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Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach in 2021

Getting the right cat food for your precious pet is a difficult task.  It’s made even more difficult if they suffer from a sensitive stomach. In this article, I’ll be sharing my top tips for finding the best cat food for sensitive stomachs.

I chose the ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food as the best cat food for sensitive stomach cats. This is a great high-protein product with lots of nutritious organic meats for your cat.

Many cat food options contain a range of ingredients and fillers that don’t agree with a cat’s digestive system. Many cats with a sensitive stomach have better results eating high-quality wet cat food.

Premium cat food usually contains limited ingredients and more quality (e.g. animal food sources).  In many ways, you get what you pay for. However, there are a few budget options that are still great alternatives.

My name is Derrick and I am a writer for Simply Cat Care.  This website provides easy-to-read helpful guides for your cat.  I used key criteria based on research to form the selection process for cat food recommended in this article.   I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet before making a purchase.

In this article, I’m going to offer my top three options to select from as the best cat food for sensitive stomach felines.  In addition, I will go over my top tips to help you choose the best cat food for sensitive stomach cats.

Keep reading below for our roundup of the best cat food for sensitive stomachs on the market.

Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach:  Our Top Selections

Overall Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach

ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food

Ziwi Peak Otago Valley Canned Cat Food, 3-oz, case of 24
Pros
  • Easy-to-swallow wet food formula
  • Grain-free cat food for top digestion
  • High-quality animal protein for stong muscles
  • High in chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega 3 essential fatty acids for digestive health
  • Low carb for tolerability
  • Low fiber for less bloating
Cons
  • Expensive premium product
  • Strong meaty smell
REVIEW

The ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food range is a great choice as the best cat food for sensitive stomachs.

The product contains high-quality animal protein such as goat liver, lungs, heart, and kidney. These foods are perfect for your cat’s sensitive digestive system that thrives on easy-to-digest animal-based foods.

ZIWI is made using highly nutritious green mussels. These are high in omega 3 fatty acids which help lower inflammation and keep the digestive system running smoothly.

This product is low in carbohydrates and grain-free. Cat’s tend to have a hard time with lots of grains and carbohydrate foods, so this will give your sensitive stomach an easier time. The high moisture content makes the product easy to swallow and helps maintain top kidney function.

Due to the range of meats and fish used in the product, it does produce a smell that is unpleasant for owners and has attracted some negative reviews. The price range is also steeper than typical food for cats, which is expected for a premium product.

Budget Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach

Purina ONE High Protein Natural Wet Cat Food

Purina ONE Turkey Recipe Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food, 3-oz, case of 24
Pros
  • Grain-free for digestion
  • Low-carb for tolerability
  • No added vegetables to stop bloating
  • High moisture for easy swallowing
  • Small portions to avoid overeating
  • High animal-protein for muscle mass
  • Affordable high quality option
Cons
  • Inconsistent formula that changes occasionally
  • No limited-ingredient animal protein options
REVIEW

Purina ONE High Protein Natural Wet Cat Food is a great option as the best cat food for sensitive stomachs on a budget.

Whilst the product is affordable, it is not low-quality. The food contains a high amount of animal protein it is the perfect food choice for sensitive stomachs to digest.

The cans are high in moisture to help with swallowing and low in carbohydrates to keep bloating at bay. The cans come in small 3 oz portions which are perfect to stop gagging on excess food.

Sometimes the formula changes with this product. This is an inevitable problem with many cat foods on the market. This product also doesn’t feature the limited range of animal protein sources as other premium options do. For example, the whitefish contains some pork and chicken ingredients.

Freeze-Dried Treat Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Rabbit Nibs

Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Nibs Freeze-Dried Cat Food, 12-oz bag
Pros
  • Freeze-dried whole rabbit without fillers for digestion
  • Complete protein source for muscle mass
  • Grain-free for tolerability
  • Great versatility as food is appropriate for all life stages
  • Limited ingredient single protein to reduce allergen risk
  • Nutritional boost as a treat or topper
Cons
  • Unfamiliar crunchier texture for cats and owners
  • Expensive as a sole source of nutrition
  • Low in fat which may not provide enough calories for some cats
REVIEW

The Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Rabbit Nibs are a great treat or topper containing the whole rabbit including bones and organs. This creates a nutritional complete product to keep your cat strong and healthy, without the added nasties.

The ingredient list is limited to one whole animal source. This minimizes the chances of your cat experiencing food intolerance or allergy and experiencing stomach problems.  

The product also contains crushed bones. Bones are a great natural source of calcium for cats – especially if they have no dairy in their diet.  However, the texture may put off a few cat owners and fussy cats alike. A food processor might help grind the food into a more palatable mixture, but that comes with extra work.

