You may have heard a bizarre hacking cough that floats through the house in the middle of the night and is typically followed by a nasty surprise in the morning. The hairball clean-up is never pleasant, regardless of the time of day. Unfortunately, it’s not just the mess that you have to be concerned about, either.
Hairballs can cause serious health consequences for your cat. Issues like intestinal blockages, diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloated abdomens, and other problems can occur to the point your pet may need surgery to correct the problem.
Thankfully, some cat foods can curb the worst of the hairball issues, and we have found the best formulas! Below are reviews of each brand and essential details like the ingredients, nutrients, flavor, effectiveness, and much more.
As a bonus, we also have some at-home remedies for cleaning up hairballs. Check it out in the buyer’s guide below.
Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.
A Quick Glance at Our Favorites in 2024
|Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription
|Click to Save 40%
|IAMS Proactive Dry
|Royal Canin Feline Dry
|Purina ONE Dry
|Hill's Science Diet Dry
The 10 Best Cat Foods for Hairballs
1. Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription– Best Overall
Every feline can benefit from the carefully crafted recipes Smalls Cat Food has to offer, especially if they suffer from hairballs. Smalls’ recipes are crafted to meet the nutritional needs of your feline, which makes it the best cat food pick for hairball control and overall health.
If you want to help control hairballs, you need to feed your cat meals containing real meat with higher fiber content. Smalls accomplishes this with nutritious, slowly-cooked recipes. You can choose paté or ground-textured food for each flavor, ranging from chicken, turkey, beef, and fish.
No matter which flavor you choose, you can rest assured you will feed your pet the healthiest ingredients designed for their well-being. Smalls avoid fillers, artificial flavors, and high cooking temperatures (the main cause of cat food losing moisture). High protein and high moisture recipes are ideal when your cat struggles with hairballs.
Smalls Fresh Bird Recipe, for example, uses chicken as its primary ingredient protein source. It contains 92% chicken thighs and breasts, 6% chicken livers, and 2% chicken hearts. Smalls produces an excellent variety of the highest-quality foods to satisfy your frisky feline.
2. IAMS Proactive Dry Hairball Cat Food – Best Value
If you have a hairball-hacking cat and are on a tight budget, we have found just the brand for you. The IAMS Proactive Hairball Control Dry Cat Food is available in 3½-, 7-, 16-, or 22-pound bags and comes in a chicken and turkey flavor. The formula is designed to not only help your pet pass hairballs but also to keep their weight at a manageable level.
IAMS uses a blend of fibers and beet pulp to fight hairballs. It also contains L-carnitine to help your pet lose weight. This is a great meal for felines that live indoors. It’s easy to digest, has 10% less fat than other recipes, and uses real chicken as their first ingredient and source of healthy protein.
Moreover, IAMs contains vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and omegas 3 and 6 to promote an overall healthy tabby. To that end, there are no artificial ingredients, synthetic dyes, or wheat in the formula.
One thing to note is that it’s not all-natural, and it contains chicken by-product meals. Other than that, it is easy to digest and the best cat food for hairballs for the money.
3. Royal Canin Feline Dry Hairball Cat Food
If your cat has a serious hairball issue and you can spend a little more money, the Royal Canin Feline Hairball Dry Cat Food is a good option. Royal Canin is known for its dietary formulas that target specific issues. It’s made with chicken meal as the primary source of protein, and it uses a blend of fibers, including psyllium seed husk, to help move the hairballs through your pet’s GI tract.
The formula contains 32% protein, and it’s formulated to meet AAFCO’s guidelines for nutrition. It’s easy to digest and great for indoor animals. You can buy Royal Canin in 3, 6, or 14-pound bags. Also, the meal is formulated with additional vitamins and nutrients to keep your cat healthy.
As mentioned, it’s more expensive than your average cat food.
4. Purina ONE Hairball Formula Cat Food
The Purina ONE Hairball Formula Cat Food is a dry formula you can pick up in 3½-, 7-, 16-, or 22-pound bags. It comes in a tasty chicken formula with no artificial flavors or preservatives. It is enriched with vitamins, minerals, and supplement antioxidants, such as vitamins E and A, to promote healthy skin, fur, digestive, and immune systems.
The Purina ONE cat food is made with natural fiber to keep hairballs at bay. The all-natural formula is crafted in the USA and uses real meat as its first ingredient. Unfortunately, the food has some unsavory ingredients, such as chicken by-product meals and corn gluten meal, that help boost the protein level. Also, remember that the dry formula can be harder to digest for some felines. Other than that, Purina ONE is an effective way of keeping hairballs to a minimum.
5. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Hairball Cat Food
Another good choice is Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food. This chicken-flavored recipe is available in 3-, 5-, or 7-pound bags. It contains natural sources of fiber, which will allow the hairballs to be passed through your cat’s digestive system. In addition, the low levels of magnesium support your cat’s urinary tract.
Meanwhile, Hill’s contains natural sources of fiber to help with hairballs. Your pet will receive significant levels of protein and other vitamins and minerals. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and doesn’t contain chicken by-products, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
It also uses real meat as the first ingredient. Hill’s Science Diet is made in the USA and responsibly sourced throughout the world. The meal is easy to digest and contains healthy nutrients like omegas, antioxidants, and vitamins C and E. Overall, it will not only help with hairballs but also promote healthy immune and digestive systems, not to mention strengthen their skin and fur.
6. Meow Mix Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
Up next is the Meow Mix Hairball Control Dry Cat Food. This tasty meal includes chicken, turkey, salmon, and ocean fish flavors. It is formulated with high levels of protein to keep your cat energized and a natural fiber blend to help them pass hairballs. Not only that but it’s enriched with taurine and vitamin B-complex and has optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus.
