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The 6 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis (2023): Diet and Causes

Posted in: Cat Food - Last Updated: January 2, 2023 - Author: Rebekah Carter
Posted in Cat Food 
Last Updated: May 5, 2022  
Author:  Rebekah Carter

The best cat foods for pancreatitis can be an important investment if your cat has been diagnosed with this disease. Pancreatitis wasn’t always the most common disease for cats to contract, however, it’s become a growing problem for our feline friends over the years.

Though not necessarily a life-threatening condition, pancreatitis can cause a lot of problems for your cat when not properly treated. 

The right pet food diet, recommended by a vet, can be an excellent way to reduce some of the disruptions to your cat’s digestion and health. 

Here's the best pick for what to feed a cat with pancreatitis:

best cat food for pancreatitis

Cat Pancreatitis Diet: Top 3 Picks

Short of time? Want a quick summary of the three ‘best cat foods for Pancreatitis’ which came top in our extensive research and testing process?

In our table below, we compare some of the most important features of those three ‘cat food for pancreatitis’ favorites.

For much more detail about each individual product continue reading down the article.

Our Top 3 Choices

Best Overall

ZIWI Peak Canned Wet Cat Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain Free, Limited Ingredient, with Superfoods, Lamb, 6.5 Ounce (Pack of 12)

ZIWI Peak canned wet food

  • High protein
  • nutrient-rich
  • Contains superfoods

Best Value

Instinct Original Grain Free Real Duck Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food, 5.5 oz. Can, pack of 12

Instinct Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

  • Excellent complete nutrition
  • Grain-Free
  • Cage-free meat is the central ingredient

Premium Choice

Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, Sensitive Stomach & Skin, Chicken & Rice Recipe, 15.5 lb Bag (8878)

Hill's Science Dry Sensitive Stomach

  • Prebiotic fiber for gut bacteria support
  • Contains Vitamin E and Omega 6
  • Vet recommended

So that’s a quick overview for you! Now let’s take a deeper look at these best cat food for pancreatitis picks!

Our top wet cat food and dry cat food picks for cats with pancreatitis are chosen for their blend of high-quality ingredients, designed to get your cat’s pancreas back working as normal.

To start with here's more detail on our top best cat food for pancreatitis picks:

1. ZIWI Peak Canned Wet Cat Food (Best Overall Pick)

ZIWI Peak Canned Wet Cat Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain Free, Limited Ingredient, with Superfoods, Lamb, 6.5 Ounce (Pack of 12)

The ZIWI Peak canned wet food is an excellent formula for cats with pancreatitis if your feline friend is a little picky with their food. 

There are plenty of different flavor options to choose from, so you don’t have to worry about your cat getting bored of eating the same food every day. 

Additionally, all of the options are free from artificial fillers, preservatives, and other dangerous substances.

ZIWI Peak wet food recipe comes with 100% ethically sourced meats and seafood, as well as a variety of superfoods like tripe and mussels, to help with joint health. 

This sensational food can assist with everything from weight maintenance, to improved digestion and allergy relief.


  • Excellent for picky eats with various enticing flavors
  • High protein and nutrient-rich
  • Pate design makes it easy to eat for all kinds of cats
  • Contains superfoods to help with a range of health issues
  • No dangerous or unwanted ingredients


  • Can be expensive
  • Very smelly food

2. Instinct Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pate (Best Value Pick)

Instinct Original Grain Free Real Duck Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food, 5.5 oz. Can, pack of 12

Another top cat food with a variety of great flavor options to choose from, including venison, salmon, and rabbit, the Instinct Grain-free cat food is formulated with cage-free, high-quality meat. 

This food is packed full of protein with absolutely no filters to irritate or agitate your cat’s digestive system. 

The food is also perfect for cats with allergies

This canned food supports lean muscles and good health, without any excess fat and other substances which may be detrimental to your cat. 

What’s more, it has a high moisture content level, which should help your cat’s system to keep working as normal and avoids dehydration.


  • Excellent complete nutrition for your cat
  • No grains or substances which may cause allergic reactions
  • High percentage of cage-free meat as a central ingredient
  • Pate makes the food easy to eat for cats of all ages


  • Won’t last long in the bowl (like other wet foods)
  • Can have small bone shards in some flavors

3. Hill's Science Diet, Dry Cat Food, Adult, Sensitive Stomach & Skin. (Best premium Pick)

Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, Sensitive Stomach & Skin, Chicken & Rice Recipe, 15.5 lb Bag (8878)

Packed full of minerals and vitamins designed to support your cat’s stomach and digestive system, the Hill’s Science Diet cat food provides everything your furry friend needs to thrive, even with pancreatitis. 

This dry food comes with prebiotic fiber to support beneficial gut bacteria and keep your cat’s microbiome working as it should. 

The cat food is also highly digestible for easy nutrient absorption.

Added ingredients like Omega 6 fatty acids and Vitamin E help to protect your cat’s skin and ensure they can continue to feel their best. 

What’s more, this food is vet recommended.


