Hairball Remedies

| Modified on Mar 04, 2024
Is your cat a tad vain in that he or she is always primping and grooming, making sure they look their best no matter what the occasion or time of day? If so, the fact that your cat wants to look great is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean as a cat owner we certainly love having the most beautiful cat on the block and don't hesitate for a moment to take all the credit when everyone at the vet's office or pet store comments on our lovely kitty. The problem arises when as a result of all that personal grooming, our kitty begins to have problems with hairballs.

As the animal grooms itself, small amounts of hair are ingested which normally would be passed through the digestive system and out through the feces.  However, sometimes with longer haired cats or those who tend to shed excessively, the amount of hair becomes too much to pass naturally and accumulates in the cat's stomach.  A mass of hair that rubs against the stomach lining will lead to irritation and cause the cat to vomit.

The type of solution that you want is one, which will help to naturally lubricate and coat the stomach, aiding in the animals ability to pass the excess hair rather than allowing it to build up.  There are a few easy tricks that you can try to prevent the problem from occurring.

Place a dot of non-petroleum jelly on the nose of your cat so that the animal can lick it off


Approximately one time per week, add a teaspoon of fish oil to your cat's food


Add some canned pumpkin or bran to each of your cat's meals (about a spoonful)

Any of these options should really help to solve the problem and will allow your cat to continue looking beautiful without the annoyance of hairballs.

By Dawn Forster


2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Rebecca (Amburgey, Kentucky) on 09/13/2007

If you want to help a cat to cough up hair balls eaiser, let it lick butter. This has proved to work for me.

Replied by Wendy Mackey
(Moorpark, Ca)

If I use butter or often & how much (qty) once a week & tsp???? or more often

Replied by Kathryn4

This works. My cat will lick the butter! There were other things I tired but could not get her to take. I don't always have to put a dab of petroleum jelly on her fur to get her to take it.

Canned Pumpkin

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Elaine (Crested Butte, Colorado, USA) on 10/14/2008

I have a 12-yr.-old long-haired male cat who consistently exercises his appetite and eats many things, both normal and unusual, including Hungarian mushroom soup, any kind of cheese, and pretzels (but only seven sections!) - and throws hair balls the size of short, fat Cuban cigars. I've tried the commercial remedies and raw diet and even pumpkin. Surprise! He doesn't LIKE pumpkin, so that's been a non-viable option, and the commercial remedies and raw diet aren't making much of a dent.

Your website lists pumpkin as a remedy but doesn't specify whether it should be plain or enhanced. Do you think pumpkin PIE MIX could be an option? Or would it be too spicy??

(I've discussed this situation with the cat at length, but, despite my cautions, he continues to ingest hair. Also, he's a very MANLY cat with a great deal of pride. My long-haired girly-girl will come to me with hair in her mouth that she can't shake off, so I can remove it, but the "Major" cat apparently feels that it's his duty to make the hair disappear inside him.)

Nothing the vets have recommended has solved/cured the problem, and I believe that pumpkin could be the answer, but how can I make it palatable?

Replied by Julie
(Truckee, Ca)

Use plain canned pumpkin. Pie filling has things in it that are not good for cats. I mix tuna with the pumpkin and my cats go crazy for it.

Replied by Paul
(Chicago, Il)

Pumpkin yogurt, available @ Dominick's / Safeway Now ( Nov. 13 11 ) thru 12-31 every year. Can also be made from scratch ( soy, almond, coconut )

My cat loves it, other flavours too.

3 x a week 1 teaspoon

Replied by Jh
(Yuma, Az)

I didn't want to buy a whole can of pumpkin to find that my kitties wouldn't eat it, so tried a little jar of winter squash organic baby food. Lewis likes it and has never had a hairball. Ivy does not like it, and does get hairballs, so there you go. However, I worry about the sugars and their teeth. Although no added sugar, the winter squash does have 5 (grams?) of sugar per serving.

Should I be concerned about the sugars and their dental health?

Replied by Cathy
(Westland, Mi.)

How long does the pumpkin last in the refridgerator once it is opened? What kind of tuna is mixed with it? Isn't tuna in oil bad for cats or is that what I need to help pass the hairball. My cat throws up so much from hairballs that he is becomming anorexic. Will this remedy lubricate the colon to flush the hair through the bowel?

Replied by Theresa
(Mpls., Mn)

Hey Cathy!

An open can of pumpkin is good for about a week in the fridge. Consider pumpkin for babies that comes in the small jars.

The pumpkin is fiber; the tuna is oily, and if you have concerns about feeding tuna consider organic coconut oil to help move the hairball along.

Two other thoughts for you - you might consider brushing your cat regularly to remove as much hair as possible to prevent big hairballs, and given your cat is anorexic I would strongly urge you to see your vet to rule out complications such as diabetes or renal failure.

