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The best hairball remedies do more than help hair slide through your cat’s body. They treat the problem at its root by supporting overall digestive health.
That’s why we chose Cat Lax as the best hairball remedy on the market. This well known hairball gel contains a blend of ingredients that break up hairballs, prevent new ones from forming, and minimize shedding to keep hairballs at bay.
Before we learn more about Cat Lax and our other top five picks, let’s talk about the types of hairball remedies and how they can help.
At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Hairball Remedies for Cats
Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
- Over 1,600 customer reviews, 4.5 star rating
- Cats seem to enjoy the tuna flavor
- Helps lubricate ingested hairs to prevent hairballs
- Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Controls hairballs while supporting digestive health
- Most cats like the way the gel tastes
Types of 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 gets stuck or heads in the opposite direction.
Hairball treatments come in many different forms. You can buy hairball remedies in a tube, try homemade remedies, grow a pot of cat grass, or groom your cat to keep him from ingesting his hair at all.
Some cats with frequent hairballs may have an underlying problem like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects motility of their intestines, so diagnosing and treating this could solve their problems.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of hairball remedies available and how they work.
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, fiber-based hairball remedies reduce the hair’s chances of fusing into a ball and coming back up.
Additionally, a small amount of dietary fiber can help keep the digestive system functioning smoothly, correcting hairball problems at their roots.
Fiber-Based Hairball Remedies
The following are sources of fiber that, when integrated into your cat’s diet, may help hair move smoothly through the body.
- Psyllium Husk Powder
- Ground 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, paraffin oil, or white petrolatum, is a highly refined derivative of petroleum. After it’s been fully refined, 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 flavors 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.
Mineral oil had previously been recommended for hairballs, but it carries the risk of aspiration (going down into the lungs) since it doesn’t trigger a cough reflex.
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 giving him an egg yolk lecithin supplement. A safe and effective dose for lecithin has not been established for cats, and most supplements formulated for people contain much more than is present in hairball products for cats.
Slippery elm bark contains soluble fiber, which may help to soothe and lubricate the digestive tract, reducing inflammation and helping the hairball move in the right direction
Though hairball-specific cat foods usually focus on fiber alone, this isn’t always the right approach.
If your cat is already eating a diet with a little bit of fiber, the best dietary change is finding a food that reduces inflammation. Hairballs often indicate digestive problems and should be approached the same way you’d approach any other symptom of gut inflammation, 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.
Top 5 Best Hairball Remedies Reviewed
The following hairball remedies are popular, top-rated products that have a reputation for safety and effectiveness. Most are lubricating products, but you’ll also find a few that take a different approach to hairball control, addressing it as a component of digestive health.
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 a few times a year, his frequent hacking is probably connected to digestive problems. In this case, he probably doesn’t need to be swept out with fiber 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.
If you determine that your cat’s hairballs are caused by a digestive issue, you may want to consider treating the hairballs the same way you’d treat any chronic digestive problem.
Adjust your cat’s diet to reduce inflammatory ingredients and consider incorporating probiotics, prebiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids to promote digestive health
Also Read: Best Cat Food for IBD