What to look for in hairball cat food
When shopping for the best cat food for hairball control, keep the following criteria in mind:
AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement for adult maintenance or all life stages:
The AAFCO is a nonprofit organization that outlines nutritional recommendations for pet food. An AAFCO statement means the food meets the nutritional needs of cats based on their life stage. You can confirm a cat food is nutritionally complete and balanced for “adult maintenance” or “all life stages” if it has an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement on the label.
Hairball control foods contain more fiber than most cat food recipes. Because of this, they aren’t recommended for kittens. A kitten’s developing gastrointestinal tract may have trouble with this much fiber, Ochoa says, adding that while kittens might have an occasional hairball, they groom less frequently than adult cats. In other words, they likely won’t need hairball food. Always check with your vet before changing your kitten’s diet or giving them any supplements.
Guaranteed analysis and nutrient profiles: The guaranteed analysis on a pet food label shows the percentages of important nutrients, including protein, fat, fiber, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Food for adult cats, including seniors, must have a minimum of 26% protein and 9% fat. Ochoa says the best hairball cat foods generally have high fiber, more than 4% but 6% or more is ideal.
Ingredients list: The ingredients on a pet food label appear in order of weight. Cats are obligate carnivores, so meat should appear first on the ingredient list as whole meat, meat meal, or animal byproducts. To help your cat pass hair and reduce the frequency of hairballs, shop for cat food recipes that include both meat protein sources and insoluble fiber sources like wheat bran, psyllium husks, cellulose, rice hull, and pea fiber.
Expert formulations: Our picks come from brands that employ full-time board-certified veterinary nutritionists or PhD-level animal nutritionists. This ensures the food meets nutritional recommendations, includes the right ingredients for cats, and aligns with the WSAVA guidelines and our experts’ guidance.
Manufacturing standards: When choosing a commercial cat food brand, it’s important to consider the manufacturer’s quality control measures. Reputable brands should be transparent about the types of tests they conduct, how often they test, and the results of those tests. This information should be easily accessible on the company’s website, or brand representatives should provide it on request.
Calorie content: The calorie content of cat food is measured in kilocalories (kcal). The best cat foods for hairballs contain more fiber than other cat foods, which can help keep kitties feeling full. For this reason, cats eating a high-fiber hairball management food may eat less at each meal and be less likely to demand snacks between meals. Just make sure your cat gets the right number of calories each day. Your vet can help you figure out how many calories your cat needs.
Food recommendations from veterinarians: If you’re considering adding fiber to your cat’s food to reduce hairballs, talk to your vet first. Too much fiber or the wrong type of fiber could cause more digestive issues. Your vet can offer more guidance with choosing the best cat foods for hairballs based on your cat’s lifestyle and other health needs.