One of the most important tasks you have as a pet parent is providing your kitty with the right nutrition. The correct food keeps your cat happy and healthy for as long as possible, providing the vitamins, fiber, minerals, and nutrients they need to thrive.
Correct protein levels are usually one of the most important ingredients to look for in any cat food, as it provides your feline friend with plenty of energy for running, jumping, and generally enjoying life.
However, some cats may struggle to digest high protein foods due to a range of health issues.
The best low-protein cat food can address the specific health needs of certain cats while providing them with controlled levels of the nutrients they need most.
Here’s your guide to some of the best low-protein cat foods on the market.
Our Top Picks
The best low protein energy-dense cat food will combine a carefully measured amount of “highly digestible” protein, with a low carb content and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Here are some of the top options on the market, and what makes them so attractive.
1. Hill's Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care (Best Overall Pick)
Hill’s Science is one of the best picks among vets and pet parents alike when it comes to prescription-based and scientifically-formulated foods.
The k/d kidney care dry food from Hill’s Science is specially designed for cats with kidney issues which might prevent them from digesting large amounts of protein as easily as other felines.
The specially-chosen ingredients have been chosen by experts to give renal support and assist your cat’s vital kidney functions, and improve the quality of your kitty’s life.
What’s more, this product also comes with plenty of added vitamins and minerals, as well as low sodium and phosphorus to protect kidney function.
Enhanced Appetite Trigger technology even helps to convince your cat to eat more, so they stay well-fed.
2. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support (Best Prescription Pick)
This prescription-only diet food from Blue Buffalo is another great choice for cats who can’t digest protein as easily as their counterparts.
The fantastic wet food starts with high-quality chicken, to give your cat more of the digestible protein it needs to stay fit and healthy.
There are various added vitamins and minerals to support kidney function, and you don’t have to worry about any additional by-products or additives which might cause a stomach upset.
You will need a vet’s authorization to access this food, but it can be ideal for cats who need help with everything from kidney performance to joint care.
This food has low-protein levels as well as antioxidants, fatty acids and low phosphorus levels.
3. Hartz Delectables Bisque Lickable Wet Cat Treats (Best Treat Pick)
Cats with specific dietary needs still deserve the occasional treat. Unfortunately, a lot of treats come packed with protein which can make certain conditions a lot worse.
The Delectables Lickable wet cat treats can offer a fantastic alternative.
Available in a range of flavors, these treats are enhanced with extra vitamin E and B vitamins to support senior cat health.
There are small flakes of tuna, chicken, and other ingredients, so they’re easy to consume when your cat is feeling lethargic.
You may also find these treats make it easier to attract your cat to their food when their appetite is low.
If the three options above don’t work for your cat, don’t worry, we still have some extra suggestions up our sleeves.
Some other products you can try include:
4. Weruva TruLuxe Grain-Free
If you’re looking for the perfect wet cat food for your feline friend, this could be it. The Weruva Truluxe cat food is available in a variety of flavors, so you’re sure to find something which appeals to your kitty’s personal preferences.
All of the products also include high-quality ingredients, like easily-digestible protein and vegetables.
Low in phosphorous and other problematic ingredients like grain, these foods are produced to human quality standards, so you know you’re giving your kitty the very best.
They can also help with supporting a healthy urinary tract if your cat suffers from bathroom problems.
5. Dave's Pet Food Pet Food Restricted Phosphorus Diet
Restricted diet food options are often a good choice for kitties with specific nutritional needs.
This “Dave’s pet food” option is a great choice if you’re worried about your cat’s protein intake. The restricted phosphorous will help to protect your cat’s kidneys, and the protein included is highly digestible to promote better internal health.
The restrictive cat food formula features a host of high-quality ingredients, like chicken liver and broth, as well as pumpkin and omega-3 fatty acids.
There’s added vitamin E supplementation to protect skin and joints, as well as Thiamine and other bonus supplements baked into every portion.
It’s an excellent choice for cats with sensitive stomachs too.
Why Feed Cats a Low Protein Diet?
Usually, when you’re searching for the ideal food for your cat, protein will be one of the first ingredients you prioritize.
After all, cats are carnivores that rely heavily on a high intake of protein to keep them as fit and healthy as possible.
However, there are cases where protein might cause a number of problems for your kitty if they get too much of the wrong type.
If your cat has a health condition like kidney or liver disease, research indicates that a lower protein diet might be a better choice.
