10 Best Food for Cats with Sensitive Stomachs

 

Not only do I love my cats, but I feel like I have a personal responsibility for their well-being. This means that I can feel quite distressed when they seem to be having stomach issues. Considering they can’t tell me what is wrong, it is hard to know the best way to respond, but changing their food is always one of the first things I think about.

Knowing the right type of food to deal with your cat’s particular stomach issues can be challenging. Just like with us humans, there are so many things that can get knocked off kilter, and it is hard to know which applies to your feline friend.

In this article, I will write about the main signs to look out for when it comes to cat stomach problems and the most likely cause of what they are suffering from. I will then review the 10 best cat foods for when your cat is having digestive issues, and their particular strengths and weaknesses, so you can pick the best one for your cat.

 

At a Glance: Our Full List of Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs

For me the best cat food on this list is Ziwi Peak wet cat food as it contains 93% meat from quality sources, and uses novel proteins (such as lamb and venison). Cats often develop issues with the meats that they eat most often, such as chicken and salmon, so meat diversity both helps with and prevents the problem.

This is quite expensive, so I also feed my cat Ziwi Peak Recipe Canned Cat Food wet cat food, which is 95% meat from a single source, which makes it easy to eliminate things that irritate my cat’s stomach. I mix these with Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Stomach dry cat food as it has 40% protein from a single protein source.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Ziwi Peak Recipe Canned Cat Food
  2. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Grain-Free Natural Wet Canned Cat Food
  3. Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food
  4. Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Loaf in Sauce Canned Cat Food
  5. Holistic Select Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  6. Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Stomach Formula Dry Cat Food
  7. Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food
  8. Purina One Sensitive System
  9. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive
  10. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food

 

10 Best Cat Foods for Cats with Sensitive Stomachs

 

Ziwi Peak Recipe Canned Cat Food

This formula is ideal for an elimination diet if you think your cat has developed a sensitivity to a certain meat protein. It contains 93% fresh meat, organs, and bones from a single, highly digestible novel protein source (e.g. lamb or venison). The high meat content also means that it is not full of carbohydrate-based fillers that cats simply do not need in their diets. It also has added fiber, vitamin E, and folic acid to aid in digestion.

Of course, all that meat comes with a hefty price tag, and it is one of the more expensive foods on this list. It also means that it is relatively high in fat and calories, so it is not for cats that are struggling with their weight.

Pros

  • Novel Protein
  • Limited ingredient diet
  • High in protein
  • High in Fiber
  • Added Vitamin E and folic acid

Cons

  • Expensive
  • High in fat and calories

Overall: Strong Novel Protein

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Instinct by Nature’s Variety Grain-Free Natural Wet Canned Cat Food

This is another formula that is great if your cat has developed a sensitivity to a particular meat source, or if you intend to start your cat on an elimination diet. It is made from 95% quality meat from a single or limited source. This makes it high in protein and ensures that there is limited carbohydrate-based filler, which means most common allergens can be avoided. It is also enriched with menhaden fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in digestion and promote a healthy coat.

Like many high-protein foods, it is also high in fat, which can make it a little problematic for cats with weight issues. The formula also contains vegetable oil, which adds no benefit to a cat’s diet and may be a source of stomach sensitivities in some cats.

Pros

  • 95% meat
  • Limited meat sources
  • High in protein
  • Free from most common allergens
  • Supplemented with menhaden fish oil

 

Cons

  • Contains vegetable oil
  • High in fat and calories

 

Overall: Allergen Free Protein

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Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food

One of the most trusted brands on the market when it comes to special diet cat foods, this is probably a good ‘go-to’ product if your cat develops mild symptoms. It provides easy digestion by combining a high water content with high protein content, mimicking the natural diet of cats in the wild. It uses thin slices of meat in a rich gravy, which makes the food attractive to cats but keeps the calorie level low. It is also higher in fiber than many cat foods, preventing constipation, and it is reported to reduce the odor of cat stool.

The main downside with this product is that it contains protein from multiple different sources, and from by-products, so it is not suitable if your cat has developed a sensitivity for a particular meat source, or for an elimination diet. It also contains corn starch, which can be a source of sensitivity for some cats.

 

Pros

  • High moisture levels
  • High in protein
  • High in fiber
  • Low-calorie
  • Three flavors

 

Cons

  • Combination of meats
  • Contains corn starch

 

Overall: Hydration and Fiber

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Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Loaf in Sauce Canned Cat Food

Very similar to the previous Royal Canin canned cat food on this list, what sets this one apart is that the loaf texture stops cats from guzzling their food too quickly, which can be a major cause of regular regurgitation. It is also low-calorie, another regular benefit for cat ‘guzzlers’.

While cats should like the taste of this formula, the loaf formula can take some getting used to and should be gradually introduced over time.

Like the other Royal Canin wet formula on this list, it contains a mix of meat sources, which means it is not great if your cat has developed a sensitivity to a particular type of meat, or for starting your cat on an elimination diet.

