Cat Food Hairball Formula Products

Feline hairballs are a common problem for pets and homeowners alike. Although they are caused by your pet's ingestion of his own hair, his cat food can also influence the frequency with which he experiences this condition. Ultimately, a combination of proper diet, hygiene and preventative care is best for reducing hairballs in cats.

Specialty Diets

A number of cat food brands manufacture specially formulated mixes of food for cats that suffer from hairball problems. These foods generally provide the same basic nutritional content as a standard cat food, but include a higher percentage of rough fiber. Because hairballs are generally caused by the fact that your pet's digestive system cannot process hair, fiber is helpful in reducing hairballs by helping your cat to push the hair through his system.

Cats are meat eaters and rely almost exclusively upon protein and other nutrients from meat for their health. A cat that eats a diet of animals that it catches in the wild ingests only the fiber that may exist already in those animals' bodies, meaning that the total fiber content in a typical feline diet is very low. Specially formulated high-fiber diets generally have somewhere between 6% and 8% fiber composition.

Dangers of Specialty Diets

High-fiber diets can cause certain health problems for your pet. Because your cat is not accustomed to such a quantity of fiber in his system, his natural gastrointestinal balance may be skewed. Additional fiber generally causes your cat's body to over-hydrate his digestive tract, which may lead to conditions like cystitis over the long term.

As with other specialty diets, it is important to transition your pet to a new type of food gradually. Start by mixing in 1/4 of the new type of food with 3/4 of the old food and allow your cat a few days to grow accustomed to the new mixture. Next, mix in 1/2 new food and 1/2 old food for a few days, then 3/4 new food and 1/4 old food for a short period. If your cat has reacted well to the mixed diets, you can then transfer your pet over to the new food type completely. Failure to mix in the new food gradually can cause further indigestion and other problems.

Other Remedies

While specially formulated cat food can be helpful in reducing your pet's hairballs, a combination of treatments is generally more effective. The single best way to eliminate your cat's hairball problem is to brush him every day or every 2 days. Clearing out loose hairs through brushing ensures that your pet will not accidentally ingest those hairs while he cleans himself.

Additionally, petroleum-based hairball removers like Petromalt are effective at reducing hairballs and don't require a complete dietary shift. These products have minimal side effects and can be administered orally over a regular period of time. Petromalt and other similar treatments are available at pet stores and without a veterinarian's prescription.