Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Best Cat Food for IBD

Abyssinian-cat1

It’s not easy living with a cat that has irritable bowel disease (IBD). Your cat may vomit frequently, have bouts of diarrhea, a rumbling stomach, and gas can be a problem.

Even if he seems to eat well, he may lose weight. He can also be depressed. Some of these symptoms are found with many feline health problems so it’s not always easy to tell what your cat’s problem might be.

For example, IBD can be easily mistaken for a food allergy or food sensitivity and in some cases, there is an allergy component to the illness. Identifying irritable bowel disease and finding the best cat food for IBD usually takes a lot of patience.

Cats that have irritable bowel disease (IBD) have a gastrointestinal (GI) tract that is chronically irritated and inflamed.

The inflammation means that their GI tract is unable to properly digest and absorb food. IBD can appear in any cat but it occurs most often in cats that are middle-aged and older cats.

If your cat has IBD, one of the ways your veterinarian will try to manage it is by changing his diet. You will need to find the best cat food for IBD – something that can take some work.

Quick Look at Our Top Picks:

ImageProductFeatures
aac-table__image

Editor's Choice

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet
  • Made from a single animal source protein
  • Beneficial nutrients like chelated minerals and probiotics
  • Made in the USA
View Best Price
aac-table__image

Runner Up

NomNomNow Chicken Chow-Meow
  • 100% from fillers and artificial flavors
  • Made from premium ingredients
  • Rich in protein and fat, low in carbohydrates
View Best Price
aac-table__image

Requires prescription approval

Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care
  • Formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians
  • Soft gel texturen
  • Promotes healthy digestion
View Best Price

Requires prescription approval

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PR
  • Contains vitamins and minerals
  • Soft gel texture
  • Often recommended by vets
View Best Price
aac-table__image

Requires prescription approval

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Formula
  • Especially formulated to help manage your cat's food sensitivity
  • Formulated and optimized for IBD
  • Made in the US
View Best Price

Causes of IBD in cats

The exact cause of IBD is not known but current veterinary evidence indicates that it may be due to an abnormal and complicated relationship between the cat’s immune system, the bacteria in the intestines, your cat’s diet, and other environmental factors.

Genetic issues affecting the immune system could also play a role, if IBD in cats is similar to IBD in humans and dogs.

The disease can take different forms, depending on the part of the GI tract affected. If the cat’s stomach is inflamed, the condition is known as gastritis.

Editor’s note

If your cat’s small intestine is inflamed, it is called enteritis. If the colon or large intestine is affected, the problem is called colitis. The most common kind of IBD in cats affects the small intestine.

It is called lymphocytic plasmacytic enteritis. Some IBD cases can also involve inflammation of other abdominal organs such as the liver and pancreas.

Symptoms of IBD in cats

Typical symptoms of feline IBD can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss, anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stool
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Gas
  • Decreased appetite

Symptoms can vary in severity and can depend on which part of your cat’s GI tract is affected. If your cat’s stomach or higher parts of the small intestine are inflamed, he may have problems with chronic vomiting.

If your cat’s colon is affected, he could be more likely to have diarrhea, with or without blood in the stool.

If you notice these symptoms or you suspect that your cat has IBD, you should take your cat to the veterinarian. Many of these symptoms are seen with other illnesses so your vet will probably need to do a thorough workup in order to determine if your cat has IBD.

Along with blood work, a fecal exam, x-rays, and an abdominal ultrasound, your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic food trial to see if your cat has a food allergy instead of IBD. Intestinal and gastric biopsies could also be needed.

There is no single best treatment for IBD so your veterinarian may need to try a few things to see what works for your cat. Your veterinarian will probably treat for intestinal parasites if your cat hasn’t been treated for them recently.

Medications such as prednisone will also be given as a start. Your vet will also make some recommendations about your cat’s diet.

The good news is that the symptoms of IBD can be controlled so that your cat is healthy and comfortable. The bad news is that some of the symptoms may still come and go at times.

It will always be important for you to carefully manage your cat’s diet and monitor his medications in case they need to be adjusted.

Dietary management and food trials with IBD cats

Your vet may recommend a food trial for your cat if s/he is trying to determine if your cat has a food allergy instead of IBD. Your vet could also recommend a food trial if your cat has already been diagnosed with IBD.

