Are there any foods that reduce the risk of hairballs?

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While grooming is the number one way to prevent hairballs, there are food products that include “slippery” substances that will help the passage of hair and digestive waste down the intestinal tract. These come in several different forms:
• Special Hairball Formula Food
There are many foods on the market today, including commercial and premium brands, as well as some prescription diets.
In the past, it was thought that a high-fiber diet was the answer. However, fiber generally isn’t digestible, so it also doesn’t add many vitamins, minerals or other nutrients, resulting in possible nutritional deficiencies for the cat.
Then it was found by examining the hairball content that the objects contain a large fat content, so some foods now include a fat emulsifier to allow the hairballs to pass more easily through the digestive tract, while still being able to maintain a lower amount of fiber.
Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
• Home Food Items
Pumpkin (which is considered a super food because of its high nutrient content), squash or butter have often produced good results. Give your cat a teaspoon of 100-percent pure pumpkin or baby food squash or ½ teaspoon of butter. Cats enjoy these extra “treats,” and they may help by adding lubrication or soft bulk to help hairballs pass. The pumpkin or squash are also sometimes used to help with constipation or diarrhea, because of their added fiber.
Make sure the pumpkin is 100-percent pure, and not the pie filling. Cans of pure pumpkin can be found in most supermarkets.
• Commercial Hairball Remedies
These come in various forms, including tube-served gels and granules to be sprinkled on food. They provide assistance in passing hairballs through lubricating action or by providing soft bulk, or a combination of both. It should be noted that many hairball relief remedies contain mineral oil. Taken in quantities, mineral oil can deplete the body of vitamin A. If using one of these formulas, ask your veterinarian if a vitamin A supplement might be in order.

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