Replied by Cori
(Doyle, Tn)

To make it more palatable, try adding a bit of bacon grease or oil from a can of sardines -- the kind I get are in olive oil. It wont take much to flavor the pumpkin puree, so a little should go a long way. I also add a bit of EV coconut oil for additional nutrients.

Replied by Sue Francia
(Friday Harbor)

I open a large can of pureed pumpkin and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then I remove it from the trays and store it in a vacuum zip lock bag in the freezer. The cubes can be quickly defrosted for use.

Canned Pumpkin
Posted by Sheila (Memramcook, New Brunswick) on 11/07/2007

After purchasing the commercial product to attempt to cure kitty of excessive fur in her digestive tract, and having her like it maybe twice, I decided to search for a natural way of helping her. Pumpkin to the rescue! My mother was a bit skeptical at first (its her kitty), but I am happy to report all is well in litter land. It works, and she doesn't even balk at it being added to her food, so why bother with the malt that isn't so attractive to them and quite a bit more expensive than pumpkin. Yeah for Earth Clinic and some wonderful NATURAL cures!!

Replied by Nedine T.

My 2 year old male cat has started vomiting undigested food after eating. He is otherwise acting completely normal. I think he may have a hairball that he just can't get out. Hopefully nothing else for a blockage. It's a long weekend Sunday, no I would like to try something natural before being able to get him in to the vet. Will pumpkin help remove a blockage of hair? Or is it just good for prevention?

Canned Pumpkin
Posted by Kim (Winnsboro, SC) on 02/27/2007

I've had cats all my life & have been dealing with their hairballs(yuck!) forever. Now I mix canned Pumpkin with a bit of canned Cat Food & feed both of my cats a spoonful every day, & no more hairballs! It works great & one of my cats has long fluffy fur! It also keeps them from getting worms.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Ann (Carson, California Usa) on 02/08/2012

My cat seems to have been born with a massive coat of hair. And I could gently pull a little handful of hair off of her anytime - it fell out easily so she always lost an amazing amount of hair as if shedding for summer all the time. She grooms herself excessively too - so of course we've had lots of hairballs to clean up. I began giving her flaxseed that I got from Whole Foods and grind up myself in the blender. Not only has her coat become more shiny and beautiful - She sheds way less and has rarely ever thrown up any more hairballs.

There is a slippery agent in the flaxseed as well as oil (omega 3 and 6) that contribute to this remedy. I grind up about 1/3-1/2 cup at a time (I give it to 2 cats) - keep it refrigerated. (I keep the whole flaxseeds frozen). I give them about 1/4 tsp every other day - sprinkled on their food. And the best news----->Both Cats Like It :o)

Oat Bran

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Carol (Sparks, NV) on 10/21/2022

Oat Bran helped our cat!

I cook and eat oat bran every day myself and also give to some to our dogs and our cat. All four of our animals (3 dogs, 1 cat) seem to really like a small amount added to their food. We do also always add warm water to our dog's food. We do not add water to our cat's food but we do feed him wet food and mix it in. Our cat used to vomit about once a week but since feeding the cooked oat bran, no vomiting... seems to be helping him a lot. We learned about oat bran from our vet when our lab puppy was having diarrhea issues and have been feeding periodically until I started eating it everyday and it helped my own digestion. Our cat was a rescue and we tried all kinds of commercial hairball products but had no luck until we started feeding oat bran with his wet food.

Replied by Debra

Is it oat bran not oatmeal? Do you get it in grocery store? Thanks Debra


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Carol (Palm Springs, CA) on 06/08/2009

Our eight month old kitten started throwing up hairballs two months ago and we used the malt jam and dry hairball cat food. If we didn't find a hairball one day we would fine two the next day. We eat oatmeal most every morning so I started to give her one tablespoon every morning. You guess it. No more hairballs. I'm sure that the oatmeal has cured her hairball problem. Give me your feed back.

Prunes, Pumpkin, or Unsweetened Pineapple Juice

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Carla Jones (Homer, Mi) on 12/04/2008

I love this site. I have a few cats, chickens, dog and many rabbits so any home remedies are helpful when dealing with an ailment. Due to the large number of pets any money saved with home remedies is a plus.

I raise rabbits and worry about hairballs since rabbits can't throw up the hairballs like cats I read on the internet somewhere that prunes, pumpkin pie filling and also 100% pure unsweetened pineapple juice can help break up the hair and allow it to be digested.

I have used both prunes and pineapple juice with no problems. Every so often I either give my rabbit a prune, pineapple juice mixed in the water or even some pumpkin pie filling and have been fortunate enough not to have hairball problems.

