Perhaps one of the main advantages cats have over other pets and dogs in particular is that they clean themselves. While you have to wash your dog at least once a month to keep them at least somewhat clean, a cat will continuously maintain their coat every day.
During this cleaning, the hooks on a cat’s tongue remove loose hairs to keep their coat tidy. While this is, indeed, a wonderfully efficient system, one side effect is that quite a lot of hair is swallowed. For the most part, cats are built do deal with this, usually without incident. Sometimes, though, hairballs develop.
Any cat can get hairballs from time to time, but long-haired cats and those who shed a lot because of some other reason are more likely to get them. Most of the time, a cat will vomit them back up — again, they’re designed to deal with it this way, so occasional vomiting of a hairball isn’t necessarily cause for concern. If your cat develops other symptoms, such as lethargy or lack of appetite, it may be appropriate to bring them to the vet to determine if the hair has caused a blockage.
We had a number of Maine Coon cats in my house over the years and hairballs were just a part of life. We developed a strategy that involved a multi-part approach to dealing with the copious amounts of fur a Maine Coon grows. One often overlooked part of the puzzle is making a change to the food your cat eats.
A high quality feed can dramatically reduce shedding, so be sure to check out our best dry cat food brands post here as you ponder ways to reduce hairball frequency.
For the comfort of both you and your cat, here are our top ten best hairball remedy products for cats.
1. Furminator deShedding Tool
You know what they say about the relative merits of prevention versus cure. If your cat really has a problem with hairballs, their coat may just overwhelm their body’s ability to deal with it. Give your cat a grooming assist with this excellent de-shedding tool. It’s available in a long and a short hair version, in small and large sizes.
They advertise that this reduces shedding by 90 percent, but either way, this will eliminate the bulk of the hair, thereby getting right to the root of the problem. As an ancillary benefit, this will help keep fur off the surfaces of your home, as well.
Price: $17.59 to $23.19 (54 to 59 percent off MSRP)
Buy the Furminator deShedding Tool here.
2. Furminator Hairball Prevention Waterless Spray
To augment the tool above, Furminator also makes this waterless spray that will help reduce shedding and hairballs. The primary function is that it makes hair stick to their tool better so your brushing sessions are more effective. Your cat won’t love being sprayed with it at first, but in time you should be able to train them (perhaps with the help of some treats) and enhance your efforts to help keep them free of excess fur.
If you’re so inclined, they also make a shampoo to contribute to the system, as well. Basically, this is a conditioner for your cat’s fur.
Buy the Furminator Hairball Prevention Waterless Spray here.
3. Catit Senses 2.0 Grass Planter
While it’s true that cats are obligate carnivores, you may occasionally notice them munching on grass or your houseplants. Provide them with their very own patch of greens to chew, which in turn increases the amount of fiber in their diet to stimulate digestion. This keeps hair moving through their system easily instead of being thrown up onto your carpet.
Not every cat will care about cat grass, but if yours does, it’s an easy and safe alternative for dealing with the hairball issue. This is just the planter itself, so be sure to grab the Catit Cat Grass Kit if you go this route.
Price: $13.99 (plus cost of grass kit)
Buy the Catit Senses 2.0 Grass Planter here.
4. Wellness Complete Health Natural Hairball Control Dry Cat Food
As I mentioned, if the problem is really bad, a change in diet may be worth considering. While the first step should be to try a grain-free food (read more about why here), there are also foods specifically formulated to prevent hairballs and keep hair moving through the system briskly. Specially formulated fiber in this Wellness food does just that without loading your cat upon wheat, corn and other fillers that could slow down their digestion.
Price: $32.99 (13 percent off MSRP)
Buy the Wellness Complete Health Natural Hairball Control Dry Cat Food here.
5. Feline Greenies SmartBites Hairball Control Treats
On the other hand, you needn’t change your cat’s entire diet to treat hairballs. Various treats and supplements will help you tackle the problem, as well. Greenies, usually known for their dental and pill-serving treats, also offer this variant that combines the traditional Petrolatum hairball prevention agent with plant fiber to keep the vomiting to a minimum.
As a note, both this and the next pick rely on Petrolatum at least in part to achieve the desired effect. Some think this is completely harmless, especially in small doses, but others believe you shouldn’t use it at all. You may wish to consult with a vet before opting for this or the next item, but lots of cat owners have reported good results over the course of years.
Price: $2.49 for 2.1 ounces
Buy the Feline Greenies SmartBites Hairball Control Treats here.
6. Tomlyn Hairball Remedy Gel for Cats
Essentially acting as a gentle lubricant that keeps things moving, Laxatone (a blend of Petrolatum, soybean oil, and mineral oil) is a gel meant to be used in small doses. It’s been used for decades for addressing this specific issue. Again, depending on the viewpoint of your vet (or your own view!), this may be a sub-optimal solution. Nevertheless, it is quite effective. Sentry offers a variant called Petromalt that is just a touch cheaper.
Price: $6.03 (50 percent off MSRP)
Buy the Tomlyn Hairball Remedy Gel for Cats here.
7. Pet Naturals of Vermont Hairball Supplements
Naturally (no pun intended), there are versions of hairball treats that don’t rely on petroleum products nor oils to work. Formulated more like the food above, this is a fiber-based treat that helps promote motility rather than acting as a laxative.
We included Pet Naturals of Vermont on our anxiety products post because they tend to work and are focused on avoiding unnecessary chemicals. A solid alternative to this would be the VetriScience Laboratories Hairball Digestive Support Soft Chews.
Price: $4.92 for 30 treats (18 percent off MSRP)
Buy the Pet Naturals of Vermont Hairball Supplements here.
8. PetNC Natural Care Hairball for Cat
A middle ground between the all-natural, fiber-based options and the petroleum-based gels and pastes are treats with a high proportion of mineral oil. Mineral oil works both as a gentle lubricant and as a support for skin and fur health, contributing to the overall health of your cat. This particular version is made in the U.S.A. of human-grade ingredients and might just do the trick for your pet.
Price: $6.98 for 90 chews (22 percent off MSRP)
Buy the PetNC Natural Care Hairball for Cat here.
9. Vet’s Best Cat Hairball Relief Digestive Aid
Known for their natural supplements, Vet’s Best offers this digestive aid meant to reduce hairballs. Plant extracts including slippery elm bark and papaya are combined with other naturally-occurring compounds which soothe the GI tract and keeps things moving freely. This is probably the gentlest of the supplement-style solutions, which means actual efficacy could potentially be hit or miss. Still, this would be worth a shot before moving on to the Petrolatum solutions.
Price: $4.92 for 60 tablets (42 percent off MSRP)
Buy the Vet’s Best Cat Hairball Relief Digestive Aid here.
10. Cat Toys
While not a direct solution, this WebMD article suggests that overzealous grooming as a compulsive act could be redirected with some training by focusing on play. Whenever you see your cat excessively grooming, you could tempt them with a fun new activity.
For a huge list of options, try our top 25 best cat toys, which is broken down by toy category. For even more ideas, try our best interactive cat toys post that puts an emphasis on active play.
Browse the top 25 best cat toys here here.