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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.
Quick Look at Our Top Picks:
Cat Lax Supplement
Tomlyn Laxatone Hairball Remedy Tuna Flavor Gel
Richard's Organics Chicken Flavor Hairball Remedy
Vet’s Best Hairball Relief Digestive Aid Review
Get Naked Furball Relief Soft Treats for Cats Review
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 heads in the opposite direction.
Hairball treatments come in many different forms. You can buy hairball remedies in a tube, use butter from your kitchen, grow a pot of cat grass, or groom your cat to keep him from ingesting his hair at all.
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
- Coconut Fiber
- 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, and 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. If you choose to give your cat any oil for hairballs, choose mineral oil. It’s essentially liquid petroleum jelly and appears to be an effective solution for hairballs.
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 or giving him an egg yolk lecithin supplement.
Slippery elm bark helps 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
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.
Overall Best Hairball Remedy: Cat Lax Supplement
Though Cat Lax doesn’t mention hairballs in its name, this product is just as popular as a hairball preventive as it is a laxative.
In fact, this gel is one of the most trusted hairball control products on the market. On Chewy, it has 210 customer reviews and 97% of reviewers say they’d recommend it. Customers say their cats like the way it tastes and that it helps to keep hairballs down. One reviewer says they’ve been successfully using it for decades.
The gel’s first ingredient is cod liver oil, which is both a lubricant and a source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may improve skin and coat health, helping to control the hairball problem at its source.
It also contains white petrolatum, which coats the hairs and helps them to pass through the digestive system. Finally, the gel contains lecithin, a natural emulsifier that helps to loosen hairballs in the body.
The gel is sweetened with caramel and malt syrup, neither of which are great for cats.
- Addresses multiple aspects of the hairball problem
- An affordable, easy-to-find product
- Trusted by cat guardians
- Has a taste cats enjoy
- Contains sweeteners
Best Hairball Remedy Runner Up: Tomlyn Laxatone Hairball Remedy Tuna Flavor Gel
This well-regarded brand has been in the hairball gel business for over 25 years.
The gel contains petrolatum as the first ingredient. Petroleum jelly is mixed with a blend of mineral oil and soybean oil. All of these ingredients coat the hairs and help them to smoothly move through the digestive tract.
The gel is sweetened with corn syrup, malt syrup, and cane molasses. A blend of natural and artificial flavors give it a taste that, while palatable to some cats, seems to repel others.
Laxatone Hairball Remedy isn’t quite as well-received as Cat Lax, with about 86% of 276 reviewers saying they’d recommend it to a friend. Most unhappy customers say that their cat didn’t like the way the gel tasted.
- A well-regarded product with a history of efficacy
- Contains a blend of lubricants
- Most cats like the gel’s flavor
- Contains three types of sugar
- Contains artificial flavors
Best Hairball Remedy without Petrolatum: Richard’s Organics Chicken Flavor Hairball Remedy
This hairball treatment is made without the petrolatum typically used in hairball gel.
Instead, it contains a combination of vegetable oil, cod liver oil, and lecithin. Like the ingredients in Cat Lax, these ingredients help to prevent hair from coalescing into a ball. The lecithin helps loosen clumps that have already formed. Cod liver oil is as a rich source of EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that can help to reduce inflammation and may promote a healthier coat.
A blend of dextrose, fructose, and natural chicken flavor give the food its flavor. This much sugar isn’t ideal for cats, but for short-term use as a hairball remedy, it shouldn’t be a problem.
The gel has a chicken flavor that most cats enjoy. You can administer it on your cat’s paw, on your finger, or by squirting a drop onto your cat’s food.
- Controls hairballs while supporting digestive health
- Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Most cats like the way the gel tastes
- Contains sweeteners
Best Hairball Prevention Supplement: Vet’s Best Hairball Relief Digestive Aid Review
These tablets are designed to relieve hairballs and support overall digestive health. They’re primarily made from psyllium husk, a source of soluble fiber. Marshmallow root can help lubricate the digestive tract while reducing inflammation. Slippery elm bark has similar properties and is a popular remedy for hairballs on its own.
The tablets contain a blend of digestive enzymes and probiotics thought to improve digestive health, along with papaya extract, which may be able to reduce inflammation and support digestive health.
The breakable tablets are flavored with liver powder and natural flavor and, according to customer reviews, cats like the taste. Some reviewers say that the tablets are too large and hard to break into bite-size pieces, making them difficult to administer.
- Most reviews are positive
- Made from a blend of well-regarded ingredients
- Appears to be safe for cats
- Cats like the way the tablets taste
- May be difficult to administer
Best Hairball Control Treat: Get Naked Furball Relief Soft Treats for Cats Review
If you’d rather give your cat a treat than a gel or a tablet, these soft treats may be a good choice.
They contain a mix of ingredients intended to support healthy digestion, including flaxseed as a source of fiber and a mix of prebiotics and probiotics intended to keep the gut in top shape. Chicken is the first ingredient and, with no potentially-harmful preservatives, dyes, or flavors, these treats are among the few that appear to be completely safe for cats.
The treats get mixed reviews, with almost a third of customers on Chewy saying their cats refused to eat them.
- Contains fiber to help move hair through the GI tract
- Features prebiotics and probiotics for digestive health
- Free of potentially-harmful ingredients
- Some cats don’t like the way the treats taste
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 once a week or even once a day, 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.
Also Read: Best Cat Food for IBD
If you determine that your cat’s hairballs are caused by a digestive issue, 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.