How Hairballs Form
Knowing how hairballs form provides useful information for implementing steps to successfully reduce hairballs.

Most cats spend quite a bit of time grooming their coat. A cat's rough tongue is specially equipped to wipe away dirt and loose hair. As cats groom, however, they swallow hair, which may build up over time in the stomach. If the ingested hair doesn't pass into the intestines, the cat will cough or gag in an attempt to bring it up.

Help for Hairballs
The first and most basic step to help reduce the risk of hairball formation in cats is frequent brushing. By brushing away loose hair, you can reduce the amount of hair your cat will ingest.

Therefore, you also reduce the chance that the hair will gather in the digestive tract. Some cats groom themselves and their housemates. Therefore it's a good idea to brush all the cats in your house

Baths or professional grooming during change of seasons help by ridding cat of loose hair from normal seasonal shedding

Nutrition - provided through a specially designed diet - is another way to decrease the likelihood of developing hairballs. Dietary fiber is usually the way special diets accomplish this. Most special diets contain one type of fiber to help move bulk through the intestines (nonfermentable). Nonfermentable fiber, such as cellulose, isn't broken down by the normal bacteria in a cat's intestines. Instead it passes through the digestive tract, helping other material, such as hair, move along as well.

Other special diets contain a combination of nonfermentable fiber and another type of fiber (moderately fermentable). Moderately fermentable fiber, such as beet pulp, helps move bulk and helps provide nourishment to intestinal cells which, in turn, helps maintain intestinal health. Because of the special fiber content, these diets are most effective if they are fed as the sole diet. Mixing with other foods can dilute the fiber that helps reduce the risk of hairball formation.

Likewise, switching between a special diet and another cat food may decrease the benefit.

Another way that nutrition can help reduce the likelihood of hairball formation is by promoting skin and coat health.

High-quality diets containing animal-based proteins such as chicken, and a combination of fats - more specifically, a ratio of certain fat components (5-10 omega-6 fatty acids to 1 omega-3 fatty acid ) - have been shown to promote healthy skin and coat. Feeding a diet that provides these ingredients can help keep skin and hair healthy and, therefore, may reduce the risks of:

-Excessive shedding
-Ingestion of hair from grooming; and, consequently,
-Hairball formation