View our reviews of Royal Canin products here.

Pros

  • Loaf formula to temper rapid eating
  • High in moisture
  • High in protein
  • High in fiber
  • Low-calorie

 

Cons

  • Combination of meats
  • Corn flour

 

Overall: Slow Food for Fat Cats

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Holistic Select Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

This wet cat food provides a high-protein formula from limited meat sources, so you can cut out certain meats if you suspect that your cat has developed a sensitivity to them. It is also enriched with botanicals and salmon oil that are anti-inflammatory and combat food allergies, as well as a range of prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes in order to rebalance your cat’s digestive microbiome.

The food is higher in fat than some other brands, which is not great for more sedentary cats. They have also had some problems with food batches in the past, with what comes in the pack not matching up with the advertised products.

 

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Limited protein source
  • Botanical anti-inflammatories
  • Added prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes
  • Contains salmon oil

 

Cons

  • High in fat
  • Some inconsistent batches

 

Overall: Digestive Enzyme Punch

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Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Stomach Formula Dry Cat Food

This dry food works on the single novel protein basis as we saw with some of the wet foods on this list, mixed with highly digestible oatmeal and rice. This means that it is very high in protein, at 40%, but also high in fat and calories, so not great for cats with weight issues.

A diet that is too high in protein can cause constipation issues, but this formula is enriched with prebiotics, and vitamins C and E to smooth along the digestive process. It is a little surprising that it also does not contain probiotics, another essential element for good digestion.

 

Pros

  • 40% protein
  • Single protein source
  • Easily digestible oatmeal and rice
  • Enriched with prebiotics
  • Enriched with vitamins C and E

 

Cons

  • High in fat and calories
  • Does not contain additional probiotics

 

Overall: Novel Protein Dry Food

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Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

The first of the dry cat foods on this list, this cat food is made primarily with high-quality meat while avoiding meat by-products, so is suitable for eliminating certain meat products from your cat’s diet. It is also high in protein for dry cat food, but also high in fat, which again can be problematic for cats with weight issues.

Added probiotics and prebiotics, and well as menhaden fish meal, all aid digestion. The formula also contains Blue Buffalo’s patented LifeSource bits, which contain a range of essential vitamins and minerals for overall cat health.

This food is not appropriate if you are avoiding grains for you cats, or think that they may have developed a sensitivity to grains, as it does contain some grains and gluten.

Learn more about Blue Buffalo here.

 

Pros

  • Real meat without by-products
  • Single meat source
  • Added probiotics and prebiotics
  • Includes LifeSource Bits
  • Includes menhaden fish meal

 

Cons

  • Contains grains
  • High in fat

 

Overall: LifeSource Protein

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Purina One Sensitive System

Containing 34% protein, this dry cat food has the animal-based protein than your cat needs. However, this leaves it high in fat and quite calorific. Also, the limited filler that is included in this product is grain-based, so this is not an ideal food if you are limiting grains for your cat or suspect that this is the source of their sensitivity.

 

propbably The high moisture content of this dry cat food makes it more digestible than most, and it is also further enriched with vitamin E and antioxidants to aid in digestion and fight digestive issues.

Purina is a reputable pet food manufacturer and it has probably created a cat food variant for every possible requirement your cat may have. We go in-depth with Purina in this post.

Pros

  • High in protein
  • High in fiber
  • High in moisture
  • Enriched with vitamin E
  • Enriched with antioxidants

 

Cons

  • High in fat
  • Contains grains

 

Overall: Hydrating Dry Formula

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Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive

This is the vegetarian cat’s answer to a sensitive stomach formula. It is made primarily from brown rice but is still packed with protein (31%) from eggs, which can serve as a novel protein source for an elimination diet. It is further enriched with a unique mix of omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, and antioxidants that aid digestion. It is also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, which are all further ‘wild cards’ when it comes to food sensitivities.

This is not an ideal diet for cats that have problems with grains or gluten, as it contains both, and it is also surprisingly high in fat.

Hill’s is a good brand and has an answer to every health condition your cat may have, whether it be itchy skin, old age, or weight issues 

Pros

  • Digestible brown rice
  • Added omega-6 fatty acids
  • Added vitamin C and E
  • Added antioxidants
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

 

Cons

  • Contains grains and gluten
  • High in fat

 

Overall: Sensitive Vegetarian Formula

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Instinct by Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food

This is another formula which is ideal if you are planning an elimination diet as it contains protein from a single novel meat source. It is also a good choice if you think a certain vegetable may be the source of the issue, as it is also limited to a single vegetable source. The resulting mix is high in protein and fiber, but also high in fat. Digestion is further aided by added vitamins C and E as well as omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.

It’s so natural, it’s the next best thing to a raw diet.

The main complaint with this product is that is preserved with canola oil, rather than fish oil, as would be preferable.

