10 Best Cat Foods for Kidney Disease
Many cats suffer from kidney disease because of the wrong nutrition and lack of moisture they get from food. Understanding this problem, pet food brands consult professional vets and nutritionists to design exceptional cat food for kidney health that would help our felines deal with the problem and minimize the risks.
In this post, I will review the best food for cats with kidney disease so you could provide your feline with the most appropriate nutrition for her better health.
Top 10 Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease
The feline CRF (chronic renal failure) requires feeding with renal cat food, and Blue Buffalo is among the top pet food brands that work with vets to design it. Their Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney + Mobility Support formula contains reduced animal protein (chicken) and minerals (phosphorus and sodium) to help manage a cat’s kidney workload.
It’s grain-free, which is great for felines with sensitive stomachs. Vital nutrients such as chondroitin and glucosamine work for a cat’s joint function and overall mobility. This dry cat food for kidney disease contains all the necessary elements for healthy nutrition: taurine – for eye and heart health, omega fatty acids – for healthy skin and fur, L-Carnitine and calcium – for strong teeth and bones.
Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet is prescription-only, so start feeding with it after your vet approves. Feeding and transition recommendations are on the package, as well as the request to remember about a clean bowl of fresh water for your cat.
Related guide: Best grain-free cat treats
- Protein: 26%
- Weight: 7 lbs
- Calories: 425 kcal/cup
This renal cat food from Royal Canin is a prescription diet to help felines ease the symptoms and spread of kidney diseases. Given that many cats lose appetite and weight when ill, the manufacturer came up with a specific blend of the ingredients for this recipe to be aromatic and stimulate the appetite. Plus, it’s nutrient-dense to ensure a cat will get all the elements she needs to thrive.
Feline Renal Support S Dry is protein-low to prevent weak kidneys from extra work on toxic degradants. (When protein comes to the gut, it breaks down into both healthy and poisonous elements.) The formula contains a precise antioxidant complex to help a cat’s body deal with renal disfunction, and fatty acids from fish oil – for the overall health of her organs.
S is for savory, to tempt even the pickiest eater with this recipe. (Royal Canin also offers the A formula, where A is for aromatic, and the F formula, with F for flavourful.) Feeding instructions depend on a cat’s weight, and it’s recommended to consult a vet before transiting a feline to this kidney-friendly cat food.
- Protein: 26.5% max
- Weight: 3 lbs, 6.6 lbs
- Calories: 398 kcal/cup
Together with Kidney Function Early Care from the same manufacturer, this formula is specially designed to support cats with feline CRF. It contains low protein, phosphorus, and sodium levels, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, to control kidney pressure and improve the overall health condition.
As well as most commercial cat food for kidney disease in this guide, this one was made in collaboration with specialists (vets, nutritionists, and researches) to derive the most balanced formula for a cat’s nutritional needs. A moderate amount of high-quality protein, added B-complex vitamins, and potassium serve to help a feline’s organism stay strong enough to struggle with CRF.
The formula is OK to feed all breeds of adult cats. The amount of food to give will depend on a cat’s weight. Make sure to get a confirmation from your vet: As far as any other prescription diet, it can’t be fed off your own bat.
- Protein: 26.5%
- Weight: 3.15 lbs
- Calories: 536 kcal/cup
Clinically proven, this formula deserves its place among the best cat food for kidney disease: It’s specifically designed to protect kidney and heart functions, approved by AAFCO, and made with therapeutic omega-3 fatty acids and L-Carnitine.
Ocean fish is low in protein, which helps control a concentration of toxic elements in the blood. At the same time, high levels of amino acids in the formula serve as building blocks of protein for lean muscles and proper calorie intake. Kidney Care Ocean Fish contains low phosphorus (0.7% max) and sodium (0.4% max) to maintain renal health.
As far as feline CRF often goes hand in hand with appetite loss, this recipe offers the Enhanced Appetite Trigger technology to stimulate eating. Hill’s formulas are all prescribed diets, so consult a vet before feeding with this kidney diet cat food.