However, it’s not an all-natural formula. Although it is easy to digest, it contains some ingredients that are not as healthy as we would like. For example, you will find chicken and turkey by-product meals and soy. What’s more, it’s made with artificial colors. Besides that, this product is made in the USA.
We should also point out that you can find Meow Mix in a 6.3-pound bag or a four-pack of 3.15-pound bags. It is also suitable for all breeds, sizes, and ages of cats.
7. Blue Buffalo Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
If you need a cat food formula that will not only treat hairballs but also promote weight loss and overall good health, the Blue Buffalo Hairball Control Dry Cat Food is a good choice. This formula has healthy protein levels to keep your cat active, natural fibers to keep hairballs at bay, and their patented LifeSource Bits that contain essential vitamins and nutrients.
This is an all-natural formula, but it contains pea protein and alfalfa meal. Blue Buffalo uses real meat as the first ingredient and other wholesome grains, fruits, and vegetables. It also has no chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives or flavors.
One other drawback of Blue Buffalo Hairball Control is the kibble bits are harder than most, and it can be more difficult for your cat to chew. For some cats, it’s difficult to digest.
8. Hill’s Science Diet Wet Hairball Cat Food
If your cat prefers a wet meal, Hill’s Science Diet Wet Cat Food may be the right choice. This formula is available in 2.9-ounce cans (12 or 24 packs) or 5.5-ounce cans (24 packs). The chicken recipe is designed to help with hairballs and urinary control. The meal contains added vitamins and minerals such as omegas-6 and vitamin E.
Something else to consider with this formula is the protein levels are lower than other options. Though it is an all-natural formula, you will find ingredients such as pork by-products and soy. You should also consider that this can be a hard food to transition to, and your cat may experience digestive issues.
Hill’s Science Diet is made in the USA and has natural fiber to promote healthy digestion, thus reducing hairballs. However, it is not the best option for overweight cats or those suffering from stomach sensitivities.
9. Nutro Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
The Nutro Hairball Control Dry Cat Food comes in a chicken and brown rice formula that is made with all-natural ingredients. It has other essential nutrients like omega-6, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also a non-GMO formula without any corn, wheat, soy protein, by-products meals, or artificial ingredients.
Unfortunately, though it is a soy-protein-free food, it does have soy oil, so any cats with sensitivities should take caution. Nutro also contains pea protein and alfalfa meal, which can boost the protein levels.
Nutro is produced in the USA, and it is available in a 3-, 5-, or 14-pound bag. It has chicken as the first ingredient, and it’s made with a blend of natural fibers to control hairballs.
10. AvoDerm Hairball Control Formula Cat Food
In the number nine spot, we have the AvoDerm hairball Control Formula Cat Food. It’s designed to control not only hairballs but weight, as well. It comes in a chicken recipe that is unfortunately not tasty to many felines. You can find it on shelves or websites in a 3½-, 6-, or 11-pound bag. Right off the bat, we want to share that AvoDerm is not as effective at controlling hairballs as our other choices. It is also not recommended for weight loss.
The formula is made with California Avocados to promote healthy skin, fur, immune systems, and overall health. Though there is some controversial information regarding the benefits of avocadoes and whether they’re safe, AvoDerm only uses a small amount. Unfortunately, the formula is also high in salt, and it has other ingredients that are not beneficial, like white rice.
On a brighter note, AvoDerm is free of by-product meals and artificial ingredients. Though it has nutrients such as antioxidants and omegas, it’s high in fat and packed into hard-to-chew kibble bits. AvoDerm is made in the USA and is an indoor-cat-only formula.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Cat Food for Hairballs
Tips for Reducing Hairballs
Hairballs are not only unpleasant, but they can lead to serious health concerns. Although feeding them a fiber-rich formula will help your feline digest their meals, you can use other techniques to reduce hairballs.
Feeding your cat a high-quality diet is important for keeping them healthy and happy. But it goes beyond the food you choose; the dishes they use also matter. The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite for its unique, five-star design that protects from whisker fatigue and promotes good posture which also aids in better digestion. As an added bonus, it’s beautifully crafted and offers a modern take on the traditional cat bowl that fits seamlessly with all home stylings. Learn more about the NomNom by clicking here.
At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!
We hope you have enjoyed our reviews and that they’ve helped you find the best hairball control cat food for your cat. Hairballs are a serious issue, but finding the right food to help treat it can make the situation worse if you don’t know what to look for. If you want the best of the best, go with Smalls Cat Food. It is a nutritious meal that will help control the issue, and it contains essential vitamins. If you need a more affordable option, go with the IAMS Proactive Hairball Control Dry Cat Food, which is also effective in reducing hairballs.
- 8 Types of Cat Food: Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & Advice
- 9 Best Hairball Remedies for Cats – Reviews & Top Picks
Featured Image Credit: P Stock, Shutterstock
- A Quick Glance at Our Favorites in 2024
- The 10 Best Cat Foods for Hairballs
- 1. Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription– Best Overall
- 2. IAMS Proactive Dry Hairball Cat Food – Best Value
- 3. Royal Canin Feline Dry Hairball Cat Food
- 4. Purina ONE Hairball Formula Cat Food
- 5. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Hairball Cat Food
- 6. Meow Mix Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
- 7. Blue Buffalo Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
- 8. Hill’s Science Diet Wet Hairball Cat Food
- 9. Nutro Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
- 10. AvoDerm Hairball Control Formula Cat Food
- Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Cat Food for Hairballs