Best Cat Food For IBD

Medically reviewed by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
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Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.

*This article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Your veterinarian can provide personalized suggestions relevant to your cat’s unique situation.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition characterized by chronic irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Though the cause is unknown, experts believe it has to do with the interaction between the cat’s immune system, diet, gut flora, and other environmental factors.

The best cat food for IBD helps to heal the gut lining, reduce inflammation, and restore healthy gut flora without stressing the digestive system.

That’s why we recommend Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit freeze-dried morsels as the overall best cat food for IBD. Our top pick is minimally processed and features a single protein source, promising better digestibility and reduced inflammation.

Based on both veterinary research and anecdotal evidence, we’ve identified the top 8 cat foods that appear to have the best chance of controlling IBD symptoms and putting your cat on the road to optimal digestive health.

At a Glance: Best Cat Food For IBD To Buy

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Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Smalls Fresh Ground Other Bird

  • Made with human-grade ingredients including fresh turkey
  • Shipped right to your door in regularly scheduled deliveries
  • Available in two different textures, minced or ground
Runner Up
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Minced Turkey in Bone Broth Gravy Wet Cat Food

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Rich in moisture and fiber to support healthy digestion
  • Free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
Best Limited Ingredient
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Koha Minimal Ingredient Chicken Stew for Cats

  • Contains numerous sources of animal-based protein
  • Rich in moisture to support hydration and digestion
  • Very limited number of main ingredients
Best Premium
9.7
Picked by 31 people today!

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

  • Rabbit is usually a novel protein
  • Raw food has a good reputation among cats with IBD
  • Supplemented with probiotics
Best Canned
9.7
Picked by 25 people today!

Wellness CORE Digestive Health Chicken Pate Recipe

  • Simple recipe free from inflammatory ingredients
  • Rich in animal-based protein from poultry
  • Salmon oil provides a great source omega-3 fatty acids
Best Dry
9.6
Picked by 21 people today!

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

  • Features highly-digestible animal proteins
  • Significantly lower carbohydrate content than the typical dry food
  • Contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids
Best Hypoallergenic
9.6
Picked by 18 people today!

Vital Essentials Chicken Dinner Patties Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Very straightforward, simple ingredient list minimizes exposure to potential allergens
  • Features herring oil as a source of soothing omega-3 fatty acids
Best For Diabetes And IBD
9.5
Picked by 31 people today!

Hound & Gatos Turkey & Turkey Liver Canned Cat Food

  • Made from duck, which is a less-allergenic alternative to more common protein sources
  • Free from commonly inflammatory ingredients
  • Limited ingredient list minimizes potential inflammation

Before We Talk About How Food Can Help Your Cat, Let’s Talk About The Cause Of IBD And Its Diagnosis.

No one knows exactly why cats develop IBD. Most cases are idiopathic, meaning that the root cause is unknown. In idiopathic cases of IBD, veterinarians often point to a rift in the relationship between the natural microbiota (normal microorganisms found in the body) and the GI immune system.

For unknown reasons, the gut starts to fight against itself, interpreting normal microbiota and dietary components as threats.

When inflammatory cells enter your cat’s GI tract, they cause serious damage and friendly gut bacteria populations dwindle. The injured intestinal lining becomes thicker and flatter, which results in compromised function. To put it simply, this means that cats with IBD have a harder time digesting and absorbing nutrients.

As a result of this intestinal damage, IBD patients often develop leaky gut, a condition that permits toxins and bacteria to leach into the bloodstream. Between chronic inflammation and a leaky gut, we’re looking at a recipe for a cat who constantly feels unwell.

IBD symptoms include chronic vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and bloody stools. In contrast to those with acute digestive problems, cats with IBD experience these GI issues for three weeks or more at a time.

This kind of chronic digestive distress could point to a range of conditions, so diagnosing IBD requires extensive testing. Once your veterinarian has established that your cat has IBD, you have a couple of options for treatment: dietary management and medication.

The Right Diet Is The Most Powerful Treatment For IBD

cat food chicken recipe cat eat

Craig Ruaux, BVSc (Hons), Ph.D., MACVSc, DACVIM-SA tells Hills Pet Nutrition that 60% of cats with chronic GI problems improve with nutritional therapy alone.