- Protein: 26%
- Weight: 4 lbs, 8.5 lbs
- Calories: 444 kcal/cup
Here it goes, finally: a non-prescription low phosphorus cat food for kidney health. This grain-free recipe from Instinct doesn’t require any medical confirmations though it would come in handy to consult your vet before changing your cat’s regular diet for this food.
Thanks to its purposefully short ingredient list, the formula contains the only protein source, which makes it suitable for cats with kidney problems and sensitive digestion. The #1 ingredient here is a farm-raised rabbit, providing a feline with all the essential amino acids for immune health. It’s grain-free, with no by-products or artificial colors and preservatives.
As well as any other dry cat food, this one lacks moisture, so crucial for kidneys and overall health. That is why ensure your cat drinks enough water and do your best to follow the feeding or transition recommendations from the manufacturer. As far as all AAFCO-approved cat food recipes, it has all the information on the package.
- Protein: 35%
- Weight: 4.5 lbs, 10 lbs
- Calories: 457 kcal/cup
This renal cat food is a combination of morsels and thick gravy to make it more palatable for reluctant eaters. Given that most cats lose appetite when experiencing kidney problems, Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy attracts them by adding even more natural odor to the formula.
This wet food is energy-dense for a cat to get enough nutrients even when she eats a small portion. Low protein and phosphorus levels, together with omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil) and antioxidant complex, make it the best wet cat food for kidney disease. The formula is quite rich in calories, which helps compensate for low appetite and a weak organism of your four-legged friend.
To purchase this product for your cat with kidney disease, you’ll need a veterinary authorization. It’s a specific diet, so you can’t feed a feline with it on your behalf. Consult your vet and ask for a confirmation that this recipe is appropriate for your cat to eat.
- Protein: 6.5%
- Weight: 3-oz. cans
- Calories: 97 kcal/can
This one is a non-prescription low phosphorus cat food for a feline’s kidney and urinary health. It features grass-fed beef as a primary source of animal protein, making it a bit “heavy” yet sustainable for digestion. Added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants help maintain a complete and balanced diet for adult cats.
Low in magnesium and phosphorus, Weruva wet food is OK to feed cats with feline CRF, as it promotes a healthy urinary tract. It doesn’t require a veterinary authorization to purchase, though it would be helpful to visit your vet and consult if this recipe is appropriate for your cat’s individual needs.
No wheat, corn, or soy are in this kidney-friendly cat food. The formula contains no GMO, gluten, or artificial colors/flavors. Taurine is here for eye and heart health, and B-complex vitamins serve to build up a cat’s nervous and immune systems.
- Protein: 10%
- Weight: 3-oz. or 6-oz. cans
- Calories: 62 kcal/3-oz. can
This recipe is minced chicken meat in jelly, which has all the chances to attract even the pickiest eaters. In collaboration with vets and nutritionists, Hill’s developed a specific k/d formula to support a cat’s kidney health. It’s clinically tested and approved by AAFCO as one of the best prescription diets for felines with health problems. Formulated to reduce the risk of developing calcium oxalate crystals in kidneys.
A low concentration of protein (4%) in the formula promotes a kidney better work, providing the organ with fewer toxins (a product of protein breakdown) to deal with. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil reduce inflammation and work to improve blood flow in kidneys. Low phosphorus (0.38%) and sodium (0.3%) allow us to add this formula to the list of the best cat food for kidney health.
As far as any other special diet for cats, this product needs veterinary authorization for us to buy. If you plan to feed a feline with Hill’s Kidney Care, ask your vet to confirm the prescription.
- Protein: 4%
- Weight: 2.9-oz. or 5.5-oz. cans
- Calories: 70 kcal/2.9-oz. can
Dave’s Restricted Diet Phosphorus is a non-prescription low phosphorus cat food, though the manufacturer recommends using it only as directed by a vet. It means that it would come in handy to consult your specialist if the given food meets your feline’s individual needs.
