While it’s normal for your cat to have a few hairballs, when they start to have them too often, it can be both annoying and uncomfortable for your cat. The good news is that by doing something as simple as switching their diet, you can help get it under control!
But with so many options out there that promise to help, you don’t want to get on a never-ending carousel of trying to find the right cat food. That’s why we tracked down and created comprehensive reviews of the best cat foods for hairballs available.
We also have a buyer’s guide to walk you through everything that you need to know to pick the right product the first time.
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 2023
|Best Overall||Smalls Fresh Cat Food||
||Click to Save 40%|
|Best Value||IAMS ProActive Health Hairball Cat Food||
|Hill's Science Diet Hairball Cat Food||
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Hairball Cat Food||
|Blue Buffalo Hairball Cat Food||
The 10 Best Cat Foods for Hairballs
1. Smalls Fresh Cat Food – Best Overall
|Food type:||Fresh, wet|
|Primary protein:||Chicken, Beef, or Turkey|
|Crude protein percent:||15% min|
Any cat can benefit from the carefully crafted recipes Smalls Cat Food has to offer, especially if your feline friend suffers from hairballs. These recipes are crafted to meet the nutritional needs of felines based on your individual cat, making Smalls Cat Food some of the best around for overall health and hairball control. To get a handle on hairballs, you want a food that contains real meat, high fiber content, and high levels of protein. Smalls delivers on all these fronts with their human grade cat food. You can choose either a pate or ground textured food for each of their flavors, ranging from chicken, turkey, beef, and fish options.
You can rest assured that you’re getting the healthiest ingredients no matter which flavor you choose for your cat. Smalls avoids fillers, artificial flavors or colored dyes, and high processing heat (which is the main cause of cat food losing moisture). You can be confident that you’re feeding your cat food high in protein and moisture content to help in combating their pesky hairballs.
Protein is always the number one ingredient in any of Smalls recipes. High protein and high moisture foods are the best when seeking hairball control for our furry felines. Smalls Fresh Bird Recipe, for example, features chicken as its primary ingredient and sole source of protein. It contains 92% chicken breast and thigh, 6% chicken liver, and 2% chicken heart.
Smalls offers an excellent variety of the highest quality foods to satisfy your frisky feline’s food needs.
2. IAMS ProActive Health Hairball Care Cat Food – Best Value
|Crude protein percent:||32% min|
|Size:||3.5, 7, and 16 pounds|
If you’re looking for cat food that can get your cat’s hairballs under control, but you don’t have a ton of money to spend on food, then IAMS ProActive Health Adult Hairball Care is worth checking out. It is the best cat food for hairballs for the money, and when you look at all that it offers, it’s not hard to see why.
First, the 8.5 fiber percentage in each serving is phenomenal. Not only does it help with hairballs, but it also keeps your cat full longer. Second, it has more than enough protein for your cat to thrive.
When you pair that with its incredibly low price, it really is a no-brainer. However, it is still a lower-priced cat food, and there are two reasons for that. First, it’s not a single protein source food. Chicken is the primary protein, but the manufacturer has also used salmon.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but if your cat has a sensitive stomach, it can lead to problems. Second, this is not a limited-ingredient formula. That’s not a huge deal unless your cat is allergic to different foods.
3. Hill’s Science Diet Hairball Control Food
|Crude protein percent:||29.5% min|
|Size:||3.5, 7, and 15.5 pounds|
If it seems like hairballs are taking over your cat’s life and you need to do something to stop it, then Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. It’s one of the most effective cat foods for hairball control. However, it’s also one of the most expensive on our list. Still, it is the most effective option, and it comes with tons of antioxidants and vitamins to keep your cat healthy.
This food not only keeps their hairballs at bay, but it also improves their urinary health and is great for cats with sensitive stomachs. Of course, the tradeoff is the price. If you don’t have the money to significantly increase the price of your cat’s food, it doesn’t matter how effective it is.