Replied by Kathe
(Lyndhurst, New Jersey)

I stumbled onto this site -- which is now bookmarked for future reference! -- looking for a fix for constipation and will be picking up prunes and pumpkin on the way home tonight but wanted to comment on the furball remedy my kitty liked best. Bertoli's Extra Virgin Olive Oil! It was the only one she liked but it worked like a charm. I'd give her about a teaspoon every day in a separate bowl, she'd gobble it up and no more furballs! And I liked it for cooking!

Replied by Nala Jean
(Alexandria, Va (usa))

How does pumpkin help with hairballs? After reading this last night, I picked some up (certified organic canned pumpkin) and my cat actually lapped it up this morning (I honestly didn't think she would go for it; I tried a teaspoon of the EVOO in her food and she didn't go for that). I'm desperate at this point, so I'm trying anything before going to the vet. She has hairballs daily even though I brush her 1-2 times/day and give her the hairball prevention dry food. She (Nala) is almost 14 and she is a domestic medium hair. I was starting to think that maybe with her age her system just isn't going to digest the hair like it used to. I sure hope this pumpkin trick works, otherwise I'll be having to clean orange carpet stains which I'm really not looking forward too. So, how does pumpkin do it (hopefully)?


Replied by Toots
(Manassas, Va)

Hairballs have two routes out of the cat: barfed up, or pass on through their digestive system.

I think the pumpkin works because it provides roughage that helps the bowels move hairballs on through. The oils work because they provide a lubricant.

My old cat will be 20 soon and likes unscented salmon and anchovy oils (I get them from; pricey but lasts a long time); I also give her and the dog canned brisling (sardines) in EVOO, they split a little fishie on top of their food and LOVE it! Both are lubricants which help the blockages move on through.

I recently re-homed 2 lovely male ragdolls that are four-footed fur factories and VERY picky eaters who need help getting rid of their massive licked-off fur (yes, I do brush them but one has incredibly thick fur! ). I got one to eat a bit of the unscented oil over his dry food but not the other. I have lots of canned pumpkin on hand (do NOT use pumpkin pie filling! ) so will try that, thanks for the ideas!

Un-Petroleum Jelly

3 User Reviews
5 star (2) 
1 star (1) 

Posted by Kathryn4 (Owings, Md.) on 02/19/2013

Got rid of hairball problem for my cat by rubbing a fingertipe amount of petrolum jelly on her leg every night. She licks it off and hairball problem and vomiting is gone. I went to a health food store and eveutally bought unpetroleum jelly as I thought it as better.

Replied by Jr
(Coloma, Mi)

Thanks so much for that info. My cat throws up hairballs constantly. I give her the stuff from the vet, but it doesn't help. I'll try the un-petroleum jelly and see how that works. I sure would love to solve this problem.

Replied by 4kathryn
(Owings, Maryland)

You only really have to give this jelly every other night for it to be effective. Glad it has helped.

Replied by Mary
(North Carolina, US)

I use Coconut oil for hairballs. My cats just love it. This is the kind that does NOT smell like coconut.

Replied by Theresa
(Mpls., Mn)

Hey Mary!

THANK YOU for this tip! Brilliant!!!! :-)

Replied by Kathryn4
(Maryland, US)

You are welcome.

Replied by Jan

What coconut oil would not (does not) smell like coconut? I have used coconut oil for years, and have never come across any which doesn't smell like coconut.

Libby Ames

Any coconut oil that has "Refined" on the label won't taste like coconut. I get it at Whole Foods. Or you can buy MCT oil, which is the same thing, but no flavor (medium chain tryglycerides). I put some in a little brown glass dropper bottle so I can sneak a few drops into some Fancy Feast.

Replied by Meg
(Huntington Beach , Ca.)

Hi Jan, I've heard Virgin Coconut oil has the hint of smell and taste and the plain coconut oil doesn't.

Replied by Jen


Petroleum jelly is a carcinogen. This is like feeding cancer to your pet. Some of these remedies are dangerous I'm noticing.

Replied by Kathryn4

That is why you use unpetroleum jelly purchased at a health food store - non-toxic.

Replied by Kathryn4
(Maryland, Usa)

Is olive oil safe for cats that have hairball issues? She is always grooming. I use the furminator on her daily and get alot of hair off.

Replied by Sue Francia
(Friday Harbor)

Don't know if it is really true but I read on a cat informational site on kitty constipation that olive oil can cause liver damage in cats if used long term. I have used it short term for its laxative properties.

Replied by Sue Francia
(Friday Harbor)

Jarrow Formulas makes an organic expeller Pressed Coconut Oil which has Neutral Flavor (does not taste like coconut).

Replied by Julia
(San Bay)

I agree above that Petroleum Jelly is dangerous, so I'm glad you pointed out you use Un-petroleum jelly instead. Coconut oil helped me greatly.

Replied by Carianne
(Alberta Canada)

I am lost when you say un-petroleum jelly. What is this made of? The health food stores here have not heard of this product.