • Contains fatty acids.
  • High-fiber.


  • Leave’s some cats hungry.


How often do cats get hairballs?

Dr. Richard Goldstein, DVM, says that it’s not unusual for cats to disgorge a hairball every one to two weeks. Although it’s not pleasant, it’s nothing to be worried about. The problems begin if they’re unable to regurgitate the hairball and it becomes lodged in the digestive tract.


Hairball control diets require lots of fiber and fatty acids to expel hairballs from the digestive tract.

Our best hairball control food of 2021 is Hill’s Science Diet Hairball Control. This great-tasting kibble ticks all the boxes for maintaining digestive health and minimizing hairballs. It’s high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, and contains the fatty acids needed for reducing shedding.

Solid Gold-Let’s Stay In-Hairball Control came close to our top spot. This food is brilliant if you have a cat allergic or intolerant to grain, as well as suffering from hairballs. It also has added prebiotics and probiotics, which help your feline’s gut run smoothly.

Olivia Davis

Olivia is the editor-in-chief at Cat Food Tip. She's in charge of making sure that every post is up to standards and contains accurate information that's comprehendable and fun for readers.

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