kitten closing its eyes laying on blanket
 kitten closing its eyes laying on blanket

How to Care for Your Cat’s Hairball Issues

If you’re a cat parent, chances are you’ve dealt with hairballs at some point. While hairballs aren’t necessarily a sign that something is wrong, they can still be uncomfortable for your cat (and unpleasant for you) to deal with. Finding ways to help your cat feel better and avoid hairballs is one way to help them live healthier and more comfortably.


Where Do Hairballs Come From? 


Most cats spend a considerable amount of time grooming their coats, which leads to swallowing some of their hair. That hair can build up over time in the stomach. If the hairball doesn’t pass from the stomach further into the digestive tract, the cat will attempt to eliminate it by coughing or gagging.


Many cats will cough up a hairball at some point in their life, but long-haired cats and cats that groom excessively are especially prone to more frequent hairballs.


Can Kittens Get Hairballs? 

Kitten hairballs are possible, but rare. Kittens are adept learners, and as they grow up, their grooming habits will mature as well. This could eventually lead to hairballs, especially if your kitten has longer hair.


How Can I Help Reduce Cat Hairballs?

Does Brushing Help Reduce Hairballs?

In hairball-prone cats, frequent brushing can help reduce the amount of hair that is ingested, thereby reducing the risk of hairball formation. Feeding a special diet designed to decrease the likelihood of developing a hairball may also help.



How Can What a Cat Eats Help?

Diet can play an important role in hairball relief! Pet food specifically designed to help address hairballs as a health concern is your best bet.


Digestion-supporting Fiber 

The combination of powdered cellulose and beet pulp in IAMS™ hairball formulas provides bulk that helps move hair through the digestive tract. This fiber blend also includes a moderately fermentable fiber to promote intestinal health. IAMS™ research has shown that cats fed IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Adult Hairball Care pass 80% more hair in their feces than cats fed IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Healthy Adult with Chicken. Passing all that hair through the digestive tract reduces the opportunities for hairballs to form in the first place.


Cat Skin and Coat Nourishment 

High-quality animal-based protein and fat found in IAMS™ hairball care formulas provide important nutrients for your cat’s skin and coat. Maintaining skin and coat health may reduce the risk of excessive shedding, which leads to ingesting less hair from grooming, and, consequently, reduced hairball formation.


Should a Hairball-prone Cat Eat Only IAMS™ Hairball Formulas? 

Yes. Mixing other foods with IAMS™ hairball formulas may compromise the effectiveness of this diet by diluting the ingredients that help reduce the risk of hairballs.


orange and white cat concerned about hairballs, sitting on gray couch


Can Overweight or Senior Cats Eat IAMS™ Hairball Formulas? 


The short answer is yes, so long as your vet thinks your cat doesn’t need to focus on their weight or stick to a senior cat formula.


Overweight cats have special nutritional needs for weight management. When an overweight cat also struggles with hairballs, a specialized food that addresses both concerns like IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food with Salmon or IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Adult Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food with Chicken & Turkey may be the best fit. Likewise, senior cats have special nutritional needs that can be met through a diet designed specifically for them like IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Healthy Senior if your vet recommends it.


IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Adult Hairball Care has the balanced nutrition adult cats need. If an overweight or senior cat has problems with hairballs, and your vet agrees that hairball care should be the primary goal for their health and comfort, then feeding them IAMS™ hairball formula for indoor or senior (age 7+) cats is a great choice.




If hairballs are a frequent part of life for you and your cat, it may be time to talk to your vet about changing up how you feed your cat. Paying attention to your cat’s eating habits and digestive health gives you clues as to how they feel and what you can do to support them. If your cat is having stomach issues or allergic reactions to their food, you’re likely the first one who will spot the signs. You can help your cat feel healthier and happier just by paying attention to them — and that’s a solution you’ll both enjoy!

 kitten closing its eyes laying on blanket
 kitten closing its eyes laying on blanket
 kitten closing its eyes laying on blanket
 kitten closing its eyes laying on blanket
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