  • Dry pellet-style food is great for grazing
  • Includes prebiotic fiber for gut bacteria support
  • Highly digestible for better nutrient absorption
  • Nourishing your cat’s skin with Vitamin E and Omega 6
  • Vet recommended


  • Can be tougher to eat for older cats
  • Not ideal for cats in need of additional moisture

Some Alternatives

If the three options above don’t work for you, don’t worry. There are still plenty of great cat foods for pancreatitis on the market. 

Your vet may even be able to recommend specific food options depending on your cat’s unique needs. Some of our other favorite options include:

4. IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Sensitive Digestion

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Sensitive Digestion & Skin, Dry Cat Food with Turkey Cat Kibble, 6 lb. Bag

Easily accessible and great for cats that like to graze through the day, the IAMS proactive health mix can protect your cat’s digestive system and improve their long-term health. 

This kibble comes with high-quality protein meat as its number one ingredient, to help maintain strong muscles. Your cat also gets extra help with digestion from a unique fiber blend.

Access to prebiotics and beet pulp support nutrient absorption, while omega fatty acids ensure your cat can develop a healthy coat and supple skin.


  • Available for cats of all ages
  • Turkey is the number one ingredient
  • Access to prebiotics and beet pulp for nutrient absorption
  • Omega acids support a healthy coat and skin
  • Formulated with antioxidants to support strong immune defenses


  • Not many flavor options to choose from
  • It may not be suitable for picky cats

5. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Gastrointestinal (Vet Approval Required)

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Gastrointestinal High EnergyIn Gel Canned Cat Food , 5.8 oz

Specially designed for cats with gastrointestinal issues and diseases like pancreatitis, the Royal Canin Veterinary diet is recommended specifically by vets. 

You’ll need to get vet approval to set your cat up on this food, but it could help to promote healthy digestion and ensure your cat gets the right amount of nutrition from smaller meals.

A careful blend of fibers means this unique meal can support your cat’s GI health, and there are extra ingredients to support urinary health too, creating an unfavorable environment for crystal formation in the bladder.


  • Specially designed for gastrointestinal health and UI health
  • Excellent for cats who don’t eat a lot
  • Easy to eat for older cats
  • High-quality ingredients with lots of proteins and antioxidants
  • Recommended by vets


  • Requires specific vet approval
  • Can be quite expensive

6. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Feline Cat Treats (Vet Approval Required)

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Feline Cat Treats 7.7 oz

Another excellent choice for pancreatitis, and again from the Royal Canin experts, which requires approval from your vet, the Royal Canin gastrointestinal treats are great for pets with stomach issues. 

Notably, these treats aren’t intended as a full and complete diet for your pet, but they can offer an excellent alternative to common treats if you want to give your kitty something special.

The unique design of the treats helps to dissolve stones and prevent calcium oxalate build-up in your cat. 

These treats can also help to lower the risk of crystal formation and support urinary health, so your cat can have a better time in the bathroom. 


  • Powerful support for urinary tract and bladder
  • A fantastic alternative to common treats with dangerous ingredients
  • No unwanted fillers or grains
  • Can protect against stone and crystal formation


  • Requires vet approval
Cat pancreatitis diet

What is Feline Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis in cats is a condition that has grown slightly more common over the years, perhaps as a result of changing ingredients in cat diets and various other factors. 

This term refers to any inflammation of the pancreas, the small organ responsible for secreting digestive enzymes and insulin, to manage blood sugar and process food. 

Pancreatic inflammation is one the more common conditions among older cats, usually over the age of 10, and it’s often combined with other inflammatory conditions, like cholangitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. 

While symptoms of pancreatitis may differ depending on your cat, they may include:

  • Pain in the stomach or sensitivity when being handled
  • Lethargy or a loss of desire to run around and play
  • Loss of appetite (your cat may leave more food on its plate)
  • Regular vomiting or regurgitation
  • Fever and overheating
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing difficulties

Pancreatitis can also be an acute issue, and appear with several severe symptoms at once, or it could be a chronic condition, which appears in bursts and periodic episodes, with moderate discomfort.

What Causes Pancreatitis in Cats?

The pancreas is an important organ for your cat, responsible for secreting digestive enzymes and critical insulin. However, it’s an organ also frequently placed under additional strain by the modern diets available for today’s feline friends. 

According to some experts, a highly-processed diet with a lot of carbohydrates can place additional stress on the pancreas. 

A highly-processed diet generally won’t contain digestive enzymes, and therefore floods the body with a lot of carbohydrates, forcing the pancreas to work even harder to produce the right amount of insulin and critical enzymes. 

The wrong diet can effectively exhaust your pancreas over time. 

Many cats with pancreatitis also suffer from diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

This argument is common among a lot of vets and cat experts, but there’s no specific evidence that a processed diet will definitely cause pancreatitis. 

