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Best Cat Food for IBD (What Makes an IBD Cat Food?)

Posted in: Cat Food - Last Updated: August 31, 2022 - Author: Rebekah Carter
Posted in Cat Food 
Last Updated: August 31, 2022  
Author:  Rebekah Carter

An important part of properly caring for your cat's digestive system is ensuring they have the best food for their nutritional and medical needs. 

If your cat is suffering from a specific condition, like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, they’ll need a certain kind of pet food, with a lower level of artificial flavors, wheat, soy, corn, and plant protein ingredients which will help address the problem. 

best cat food for IBD

While the exact cause of IBD in felines is still unknown, experts believe there’s a strong connection between this issue, and your cat’s diet, immune system, and gut flora. 

The best cat food for IBD issues can help with protecting the lining of the gut, reducing inflammation, and restoring healthy gut flora. The question is, where do you start?

Here are some of the best cat foods for IBD to consider today.

Our Top 3 Choices

Best Overall

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food, Veterinary Diet, 8.5 lb. Bag (Packaging May Vary)

Hill's Prescription Diet Z/D Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food

  • Specially designed to support digestion
  • Helps to promote healthy skin
  • Natural sources of fiber included

Best Value

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Cat Food, Salmon 11-lb

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free

  • Great high-quality carbohydrates
  • Protein source as the number one ingredient
  • Special antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral blend

Premium Choice

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Cat Food, 8 oz. Bag

Stella & Chewy’s Rabbit Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

  • Support for immune system and allergies
  • Raw nutrition with no added grains
  • Easy to feed thanks to freeze drying

The Best Cat Foods For IBD

Let’s start by looking at some of the very best picks for IBD cat food on the market. These products were chosen for their ability to soothe your cat’s intestinal system while causing minimal digestive stress. Our top choices include:

1. Hill's Prescription Diet Z/D Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food (Best Overall)

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food, Veterinary Diet, 8.5 lb. Bag (Packaging May Vary)

Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D cat food is specially designed for those with sensitive stomachs.

The solution contains high-quality ingredients and was formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians to protect against food digestion issues and promote healthy skin. 

It also comes with special nutrition and minerals to reduce the risk of adverse food reactions.

There’s plenty of high-quality protein and minimal carbohydrates. 

This simple ingredient food also comes with extra fiber to help preserve healthy bathroom habits.

If you’re looking for a tool to support cat digestion and a healthy immune system at once, this could be it. Plus, it comes in a handy kibble formation. 

Pros

  • Specially designed to support digestion
  • Helps to promote healthy skin
  • Natural sources of fiber included
  • Fantastic easy-to-feed kibble formula
  • Supports good immune function

Cons

  • Requires a prescription
  • Only one flavor is available

2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free (Best Value)

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Cat Food, Salmon 11-lb

Brimming with high-quality protein like salmon, this dry cat food solution is great for kitties in need of digestive support. 

The grain-free food contains omega 3, fish oils, and omega 6 fatty acids to support coat and skin health. Plus, there are special “life source” bits that contain a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, chosen by nutritionists and veterinarians. 

With no unnecessary ingredients and added extras, this food should be easy enough for any cat to process. 

There are even various healthy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas to give your feline friend a boost in energy.

Pros

  • Great high-quality carbohydrates
  • Protein source as the number one ingredient
  • Special antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral blend
  • Supports immune system health
  • Included omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

Cons

  • Too much of this food could cause weight gain
  • Not ideal for providing your cat with extra moisture

3. Stella & Chewy’s Rabbit Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food (Best Premium)

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Cat Food, 8 oz. Bag

When dealing with specialist diet requirements, some pet parents prefer to switch to raw feeding. The freeze-dried raw food from Stella & Chewy is excellent for providing your kitty with plenty of high-quality protein. 

This food contains 98% farm-raised rabbit, with organs and bone, as well as added taurine and probiotics. 

Made in the USA, this food is minimally processed and all-natural. There are no grains or fillers, and the raw nutrition is excellent for your cat’s gut functionality. 