As this is a natural product, it attracts a much higher price tag and will test most owner’s wallets. The product is intended as a topper or treat, but will still be a pricey option.

Guide to Choosing the Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Let’s go over the basics of choosing cat food for a sensitive stomach.  This isn’t a perfect product that will work for every cat.

What works for one cat, may not work for another. The best cat food for sensitive stomachs needs a little investigation, trial, and error.

Food for sensitive stomachs generally fits the ‘simple’ and ‘whole animal’ product criteria as this best matches the obligate carnivore feeding profile of cats.

Of course, you need to check in with your vet to rule out any serious health issues that cause a sensitive stomach. Being proactive with your cat’s health and nutrition is admirable, but there’s a time to get professional advice as well.

Choosing the best cat food for sensitive stomach cats
Choosing the best cat food for sensitive stomachs takes time and care.

How do I know if my cat has a sensitive stomach?

If your cat vomits then it may have a sensitive stomach.  Dry heaving occasionally and ejecting a small hairball is normal.  See my article over here for more information about dry heaving.

However, if your cat is vomiting especially after eating, then your cat’s digestive system may have some issues.

Why does my cat have a sensitive stomach?

Cats can dry heave and/or vomit regularly due to a lot of reasons.

In my article on dry heaving, I went through a few possibilities.  I’ll touch on those here.

Hairballs

Cats groom themselves to maintain cleanliness.

Their tongue contains a rough sandpaper texture called papillae extracts dirt from the fur.  However, this can also lead to ingesting fur.

A lot of the fur a cat ingests will pass through the digestive system.  Excessive fur can lodge in the esophagus and stomach, causing the cat to retch.  This will usually eliminate the hair.

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It is normal for the occasional hairball based on grooming.

Nausea

If a cat consumes spoiled food, it can get sick (like a human).

Wet food or leftover scraps are prone to accumulating bacteria.  If you have left out wet food for too long, it has the potential to spoil. 

Cats are also intolerant to a wide range of foods.  Check out my helpful guide on foods that are dangerous for cats over here.

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Parasites

Fleas are a source of many feline parasites.  If your cat is scratching itself often and also appears to retch, it might be a sign of parasites.

There are many symptoms of a parasitic infection which include diarrhea, coughing, pale gums, and a distended abdomen, as well as vomiting [1].

Check out my article on tips to control fleas to tackle a flea problem.

Stress

Stress is not good for a person and cats are no different.

If cats are not able to acclimate to their environment they may experience stress-related illnesses.

Research has found that providing a cat a predictable routine that includes time for play can reduce the risk of feline interstitial cystitis [2].  This illness can lead to an increase in vomiting episodes.

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Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (i.e. stomach, throat, colon) [3]. Cats with gastroenteritis have symptoms that include abdominal pain, dry heaving (with or without vomit), diarrhea, coughing, and lethargy [3].

Many things can cause gastroenteritis.  Vets are best equipped to diagnose this condition.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Some things are not designed for optimal feline digestion.

Cats are obligate carnivores and thrive off an animal-based diet.  I discussed this in my helpful guide on cat nutrition over here.

Grains, legumes, fruit, junk food, and other ‘human’ foods are not digestible for a cat. Although these constituents make for cheap cat food, they don’t make for optimal cat nutrition.

There’s no easy answer for this.  Cats need quality nutrition for health.

Provide your cat foods that don’t have any (or very little) ingredients including grain, binders (e.g. guar gum, acacia gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan), potato, vegetables, and/or refined oils. 

If improving your cat’s dietary quality improves their digestion, then it’s a sign their previous feeding was leading to the sensitivity.

A simple elimination diet (i.e. basing your cat’s diet on simple meat products) can help with digestion.

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Seek a vet for advice

A myriad of different causes exists for cat vomiting.

Whilst a simple change in diet might help, usually, the best strategy is to detail your cat’s history and report that to a vet for further action.  This might help you catch a serious problem, rather than continuing speculation.

The pattern of vomiting is important to consider as this can be a sign of different things.  If your cat is vomiting up to 8 hours post-meal, then it might be a sign of motility problems [4].  Blood can indicate ulceration of the digestive lining [4].

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What is the best cat food for sensitive stomachs?

A diet based on animal products may resolve digestive issues.

Cats are obligate carnivores and thrive off animal-based products.  Seek out the advice of a vet, but changing your cat’s diet might resolve some issues. Your vet might prescribe a diet elimination trial which can involve identifying individual foods that trigger sensitive stomachs [5].

Protein allergies might be the cause of food sensitivities [5]. 

Chicken and fish can sometimes be a problem for cats.  Your vet might suggest a hypoallergenic diet.  This involves foods with limited ingredients and hydrolyzed protein (pre-digested protein) [5].  

