9 Surprising Home Remedies for Cat Hairballs

April 26, 2017

cat hairball remedies
You know that disturbing sound: your cat struggling to expel a hairball. The retching, gagging, and vomiting noises can wake you at night or ruin your lunch. As your poor cat struggles to rid him or herself of the alien product, you run for the paper towels and cleaning sprays.

Hairballs, or trichobezoars (tricho-, meaning “pertaining to hair” and bezoar, meaning “a mass trapped in the gastrointestinal system”) occur after cats attempt to groom themselves. Licking at the coat causes hair to be swallowed and delivered to the stomach. Balls form and when they become uncomfortable, the cat vomits up the wad.

Many cat owners think hairballs are a fact of life, but you can stop these occurrences using a home remedy. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian before trying the techniques below, especially if your cat is elderly or dealing with a chronic illness.

1. Brushing

Shedding is the underlying cause of hairball formation, so removing loose hair from your cat is critical in eliminating hairballs. Brush your cat every day—especially if he or she is long-haired and during shedding periods. Your cat will learn to love these grooming sessions, and you may find it relaxing as well.

2. Wipes

You can finish your grooming session by wiping down your cat with a wet paper towel or a baby wipe. This will help pick up remaining loose hair. If you use wipes, be sure to choose a fragrance-free brand that is hypoallergenic.

3. Olive Oil

Adding olive oil to your cat’s food can ease digestion and help Fluffy pass the hair naturally. If you see your cat struggling with hairballs, consider adding a bit of olive oil to his or her food. Never force oil into the mouth, though, as you could send it into the lungs. Allow your cat to lick it up.

A teaspoon of olive oil every week or so should do the trick. Oil throughout the digestive system will help your cat eliminate hair in its stools and aid in digestion. This should cut down on stomach aches associated with hairballs. Other oils, such as mineral oil, corn oil or saffron oil can also help.

4. Butter up!

A teaspoon of butter will work like the oil. Melt it in the microwave and drizzle over your cat’s food once a week.

5. Petroleum Jelly

You can trick your cat into relieving his or her own problems by applying a bit of petroleum jelly to a paw. Your cat is sure to lick the jelly away, lubricating the digestive track. This will help make feces elimination more comfortable, thus removing hair in the cat’s digestive tract. Do this once a week or so.

6. Go Fishin’

Many canned fishes have natural oils, and they are often packed in oil as well. Give your cat a special treat with a bit of tuna or a sardine occasionally. You can share your lunch by draining the oil from a can and putting it on your cat’s dinner.

7. Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater…

Did you know that canned pumpkin can help pets pass obstructions? Fiber-loaded pumpkin has binding qualities and can assist in the passage of feces and hairballs. Be sure to choose pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar. Just mix a teaspoon or so into Tigger’s bowl of CANIDAE® cat food.

8. More Fiber

An increase in fiber is good for anyone’s diet, and cats are no different. You can add a few tablespoons of high-fiber cereal to your cat’s food to help process those hairballs. A quarter teaspoon of Metamucil or another fiber product can be added to the food for the same effect.

9. Diet

Cats benefit from diets that suit their metabolic needs, and CANIDAE® offers a formula that is specially formulated for hairball control. Choose a product like CANIDAE® Grain Free Pure Control Hairball Control to aid in digestion and hairball prevention. The food features fresh chicken, making it delicious and beneficial to your cat’s digestive tract.

Warning Signs of Problems

Hairballs are usually harmless, but they can cause a blockage. Call your veterinarian if your cat develops a swollen or hard belly or has difficulty defecating (constipation), unproductive attempts to vomit, or repeated coughing.

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  1. Cheri Buonaguidi says:

    Petroleum jelly is a toxic chemical and should not be given to any animal to eat. Great suggestions otherwise.

  2. my cat is sleeping ,and wakes up choking. I give her hair ball from a tube and is not working!

  3. Ann Bennett says:

    Excellent information … would a capsule of omega 3 oil be ok once per week… ?
    Many thx

  4. ma luzette santos tecson says:

    can i used petroleum jelly on the paws of my fur baby because of hairball on here intestine how can i used olive oil if my fur baby didnt eat dry cat food because of here bloated stomach.

  5. L dale says:

    I give my cat CatMalt for hairballs got it from the vets.

  6. Tina Phillips says:

    Petroleum jelly & mineral oil???
    These are NOT recommended at all by veterinarians…and may cause more harm.

  7. Constance Gordon says:

    Thank you. This information is very helpful!

  8. sallie rae delucantonio says:

    what about ground flax seed?

  9. Nanee Adams says:

    I have a long haired kitten and she’s been throwing up yellowish blue (foam) she has been hiding in the bathroom mostly the tub not her usual self I need help I’ve got her put up took her food and wated away

    1. Anna Rippon says:

      Take her to the vet for a check up 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for this helpful information.

  11. Hello. Petroleum jelly is a known carcinogen. I would hope you remove that from your list. Please.

  12. Tony says:

    I took in two outside cats (ferrel) THE one is coughing like it might have hair balls.

  13. Michael Williams says:

    Yes, a spoonful of mineral oil or petroleum jelly will pass completely through a digestive tract and act as lubrication without being absorbed by the body… animals or humans.

    1. Barbara Gleason says:

      I believe petroleum jelly is not good for cats

  14. marlis says:

    my kitty is eleven years old and has had insulib for two years. it is better now 260 nut something in the blood shows the pancreas is inflamed so we stopped the glyco food and i give her baby food and ultra light canned food from rovalcannon ancd also your grain free pure element food

  15. Sue says:

    Thank you. This was very helpful and validated my use of pumpkin. I have been using sweet potato baby food to assist my 18 year old tabby. When I was giving pumpkin to one of my cats i froze the pumpkin in ice cube trays. It was a great way to store the pumpkin, and each cube was the perfect serving size.

  16. Beth says:

    Petroleum jelly? It has oil in it, as in petrolem oil. You suggest putting that into a pet? I work in oil n gas btw

  17. John Hodges says:

    “An increase in fiber is good for anyone’s diet, and cats are no different.”

    This is inaccurate. Cats are quite different, and their particular needs are not reflected in what would benefit a human. Check with a veterinarian before adding fiber to your cat’s diet.

    1. Miss N. Sumbrane says:

      anyone know if coconut oil, if she’d eat it, would help w/hairballs? I’ve rubbed a bit round her ears (dry spots) and she didn’t mind the smell at all.

      1. Scherri McGinn says:

        Mineral oil has no smell, as an alternative for skin things& Licking butter does help with fur balls (I can’t seem to get them to lick mineral oil very well so pumpkin & butter work better-separately of course. Scherri in Dallas

    2. Miss N. Sumbrane says:

      I thought that also John. And Metamucil? Dry? Nope, not even. (just sayin)

  18. Janet says:

    Love the suggestions. Thank you

  19. Blanche says:

    Does catnip help a cat’s digestive tract?

    1. ralphlujan says:

      does catniphelpacatdigestivetract

  20. Dr.Anindita Basu says:

    Glad to know in detail and I think it’s gonna help me and my furry children a lot.
    Really grateful

  21. Judith says:

    Where do you buy this food? One of my cats has more hairballs than the other one and does not chew her food so needs tiny pellets. What do you recommend?

  22. Debbie hannigan says:

    Hope to get things that r helpful