Hairball Remedies (The best hairball remedies for cats)
Hairballs form when hair gets stuck or slowed on its way through the digestive tract, allowing it to form into a clump. Once it forms into a clod, hair is unable to continue its journey to the litter box and instead it heads in the opposite direction. Hairball treatments come in many dierent forms. You can buy hairball remedies in a tube, use butter from your kitchen, grow a pot of cat grass, or groom your cat to keep him from ingesting his hair at all.
Fiber supplementation helps to bind single strands of hair to food particles, which carry the hairs on their journey towards the colon. By encouraging the hair to move quickly through the body, ber-based hairball remedies reduce the hair’s chances of fusing into a ball and coming back up. Additionally, a small amount of dietary ber can help keep the digestive system functioning smoothly, correcting hairball problems at their roots.
Fiber-Based Hairball Remedies
- Psyllium Husk Powder
- Coconut Fiber
- Chia Seeds
- Guar Gum
- Powdered Cellulose
- Cat Grass
The second type of hairball remedies includes products that lubricate ingested hairs, preventing them from sticking together.
Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly)
Petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly, paran oil, and white petrolatum, is a highly-rened derivative of petroleum. After it’s been fully rened, petroleum jelly appears to be safe for cats and people. If you decide to give your cat petroleum jelly from your medicine cabinet, check the back of the package to ensure that you’re giving your cat 100% plain petroleum jelly with no scents or other additives.
Most products marketed as hairball remedies are petroleum jelly-based. Others use vegetable oils or beeswax instead of petrolatum. They contain added avors and sweeteners like malt syrup, fructose, and dextrose.
Butter and Oil
Butter and olive oil are frequently recommended for hairball control, but as digestible fats, they’re more likely to make your cat chubby than keep him from hacking up a furball. If you choose to give your cat any oil for hairballs, choose mineral oil. It’s essentially liquid petroleum jelly and appears to be an eective solution for hairballs.
Other Hairball Remedies
Egg yolks have interesting properties for hairball control. They contain choline and lecithin, which work together to, respectively, encourage GI contractions and emulsify the fat that binds hairballs together. You can provide the anti-hairball power of egg yolks by feeding your cat fresh egg yolks or by or giving him an egg yolk lecithin supplement.
Slippery elm bark helps to soothe and lubricate the digestive tract, reducing inammation and helping the hairball move in the right direction.
Though hairball-specic cat foods usually focus on ber alone, this isn’t always the right approach.
If your cat is already eating a diet with a little bit of ber, the best dietary change is finding a food that reduces inammation. Hairballs often indicate digestive problems and should be approached the same way you’d approach any other symptom of gut inammation, like diarrhea or vomiting.
Typically, this would mean giving your cat a high-protein food made primarily from meat and animal fat. You want as little plant matter as possible. A moisture-rich diet is ideal.
Finally, you can control hairballs by brushing your cat a couple of times a week. If your cat has a long, thick coat, you might also give him a full-body clip in the warmer months. Capturing loose hair before your cat licks it up is the most reliable means of stopping hairballs.
The following hairball remedies are popular, top-rated products that have a reputation for safety and eectiveness. Most are lubricating products, but you’ll also nd a few that take a dierent approach to hairball control, addressing it as a component of digestive health.
Overall Best Hairball Remedy: Cat Lax Supplement
Though Cat Lax doesn’t mention hairballs in its name, this product is just as popular as a hairball preventive as it is a laxative.
In fact, this gel is one of the most trusted hairball control products on the market. On Chewy, it has 210 customer reviews and 97% of reviewers say they’d recommend it. Customers say their cats like the way it tastes and that it helps to keep hairballs down. One reviewer says they’ve been successfully using it for decades.
The gel’s rst ingredient is cod liver oil, which is both a lubricant and a source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fatty acids have anti-inammatory properties and may improve skin and coat health, helping to control the hairball problem at its source.
It also contains white petrolatum, which coats the hairs and helps them to pass through the digestive system. Finally, the gel contains lecithin, a natural emulsier that helps to loosen hairballs in the body.
The gel is sweetened with caramel and malt syrup, neither of which are great for cats.
