Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach

Cats with sensitive stomachs are frequently misunderstood.

Cats who vomit multiple times a week are called “just a puker”. Cats who can’t tolerate new foods are brushed off by citing a myth perpetuated by the pet food industry – the myth that cats should eat one food for the entirety of their life.

If you’ve reached this article, you probably sense that your cat’s digestive issues are anything but ideal. Digestive disorders can get worse over time, eventually leading to malabsorption of nutrients and problems in other parts of the body.

This article will guide you through the common causes of sensitive stomachs in cats, the qualities of the best food for sensitive stomachs, and the top 5 best sensitive stomach cat foods on the market today.

Quick Look: Top 3 Cat Foods for Sensitive Stomach

NomNomNow

Rank

1st

Rating

9.7/10

Price

$2.5-$3/Meal

 Deals

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Stella & Chewy’s

Rank

2nd

Rating

9.4/10

Price

$1.1/Oz

Chewy Deals

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Ziwi Peak

Rank

3rd

Rating

9.2/10

Price

$0.85/Oz

Chewy Deals

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Signs Your Cat Has a Sensitive Stomach or Digestive Problems

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea OR constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain

A sensitive stomach is not a diagnosis in itself. Let’s take a look at a handful of the most common causes of sensitive stomachs in cats.

Causes of Sensitive Stomach in Cats

Acute Gastroenteritis

This is any condition involving acute inflammation of the GI tract. It could be caused by parasites, poisoning, eating something spoiled, or another disease. Acute gastroenteritis is typically short-lived.

Click here for a list of the best cat food for diarrhea

Food Allergies

In addition to skin irritation and poor coat health, food allergies can manifest in constipation,  vomiting and diarrhea.

Cats can develop allergies to the foods they like the most. Feed your cat a beef food for five years and you might find that they’re suddenly having an allergic reaction to beef. It’s a good idea to give your cat a rotational diet – constantly introducing new and varied protein sources.

Also

If you suspect that your cat has an allergic sensitivity to a certain food ingredient, it’s time to put the theory to the test with an elimination diet.

Switch to a limited ingredient diet – that’s one with very few ingredients and, usually, a single novel protein. For at least a month, feed your cat this food exclusively. If symptoms subside, confirm the difference by reintroducing potential allergens one at a time.

Once you’ve identified the ingredients that your cat is allergic to, permanently eliminate them from your cat’s diet.

Click here for a list of the best hypoallergenic cat food.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Although the pathology of inflammatory bowel disease is poorly understood, we can generally describe it as chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It’s a diagnosis of elimination; in other words, you arrive at the IBD diagnosis by ruling out any other issues, such as allergies.

This condition leads to structural changes in the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Over time, it can lead to digestive dysfunction and changes your cat’s ability to digest nutrients. It can also lead to a leaky gut, allowing food particles, toxins, and bacteria to leach into the bloodstream.

If your cat is suffering from chronic digestive problems, consult your veterinarian. They can perform tests to determine whether or not your cat has IBD. Following an IBD diagnosis, your veterinarian may prescribe medications or dietary changes to suit your cat.

Click here for a list of the best IBD cat food.

What’s the best food for cats with a sensitive stomach?

Switch to a bland diet.

If your cat has acute gastroenteritis, start with a 12 hour fast to allow their GI tract to rest, then introduce a bland diet. Think of it like the BRAT diet for humans recovering from a stomach illness. Like the BRAT diet, a bland diet is non-irritating and provides enough nourishment for a few days, but you shouldn’t feed it for any longer than necessary.

This type of diet comes in various forms. Some like pumpkin puree and boiled chicken. Some recommend boiled chicken and rice. I prefer to keep it simple and carnivore-appropriate. Try cooked chicken thighs with fat and skin attached. After cooking, remove the bones – cooked bones may shatter and hurt your cat. This cooked chicken is ideally served with bone broth, which is very nutrient-dense, gentle, and palatable.

Don’t feed this diet for more than a few days. Your cat needs complete and balanced nutrition, so switch to a nutritionally complete food as soon as possible.

Eliminate inflammatory or irritating ingredients.

This often means choosing a food made with novel proteins – meats that your cat hasn’t been exposed to before. For example, if your cat always eats a chicken-based food, opt for one made with rabbit meat instead.

Other potentially irritating ingredients include carrageenan and dairy.

And while you’re ridding your cat’s diet of inflammatory ingredients, don’t forget to incorporate anti-inflammatory ones. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish or krill oil are powerful and species-appropriate anti-inflammatories.

Choose foods featuring highly-digestible ingredients.

Plant protein, for example, is considerably less digestible than animal protein. Animal by-products, similarly, may have lower digestibility scores than properly proportioned muscle meat, organs, and bones. Fat follows the same logic. Animal fat is more digestible than plant fat.

The guaranteed analysis on the label only lists crude fat and crude protein, so you’ll need to probe deeper to find the digestibility values of these macronutrients. You can guess by looking at the ingredient list or you can contact the company for exact digestibility values.

Also Read: List of best cat food on the market today

Promote healthy gut flora by providing probiotics.

Supporting a healthy gut microbiome is a cornerstone of ensuring that your cat’s digestive system stays in top shape.

Dysbiosis, or imbalanced bacteria population, is associated with poor digestive health and IBD. Particularly if your cat has undergone antibiotic therapy – which kills both good and bad bacteria – it’s likely that dysbiosis plays a role in your cat’s tummy troubles. There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting a connection between antibiotic treatment and subsequent inflammatory bowel disease in humans.

