3 Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach Relief
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High carb and fiber diets cause digestive issues in cats.
We’ve looked at a range of cat foods to find what’s best for easy digestion.
Here’s our 3 best cat food for sensitive stomachs picks:
- Fancy Feast | Best Overall
- Tiki Cat After Dark | Best Quality
- Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein | Best Dry
Have a cat with a sensitive stomach?
Look at what goes in your cats bowl. As carnivores, cats digest small amounts of carbs.
Too much starts to cause issues.
In this article I’ll talk about what to do about sensitive stomachs. Then I’ll provide a range of options to look at.
Then I’ll answer frequently asked questions.
I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.
3 Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs
1. Fancy Feast Creamy Delights
Best Overall Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs
Pros and Cons
Fancy Feast is an affordable and easy-to-digest wet cat food.
Their wet cat foods are low carb to help stop diarrhea. Fancy Feast is complete and balanced for all life stages.
They offer variety packs for boredom busting and to save.
The main downside is the use of meat by-products. That leads to mixed quality from tin to tin.
Read More: Fancy Feast Cat Food Review
2. Tiki Cat After Dark
Best Quality Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs
Pros and Cons
With no grains, legumes, gums, or carrageenan, Tiki Cat After Dark is very easy on digestion.
It has an authentic fresh shredded texture, which owners will appreciate. Tiki Cat is chock full of protein and a complete meal to give your cat everything they need.
It’s a bit pricier though. And chicken heavy…so if your cat can’t have chicken you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Finally, it’s very low calorie. For some cats this is great, but for seniors struggling with weight loss, they might need more.
Read More: Tiki Cat After Dark Cat Food Review
3. Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein
Best Dry Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs
Unlike almost all dry cat food, Dr. Elsey’s is grain, potato, and legume free. That means there’s no ‘hard to digest’ carbs to contend with.
That’s great because you’ll get a tasty low carb choice, suitable for all life stages.
We haven’t tried this one yet, so can’t comment on the taste.
What do you do about vomiting and diarrhea in cats?
Unfortunately the problem is poorly understood in the literature.
Causes are vague.
Treatments? Also vague.
There’s many reasons cat can vomit or have diarrhea.
- Parasites (high risk in shelter cats)
- Food intolerances
Let’s talk diet.
Cats are carnivores. They have fewer digestive enzymes for carbs.
It’s argued that carbs ok for cats. The problem is the debate isn’t on whether cats can digest carbs (they can).
It’s how much.
The stupendous quantity in most cat food is the issue. A small amount is fine.
Aim for 15% or less. Use a dry matter calculator to find the carbs.
Food intolerances and allergies also interfere with digestion.
Wheat, barley, and gluten are the main suspects. Signs include pruritis (itchy skin).
Novel protein helps with food allergies in hard cases.
Plant based protein is harder to digest. This is important for senior cats as they have worsened protein digestion as it is.
Steer clear of cat food with plant protein high on the ingredient list.
Plant foods also contribute fiber, something you want to avoid too much of.
Low fiber diets (also called low residue) help with diarrhea. A four week low fiber diet resolved 60% of vomiting cases in one study.
Cats have a small stomach that doesn’t distend as much as humans. This means cats are more affected by fibrous foods that increase gas.
What about additives?
One to consider avoiding is carrageenan. It’s a seaweed based thickener. Used to (as you’d expect) thicken wet cat foods for a desirable texture.
Carrageenan offers no nutrition to cats.
Degraded carrageenan is a possible carcinogen and can lead to digestive issues.
Food-grade carrageenan (used in cat food) contains between 5-25% degraded carrageenan.
Degraded carrageenan induces local inflammation for research purposes (e.g. injected into the paw of rats to induce edema). Degraded carrageenan added to the water of guinea pigs resulted in:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Weight loss
- Loose stools
- Blood in the feces
Whilst the jury is out on how much is harmful, for sensitive stomachs err on the side of caution. Check for carrageenan and avoid it.
Other fillers to avoid or be weary of:
These foods are sources of food intolerance. Some cats respond well to food without any of these ingredients.
Why are these fillers a problem to digestion?
Either the food is poorly digested (e.g. lactose) or the food itself causes changes to the digestive system function (e.g. transit time, water absorption).
Again, it’s the amount in some cases, not always binary ‘black or white’.
For example, most cats can tolerate tiny amounts of milk without issue.
High quality cat food (e.g. Tiki Cat After Dark) is your best choice to steer clear of all that.
Finally, a diet of dry cat food is constipating. Cats consume most water from prey in the wild (70-85% water by weight).
Consider a balance of wet and dry to help your cat stay hydrated.
You’ll also want to avoid tossing your cat leftovers. Many human foods are toxic to cats.
Foods to avoid:
- Green tomato
- Green potato
- Green vegetables
- Citrus fruits
Just avoid leftovers.
Be weary of grandma’s ‘home remedies’ for cats.
This includes things like pumpkin and probiotics. Neither of these treatments are effective for cat diarrhea and worth avoiding.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Signs My Cat Has a Sensitive Stomach?
These are the signs of a sensitive stomach:
Dry heaving occasionally and ejecting a small hairball is not uncommon.
Why Does My Cat Have a Sensitive Stomach?
- Food intolerance
Symptoms of a parasitic infection include diarrhea, coughing, pale gums, a distended abdomen, as well as vomiting.
Gastroenteritis is nasty.
It’s inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (i.e. stomach, throat, colon). Coughing, lethargy, and pain are all signs your cat needs to see a vet.
What if Your Cat Has a Food Allergy?
If your cat has a food allergy, they need a novel protein food source.
Novel proteins are protein sources most cats aren’t exposed to. They include:
If your cat has a food allergy, it may experience digestive symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
If you suspect a food allergy, speak with your vet for more.
Is Wet Food Better for Cats With Sensitive Stomachs?
Wet food tends to have less irritating ingredients including:
- Wheat gluten meal
- Corn gluten meal
If you cat only eats dry, it’s worth considering mixing it up to see if that helps.
Dry food contains more carbohydrate, which cats struggle to digest.
Cats have sensitive stomachs for many reasons. Food intolerance, high fiber, and high carbs are the most likely dietary causes.
Choose cat food low in these ingredients to help clear things up. If those don’t help or you notice concerning symptoms (e.g. loss of weight, nausea) call a vet.
>> Our best cat food for a sensitive stomach: Fancy Feast.