We don’t have any specific clear information demonstrating where pancreatitis comes from, but common causes could include:

  • Parasitic infestation places additional pressure on the stomach and pancreatitis
  • Use of drugs like phenobarbital, diuretics, and catabolic steroids
  • Cholangitis, or inflammation of the bile duct system in your cat
  • Hepatic lipidosis, otherwise known as a fatty liver syndrome – is one of the most common liver disease syndromes seen in modern cats
  • Pancreas damage is caused by inflammation of the intestines. Sometimes inflammation elsewhere in your cat’s system can harm the pancreas
  • Physical abdomen trauma caused by injuries to your cat
  • Infectious diseases which place additional pressure on your cat and its immune system, including FIP, toxoplasmosis, and herpesvirus
what to feed a cat with pancreatitis

What to Feed a Cat With Pancreatitis

If your cat has pancreatitis, your vet will most commonly recommend a specialist diet to address the issue. 

The right diet can reduce the pressure on the pancreas, as well as support the digestive system, making it easier for your cat to process the food and nutrients they need. 

If your cat is having a “flare-up” of their pancreatitis conditions with significant severe symptoms, your vet will recommend giving them a bland diet. 

Most of the time, pancreatic symptoms, are bad, your cat won’t feel much like eating, which places them under additional risk of suffering from hepatic lipidosis. 

This condition takes place when a cat doesn’t eat enough and has to start using its fat as energy. 

This fat can gather in the liver, causing significant discomfort and stress over time.

Feeding your cat bland cat food, like cooked chicken breast, chicken livers, or lamb with no additional seasonings, can help them to eat more during a time when their appetite is low. 

If your cat’s condition worsens to an extreme state, your vet may need to recommend a feeding tube and fluid therapy for a short time until they’re able to recover and start eating on their own.

Cat Pancreatitis Diet Top Tips

Choose palatable foods which are easy on the GI tract

Highly palatable foods that are attractive to your cat and easy to eat will improve their chances of consuming the right number of calories and nutrients on any given day. 

If the approved cat food suggested by your vet doesn’t work, you could consider giving them bone broth, or access to unseasoned meats that have been baked or boiled.

Meat-based and unseasoned baby food may be ok too.

Don’t worry about low-fat diets

If you’ve had experience with pancreatitis in people or dogs in the past, you may know excessive to moderate fat levels of fat in your diet can make the condition worse.

This is why many pancreatitis’ patients are advised to keep to a low-fat diet. However, cats and kittens aren’t the same as for dogs or people.

There’s no significant connection between extra fat in a diet and your cat’s pancreatitis. 

Stick to small and frequent meals

Forcing your cat to go long periods without eating will lead to spikes in their hormone levels, which may be problematic for cats with pancreatitis.

If your cat has chronic pancreatitis, you may find it’s easier to split their food into several small meals (such as 6 a day) instead of a few large meals. 

Consider additional digestive enzymes

Extra digestive enzymes may be useful for a cat with pancreatitis too.

Because the pancreas is the part of your cat responsible for producing digestive enzymes, it can make it difficult to process food when your cat’s pancreas isn’t working as it should be. 

Providing your cat with additional digestive enzymes in the form of supplements and other “added extras” for their food could be an excellent way to kick-start their digestion.

Certain foods like green tripe are excellent for accessing digestive support for your cat.

Avoid inflammatory ingredients

Inflammation is a common problem for cats with chronic digestive conditions like pancreatitis.

The more inflammation your cat experiences, the more likely they are to suffer from a range of symptoms, including vomiting, trouble eating, and discomfort. 

Ideally, all cat owners should avoid substances in cat food that may lead to additional inflammation for their cats.

However, it’s particularly important to be aware of these ingredients if your cat has pancreatitis.

Certain ingredients are more likely to cause inflammation than others, such as added sweeteners and artificial coloring in your cat’s food. 


What food should I feed my cat with pancreatitis?

Your vet will be able to provide recommendations on the right food for your cat, based on their specific needs and condition.

The best cat foods have easily digestible enzymes and contain plenty of high-quality animal protein that will be valuable for your cat.

Make sure there are no inflammatory ingredients to worry about when choosing the right food too. 

Should you feed a cat with pancreatitis?

Making sure your cat eats food is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to a cat with pancreatitis.

Although it’s ideal if you can provide your cat with the foods your vet recommends, if they’re not attracted to that food, your vet will usually recommend feeding anything they will eat so they can continue to get calories and nutrition.

What causes pancreatitis flare-ups in cats?

A number of factors can trigger a flare-up of pancreatitis in your cat, including the consumption of something that irritates their stomach or digestive system, or an impact to the stomach, such as if your cat jumps somewhere and hits their stomach during the jump.

How long does cat pancreatitis last? 

Usually, Pancreatitis is a chronic condition that can last for the entire life of your cat. However, they may only encounter occasional flare-ups which last between two and three days, depending on how severe the symptoms are.

cat food for pancreatitis

Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis: The Verdict

We end with our ‘best cat foods for pancreatitis’ verdict. Importantly, your vet will be able to carry out a thorough examination which may involve x-rays and an ultrasound to check for inflammation of the pancreas. 

The vet will then provide medication, a prescription diet, and advice on the best cat foods for pancreatitis based on your cat’s unique needs. 

However, we think the ZIWI Peak canned wet food is one of the best options on the market for digestibility and stomach support. 

As an added bonus, it’s also a wet cat food, which means it should be easier to get your cat the moisture they need in their food if they’re having trouble drinking regularly.

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.