This is because food allergens can play a role in IBD. In either case, the best cat food for IBD, at least at the diagnostic stage, is often a hypoallergenic food.

Hypoallergenic cat foods contain protein and carbs that your cat hasn’t previously eaten. These proteins are usually meats such as venison, rabbit, or duck.

Strictly speaking, a hypoallergenic cat food should contain one meat protein and one kind of carbohydrate but it’s not always easy to find a cat food that works for your cat that meets that criteria. It’s best to follow your vet’s advice and start with a food that s/he recommends.

Editor’s note

Remember that when you are doing a food trial with your cat it’s vital that your cat doesn’t eat other sources of food that could ruin the trial. That means your cat can’t have table scraps, medications, or treats that contain non-approved ingredients.

A food trial will normally take up to 12 weeks unless you can tell sooner that your cat is having a negative reaction to the protein or carbohydrate in a food.

Once the food trial is over, if your cat doesn’t need to eat a prescription or veterinary diet, you may be able to find a limited ingredient diet (LID) that meets the requirements for a hypoallergenic cat food.

Also Read: The 5 Best Hypoallergenic Cat Foods

An LID commercial cat food can be a good choice for cats with IBD if you are careful about the ingredients.

If your cat’s IBD symptoms don’t get better while eating a hypoallergenic diet, she could do well eating a food that is easy to digest, high in fiber, and low in fat.

Keep in mind that any time you change cat foods, even when you make the change gradually, it can take a while for your cat to adjust. It may take several weeks or longer before you see an improvement in your cat’s IBD.

IBD can be very idiosyncratic, especially if any food allergies are involved, so be patient while you and your vet try to figure out the best cat food for your cat’s IBD.

What to look for in the best cat food for IBD

According to veterinary sources, hypoallergenic cat foods are normally started as part of the treatment plan for cats diagnosed with IBD.

These foods usually feature venison, rabbit, duck, lamb, or chicken as the lone meat protein. They should also have one kind of carbohydrate.

A slow change can later be made to a commercial diet that is low in additives. With the change, owners can attempt to feed a food that uses chicken or lamb as the primary ingredient.

This may not always work but most companies make foods with alternate meat proteins if your cat cannot eat the chicken or lamb.

In general, it’s a good idea to look for foods that have fewer ingredients, such as limited ingredient diets (LID), on the theory that foods with fewer ingredients have less chance of irritating your cat’s GI tract.

Cat foods that are easy to digest, with lower fat and lots of fiber are also recommended for cats with IBD.

Check with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your cat’s diet that might cause irritation, including vitamins, minerals, and pro- or prebiotics.

Also Read: Best Probiotics for Cats

With cats that have this kind of sensitive GI tract, anything that you add to their diet, even if it sounds like something healthy, might be an irritant.

Best Cat Food for IBD Reviewed

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Real Duck Recipe Paté

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 8% Min
  • Fat – 4% Min
  • Fiber – 1.4% Max
  • Moisture- 78% Max

Caloric Content: 131 kcal/5 oz can

Pros:

  • Made from a single animal source protein
  • Beneficial nutrients like chelated minerals and probiotics
  • Made in the USA

Cons:

  • You’ll need a prescription

Merrick has an entire line of limited ingredient cat foods. They come in both canned and kibble formulas. We like the Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Real Duck Recipe Pate but you could choose several of these foods to see how your cat with IBD responds to them. The first ingredient in this food is deboned duck.

It also contains pea protein, natural flavor, alfalfa meal, guar gum, and flaxseed oil so these foods aren’t perfect but many cats could eat them without a problem. The remainder of the ingredients are added vitamins and minerals. It has 8 percent crude protein, 7 percent crude fat, 1.4 percent crude fiber, and 78 percent moisture. All of the Merrick LID recipes feature a single source of animal protein.

NomNomNow Chicken Chow-Meow

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 18% Min
  • Fat – 6% Min
  • Fiber – 6% Max
  • Moisture- 0.5% Max

Caloric Content: 1385 kcal/kg

Pros:

  • 100% Free from fillers and artificial flavors
  • Made from premium ingredients
  • Rich in protein and fat, low in carbohydrates

Cons:

  • Cost is above market Avg.

If your cat enjoys fresh foods, she may be able to eat NomNomNow Chicken Chow-Meow. This food has one meat protein – chicken; and several vegetables (Including Pumpkin) as carbohydrate and fiber sources.