Formulated cat foods are available to help cats manage hairballs. However, some of these foods also contain unwanted ingredients such as grains and other vegetables.

Feeding routines are also important.  Try to feed your cat regular meals to avoid having your cat overeat to compensate.  Check out this article here for help with cats feeding schedules.

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Checklist for what to look for when choosing the best cat food for sensitive stomachs

If you want to take matters into your own hands, this is a checklist for selecting the best cat food for sensitive stomachs.  You can’t avoid everything in canned or pre-packaged dry cat food. 

If you want a ‘clean’ cat diet then you will need to make your own foods from scratch for your cat. 

I recommend this book from Lynn Curtis on Feline Nutrition to educate yourself on a proper cat diet. This book also contains homemade recipes formulated for your cat which you can use to augment or replace packaged foods.

If you are looking for a pre-packaged product, try to find something that meets the following things:

  • Avoid allergenic proteins:  Turkey, lamb, and duck products are less likely to cause an allergenic reaction.  Chicken, beef, and fish may lead to allergic reactions.  Speak with your vet for help.
  • Grain-free:  Avoid wheat and other grain-based products in dry cat food.  Easier to digest carbohydrate sources such as rice and potato in small amounts.
  • Soy-free:  Cat’s are not able to digest legumes.
  • No/minimal fillers:  Fillers such as gums (e.g. carrageenan, xanthan gum) may lead to sensitive stomachs
  • No/minimal vegetables:  Cats are obligate carnivores and don’t require vegetables in the diet.  Some vegetables (e.g. onions, garlic) may lead to food intolerance.  
  • Preference for canned/freeze-dried products:  Canned/freeze-dried cat food products are generally better for health, hydration, digestion, and may vomit less.  They are higher in fat and protein than dry cat food products.

Is a natural product best?

It depends.

Many products state they are natural, yet that can mean a lot of things.  Cats have difficulty tolerating things like onion and garlic.  These foods may lead to digestive issues.

Always take a glance at the cat food label before purchasing cat foods for sensitive stomachs.  The ingredients on a label range from highest amount to lowest.  If the first few ingredients are useless things like grains and peas it might not be ideal for a cat.  The first few ingredients should be nutrient-dense animal-based foods.

Is canned food a better option than dry food?

Cats are obligate carnivores and wet canned food most resembles the dietary profile of cats in the wild.

Dry cat food can be too high in carbohydrates and contain fewer animal-based products.  Cats have less ability to digest carbohydrates due to a reduced level of enzymes. 

Switching your cat’s diet to a wet canned food diet may improve digestion.  Alternatively, trying a dry kibble product that is higher in fat and protein may help.

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Cats do not need dry food

Dry food is not required for cat nutrition.

Dry cat food is a low-cost budget product (by using cheap grains and fillers).  There is no reason you cannot give your cat an all-wet food diet.

Dry cat food has the advantage of convenience and cost.  However, for a sensitive stomach, they may not get the best results.

Give your cat a trial first

Always give your cat a ‘taste test’ before committing to a product. Many cat owners fork out for a great-looking natural product for their cat, only for rejection by a turned-up nose.

One strategy is to look for sample packs or individual portions.  Try a few different quality brand options to find something that works for your cat.

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Cat food industry

The cat food industry is rife with wild claims and minimal evidence.

In general, a lot of products come under marketing hype.  I recommend doing your own research and coming up with your own conclusions.

Consider your cat’s needs, and weigh up the merit to what you decide to feed your cat from a broader objective perspective.

Conclusion: Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach

Cat foods for sensitive stomachs are difficult to find. Beyond the marketing displays, the best choices are digestible, nutritious, and contain limited ingredients.

Choosing the right food for your cat is a decision that requires care and diligence. In this article, I’ve covered the criteria you should be looking out for when deciding on the right product. These include the product being grain-free, low in carbohydrate, high in complete animal products, and fewer potential allergens.

Before making a buying decision I recommend consulting with your vet. A cat may have digestive issues relating to health problems that need further medical attention. Parasites, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, stress, and hairballs are possible reasons for a sensitive stomach.  Make sure to rule out other possibilities before changing your cat’s usual diet.

This article helps you understand the needs of your cat and help you with your purchasing decision.  The range of products will change from time to time, so always do your research.

Extensive research guided my food recommendations for cats with sensitive stomachs.  This is not a replacement for the professional advice of a vet.

Our Verdict: The Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs Overall

I chose the ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food as the best cat food for sensitive stomach cats. This is a great high-protein product with lots of nutritious organic meats for your cat.

It is an ideal food for cats of any life stage as a complete source of nutrition, however is on the more expensive side.

Before investing in the best cat food for sensitive stomachs check with your vet to make the best purchasing decision.

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