Formulated to support kidney health, this recipe features chicken and chicken broth as primary ingredients to provide cats with necessary proteins and fats. Restricted phosphorus and sodium in food help minimize blood pressure on kidneys for their optimal work and condition. The recipe is replete with omega-3 fatty acids, producing the anti-inflammatory effect in chronic kidney disease.
Also, Dave’s Diet is 100% free of grains and carrageenan, which makes it suitable for cats with sensitive stomachs. Added vitamins and minerals serve to support the overall well-being of our pets.
- Protein: 10%
- Weight: 5.5-oz. cans
- Calories: 189 kcal/can
This one is canned food for cats with kidney disease, paste-like for you to add more water if necessary. The #1 source of protein is chicken hearts and liver, though salmon is also here to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Taurine serves for eye and heart health of our felines, and restricted phosphorus (0.12% max) works to maintain healthy kidney function.
The formula is rich with omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and healthy antioxidants to support organ functioning. The manufacturer worked in collaboration with vets, cat nutritionists, and researchers to create the most balanced nutritional combination for felines in need.
Feeding and transition instructions are on every can, though Purina recommends giving this food only with a veterinarian’s approval. And notwithstanding that the formula is moisture-rich, make sure to provide a cat with free access to clean water.
- Protein: 6.0% min
- Weight: 5.5 oz. cans
- Calories: 165 kcal/can
Main characteristics of the kidney diet
Experts recommend a low protein cat food for felines with CKD as it helps reduce glomerular proteinuria and nitrogenous wastes. In plain English, a cat’s kidneys will get fewer toxins to deal with, which helps decrease their workload. Plus, it will minimize the consequences of nitrogenous wastes: uremia, anemia, azotemia, polyuria, platelet dysfunction, and more.
Notwithstanding that, the necessity of protein restriction for cats is still under discussion: Specialists argue on how much protein to leave in kidney diet cat food to avoid protein malnutrition and loss of lean body mass. As for now, 26-35% on a dry matter basis is a norm.Claudine Sievert, DVM
Phosphorus retention is common for cats with CKD, and that is why kidney-friendly cat food will lack this element to prevent calcitriol deficiency and renal secondary hyperparathyroidism. Phosphorus restriction also delays CKD progression and saves from soft tissue mineralization.
Phosphorus is a vital nutrient for felines: Despite its high content in animal proteins, many regular diets often contain added phosphorus to prevent its deficiency. Speaking about kidney care cat food, restricted protein here already helps reduce the total phosphorus content of this food. And while regular cat food generally contains more than 1.5 g/1000 kcal of phosphorus, kidney diet cat food will label from 0.7 to 1.35 g/1000 kcal.
Dietary Omega-3 Acids
The best food for cats with kidney disease is rich with omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) because of their renoprotective effects. These acids reduce kidney inflammation, prevent oxidative stress to the kidney tissue, and promote a cat’s longevity. There’s proof that felines eating higher levels of EPA with their therapeutic kidney diet may live longer.
Dietary omega-3 fatty acids slow down the CKD progression by reducing protein “leaking” through a cat’s kidneys. When choosing renal cat food for your four-legged pal, look for 0.4-2.5% of omega-3 fatty acids on the label.
Cats with CKD suffer from sodium retention, which can lead to systemic arterial hypertension. That is why kidney care cat food contains restricted sodium to maintain healthy blood pressure and therefore reduce the kidney workload.
The sodium content of kidney care cat food ranges from 0.5 to 1 g/1000 kcal.
Are there any other specifications distinguishing kidney-friendly cat food from regular diets?
First off, it’s calorie-dense for a cat to get enough energy since protein is reduced. Second, it contains increased levels of vitamins (C and E) and antioxidants to reduce renal oxidative stress in cats.
