We love our pets. For some of us, they are our best friends. So when we see our pets in pain or discomfort, we want to address the root problem. A common problem is our cat having a sensitive stomach, fortunately this can be addressed with some sensitive stomach cat food.
Cats can often suffer from a sensitive stomach issue. It doesn’t matter that cats are already picky eaters – sensitive stomach issues demand that we take a closer look at what our cats are eating and why they are hurting.
Thankfully, more and more cat food brands are altering their recipes to both accommodate cats with sensitive stomachs, as well as improve the standard for cat food overall. Diet studies across pets and humans alike are raising awareness for the substitutes we add in our food. Just because it gives us sustenance doesn’t mean it’s actually good for us.
And if your cat is experiencing regular symptoms, such as vomiting and constipation, then that could be a sign that something else is going on. Your cat probably has a sensitive stomach.
As a general rule, I recommend that cat owners visit their vet once their cat begins showing symptoms. Your cat may have something more serious, such as food allergies or internal issues
But for most of us, our cats just have sensitive stomachs. And when this happens, we need to be more intentional about what we feed our pets.
In this article, I’ll give you my top five best products for cats with sensitive stomachs. Additionally, I’ll explain other ways to ease your cat’s discomfort and return them to their beautiful selves.
- Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin
- Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach
- Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Digest Sensitive
- Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach
There is a large amount of ingredients in regular cat food that might irritate a cat’s stomach.
The standard brands and products do not worry much about keeping away additives (including artificial flavoring and coloring). It is fast and cheap to give cats the essentials with dairy and non-whole grains.
Most common, unhealthy ingredients include meat byproducts. These byproducts are built from reject parts of meat from a variety of meats. It is cheap, but it still offers the required amount of protein.
In contrast, sensitive stomach cat foods are going to seriously limit the amount of additives and meat byproducts.
Just like human food, the quality can vary drastically. Additionally, even brands that really do help a cat’s sensitive stomach may be low in quality due to additives and preservatives.
And not all cat foods that claim to do well actually help cats with sensitive stomachs. Thankfully, customer reviews will help you weed those out quickly.
Reading through the ingredients can be quite revealing. Even the top brands and foods for sensitive stomachs still incorporate meat byproduct. This is unfortunate, but it is the way it goes for most cat foods.
Artificial flavors and coloring, as well as preservatives are all ingredients that contribute to your cat’s sensitive stomach. More and more brands are eliminating these toxic ingredients.
If your cat doesn’t like the taste, they will not eat it.
Before you change your cat’s diet, make sure that they are eating normally. If not, it could be because they do not like the taste of the food you’ve been serving them. Cats can be very fussy eaters, sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error for which food they will love. When choosing a sensitive stomach cat food keep this in mind.
As you are going to invest in a good quality cat food, make sure that your cat likes the taste. Once again, customer reviews will give you a clue into whether or not the flavor is likely to please your pet.
Pro Tip: Try feeding your cat a diet of raw chicken. Feline digestive systems are specifically designed and optimized for raw meat. It also contains more water than other meats or dry food, further aiding digestion.
If your cat has allergies, then the problem is typically in those foods providing the protein that cats need.
Therefore, if you suspect an allergy, consult your vet.
The most common allergens for cats are foods from chickens, both the meat and eggs. Additionally, cows (milk and beef) and fish can be common allergens.
Because of this, some sensitive stomach cat foods are going to avoid those ingredients as much as possible.
If your cat is allergic to any of these ingredients, you want to choose a food that completely rids itself of the allergen. Often in these cases, you want your vet to prescribe a cat food.
As long as your cat doesn’t have any allergies, chicken and beef (so long as they are not by-products) are perfectly healthy for your cat.
If your cat is throwing up fairly consistently, then it very likely suffers from a sensitive stomach.
Reasons for this are vast, however it can be helpful to understand the path a cat’s food takes in the body. The stomach is, of course, the main hub. But stomach sensitivity (deceitfully named) can occur on either track before and after the food reaches the stomach.
For example, the cat’s mouth and esophagus feed into the stomach. On the other end, the small intestine feeds into the excretion system (liver, gallbladder, etc.). Something can go mildly wrong within any part of the process causing your cat to have a sensitive stomach.
Other symptoms of a sensitive stomach are diarrhea, sudden change in appetite, personality change, and gas. If any of these symptoms are severe, you could be dealing with more than just a sensitive stomach. Or, your cat may have a food allergy or two. In either case, it’s important that you consult your vet before shopping for new food.
Frankly, one overwhelmingly leading cause of sensitive stomach in cats is eating too fast. Before you go changing the cat’s diet, consider investing in an automatic cat feeder. You can customize them to your cat’s ideal meal amount.
If you’ve tried an automatic cat feeder and see no change in your cat’s symptoms, consider a few other techniques as you begin shopping for new cat food.
Again, there can be several environmental issues contributing to your cat’s sensitivities. By addressing potential issues, you’ll be able to see faster results as you tweak your cat’s diet.
Yes, we love our cats. And they love treats.
But if we overfeed during non-meal times, then meal times will not serve your cat’s overall health.
If we are honest, your cats don’t need treats. One can make a case that they are ideal ways to train your kitten. But if your cat is truly suffering with a sensitive stomach then treats could the culprit, you might consider weaning your pet off treats and giving them the best kitten food possible.
However, if you are going to keep using treats, then do make sure that the treats you feed them are healthy and not contributing to the sensitive stomach issues.
