6 Best Cat Foods Without Pea Protein For Easy Digestion


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What are the best cat foods without pea protein?

Does your cat have a hard time digesting some foods?

Pea protein and other plant based foods are harder to digest than animal proteins. Your cat may experience more flatulence and diarrhea.

In this article, I’ll give you some of the best cat food options without pea protein. I’ll also give you options that don’t contain peas, grains, and/or potato.

Best cat foods without pea protein.

The goal of this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions.

The advice in this article is not intended as medical advice.

Let’s get into the article.

Our Top Picks: Best Cat Foods Without Pea Protein

Overall Best Cat Food Without Pea Protein

Tiki Cat After Dark Variety Pack

The perfect pea-protein free food to nourish cats of all ages. Filler free and high in animal protein to sway the fussiest of cat. 5 flavors in the box to cut boredom.

Key Features

  • Pea protein-free
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • No animal by-products
  • Carrageenan-free
Nutrition panel for Tiki Cat After Dark variety pack cat food.

Best Wet Mid-Range Cat Food Without Pea Protein

Nulo Grain Free Canned Wet Cat Food

Filler free choice with duck and tuna for easy digestion. High in protein to entice picky cats. Helps with food intolerances and allergies.

Key Features

  • Pea-protein free
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Low carb
  • Carrageenan-free
Nutritional information for Nulo Duck and Tuna wet canned cat food.

Best Budget Wet Cat Food Without Pea Protein

Purina Beyond Grain-Free Natural

The most affordable pea-free wet cat food to help for cats of all ages. Huge range of animal protein sources to improve taste. No fillers or cheap ingredients unlike other budget foods.

Key Features

  • Pea protein free
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Carrageenan-free
Nutritional information for Purina Grain-Free Natural cat food.

Best Kitten Food Without Pea Protein

Fancy Feast Kitten Classic Pate

Affordable pea-free kitten food to help with growth and development. High in animal protein and low in fillers. 4 flavors to cut down on boredom.

Key Features

  • Pea protein-free
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Carrageenan-free
Nutritional information for Fancy Feast Kitten Classic Pate food.

Best Mid Range Dry Food Without Pea Protein

Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein Chicken Formula

A dry food very low in carbohydrate and pea-free for easy digestion. Tasty chicken formula. Affordable dry cat food choice.

Key Features

  • Pea protein-free
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Carrageenan-free
  • Low in oxalates
Nutritional panel for Dr. Elsey's Clean Protein Chicken cat food.

Best Premium Dry Food Without Pea Protein

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Cat Food Lamb

Air dried pea-protein and filler free dry cat food. Premium quality for top health. Helps with allergies and food intolerances.

Key Features

  • Pea protein-free
  • Low carbs
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Carrageenan-free
Nutritional information for Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb cat food.

Buying Guide: What To Look For In A Healthy Cat Food?

Not sure whether your cat food contains pea protein?

Finding a cat food without pea protein is easy enough. Check the ingredients list and look for peas.

You may also want to look for other plant protein sources. This includes:

  • Wheat gluten meal
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Soy protein

The higher the ingredient is on the list, the more of that ingredient in the food. That means if the pea protein is near the top, most of the protein will be plant based.

You want to consider this in your buying decision, since it’s not just the total protein in the product, but the quality.

How Much Protein Should I Look For?

Look for a cat food that contains at least 30% protein on a dry matter basis. AAFCO suggests at least 30% protein for growth and reproduction.

The main source of protein should be animal based protein.

These sources are higher quality than plant protein sources. That means they are easier to digest. They also contain more essential amino acids for muscle strength and a variety of body processes.

Learn more about what cats need to eat in this guide.

Should I get a dry cat food or wet food?

Most dry cat food contains peas among other plant protein sources. This means it’s harder to find a product that’s suitable for your cats needs.

Wet canned foods are less likely to use pea protein as a food source. In general, wet foods are a better food source for cats due to the high moisture content. This helps keep cats hydrated and maintains healthy kidney function.

A cat eating canned wet cat food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a difference Between animal and plant protein?

Animal protein is a higher quality source of protein than plant proteins. This is due to having a higher amount of essential amino acids.

Protein quality refers to two things:

  • How well the protein is absorbed?
  • How well does the protein relate to the needs of the animal?

Researchers use the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) to compare protein quality. A score of 100% means the protein meets needs through absorption and digestion. The lower the score, the lower the quality of protein.

Here are a few protein sources compared:

Protein SourcePDCAAS
Red Meat92%
Casein (dairy protein)100%
Whey (dairy protein)100%
Black bean75%
Soy flour93%
Green lentil63%
Yellow split pea64%
Pea protein (concentrate)89%
Wheat gluten25%
Table 1: Comparison of protein digestibility of various protein sources

Plant protein sources are less bioavailable for a few reasons.

The protein structure of plant protein is less able to break down with protein digesting enzymes. Other inhibiting factors include phytic acid.

Cat food also contains by products and rendered meat in some cases. These food sources are less bioavailable than whole meat sources. Blending pea protein with animal protein improves absorption.

Cat’s need 10 essential amino acids for health, including taurine which is not essential in humans. Taurine is high in animal foods, but low in plant based protein sources.

Bottom Line: Animal protein is a higher quality protein compared to plant protein in cat food.

Animal protein food sources.

Do Cats Need Pea Protein?

No, cat’s don’t need any pea protein in their diet. Cats are obligate carnivores in the wild, and get all their nutrition from eating small prey such as mice and birds.

Plant protein sources are lower cost food sources which save money for manufacturers. Cheaper dry cat food tends to use more pea protein than higher quality wet canned cat foods.

Bottom Line: Cat’s don’t need pea protein in their diet.

Is pea protein bad for cats?

There is no evidence that pea protein is bad for cats in small amounts. The quality of protein is lower than whole animal food sources like chicken and beef. A cats diet should contain animal protein as a main ingredient.

The AAFCO recommends 30% protein for growth and reproduction and a little less for adult maintenance. If protein intake far exceeds these values, then quality is less of a concern.

Most quality wet foods far exceed this amount, however some dry foods rely heavily on plant protein.

Remember that sources of protein like wheat gluten (25%) are poor sources of protein. Pea protein concentrate is relatively higher in quality.

When choosing cat food consider the following things:

  • How much total protein is in the product?
  • How much of the total protein is from animal protein sources?
  • What quality of protein is in the product (e.g. rendered animal protein, wheat gluten meal are low quality protein sources)?

If the product is low in total protein and high in plant proteins, it’s worth avoiding.

Kittens and senior cats have a higher need for protein for different reasons.

Senior cats have poorer protein digestion. They need more total protein in their diet (and better quality). Kittens need a high protein diet for growth.

Check out my best foods for senior cats to learn more.

Bottom Line: Pea protein is ok for cats in small amounts, but whole animal protein is preferred.

What are the healthiest cat foods?

The healthiest cat foods are wet canned foods with animal protein sources. These types of foods best meet the needs of all cats.

Learn more about what to feed a cat in this guide.

A cat eating food out of a bowl.

Conclusion: Best Cat Foods Without Pea Protein

In this article, I looked at the best cat foods without pea protein.

Pea protein is a plant based source of protein. It’s often added to cat foods as a lower cost alternative to animal protein.

Pea protein has a high digestibility score, but is lower than animal food sources like chicken, beef, and fish. Digestion of pea protein is lower due to phytates, fiber and protein structure. Combining pea protein with animal protein improves digestion.

Cats need a diet of at least 30% protein on a dry matter basis for muscle mass and body processes. Look for a food higher in protein from mostly animal sources for best results.

A cat eating food.

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