- Addresses multiple aspects of the hairball problem
- An aordable, easy-to-nd product
- Trusted by cat guardians
- Has a taste cats enjoy
- Contains sweeteners
Best Hairball Remedy Runner Up: Tomlyn Laxatone Hairball Remedy Tuna Flavor Gel
This well-regarded brand has been in the hairball gel business for over 25 years.
The gel contains petrolatum as the rst ingredient. Petroleum jelly is mixed with a blend of mineral oil and soybean oil. All of these ingredients coat the hairs and help them to smoothly move through the digestive tract.
The gel is sweetened with corn syrup, malt syrup, and cane molasses. A blend of natural and articial avors give it a taste that, while palatable to some cats, seems to repel others.
Laxatone Hairball Remedy isn’t quite as well-received as Cat Lax, with about 86% of 276 reviewers saying they’d recommend it to a friend. Most unhappy customers say that their cat didn’t like the way the gel tasted.
- A well-regarded product with a history of ecacy
- Contains a blend of lubricants
- Most cats like the gel’s avor
- Contains three types of sugar
- Contains articial flavors
Best Hairball Remedy without Petrolatum: Richard’s Organics Chicken Flavor Hairball Remedy
This hairball treatment is made without the petrolatum typically used in hairball gel.
Instead, it contains a combination of vegetable oil, cod liver oil, and lecithin. Like the ingredients in Cat Lax, these ingredients help to prevent hair from coalescing into a ball. The lecithin helps loosen clumps that have already formed. Cod liver oil is as a rich source of EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that can help to reduce inammation and may promote a healthier coat.
A blend of dextrose, fructose, and natural chicken avor give the food its avor. This much sugar isn’t ideal for cats, but for short-term use as a hairball remedy, it shouldn’t be a problem.
The gel has a chicken avor that most cats enjoy. You can administer it on your cat’s paw, on your nger, or by squirting a drop onto your cat’s food.
- Controls hairballs while supporting digestive health
- Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Most cats like the way the gel tastes
- Contains sweeteners
Best Hairball Prevention Supplement: Vet’s Best Hairball Relief Digestive Aid Review
These tablets are designed to relieve hairballs and support overall digestive health. They’re primarily made from psyllium husk, a source of soluble ber. Marshmallow root can help lubricate the digestive tract while reducing inammation. Slippery elm bark has similar properties and is a popular remedy for hairballs on its own.
The tablets contain a blend of digestive enzymes and probiotics thought to improve digestive health, along with papaya extract, which may be able to reduce inammation and support digestive health.
The breakable tablets are avored with liver powder and natural avor and, according to customer reviews, cats like the taste. Some reviewers say that the tablets are too large and hard to break into bite-size pieces, making them dicult to administer.
- Most reviews are positive
- Made from a blend of well-regarded ingredients
- Appears to be safe for cats
- Cats like the way the tablets taste
- May be difficult to administer
Best Hairball Control Treat: Get Naked Furball Relief Soft Treats for Cats Review
If you’d rather give your cat a treat than a gel or a tablet, these soft treats may be a good choice. They contain a mix of ingredients intended to support healthy digestion, including axseed as a source of ber and a mix of prebiotics and probiotics intended to keep the gut in top shape. Chicken is the rst ingredient and, with no potentially-harmful preservatives, dyes, or avors, these treats are among the few that appear to be completely safe for cats. The treats get mixed reviews, with almost a third of customers on Chewy saying their cats refused to eat them.
- Contains ber to help move hair through the GI tract
- Features prebiotics and probiotics for digestive health
- Free of potentially-harmful ingredients
- Some cats don’t like the way the treats taste
Ultimately, you don’t want to have your cat on lubricants and other hairball treatments for the rest of his life. You don’t want him to have hairballs.
The above hairball remedies can help, but they’re not a complete solution to the hairball problem.
If your cat coughs up hairballs more than once a week or even once a day, his frequent hacking is probably connected to digestive problems. In this case, he probably doesn’t need to be swept out with ber or lubricated with grease—he might need to go to the veterinarian. Extremely frequent hairballs may be a symptom of organ dysfunction, IBD, and other conditions.
About the author
Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.
If you determine that your cat’s hairballs are caused by a digestive issue, want to consider treating the hairballs the same way you’d treat any chronic digestive problem. Adjust your cat’s diet to reduce inammatory ingredients and consider incorporating probiotics, prebiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids to promote digestive health.