Dehydration is a common problem that pet owners forget to consider. That alone could account for a sensitive stomach.
Particularly for cats that prefer dry food over wet food, it is vital that your cat stays hydrated. If your cat’s favorite brand of cat food comes in a wet food option, consider switching from dry to wet and see if symptoms subside.
Additionally, there are many ways to increase your cat’s water intake. Adding water bowls throughout the house, putting ice cubes in their meals, and paying attention to when a water bowl is empty are all fantastic ways to keep your cat hydrated.
As with any pet, your cat need a little bit of respect while they eat their food.
If their feeding trays are located in the middle of the most hectic parts of the home, your cat is probably not eating well. They are easily stressed during meal times.
As much as possible, give your cat a quiet space to eat their meal (not in the same place as their litter box). Also, do your best to make meal times quieter.
If your cat is eating while stressed, they will often eat at a time when the stomach is not performing optimally. It would also force the cat to overeat, eat less, or eat too fast.
As a brand, Hill’s Science Diet has a fantastic reputation across cat and dog foods. For cats, they offer dry and wet foods, and it is recommended that you continue to use the version your cat prefers.
One thing that Hill’s Science Diet does particularly well is remove all artificial ingredients, such as preservatives. That is why you’ll usually find this brand on the high end of the price scale compared to others.
If your cat has an allergy, Hill’s Science Diet does not keep out various meats, including chicken and eggs. Once again, it is best to rule out allergies with the vet before you invest a little more in cat food for sensitive stomachs.
A common side effect of sensitive stomach is irritated skin. Like many other brands shown here, Hill’s Science Diet does also include supplements to address your cat’s irritated skin, such as vitamins and amino acids.
- Fantastic reputation
- No artificial ingredients/preservatives
- Rich in vitamins and minerals
- Not suitable for cats with allergies
Blue Buffalo dispensed with the mixed meats and focused their protein on deboned chicken and chicken meal, which is great. There is absolutely no chicken byproduct.
You’ll notice that Blue Buffalo makes much of their Life Source Bits. While not unlike Hill’s Science Direct adding vitamins and amino acids, these bits basically address the irritated skin issues your cat is dealing with alongside the sensitive stomach.
A unique feature of this food is that it uses whole grains, such as barley and brown rice.
Also, Blue Buffalo offers a dry and wet food option for your cat.
- No chicken byproduct
- Helps with irritated skin
- Rich in vitamins and minerals
- Some reports of cats vomiting after eating. In my experience my cats didn’t have an issue
While Royal Canin does offer a dry food, this particular food for sensitive stomachs is wet. Royal Canin notes of this product that it offers “highly digestible proteins.”
What they mean by “highly digestible proteins” is their gravy recipe, which does, in fact, include a great deal of meat byproducts. Normally, this is not the best for your cat. Nevertheless, the high reviews speak for themselves. It apparently works quite well for cats with sensitive stomachs.
And while the food is packed full of great vitamins and minerals, I’m not seeing very much that would address sensitive skin (if this is one of your cat’s symptoms).
- “High digestible proteins”
- Packed with vitamins and minerals
- A little on the expensive side
For protein, turkey is the primary ingredient (another big difference between the Purina ONE and Pro below). However, they do not completely steer clear of meat byproduct.
Because Purina has two foods on this list, I’ll do my best to distinguish the two as clearly as possible. Purina ONE (here) is the more economical product of the two. In fact, this is the most economical product on the list. Both are a dry food.
This food does include an extra dose of supplements that supports your cat’s overall health and soothes their sensitive skin.
- Helps sensitive skin
- Extra dose of supplements
- There is very little wrong with this product ( honestly )
Purina Pro Plan packs this food full of protein with real lamb and meats in “meal” form (this means that it is significantly more concentrated, a good thing). This food appears to be by-product free.
Their rice and oat formula are not something I see often. But these two ingredients often have a positive impact on your cat’s digestion.
Like it’s Purina ONE cousin above, the Pro Plan provides supplements to address your cat’s sensitive skin issues.
Probably the most distinguishable factor with Purina Pro Plan is its price. It is almost as expensive as Hill’s Science Diet.
- Full of protein
- Helps sensitive skin
- Extra dose of supplements
- Reports of cats vomiting after eating, I suggest a small bag as a tester
While it is not necessarily cheap, it isn’t as expensive as say(Hill’s and Purina Pro). And even better, they’ve managed to make some great food that avoids the meat by-products.
All things being equal, the Purina ONE is going to be a great brand. This is my runner-up. It has great reviews and is so much more affordable than any of its peers.
Is it okay to begin giving my cat the new food right away?
If you’re consulting your vet, he/she will typically recommend that you change your cat’s food gradually. You can begin introducing your cat’s new food mixed with the old, slowly adding in more of the new and less of the old.
How do I know if my cat’s condition is more serious than a sensitive stomach?
If your cat’s symptoms seem mild and go away with the introduction of new food, it’s likely that all you’re dealing with is a sensitive stomach. But if the symptoms are more severe, or if they get more severe with new food, consult your vet right away.
What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Probiotics are good bacteria that your cat needs, but that bacteria needs “food” to work properly. The prebiotics are the “food” for these probiotic bacteria. Both work together for a healthy stomach and intestine.
Can my cat develop a gluten allergy?
Yes, albeit this is rare. If you suspect that your cat might be allergic to gluten, visit your vet to confirm. He/she will probably have to prescribe a cat food.