Your vet might recommend switching to more highly-digestible sources of protein, as well as cutting out certain ingredients like sodium and phosphorous.
Protein produces something called “nitrogenous waste”, which can place an additional burden on your cat’s kidneys, as well as other essential organs.
For cats, protein is a life-giving substance necessary for a healthy diet. You won’t be able to cut this product out of your cat’s food entirely, but you can adjust their intake with a limited-ingredient meal option.
As always, you’ll need to talk to your vet to ensure you’re choosing the right diet options for your kitty. Don’t switch to a low-protein diet without a vet recommendation.
Picking a Low Protein Cat Food
Because low-protein diets for cats are often recommended on a prescription basis, there’s a good chance your vet will give you advice on what kind of food you should be buying for your furry friend.
However, if you’re free to do your research yourself, there are a few things to consider aside from a low protein content when making the right choice.
First, keep in mind that low-protein cat food isn’t the same as giving your cat no protein at all.
Your kitty will still need protein to survive, but you’ll need to focus on choosing proteins that are high-quality, easy to digest, and highly “bioavailable”.
Other factors to look at include:
If you’re not sure about any of the cat food available for your furry friend, consider speaking to your vet for their recommendations.
Risks of Low Protein Diet For Cats
A low-protein cat food generally isn’t the best option for any standard cat.
In general, high amounts of protein are better suited to your feline friend, as they help with things like weight management, reduced risk of obesity, and energy production.
Switching to a low-protein cat food without your vet’s recommendation could lead to:
Why Is Protein So Important For Cats?
Cats can’t live without protein. As obligate carnivores, cats can live their entire lives eating nothing but animals and animal by-products without suffering from any nutritional deficiencies.
In fact, cats require a lot more protein than other animals, like dogs, who are omnivores.
Protein is a life-giving substance for your feline friend, and it gives it the strength and energy they need to function every day.
Protein is vital to every process in your cat’s body.
While the exact dietary requirements of your cat may vary when compared to other felines, most cats need at least 2.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight on a daily basis.
Studies show anything less than this amount could make it difficult for your cat to maintain muscle mass.
Cats With Kidney Disease
The most common reason to switch a cat onto a low-protein diet is that it’s suffering from kidney disease.
Currently, research into a low-protein diet’s benefits for cats with kidney disease is still ongoing.
However, we do know the kidneys play a crucial role in processing the nitrogenous wastes created by protein digestion.
Because cats with kidney disease aren’t able to process this waste as effectively, it can build up in their bloodstream and cause significant problems.
A low-protein food can help to reduce this issue, but it can also lead to other problems in its own right.
For instance, a cat with kidney disease still needs protein as much as other cats.
While they might feel a little better than they did on their previous diet with low-protein food, you might find your cats struggle to get the right level of nutrition and end up losing weight.
Most vets say instead of focusing on reducing protein, pet parents should instead focus on changing the source of the protein to ensure it’s as digestible as possible.
Cats With Liver Disease
Cats with liver disease may also be recommended a low-protein diet. The liver also plays a role in removing some of the toxic waste from protein digestion.
This means a diet high in low-quality protein could place additional strain on an already problematic liver.
Switching to a low-protein diet focused heavily on high-quality sources of protein can make it easier for your cat to manage their food.
Your vet may recommend a low-protein diet for your cat as a way of reducing the amount of ammonia the liver allows to remain in the body.
Recent research, however, does suggest it’s more valuable to provide your cat with the right kind of high-quality protein than it is to reduce their intake entirely.
In some circumstances, it may also be recommended that your cat reduce its protein intake with age.
This is generally because senior cats are more likely to suffer from kidney disease. This means their kidneys need a little more support.
However, the reality is that older cats generally need more protein and calories than they did in their earlier years.
With this in mind, it’s not a good idea to simply switch your cat to a low-protein diet based on their age alone.
Speak to your vet if you’re not sure about the right diet strategy and especially if your cat's appetite drops off.
Best Low Protein Cat Food: Summary
If your cat has a specific medical issue that makes it harder for them to digest protein than most other felines, your veterinarian may recommend either a restricted or one of these best low-protein cat food picks.
If we were to pick one, we’d recommend Hill’s Prescription Diet as the ideal choice for feeding your cat. It’s easy to use thanks to its dry kibble formula and comes packed with extra nutrition, vitamins, and minerals.
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