 

Pros

  • One meat source
  • One vegetable source
  • Novel protein source
  • High in fiber
  • Enriched with vitamins C and E and Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids

 

Cons

  • Preserved with canola oil
  • High in fat

 

Overall: Digestion Made Simple

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About Sensitive Stomachs in Cats

Unfortunately, your cat can’t tell you when they are feeling poorly, but there are a variety of signs that will tell you that there might be something amiss with your cat’s digestive system:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose stool
  • Smelly stool
  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain

 

There are also a variety of potential causes of your cat’s digestive issues:

 

Food Allergies

Just like humans, cats can develop a dysfunctional or hyperactive immune system that can attack harmless chemicals in the body as a threat, causing an extreme reaction to mundane things, such as food. Cat’s can develop allergies out of the blue to foods that they eat regularly, especially foods that are high in protein such as beef, chicken, and pork.

One way to prevent this is to ensure that you give your cat a rotational diet that is not too heavy in any particular food source. Once the allergy has been developed, it is a matter of identifying the culprit and eliminating it from their diet completely.

This can be done with an elimination diet. This means feeding your cat a bland diet that causes no negative responses for a period of around a month and then slowly introducing other foods one at a time for a few weeks. When they start having a negative reaction, you know that you have found the problematic food source.

 

Food Intolerances

Different from allergies, in this case, the food is not digested and absorbed into the bloodstream and passes through the gut pretty much unchanged. This is less dangerous to your cat’s health, but still pretty unpleasant.

 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This is notoriously hard to diagnose and is usually the answer when everything else has been eliminated. This is caused by structural changes in the mucosa lining of the stomach, which changes your cat’s ability to digest certain nutrients.

Inflammatory bowel disease can lead to a leaky gut, allowing food particles, toxins, and bacteria to leach into the bloodstream. It is best to put them on a 12-hour fast and then put them on a bland diet, slowly introducing a wider range of foods.

 

Other Causes

Your cat might also suffer from parasites, which limits their ability to absorb nutrients, and should be treated with a parasite medication. A sudden shift in their diet can also result in a period of sensitivity, as can excessive hair in their digestive tract. If this occurs frequently, regular grooming can mean that they swallow less hair when grooming.

 

Characteristics of a Good Sensitive Stomach Cat Food

Unfortunately, your cat can’t tell you when they are feeling poorly, but there are a variety of signs that will tell you that there might be something amiss with your cat’s digestive system:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose stool
  • Smelly stool
  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain

 

When looking for good cat food for sensitive stomachs, there are a number of important features to look for. A sensitive stomach cat food should:

  • Eliminate inflammatory and irritating ingredients including pesticides and other chemicals, and often grains, which are usually included in modern cat foods but are not part of a cat’s natural diet.
  • Help you identify and eliminate potential allergens, especially meats. This means selecting food based on a single novel protein that your cat does not eat regularly. You can either keep them on this diet or slowly introduce the meats they eat regularly to identify which is the source of the problem.
  • Include highly digestible ingredients. Animal protein is more digestible than plant protein, and animal protein from muscle meat, organs and bones are more digestible than meat from animal by-products.
  • Contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, often found in fish oils.
  • Include added probiotics and prebiotics (what probiotics feed on) as well as digestive enzymes to help ensure your cat has a healthy stomach microbiome. This can be disrupted by a variety of things, in particular, antibiotics, which kill both good and bad bacteria.

 

All of the cat foods on this list combine these features in different ways.

 

Other Considerations

As well as finding food that meets the needs of your cat’s particular type of sensitive stomach, it is important not to create eating issues by feeding them incorrectly.

Excessive eating can be a major cause of cat stomach issues. Avoid this by ensuring that you exercise portion control, perhaps investing in an automatic feeder if you are not in the house to provide smaller meals.

Also, remember that a sudden change in a cat’s diet can cause stomach issues. Move them onto new food, including stomach sensitive food, gradually. Start by mixing 20% of their new food with 80% of their old food, and gradually change the mix over the period of a week or so.

Lastly, avoid treats. They are generally very rich, and only a small treat can throw off the balanced diet that you have invested in for your feline friend.

 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to wet food I recommend Ziwi Peak as the best wet cat food for sensitive stomachs as it contains 93% meat from quality sources, and uses novel proteins (such as lamb and venison). This particular cat food is relatively expensive, so a good alternative is Instinct By Nature’s Variety wet cat food, which is 95% meat from a single source.

For dry cat food Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Stomach has 40% protein from a single protein source and so should go down well with your cat. Blue Buffalo, I believe, carries the best dry cat food for sensitive stomach, as it is high in protein from a single source, and has a good range of added prebiotics and probiotics to support digestion.

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Kristen Chapple

Kristen Chapple

Hi I'm Kristen, cat lover and blogger. I was born into a cat-loving family and have been a proud kitty mommy ever since I can remember. I love sharing my cat knowledge and love being an active part of the kitty-loving community.