There is a wide array of potential causes for a cat having a sensitive stomach.
Whether your cat is affected with allergies, parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, an overactive thyroid or something else, it is important that they are fed an appropriate diet to support them.
The best cat foods for sensitive stomachs and diarrhea will provide adequate calories and nutrients to ensure your cat does not lose weight or muscle mass while they are unwell.
The food also needs to be incredibly palatable, as often these kitties just do not feel like eating, and what’s the point in providing them with all of the best ingredients if the meal just doesn’t taste appealing?
Many sensitivity diets will have added beneficial components such as probiotics to support the gut and reduce the duration of the diarrhea.
This is important in all cats, but particularly those that are becoming dehydrated from their ongoing losses and need to retain as much moisture as possible.
As often food is the primary cause of an upset stomach, a restricted ingredient or sensitivity diet may not only support your cat while they are unwell but could even be the cure to their problems.
For example, a cat with food allergies will likely have a sensitive stomach, frequent vomiting and constant diarrhea episodes.
Remember, even though a cat has eaten a certain diet all their life does not mean that they cannot develop an allergy to it later on.
Many owners presume that as the cat tolerated the food in its early years, the food cannot be the source of the problem.
With any cat who has a sensitive stomach or frequent bouts of diarrhea, it is essential that they are checked over by a vet, who will likely want to perform some tests on them to check for potential causes.
Tests may include blood tests, urinalysis, faecal exams and imaging studies of the abdomen and thorax.
Any diet changes should be discussed with your vet at this time.
5 Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach in 2019
Carry on reading to see our reviews, as well as a buying guide and some of the most frequently asked questions about feeding cats and kittens with sensitive stomachs.
Hill’s Digestive Care I/D Dry Cat Food Sensitive Stomach
A popular choice for vets and pet parents alike, the Hill’s brand has been trusted for many years and is often the food suggested by clinicians who regard it as the best cat food for sensitive stomachs and diarrhea.
In fact, most pets that are hospitalised will be fed on I/D as it is so digestible and safe to feed, rarely causing any adverse food reactions.
This selection is a dry food, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
While dry foods are easy to measure out and don’t make a mess, they do not provide as much moisture as wet foods, so may not be the best option in a dehydrated animal or one that is losing a lot of moisture through chronic vomiting or frequent diarrhea.
Dry food may not be as palatable to some cats, and any feline with a sore mouth or dental disease may find it hard to eat.
To combat many of these issues, this food can always be mixed with some warm water.
Not only will this increase the moisture content, it will also create a warm and tasty broth that your cat will be sure to love.
Long-term, it is recommended that your cat eats some dry biscuits, as they can prevent plaque build-up.
The balance of soluble and insoluble fibres within this diet option, as well as the prebiotics contained, can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and encourage regular and more solid bowel movements.
We love that this food can be fed to adult cats and kittens alike, making it a great option for kittens that have an upset stomach around weaning time.
Owners must be aware that while highly digestible, this is not a hypoallergenic diet and does contain ingredients such as barley, gluten, corn and chicken.
Cats with known food allergies should be fed on a more appropriate diet.
Hill’s Z/D Canned Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach
Another popular option from the much-loved Hill’s company, Z/D is the ideal choice for cats with suspected or proven food allergies.
Food allergies and intolerances in cats occur when the cat reacts to a certain ingredient (or ingredients) in their diet.
Really, cats can be allergic to any ingredient, though chicken, beef and dairy allergies are the most frequently seen.
Many mistakenly think that as these are common food ingredients they would be uncommon allergens, but this is just not the case.
This is why feeding a cat with food allergies a restricted diet often does not change anything, as many restricted diets use chicken or beef as their first ingredient.
Instead, a truly hypoallergenic diet, such as Hill’s Z/D is required.
As well as chronic vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy, food allergies can result in skin infections and generalised itchiness.
Hill’s Z/D is without a doubt the best cat food for sensitive stomachs and diarrhea that is caused by food allergies.
With a single carbohydrate source and protein that has been highly hydrolysed, Hill’s have ensured that regardless of which food allergy your cat has, they should not have a negative reaction to this food.
It is critically important that owners are aware of how to feed a hypoallergenic diet.
It can only be effective if the cat is not fed anything else at all.
Cats should not receive any treats or human food, as this renders the diet completely ineffective.
Cats that have been diagnosed with true food allergies will need to be fed on Hills’s Z/D (or a similar hypoallergenic food) for life.
With the natural fibre content, this food improves both digestion and stool quality.
The essential fatty acids and Vitamin E content help promote healthy skin and fur, often something that allergic kitties struggle to maintain.
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PD Dry Cat Food
This offering from Royal Canin is another superb option for those cats whose gastro-intestinal upset is potentially caused by food intolerance or allergies.