There’s also added soluble fiber in the best cat food for kidney disease to promote the growth of colonic bacteria. Potassium citrate is in this food to correct metabolic acidosis and prevent hypokalemia in cats.
|⚡ Please note: Urinary diet works best when complemented by high quality cat supplements for kidney disease.|
The role of hydration
As you know, kidneys regulate water concentration in the body. When a cat suffers from kidney disease, this organ doesn’t work correctly, failing to conserve water and therefore making urine more concentrated. It leads to dehydration, and that is why a cat must consume enough moisture to “help” kidneys work better.
The problem is that even healthy felines may ignore water and don’t drink enough to stay well-hydrated. That is why pet food brands do their best to make their wet formulas as moisture-rich as possible. Speaking about cats with kidney disease, the problem grows: They lose appetite and may ignore both food and water, so the challenge here is to fix that.
What can you do to help your cat drink more?
- Give her more wet than dry food (the proper ratio is 75% to 25%)
- Provide a cat with fresh and cool water only: Change her water bowl often and use ice cubes to add to her water on warm days.
- Benefit from a cat drinking fountain that keeps water clean and fresh.
- If you have a multi-cat household, make sure each feline has her own bowl: Cats don’t like sharing their bowls with other felines.
- Even if your cat is the only pet in the house, place several water bowls in different locations. Consider quiet places so that a cat would feel calm and safe when drinking.
- Some cats with kidney disease need additional fluids, so ask your vet if your feline needs any injections or dropping tubes to get extra moisture.
Best wet cat food for kidney disease
The best wet cat food for kidney disease will provide a feline with extra flavor and moisture, necessary to consume when ill. Feel free to consider any canned food options listed in this guide, as they are vet-recommended and AAFCO-approved:
- Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function
- Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support
- Dave’s Restricted Diet Phosphorus
- Weruva TruLuxe Grain-Free Natural Canned Wet Cat Food
Best dry cat food for kidney disease
And here go the best dry cat food for kidney disease options. Designed in collaboration with vets and professional nutritionists, these formulas go along with all the main characteristics a kidney diet should have:
- Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney + Mobility Support
- Royal Canin Feline Renal Support S Dry
- Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function
- HILL’S PRESCRIPTION DIET k/d Kidney Care
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe Natural Cat Food
Which cat food is best for kidney disease?
Cats suffering from feline CRF need a specific diet, designed to slow the progression of their disease, minimize problems with mineral balance, and yet satisfy all the nutritional needs. The best options are kidney diet cat foods designed in collaboration with nutritionists and vets. Most of these formulas are vet-prescribed though non-prescription low phosphorus cat food is also available on the market. Examples of kidney-friendly cat food include Royal Canin Renal Support, Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d, and Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diet NF Kidney Function.
What is the difference between cat kidney health & regular food?
Compared to the recipes your cat regularly eats, cat food for kidney disease contains less protein, sodium, and phosphorus to reduce the pressure on the kidneys and help them work better and cope with the disease. Such food also contains increased omega-3 fatty acids that help minimize inflammation in the organs.
How to shift to a renal diet?
As stated by AAFCO, all the food labels should share feeding and transition recommendations. The cat food for kidney health is not an exception, so you’ll find the instructions on packages. General rules are as follows: start with mixing regular and new food, and then gradually decrease the amount of the current food while increasing the portion of renal cat food during a week.
In a word
Many cats start suffering from kidney disease with age or on the back of other health problems. Poor nutrition and lack of moisture they get can cause chronic renal failure too. To ameliorate this condition and help our felines deal with the problem, many pet food brands collaborate with professional vets and nutritionists to design a specific cat food for kidney disease.
Most of such recipes are vet-prescribed, and they serve to reduce the pressure on the kidneys yet providing a cat with all the necessary nutrients and extra moisture. We’ve reviewed the best cat food for kidney health, both dry and wet, in this guide for cat parents to know what diet to choose for their four-legged friends with CRF. If you still have any questions or thoughts on the topic, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.