One of the simplest ways to promote healthy gut flora is adding a probiotic supplement to your cat’s meals. You can also consider the inclusion of prebiotics, which promote the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria.

Our Best Rated Foods for Cats with Sensitive Stomachs Reviewed

NomNomNow Flavorful Fish Feast Cat Food Review

NOMNOMNOW-1-065_Edited fish recipe

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First 5 Ingredients: Tilapia, Salmon, Beef Fat, Yuca, Carrot

If your cat is sensitive to everything but seafood, this recipe from NomNomNow could be your fish-based solution. It’s a homemade-style food that looks and smells just like what it is—primarily human-grade flaked tilapia and salmon, which lend each meal plenty of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

This food is only available as part of NomNomNow’s weekly or monthly meal delivery service, which allows you to receive food at your doorstep.

Pros

  • Just 5% carbohydrates
  • Appropriate for cats who are sensitive to non-fish proteins
  • Primarily made with high-value animal protein
  • Conveniently shipped to your door

Cons

  • Fish should be alternated with other protein sources
  • One of the most expensive foods on the market

NomNomNow Special offer – limited time only

Get 20% off your first order, which includes samples of all the recipes.

If you’re interested in learning more about NomNomNow cat food, and to order, click here to visit the NomNomNow site.

Remember that you’re covered by NomNomNow’s care-grade guarantee. If you don’t see a difference after 30 days, NomNomNow will buy your next order ($40 limit).

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Cat Food Review


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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken with Ground Bone, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride

While it’s unclear whether or not digestive enzymes naturally found in raw meat have any positive health effects, the body of anecdotal evidence pointing to a correlation between a raw diet and improved digestive health makes it worth a try.

Because it’s made from rabbit, which is usually a novel protein, this formula from Stella and Chewy’s is perfect for cats with food allergies. The food is supplemented with probiotics to encourage digestive and immune health. It’s freeze-dried, so you don’t have to worry about it spoiling on the shelf.

Pros

  • Rabbit is usually a novel protein – ideal for allergic cats
  • Freeze-dried food is safer than raw food, but retains all the nutritional benefits of raw meat
  • Contains probiotics for digestive health
  • Highly digestible

Cons

  • This food takes a few minutes to rehydrate, so it may not be convenient for every schedule.

ZiwiPeak Venison Canned Cat Cuisine Review


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First 5 Ingredients: Venison, Venison Broth, Venison Liver, Venison Lung, Venison Heart

This food is a limited ingredient diet centering around a novel protein, so it’s perfect for allergic cats and those with food sensitivities. The recipe is 93% fresh meat, organs, and bones, making it highly digestible.

Pros

  • A limited ingredient diet
  • Made with a single novel protein
  • Highly digestible

Cons

  • One of the most expensive foods on the market
  • Contains chickpeas

Hound & Gatos Turkey & Turkey Liver Canned Cat Food Review


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First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride

According to Hound & Gatos founder Will Post, the brand is most popular among cats with IBD. All Hound & Gatos formulas are extraordinarily simple, minimizing your cat’s exposure to potential irritants.

Turkey isn’t one of the most common cat food allergens and is a nourishing and highly digestible source of protein for your cat. With just one protein source and no grains or other ingredients that could aggravate your sensitive cat, this food is a great choice for ultra-sensitive tummies.

Pros

  • Made from turkey, which is a good alternative to chicken
  • Free from commonly irritating ingredients
  • A limited ingredient food with just one animal protein source
  • Highly digestible

Cons

  • One of the most expensive foods on the market

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Grain-Free Real Duck Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food Review


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First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Turkey Liver, Duck Broth, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay

If your cat has no sensitivities to duck or turkey, this canned formula may be a good choice. It’s high in animal protein. 95% of the entire recipe is duck and turkey liver. This means that it’s highly digestible and nourishing.

Pros

  • Highly digestible formula is 95% duck and turkey liver
  • Free from the most common cat allergens
  • Supplemented with menhaden fish oil, a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids

Cons

  • Contains some plant ingredients
  • Contains vegetable oil, which isn’t an ideal source of fat for cats

FirstMate Turkey Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

FirstMate Turkey Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
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First 5 Ingredients: Boneless Turkey, Water Sufficient for Processing, Potato, Chicken Liver, Calcium Carbonate

This limited ingredient recipe is made with turkey, which is a great alternative for cats accustomed to the poultry flavor of chicken. The food’s protein content is 96% animal-derived, making it a digestible choice for your cat.

The only troubling quality of this food is the inclusion of potato, which is high in carbohydrates and minimally nutritious for your cat.

Pros

  • Made with turkey – ideal for chicken-sensitive cats
  • A limited ingredient diet for cats with allergies and food sensitivities
  • Free from common irritating ingredients
  • Highly digestible with 96% animal protein

Cons

  • Contains high-carbohydrate potato

If you can’t find the right food for your cat, consider preparing your own at home.

Preparing your cat’s food at home allows you to introduce novel proteins and create a rotating diet. It’s the best way to control what goes into your cat’s body and it makes it easy to track the relationship between dietary changes and symptom changes.

Both cooked and raw homemade diets are perfect for cats with sensitive stomachs.

*This article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Your veterinarian can provide personalized suggestions relevant to your cat’s unique situation.

About the author


Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.