This food has been specially designed to boost appetite, and digestion, while reducing the risk of cat allergies

Pros

  • Support for immune system and allergies
  • Raw nutrition with no added grains  
  • Easy to feed thanks to freeze drying
  • Contains all of the best bits from animal protein
  • Minimally processed

Cons

  • Can be quite expensive
  • May not be suitable for every cat

Additional Picks

If the options above don’t work for your cat, there are still some excellent solutions out there. Some of the extra products you can consider include:

Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food

ZIWI Peak Canned Wet Cat Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain Free, Limited Ingredient, with Superfoods (Venison, Case of 24, 3oz Cans)

ZIWI Peak Venison cat food is an all-natural, grain-free, and high-protein wet food option for your kitty. There are no added fillers, sugars, or preservatives. 

What’s more, this food is 100% ethically and sustainably sourced, with no added hormones. All recipes include natural superfoods like tripe and green mussels to support joint health. 

The chunky loaf-style food is designed to assist with digestion, allergy relief, and healthy skin and coat. It can also be ideal for weight maintenance, and mobility.

Pros

  • Wet food for plenty of added moisture
  • No added filler or unnecessary ingredients
  • Superfoods included for joint health
  • Support for improved digestion and immune performance
  • High protein and high nutrient content

Cons

  • Can be quite chunky for cats with teeth problems
  • Quite a strong smell

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals Feline Formula Dry Cat Food - 6 lb. Bag

Formulated with the help of veterinarians, this high-quality gastroenteric food is specifically designed to promote better nutrient absorption and digestion.

The energy-dense ingredients are perfect for giving your kitty the extra support they need when their appetite might be a little low. 

Added vitamins and minerals help to aid good health, while the unique structure of the food is great for digestion issues.

However, you will need vet approval to purchase this product as it’s considered a prescription diet.

Pros

  • High digestible for better nutrient absorption
  • Suitable for feeding in smaller meals
  • Excellent protein and vitamin content
  • Suitable for all breeds
  • Created with support from vets

Cons

  • Requires vet approval
  • Can lead to weight gain when fed in large doses

Dr. Elsey's Dry Cat Food

Dr. Elsey's Cleanprotein Chicken Formula Dry Cat Food, 6.6 Lb

A limited ingredient diet cat food can often be a good choice for cats who have allergies or digestion issues. 

Dr. Elsey’s dry cat food features protein as the number one ingredient to ensure your cat gets the energy they need for a healthy life. 

There are no added grains, fillers, or artificial preservatives. 

The energy-dense food is ideal for kitties with a poor appetite, as it helps your cat to get all the nutrition they need in a small portion. The dry formulation is also ideal for cats who prefer to graze on their food throughout the day. 

Pros

  • Great for regular grazing
  • Protein as the number one ingredient
  • No added fillers or grains
  • Minimal ingredients to support gut health
  • Ideal for cats with a poor appetite

Cons

  • Can be quite tough to eat for older cats
  • It may cause softer stools

What is IBD In Cats?

IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a common condition for humans and our furry friends alike. 

With IBD, your cat may struggle to digest food as well as a standard feline, suffer from chronic irritation, or struggle from a range of symptoms associated with poor stomach and gut health.

At present, the exact cause of this condition is unknown, but most experts do agree that diet plays a role in managing symptoms. 

best wet cat food for IBD

IBD symptoms in cats can vary but include issues like diarrhea, chronic vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. In severe cases, you may even notice bloody stools. 

In contrast to acute digestive problems, cats with IBD often experience symptoms on a chronic basis, which can make it difficult for them to live a happy and healthy life. 

Notably, if you do notice digestive symptoms like the ones mentioned above in your cat, it’s best to seek help from a vet. 

Digestion problems and gastrointestinal distress can also be symptoms of a range of other conditions which will need to be ruled out before you start making dietary changes.

What Triggers IBD in Cats?  

As mentioned above, the exact causes of IBD in felines are still unknown. 

However, most vets and experts believe there’s a strong link between the foods your cat might eat, and the symptoms they’ll experience connected to IBD. 

The natural microorganisms in your cat’s gut might be out of balance, which could be a reason for their digestive issues. 

In IBD, the gut bacteria start fighting themselves, and your cat’s immune system may begin to perceive healthy microbiota as threats. 

