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The Pros and Cons of Feeding Hairball Control Cat Food

Many cats will experience feline hairballs at some point. Long-haired cats and cats who overgroom are more likely to have this problem. Feeding cats a hairball control cat food formula can help them pass the hairball early before it becomes too large.

While throwing up an occasional hairball is generally not serious, feline hairballs can become too large to be passed easily.

When this happens, they can become lodged in either the intestines or esophagus, leading to serious problems that require veterinary medical assistance.

The Pros and Cons of Feeding Hairball Control Cat Food

Using Hairball Cat Food for Relief and Treatment of Feline Hairballs

Many cat food manufacturers have hairball control formulas designed to help cats pass hairballs quickly and easily.

These formulas use a combination of increased fiber as well as fish oils and omega-6 and omega-3 acids to unblock the digestive system.

Most manufacturers add extra vitamins and minerals since food, as well as hairballs, are passed more quickly making it harder for cats to absorb all the nutrients from the food.

Well-known manufacturers of hairball control cat food include Purina, Science Diet, Iams, Royal Canin, Eukanuba, Pro Plan, and Authority.

Types of Fibers in Hairball Control Cat Food

Most regular cat foods have between 1 and 2% fiber.

Hairball control cat food may have as much as eight percent fiber.

A cat’s digestive system is different from dogs and other species.

Cats react strongly to the fermentability of fiber, which differs according to the fiber source. (Fermentation is the process during which carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive tract to release their energy.)

Fiber from poorly fermentable sources, such as cellulose, is difficult for cats to digest.

That’s why cats do not tolerate foods that contain large amounts of grains.

The vets at recommend products using beet pulp because it is easier to digese and better for cats.

Risks of Too Much Fiber In Cat Food

As with many things, too much of even a good thing can have bad results. The same is true of fiber.

Too much fiber in cat food can irritate the GI tract.

In addition, hairball control cat food is often lower in fat than regular formula cat food.

According to veterinarians, this can result in indigestion or constipation.

Over the long term, fiber can draw fluid into the intestines. This has two effects.

One, as fluids are drawn away from other parts of the body, cats are at a greater risk of dehydration.

Two, with less fluid in the bladder, the concentration of urine increases.

This can lead to cystitis, an inflammation of the urinary bladder.

Cystitis is painful and can be serious and requires veterinary medical attention.

The Pros and Cons of Feeding Hairball Control Cat Food

Recommendations for Using Hairball Control Cat Foods

Before introducing a hairball control cat food, read the label carefully.

Look for products with no more than 8% fiber from non-grain sources and introduce the new formula gradually, mixing it with the cat’s regular food.

Monitor the cat’s reaction to the food.

If the cat develops constipation or diarrhea, cut back on the amount of the hairball control food or change to a brand with a different source of fiber.

And, if the problem continues, consult your vet.

If the cat appears to be having problems urinating, such as going frequently but only urinating a bit or urinating outside the litter box, take the cat to the vet to check for cystitis.

So, Does Hairball Cat Food Work?

Most cats will react well to the hairball control cat food and have fewer problems with hairballs.

Once the problem is resolved, veterinarians recommend returning to normal cat food.

Hairball control cat food is used as a hairball remedy treatment. It is not a long-term substitute for regular cat food.


Monday 30th of October 2023

It must be so uncomfortable for the cat!


Sunday 8th of October 2023

Thank you for the information. Learned something new. I was thinking about using food for hairballs all the time, but now I won't. I'll just give it to them once in awhile mixed with their regular food. Thank you again.


Wednesday 13th of September 2023

My 17 yr old cat throws up a hair ball almost daily. I give her sentry brand hair ball relief a few times a week. She eats royal canin digestive dry and wet cat food rotated with blue buffalo blissful belly. She has a history of constipation and manages a daily BM on these foods. What else should I be considering?


Thursday 14th of September 2023

You are doing great! Other than what you are trying, I would suggest just keeping up with vet appointments and follow any advice they give.


Sunday 17th of July 2022

Thank you! Lots of good information.


Saturday 7th of May 2022

Thank you for writing such an informative article! The information in this article is something every cat owner needs to know. I had know idea hairball cat food wasn’t for everyday feeding. My cats are only 9 months old, and just off the kitten formula dry & wet foods. I immediately checked the percentage of fiber in the Purina One dry food. It’s fine at 4.3%., so it’s ok for the rest of the night. , I’ll run grab the non hairball Blue Buffalo I had them on previously. I had thot they’d benefit from having hairball formula as one is long haired and the other kitty is a compulsive groomer. They may have it sporadically or if they show signs of really needed if. Thank you again for setting the facts straight!

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