4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Hairball
|Crude protein percent:||38% min|
|Size:||5 and 11 pounds|
Even if your cat is on the younger side of things, they still have to deal with hairballs. But finding a food that meets all the unique needs of a kitten and helps with hairballs can be a bit challenging.
Thankfully, Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Chicken Recipe Indoor Hairball Control fits the bill. It’s not a kitten-specific food, but its Wilderness line comes with the higher crude protein amounts that a kitten needs to thrive. Since it’s higher in fiber than most regular cat foods, it gives your kitten the digestive help that they need to combat hairballs.
It doesn’t have as much fiber as many other hairball control cat foods, but it should be more than enough to help your kitten get their hairballs in check until they’re ready to move onto an adult cat food.
5. Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball Control Cat Food
|Crude protein percent:||32% min|
|Size:||3, 5, 7, and 15 pounds|
Blue Buffalo’s Indoor Hairball Control cat food is another excellent choice for hairball control. It’s an outstanding mix of price and quality, and it works wonders for hairballs. With at least 6% fiber in every serving, it’s more than enough to tackle most hairball problems.
It also aids your cat’s overall digestion and improves their immune system health with plenty of antioxidants and vitamins. It comes in four different size options, so you can try it out and then buy it in bulk if it’s working for your cat.
Our only complaint is that it’s not a limited-ingredient food, but as long as your cat isn’t allergic to a wide array of foods, it shouldn’t be a problem.
6. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Canned Cat Food
|Crude protein percent:||7% min|
|Size:||2.9-ounce case of 24 or 5.5-ounce case of 24|
While dry foods are typically the most cost-effective options, if you have a picky eater on your hands or simply prefer using wet cat foods, then Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control wet cat food is an outstanding choice. It has a high fiber content to help control hairballs, and it also comes with everything to help keep their urinary health in check.
Additionally, it’s jam-packed with amino acids and other nutrients that keep your cat healthy. However, there are two drawbacks. First is that it is very expensive. Hill’s Science dry cat food is pricey, but their wet food costs even more per meal.
Second, you need a prescription for it. Not only do you need to spend more to purchase the food, but you’ll likely need to schedule a visit with a vet and spend money there just to be able to order it in the first place!
7. Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Chicken Canned Cat Food
|Crude protein percent:||7.5% min|
|Size:||3-ounce case of 24 or 5.5-ounce case of 24|
There’s at least one wet cat food that can help with hairballs and that you don’t need a prescription to purchase: Instinct’s Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe.
It contains tons of helpful nutrients and more than enough protein, and Instinct’s used 95% chicken to make up the recipe. It’s a limited-ingredient cat food that’s great for your cat, and cats love chowing down on it too.
However, it is an expensive cat food option, and it does have a lower fiber percentage compared to most other cat foods. So, while it might help with your cat’s hairballs, it’s not necessarily the best choice for them.
8. Purina ONE Hairball Adult Formula Dry Cat Food
|Crude protein percent:||34% min|
|Size:||3.5, 7, 16, and 22 pounds|
Purina ONE Hairball Adult Formula is an extremely affordable cat food that can help get your cat’s hairballs under control. While it’s not as effective as the top choices, it’s still better than regular cat foods.
All you need to look at to understand that fact is the overall fiber percent. While 4.5% fiber is low for this list, for a regular cat food, it’s on the higher side of things. If you’re unsure about this cat food, you can always try ordering the small 3.5-pound bag to try it out.
If it works, you can upgrade to the 22-pound bag for even more savings! It’s a calcium-rich food with tons of protein, but keep in mind that Purina didn’t use a simple-ingredient formula. So, if your cat has a sensitive stomach or is allergic to various foods, it might be a problem.
9. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
|Crude protein percent:||33% min|
|Size:||3, 5, and 14 pounds|
Nutro Wholesome Essentials might not be a brand name that you’re used to seeing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make outstanding food for cats. Its hairball control cat food only uses the highest-quality ingredients, and it comes with tons of omega-6 fatty acids to keep your cat healthy.