When inflammatory substances begin to build up in your cat’s GI tract, they cause significant damage, and the intestinal lining becomes flatter and thicker, which harms digestive function. 

This makes it tougher for cats with IBD to absorb nutrients.

Various food sources can trigger IBD and make it more problematic for your cats, such as added ingredients, additives, and ingredients that often cause inflammation in felines. 

Cats can have many food allergies which make the issue more profound, but it’s difficult to know which foods will trigger your cat’s condition without some experimentation.

IBD can also be triggered by bacterial infections, parasitic infections (like worms), and other common issues which face cats (particularly outdoor felines). 

best dry cat food for IBD

What Type of Food Should Cats Eat for IBD?  

The best way to adjust your cat’s diet if they suffer from IBD is to seek assistance from a vet. Your cat’s vet will be able to assess their condition carefully and suggest what kinds of foods might be suitable for their needs, based on their symptoms. 

For the most part, it’s best to focus on finding foods with an excellent source of highly-digestible animal proteins. 

Ideally, you’ll need to avoid foods that are high in animal byproducts and generic substances, like poultry meal instead of chicken or turkey meal. 

These ingredients can sometimes have a lot of variabilities when it comes to protein quality. 

According to animal experts, byproducts are the substances that remain after the initial processing of a specific protein product. 

They may include some digestible protein sources but may also be high in substances that are harder for your cat to digest. 

Because intolerances and allergies can play a significant role in IBD, it’s also helpful to avoid any ingredients with common allergy issues. 

Some of the most commonplace cat allergens you might need to be aware of include pork, chicken, beef, dairy, eggs, and fish

If you’re not sure which foods your cat might be sensitive to, it’s best to start with limited-ingredient foods and keep an eye on your cat’s symptoms. 

Other points to consider include:

  • Moisture: Feeding your cat a diet that’s high in moisture is a good way to combat issues like dehydration which can occur in cats suffering from IBD. You might find that opting for the best wet cat food is a better solution than relying entirely on dry kibble. Alternatively, simply make sure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water on a daily basis.
  • Inflammation: Stay away from any ingredients which might cause an inflammatory response, like artificial colors and flavors, lactose, and certain preservatives. Instead, it’s best to focus on substances that can minimize inflammation, like omega fatty acids, and probiotics. Foods with specific ingredients to tackle inflammation can be useful too.
  • Breed: Remember that different breeds of cats can sometimes have specialist needs. With this in mind, it’s worth looking for foods that are tailor-made for your kitty when possible. Your vet should be able to provide you with some guidance on the kinds of foods best suited to your breed if you’re not certain. Or you can look for cat food suitable for all breeds.
  • Fillers: Stay away from added ingredients unnecessary for your cat’s health. For instance, you generally won’t need extra fillers and vegetables in your cat’s diet. Although some vegetables can be fine for cats, large amounts simply act as bulk without providing any extra support to the digestive system. 
best food for cats with IBD

Wet or Dry food for IBD?  

Choosing between wet or dry food for your cat can be a tricky process. Dry food is often more convenient for cats with problematic appetites, as they can graze on the food throughout the day without much of an issue. 

However, wet food is more likely to provide your kitty with the extra moisture content they need to avoid dehydration. 

Wet food is definitely much easier for giving your kitty the water content they need, but it may be problematic for your cat’s teeth, as there are no dry parts to scrape away plaque. 

Ultimately, the best option is to follow your cat’s preferences.

Best Cat Food for IBD: Summary  

In our opinion, Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D food is the best option for kitties suffering from IBD. It’s specially formulated to avoid digestive tract problems and allergies and comes with an excellent source of protein.

It can even help to promote better bowel movements. 

Good luck finding the IBD food best for your feline friend and remember to speak to your vet if you’re having issues with any undiagnosed symptoms.

About the author

Rebekah Carter is a dedicated animal lover. Her Savannah cat, Roscoe, has a lot of attitude, while her Maine Coon, Dukino, is full of love. When not writing, she’s looking after her cats and researching ways to help them live their best possible life. Her passion for animals and natural skill for writing led her to pursue pet blogging.

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