What to look for in cat food for sensitive stomach?

When in search of quality cat food for sensitive stomach, you should pay primary attention to components instead of price or flavors.

The following ingredients should be included:

  • Enzymes and prebiotics are essential for intestine health. These components are highly recommended for pets suffering from diarrhea, constipation, and smelly poop. These bacteria restore the normal intestinal microflora, which also brings benefits for the immune system.
  • A high content of moisture. Lack of moisture is a serious problem for many cats because they don’t drink enough water. Make sure that wet food contains about 80% of moisture, and dry food – 5-10% of moisture.
  • Vitamins and minerals are essential for any cat food formula. Make sure there’s a sufficient amount of nutrients – they will sustain the overall cat’s health.
  • Fiber-rich products, be those veggies, fruits, berries, or seeds, will contribute to better digestion. But please, be cautious: high amount of fiber can also lead to bloating and diarrhea – low-fiber products should be used in this scenario.

At the same time, you should keep in mind that some ingredients should be avoided at all costs. For example, grains are not good for cat’s digestion, as well as soy and other gluten products. All in all, cats are carnivores, and their intestinal system lacks enzymes to digest plant-based components. 

Potato and peas are not equally safe for all cats, so you should define what your pet’s individual reaction to these ingredients is. 

Extra tip: sometimes it’s impossible to find a commercial recipe with a perfect list of ingredients; I recommend you to check out this article with homemade recipes – this food will contain only the high quality ingredients and nothing else.

Types of cat food for sensitive stomachs

Best dry cat food for sensitive stomachs 

When in search of the best cat food for sensitive stomach, keep in mind that kibbles should be made of natural meat or meal products. The most optimal amount of protein is 30-38% – a higher level of protein is harder to digest. Look for the sources of fiber (veggies, fruits, berries, seeds). Do not forget about vitamins and minerals – it’s a must for daily nutrition. Ideally, dry cat food should also contain prebiotics or enzymes because they will improve digestion and make switching to the new food easier.

Consider the following dry food formulas:

  1. Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Natural Adult Dry Cat Food;
  2. I and love and you Dry Cat Food – Grain Free Limited Ingredient;
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, Sensitive Stomach & Skin Recipes

Best wet cat food for sensitive stomachs 

When it comes to wet food, it’s important to look at the moisture content: it should range from 75% to 82% for efficient digestion. Small and medium-size pieces of meat are preferable, as well as pate-style and semi-moist food since they are more palatable. Also, you should avoid grains, soy, and some artificial colors, preservatives, or thickeners. 

If you have a diabetic or overweight cat, low-calorie recipes with seafood flavors are a perfect pick – they will provide enough nutrients without extra carbs and fat. Do not buy recipes with artificial flavors or caramel and avoid fatty options with over 120 kCal per 3 oz can. Also please, make sure to read our guide on helping your pet lose weight.

Try these wet food recipes:

  1. AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Tuna & Chicken Entrée with Vegetables;
  2. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Digest Sensitive Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food;
  3. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Pate Wet Cat Food.

How to choose the best sensitive stomach cat food?

Before you read this algorithm, please, mind that cat’s individual diet should be prescribed by a veterinarian! If your cat has a sensitive stomach, you should define what exactly causes such a reaction

You can define an optimal variant for your pet by asking yourself several questions:

  1. Does my cat drink enough water? If yes, you can easily go with dry food only. If you cannot make it drink enough, choose a diet that combines wet and dry foods. It will improve digestion visibly.
  2. Is my cat overweight? Is it active enough? These questions will help you define the optimal calorie intake. Veterinarians recommend a single-ingredient diet for obese cats. If you have kittens/pregnant cats/outdoor cats, you can select more nutritious formulas with potato and peas. Don’t buy dry food with over 450 kCal per cup to reduce the risk of obesity.
  3. Does my cat have any related health issues or digestive disorders? To improve the cat’s digestion, you can serve the food with prebiotics and fermentation products. There’s a large variety of dry cat foods with prebiotics, finding one won’t be a problem.
  4. Is my cat prone to allergy? If yes, you should prefer all-natural formulas without artificial preservatives and colors. Avoid food with potentially allergic elements, such as dried egg products, tomato pomace, soy, and grains. 
  5. What’s the life stage of my pet? Kittens and pregnant cats need a highly nutritious food with the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals, so it’s better to choose medium-class or premium foods. Senior cats need the food with a lower amount of calories, but require some certain elements, such as taurine, amino acids, and Vitamin B. You should also consider the consistency of products: old and small cats with weak teeth prefer pate-style food and small, softer kibbles. 
  6. What’s the price/quality ratio? This is the last question which is answered in my guide: it describes the worthiest options at the market.

Features to consider when choosing the best cat food for sensitive stomachs

As I’ve mentioned, there are several crucial aspects that should be taken into consideration.