Vitally, this food only contains selected proteins, ensuring that the majority of cats will not react to the ingredients.
As the protein is provided by rabbit (often a novel protein source in most cats’ lives), peas and hydrolysed soy, those cats with the typical beef/chicken and dairy allergies can happily eat this food without experiencing any negative effects.
This dry diet is probably one of the better options for those cats with pre-existing skin issues, as the ingredients can dramatically improve skin health.
The amino acids and B vitamins form a healthy skin barrier while the EPAs and DHAs (omega 3 fatty acids) as well as the coconut oil contribute to a glossy and lustrous coat.
Ensuring your cat’s skin barrier is robust can reduce itchiness and prevent chronic skin infections from setting in.
As this is a dry pelleted food, it is easy to weigh and feed.
The average 4kg cat requires 55g, which can be easily weighed out on a kitchen scales.
While some prefer to eat this in two daily meals (about 27g each meal), others like to graze on it throughout the day.
Other than water, there is nothing else that should be added to your cat’s diet, giving the restricted protein diet the best opportunity to work.
Most cats find this food very tasty, though some may require a little bit of encouragement by mixing in warm water and creating a tasty gravy.
Titbits such as chicken and fish should not be added to the food to encourage eating, as this will negate the benefits.
As with any other diet changes, this food should be gradually introduced to your cat over a period of 5-7 days.
Orijen Six Fish Dry Cat Food
Orijen are well-respected within the pet food industry for making some of the highest-quality diets on the market and using the best ingredients.
With a whopping 40% protein content, this food provides more than enough protein to support a cat through a gastrointestinal upset and prevent unnecessary muscle wastage.
An ethical diet, the vast majority of the fish used (90%) is wild caught from a sustainable source, so you can sleep easy.
Containing some delicious fishes including mackerel, hake and monkfish, this is probably the best food option for those fussy cats that turn their noses up at whatever you buy.
On top of the impressive six fish varieties contained, Orijen have also added in some extra freeze-dried liver bits, which your cat will not be able to resist.
Oozing with flavour, this highly palatable diet is sure to be a hit in most households.
The pumpkin and butternut squash within this dry food are great sources of vitamins and fibre and can assist in keeping your cat’s bowel movements regular and improving diarrhea.
In fact, this food is packed with all sorts fruits and veggies such as carrots, apples, spinach and cranberries, ensuring your cat receives all of its required micronutrients from natural sources.
Orijen have also added the popular probiotic Enterococcus faecium which has been proven to support gut health in felines and reduce the duration of an episode of diarrhea.
Unlike some of the foods on this list (such as Hill’s Z/D or Royal Canin Selected Protein) this food is not specifically hypoallergenic or targeted at sensitive cats.
However, the sheer quality of the ingredients ensure that it is highly digestible and well tolerated by the majority of the feline population.
Reveal Cat Pots
Last, but by no means least, on our list we have these delicious cat pots from Reveal.
While this is not a complete food and is only a supplement to your cat’s regular diet, these cat pots are a fantastic source of nutrients and moisture for those cats who have upset stomachs and are off their regular food.
In the business, we call these little pots ‘lifesavers’, as they are so tasty that even the most nauseous cat with the worst stomach cramps will find them hard to resist.
It is so important that unwell cats continue to eat during their illness, as otherwise they will become dehydrated and weak.
Top tip: If your cat is not immediately keen on eating the Reveal pot, they may prefer it warmed up to release its natural aromas and flavours.
If they’re still not having it, try hand-feeding them.
As this food pot contains limited ingredients and no grains, as well as no colours or preservatives, it is well-accepted by most and should not cause dietary upset.
Simply containing tuna fillet, fish broth and shrimp, this fishy delight will have even the most inappetant cat drooling for more.
The soft texture makes it easy to eat and also ensures it is a good snack for cats that may have had a recent dental cleaning.
A food with a conscience, all of the fish and seafood within this food (as well as in the other Reveal products) are ethically sourced and fished sustainably.
Conveniently, this snack can be fed straight from the pot, saving on the washing-up!
Wrapping It Up
So, there you have it!
The best cat foods for sensitive stomachs and diarrhea that will not only support your cat when they are unwell but can also prevent gastro-intestinal upsets going forward.
All of the foods listed are made with high-quality ingredients and are well-digested.
Importantly, they are high in flavour, making your cat more likely to eat them on a long-term basis.
Managing a cat with a sensitive stomach can be a real challenge and it can often take some trial and error to hit on the perfect food for them that not only agrees with them but is also something they are happy to eat every day.
We are confident that your kitty will be happy with whichever food choice you select from this list.
Many cats with chronic digestive issues will need lifelong veterinary care and are often managed with medication alongside their diet.
Discussing your cat’s diet with your vet is essential to ensure it is right for them and meets all of their individual needs.
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