The remainder of the ingredients are added vitamins and minerals. We would consider this food to be a limited ingredient diet and one that your cat would devour.

Chicken Chow-Meow has 18 percent crude protein, 4 percent crude fat, 0.8 percent crude fiber, and 73 percent moisture. So, it has lots of meat protein that cats need and love.

Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 7.5% Min
  • Fat – 4% Min
  • Fiber – 1% Max

Caloric Content: 161 kcal/5.5 oz can

Pros:

  • Formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians
  • Promotes healthy digestion
  • Often recommended by vets

Cons:

  • Not palatable for some cats

If your IBD cat is able to eat chicken, Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food could be a good choice.

This food is often prescribed for cats that need help with digestive problems, including cats with IBD. This Hill’s Prescription Diet is highly digestible with a balance of soluble and insoluble natural fibers.

It supports good bowel health and the growth of beneficial bacteria in your cat’s gut. And, it replaces lost nutrients and ensures easy nutrient absorption. This food is a pate. Prescription.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PR Canned Cat Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 8.5% Min
  • Fat – 4.5% Min
  • Fiber – 1% Max
  • Moisture-78% Max

Caloric Content: 167 kcal/5.9 oz can

Pros:

  • Contains vitamins and minerals
  • Soft gel texture
  • Often recommended by vets

Cons:

  • You’ll need a prescription

Made with peas and rabbit as the protein sources, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PR Canned Cat Food is one of the foods often recommended by veterinarians for cats with IBD.

It has few other ingredients, besides vitamins and minerals, which reduces the chance that your cat will have a negative response to something in the food.

This canned food has 8.5 percent crude protein, 4.5 percent crude fat, and 1 percent crude fiber, with 78 percent moisture. The food is a loaf in gel texture. Also comes in other Selected Protein flavors and in kibble. Prescription.

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Formula Canned Cat Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 50% Min
  • Fat – 16% Min
  • Fiber – 3% Max
  • Moisture-12% Max

Caloric Content: 528 kcal/cup

Pros:

  • Especially formulated to help manage your cat’s food sensitivity
  • Formulated and optimized for IBD
  • Made in the US

Cons:

  • You’ll need a prescription

Designed for cats with gastrointestinal conditions, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Formula Canned Cat Food is high in total digestibility so your cat can digest more nutrients in his food.

The canned food has 9.5 percent crude protein, 4 percent crude fat, 2 percent crude fiber, and 78 percent moisture. Also available as a dry cat food. Prescription.

Conclusion

If you have a cat with IBD, we know that it’s not easy finding diets that work. It can take time to find a food that’s suitable; that your cat likes; and that he’ll eat more than once or twice.

We hope that the foods mentioned here provide you with some options. There’s more than one kind of prescription diet.

A fresh food diet could work for some cats. And a limited ingredient diet can be a good choice for many cats. Good luck with your cat’s diet.

About Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta CooperCarlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about pets. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.

3 thoughts on “Best Cat Food for IBD

  • My cat has IBD, lower colon, as he has the diarrhea. He no longer has diarrhea, just soft stools, because of adding canned pumpkin to his canned food. 50/50 mixture. I feed him 4health canned cat food Sensitive stomache formulated for adult cats, which you can only purchase through Tractor Feed and Supply Store. He also eats 4health Grain Free Whitefish, Pea and Potato formula with real Turkey for adult cats dry food. The canned pumpkin 3 times a day mixed into his canned food is the only thing that has stopped his watery diarrhea and growling from tummy inflammation. I couldnt afford all the tests, but we ruled out parasites, and he has a good appetite, and has energy, and bright eyes. Wish I could do more for him. But for those who do not have tons of money, someone suggested this food and the pumpkin 50/50 mixture and it has really helped him to be comfortable and active. I also give him prescription vitamin supplement.

    • Thank you! My cat was just diagnosed with IBD and the vet recommended Royal Canin Rabbit and Pea at $60 for 8 pounds. I cannot afford this, as I have expensive medications to give him also. I am so glad to have an idea of something else to try.

  • After trying can food, several types of cereal food and meats I started feeding her raw organic chicken and her appetite has increased drastically! I’m now in the search of carbohydrates to add to this mix.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *