This is our review of the best cat food for ibd in 2023.
Spending quality time with your cat is severely hampered when her tummy isn’t feeling well. That’s especially true when your cat forces you to clean up messes because of what was once called irritable bowel disease but is now known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Fortunately, several pet food brands have developed specific kibbles and pates to help cat owners deal with IBD. They have spent time in the lab creating nutrient-rich and tasty foods that your cat will enjoy, all while helping it recover from this painful and debilitating disease.
Below you will find my list of the best cat food for IBD. I’ve chosen five I think you and your cat will love.
IBD Cat Food Comparison Table
- Food form: Wet
- Flavor: Chicken
- Food form: Dry
- Flavor: Tuna
- Food form: Dry
- Flavor: Chicken
- Food form: Wet
- Flavor: Chicken
- Food form: Wet
- Flavor: Chicken
How We Picked Food for Cats with IBD
While I was researching IBD, I found that several factors played heavily into what was safe for sensitive stomachs. At the top of the list was the protein source, which was no surprise. Cats need at least 26% of their diet to come from protein, so I knew I’d have to narrow my search.
Besides looking for protein, I knew I also wanted to find cat food with limited ingredients. What the company used needed to be natural, too. My research findings proved that artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives weren’t healthy for any cat but could irritate those with sensitive stomachs.
My evaluation criteria included the following:
- Meat as the first ingredient
- The first five ingredients are real food (no additives or by-products)
- Science-based formula
- Use of probiotics for digestive health
- Includes Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
For your cat to recover from IBD, it will need to eat protein from the source. That means straight from meats like poultry, fish, or pork. Any minimally-processed animal meat provides plenty of protein for your cat. Without the addition of preservatives, your cat can easily digest this food.
Some cats are allergic to chicken, pork, beef, or fish. If your cat has digestion issues with the current food, consider trying a different protein source when you buy one of the foods from this list.
Number of Ingredients:
My research found that foods with fewer ingredients were healthier for cats with IBD. When a manufacturer uses protein as the main ingredient, they often add more natural foods to ensure the kibble is filling.
These companies commit to keeping cats full and healthy, so they stay at an ideal weight. They’re not going to add artificial ingredients to their food and risk harming cats.
Types of Ingredients:
Natural ingredients are always the best option. Cats are similar to humans: when you’re sick, you don’t want to eat chemically-processed junk food. You want real food packed with nutrients. The same goes for your sick cat. To heal from IBD, they need food with high-quality ingredients.
Digestion issues can start due to food allergies, so choosing natural ingredients cuts that risk. You can check with your vet about an allergy test if changing to one of these foods doesn’t improve your cat’s IBD.
The foods on this list use protein as the main ingredient, then supplement with natural berries, flaxseed, peas, and more. These raw foods have plenty of vitamins and nutrients to keep your cat healthy and improve its digestion.
On my list, I chose the Blue Buffalo Blissful Belly in large part because the company added the “LifeSource Bits” to its kibble. Those are the cold-formed kernels that are super high in antioxidants. By keeping them cold, they ensured the nutrients would be more highly-concentrated than if they had pressure treated it with heat.
Does your IBD cat food contain anything extra that puts it over the top? Look for anything special that differentiates one brand of food from the others.
Best Food For Cats With IBD
Blue Buffalo Blissful Belly:
At 419 calories per cup, Blue Buffalo Blissful Belly is a moderately dense kibble that loads up on antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. I like that they mixed chicken and chicken meal with cranberries, brown rice, and flaxseed to develop tasty morsels your cat will enjoy while in IBD recovery. Serve it dry or in a bowl of warm water to elicit more aroma and flavor.
In addition, Blue Buffalo has infused no less than seven B vitamins and fructooligosaccharides, a scientific term for plant sugars that enhance the development of probiotics in the digestive tract. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that produce positive health benefits.
Finally, each serving of Blissful Belly contains antioxidant-rich kernels that are cold-formed. Companies utilize high heat to create most dry pet foods, and this tends to eliminate some sensitive nutrients. Blue Buffalo has added this portion to ensure your cat is receiving the most nutrient-rich diet possible while overcoming IBD.
After adding it all together, I chose it as the best cat food for IBD.
- Includes prebiotic fiber to aid digestion in sensitive stomachs
- Main ingredient is real chicken with no by-product
- Veterinarian and nutritionist developed
- Contains no artificial flavors or preservatives
- The smaller (3.5-pound bag) is expensive compared to the larger 11-pound bag
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet – Best Dry Cat Food For IBD
Some cats not only have IBD issues, but they also have food allergies to chicken and other poultry. This tuna-based dry cat food hits the spot for these and other cats who like the predominant fish taste. They also receive all the nutrients needed for healthy immune systems and digestive tracts.
The addition of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids promotes fluffier and silkier fur while your cat is in IBD recovery.
This cat food for ibd satisfies the highest standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Association for American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
AAFCO is a national trade organization that regulates the distribution and sale of pet foods and medicines. To qualify, the kibble must include high protein and fiber levels, as well as calcium, taurine, and a splash of phosphorus. Merrick Limited passes the tests.
- Deboned tuna provides protein and vitamins to your cat with no irritants
- Made with natural ingredients, no preservatives, and no artificial colors and flavors
- Contains antioxidants, probiotics, and Omega fatty acids for additional nutrients
- Merrick makes all products in the USA and adheres to FDA guidelines
- Over the years, the FDA recalled some Merrick dog treats for salmonella contamination
Royal Canin Sensitive Digestion Dry Cat Food:
They say big things come in small packages. And when it comes to the best cat food for IBD, they are right. Royal Canin has developed a formula so concentrated with protein that your cat won’t need to eat very much and yet will stay active, engaged, and energized.
For example, a nine-pound cat who is moderately active only needs 3/8 cup (48 grams) per day to achieve and maintain health. He might even lose weight while getting healthier.
Almost all the best cat food for IBD includes probiotics. But Royal Canin has also snuck in some prebiotics. These are special plant fibers that act as bacteria fertilizers throughout the digestive process. Vegetables, such as beets, and various fruits contain prebiotics.
The company also makes a wet variety of digest sensitive food that you can combine with the dry to tempt your cat’s palate.
- The first five ingredients include chicken, rice, and wheat
- Dense 469 calories per cup packs in the proteins and energy
- Three unique kibble shapes provide a good look to go with good taste
- Meals can be smaller and still offer enough nutrients
- On the pricey side
- Uses more corn than others on this list
Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken
If your cat suffers from inflammatory bowel disease, you don’t have to wait until the fourth Thursday of November to fix it. But if you decide to purchase the Wellness Complete Chicken Pate, your cat may think it’s Thanksgiving. This recipe combines chicken, turkey, carrots, cranberries, and flaxseed for a delicious tasting spread that only lacks mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.
In all seriousness, this is one of the best wet cat food for IBD because it not only tastes great but conforms to the AAFCO standards for protein, fiber, moisture, fat, and taurine. That means your cat will improve his digestive health, coat, and teeth and will increase his energy level and immunities.
- Contains no meat by-products that could irritate a sensitive stomach
- Whole cranberries and blueberries boost your cat’s urinary health
- Water content of wet food keeps your cat hydrated
- Only 101 calories per 3 ounces of food
- Less than 1% calories by carbohydrate
- Light on calories means your cat may have to eat more to be healthy
Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care i/d with Chicken:
This food features more carbohydrates than most others. So, if your cat is losing unnecessary weight, this solution might be one worth trying. The extra carbs will help your cat gain needed ounces (or pounds).
Vets love Hill’s so much that many sell the food directly in their offices. You can’t go wrong with that vote of confidence. Check with your vet to see if this food is right for your cat. When you order through Chewy or Petco, you must provide your vet’s information. The company verifies that your vet recommended this food for your cat before shipping it to you.
- Strong first five ingredients include chicken and pork
- Supplemented with B vitamins and electrolytes
- Replenishes lost nutrients and absorbs new ones
- Clinically proven to settle upset stomachs
- Must have your vet’s approval to buy this food
How Dry vs Wet Food Differs
Both dry and wet cat food are healthy choices for your cat. You can even feed your cat a mix of the two.
Dry cat food has high levels of carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. Many cats need these nutrients to balance their health and energy. Some cats need more water, though, so wet cat food is the better choice. If your cat doesn’t drink much water on their own, ensuring they get it through food will keep them healthy.
Manufacturers make dry food by blending meat, fats, and vitamins before using high pressure to form digestible kibble. They spray fat on the food, so it smells good for your cat.
Wet food, on the other hand, is much easier to make. Companies blend fresh or frozen meat with vitamins, fats, and water before canning it. The heating process that seals the can kills any foodborne pathogens, so the food is acceptable for your cat to eat.
Dry food isn’t as expensive as wet food, so if you’re on a budget, it’s the best choice. It’s also easier to store because it comes in larger bags that you can roll up and save for the next feeding.
Wet food, on the other hand, is more expensive than dry food. After you open the can, your cat needs to eat all of the food within 24 hours. You need to store any uneaten portions in the refrigerator. Otherwise, the food gets contaminated and can make your pet sick.
As I previously mentioned, my research found that cats need a lot of protein in their daily diet. Like their big cat relatives, they’re carnivores and crave meat and fat. They get their energy from these sources, so you want to give them what they need.
They also benefit from vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. These nutrients keep their body running like the fine-tuned machine it is. Many vitamins regulate their digestion. Amino acids boost their immune systems and keep their skin and fur healthy.
Check the ingredients list on any food you buy to see what additional vitamins it contains. Beyond food and healthy treats, you don’t need to feed your cat anything else. Some pet owners want to give their pets supplements, but you need your vet’s approval before you do.
To understand what constitutes your cat food, it is important to check not only the ingredient list but also the dietary chart that each company provides on its website. Look for high percentages of protein and moisture, and low percentages of carbohydrates. Then check to see if they have included taurine, Omega fatty acids, or other nutrients.
Frequently Asked Question
Cats with IBD have sensitive stomachs and trouble digesting food. When you choose a new food for them, check the ingredients. Protein should be at the top of the list. Food with a lower fat content will also be gentler on your cat’s stomach.
Many brands make cat food for pets with sensitive stomachs. You can buy these foods with confidence because the kibble is easily digestible.
You can feed either wet or dry food to your cat with IBD, especially if it’s one recommended on this list. The dry foods mentioned above are ideal for sensitive stomachs in terms of the ingredients used, kibble size, and more.
Overall, wet food is a good choice for cats with IBD. It has such a high water content that it’s easy to digest. Wet food uses fresh or frozen meat, which is healthier for cats. Since it’s more expensive than dry food, make sure it won’t break your budget to splurge on wet food.
There’s no cure for IBD in cats, but you can manage the symptoms and keep your cat comfortable for many years. Switching to one of the foods on this list is a great way to ensure your cat can get all of the nutrients and protein they need without hurting their stomach.
Since IBD can return even after it seems like you’ve managed your cat’s symptoms, it’s a good idea to make the diet change a permanent one. If you have any questions about IBD, talk to your vet for advice.