Nutro doesn’t use any artificial flavors or preservatives, and its food has a decent fiber content to help settle your cat’s hairballs. However, it’s not a simple-ingredient cat food, and it’s slightly more expensive compared to some other options.
But for high-quality food, we think that the extra price is more than worth it.
10. Greenies Feline Smartbites Hairball Control Cat Treats
|Crude protein percent:||29% min|
Even cats that have issues with hairballs deserve treats every now and then! While Greenies Feline Smartbites Hairball Control cat treats can’t make up all of their diet, it’s still an extremely delicious treat for them to chow down on, and it can help with their hairball control.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to add these Greenies treats to their diet and get their hairballs under control without having to change their regular cat food! Moreover, while these might be treats for your cat, they have tons of vitamins and minerals to keep your cat healthy.
However, compared to regular cat treats, these are more expensive. Since they can’t (and shouldn’t) make up the bulk of your cat’s diet, there’s only so much that they can do to help control hairballs. We recommend using them in addition to their new cat food, but of course, the choice is up to you!
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Cat Food for Hairballs
While we could go on and on about what to look for in your cat’s food, the truth is that sometimes it’s better to keep it simple. So, that’s exactly what we did here. We walk you through what you should look for regarding cat food.
So, just keep reading, and we’ll have you on the road to getting the right cat food in no time!
The Importance of Fiber
Tons of different ingredients can help your cat with their hairballs, but by far, the most important one is fiber. It works digestive wonders for your cat, and one way that it helps is by sweeping hair through your cat’s digestive tract.
The hair needs to come out, and the fiber helps push it through so it doesn’t come back out through their mouth. It also helps them feel full and aids their digestion in other ways.
But when eliminating hairballs is the primary goal, the first ingredient that you want to check out in your cat’s food is the fiber.
What to Look for in a Cat Food
While fiber is a crucial ingredient to help keep your cat’s hairballs in check, it’s not the only one that you need to look for in a cat food. We highlighted three other factors that you should look into before selecting a cat food.
Your cat needs protein to thrive, and that’s why it’s always important to check out the crude protein amount in your cat’s food. For adult cats, this amount should sit between 27% and 35%, but it can go a little higher if you have an extremely active cat.
For kittens, that fiber content should sit between 35% and 40%. Kittens need the extra protein to help their muscles and bones grow, and since kittens are generally more active, they need even more protein.
But as your cat ages, they generally need less and less protein, and too much can lead to weight gain. This is why you’ll notice that senior cat foods generally have less protein than adult cat food.
When you’re looking at the top ingredients in your cat’s food, they should always be ingredients that you recognize. You want to avoid products that list “by-product meal” or other unintelligible vernacular on the ingredient list.
When you can look at the ingredients and know what your cat’s getting, you’ve found a cat food worth using.
Protein and other high-quality ingredients in your cat’s food can be expensive. That’s why some cat food manufacturers turn to fillers, such as soy, weeds, straw, cereal by-products, citrus pulp, corncobs, and other low-grade foods.
You can find these in just about any low-quality pet food, including cat food. Do your best to avoid products that contain fillers. While they might be less expensive, they’re not as good for your cat, which can lead to more vet bills later.
High-quality cat food is an important part of fostering a long and healthy life for your cat but the right cat food and water dish will promote good posture, offer whisker relief, and aid in good digestion. The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite bowl since it offers all of the above and is beautifully crafted to meet modern home stylings. The wide tray design catches any food and water spills and the entire setup is dishwasher safe. Learn more about the Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl here.
At Pet Keen, 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!
If you’re still conflicted on which cat food to choose after reading through the reviews, don’t overthink it. There’s a reason that Smalls Cat Food is our top choice. It’s a high-quality cat food that does a great job at keeping hairballs in check.
Of course, if you’re looking to save a little money, then IAMS ProActive Health Adult Hairball Care is a great choice too. What’s important is to order a cat food so your cat can stop hacking up those hairballs sooner rather than later!
Featured Image Credit: correct pictures, Shutterstock