The primary attention is always paid to the ingredients and their quality. The fewer components, the better. Make sure the food contains fish, meat or poultry of a particular origin (chicken, turkey, beef, tuna, and so on). Avoid vague formulations like ‘meat’ or ‘meat by-products’ – pretty often, they can be found on the labels of economy-class food. 

Secondly, consider the content of fiber: it should be at least 3-4%. The more, the better. As a rule, vegetables, fruits, berries, and seeds serve as the main source of fiber. Make sure a cat formula contains some.

Thirdly, check the protein content. Dry foods for sensitive stomach usually have 30-38% of protein – it’s more than enough for pets with digestion problems. In wet food, the amount of protein should vary from 7% to 12%. 

Read consumer reviews to find out what’s the food consistency. Special sensitive stomach dry cat food has a bit different structure: kibbles are easily broken into tiny crumbles, which facilitates digestion. For the same purpose, pellets are made smaller. Wet cat food is typically produced in the form of pate or stew in gravy (small and soft pieces of meat). Learn more about pro’s and con’s of dry and wet cat food here.

How to transition to the sensitive stomach cat food?

It’s possible to switch a cat to a new diet in seven days. Serve the food in the following pattern:

  • Day 1 – Serve 75% old food mixed with 25% new;
  • Day 2 – Serve 70% old food mixed with 30% new;
  • Day 3 – Leave 60% of the old food, add 40% new;
  • Day 4 – Serve equal portions of old and new food;
  • Day 5 – Serve 60% new food, leave 40% old;
  • Day 6 – Serve 75% new food with 25% old;
  • Day 7 – Try new food only and check the changes in the cat’s digestion and well-being.

How can I help my cat with a sensitive stomach?

Switching to a healthy diet is not the only thing you can do to improve the intestinal health of your four-legged pal. Sometimes, poor digestion, vomiting that leads to your cat being always hungry and problems with stool are caused by other factors and continue regardless of the products served.

 Here’s what you can try to help your pet:

  1. Place bowls with food and a litter box in the calm and private corners of your house. Digestion disorders might be triggered by the stress experienced by a cat. Make sure such amenities are located in far-off places without noise. Once you find such spots, don’t change the location of bowls and a litter box. Having a multi-cat household you’re advised to use automatic cat flaps to help your pet with privacy.
  2. Keep your cat active. Poor digestion is often conditioned by slow metabolism. You can boost it by making your pet move more. Play with it, install a cat house or some other similar facilities, buy chew toys, benefit from YouTube cat games and train it. The results are well worth the effort.
  3. Stick to the regime. Each cat has certain habits and daily routines. Try not to interfere with it – let your pet feel comfy and peaceful.
  4. Attention to other cats. You run a multiple cat household? Make sure all furry residents are in friendly or at least neutral relationships. If one cat stresses because of others, it might experience various health problems, including stomach upset. If you plan to take another cat, consult with a veterinarian or behavior specialist.
  5. Buy or pot green grass. Special grass for cats can be found in any pet store. Let your pet chew it from time to time – that stimulates digestion and helps to cleanse the colon from intestinal parasites.
  6. Serve more water. A lot of cats don’t drink enough. Stimulate your cat by keeping water in the bowl fresh and leaving various containers with clean (!) water around the house.
  7. Store your cat’s food properly. Feeding your cat a spoiled food leads to unwanted intestinal irritation.
    Read these tips on storing your cat’s dry food the right way.

FAQ

What brand of cat food is best for a sensitive stomach and most nutritious? 

If you’re in search of affordable and quality foods, choose the products from Hill’s Science prescription lineup, or Royal Canin. More expensive and nutritious options include Blue Buffalo, and Iams. The perfect formula should be chosen together with a veterinarian.

What is the best wet cat food for picky sensitive stomach cats? 

The options with the best price/quality ratio include:

How to make dry cat food easier to digest? 

You can either mix kibbles with water and serve them slightly wet, or make your cat drink more water. Also, you can improve digestibility by serving some vegetables and fruits which your cat likes, or consider giving it prebiotics (some can be added right to the food). 

In a word

If you notice any signs of digestion disorders in your cat, do not rush to change the food – you should figure out the reason first. Sometimes, these problems are caused by stress and change of regime. In other cases, it’s food poisoning (which is common when cats eat stale wet food). In order to define the exact reasons, visit a veterinarian.

If your cat is found to have a sensitive stomach, switch to the new products gradually, as described in the guide. Watch your cat’s well-being while performing the switch, avoid certain components like soy, grains, white potato, and rice. Any product with gluten may trigger digestion problems and allergy. Starch is also a questionable ingredient.

Hopefully, with the help of these ten cat foods for sensitive stomachs reviews, you will figure out an ideal option for your furry friend. Stay healthy!

I am Claudine, a College of Veterinary Medicine alumni and cat health & lifestyle specialist. In this blog, I share my personal experience and recommendations on improving cat’s diet, behavior, and both physical and psychological state.

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