That’s right—for most cats, diet alone is enough to ease IBD symptoms. No drugs necessary.

While there’s no arguing that diet can help, however, there is definitely some debate on how much it can help. Some experts say IBD is incurable. Others disagree, saying that diet is both the cause of, and the cure for, IBD.

So, We Know That Dietary Management Can Help, But What Are The Qualities Of The Best Cat Food For IBD?

Anne Jablonski, a feline nutrition advocate who claims to have cured her own cat’s IBD with a raw diet, describes cats with IBD as “the feline nutritional equivalent of the proverbial ‘canary in a coal mine.’” Jablonski comments that cats with IBD are among the first to exhibit dietary sensitivity to ingredients that are inappropriate for their species.”

Cats with IBD have the same nutritional needs as any other feline. They’re just less tolerant of anything that falls outside of that carnivore-oriented blueprint.

In other words, they need plenty of readily-digestible protein from animal sources. They need animal-sourced fat that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And they should avoid potentially inflammatory pet food additives like artificial colors, flavors, sugar, and other ingredients that could make things worse.

To nourish your cat while minimizing waste and digestive strain, choose a highly-digestible food with healthy doses of animal protein. It’s recommended that cats with IBD consume a diet with at least 87% highly-digestible protein.

Though we still don’t fully understand which proteins are the most digestible for cats, we do know that minimally-processed animal flesh appears to be the most efficient protein source for an obligate carnivore. (This rules out foods that contain a lot of plant protein from ingredients like corn gluten meal, pea protein, potato protein, and soy protein.)

So, In Shopping For The Best Cat Food For IBD, You Want To Start With A High-quality Source Of Animal Protein.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to foods featuring animal protein sources, look for foods that are free of animal byproducts and generic meat meals (like poultry meal versus chicken meal). These ingredients may not be of poor quality, but the vagueness of these labels allows for a lot of variability in protein quality.

According to the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials, byproducts are what remains after the initial processing of a particular food product. They may be composed of digestible protein sources, but they may also have animal parts that could be harder for a cat with IBD to digest.

Next, Narrow Down Your List By Prioritizing Recipes With Limited Ingredient Lists And Novel Proteins.

Since food allergies and intolerances play a part in IBD, it’s a good idea to avoid allergenic ingredients. A few of the most common cat food allergens are chicken, pork, beef, fish, dairy, and eggs. Because meat or animal byproducts may contain any variety of allergenic meats, these ingredients should be avoided as well.

If you don’t know which proteins your cat is sensitive to, select novel proteins that are new to your cat’s diet. For example, if your cat has always eaten chicken-based foods, choose turkey, lamb, venison, or rabbit instead. Your veterinarian can help you decide which novel protein to feed your cat.

Make Sure That Your Cat’s Food Is Rich In Moisture.

Feeding a high-moisture diet is the easiest way to combat the dehydration that is so common among cats with IBD. Instead of feeding kibble, opt for a canned food, freshly-cooked, raw, or rehydrated diet.

Choose Foods That Control Inflammation.

Cut out potentially inflammatory additives like lactose, artificial colors and flavors, carrageenan, and certain preservatives like BHA, BHT, TBHQ, and ethoxyquin. Instead, look for foods that contain guaranteed levels of probiotics and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

These ingredients can help fight inflammation and support overall health.

Choose A Species-Appropriate Diet That Honors Your Cat’s Nutritional Needs.

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they require and thrive on animal-based diets. From corn gluten meal to organic butternut squash, fruits and vegetables are not necessary components of a cat’s diet. For those with IBD, a species-appropriate diet is even more important.

The digestive system works best when you’re eating a species-appropriate and highly-digestible diet. For cats, that type of diet consists of raw meat, organs, and bones. A cat can meet all his dietary requirements by eating raw, fresh prey alone.

Anything else—a plant-based diet full of fillers and excess—requires alteration and supplementation before it can come close to satisfying your cat’s needs. A raw diet is the simplest, most straightforward match for your cat’s body.

Raw Feeding Has Benefits For Cats With IBD, But You Should Be Aware Of The Risks.

cat eat meat

While most cats never get sick from the bacteria found in raw meat, it may be a risk for severely immunocompromised cats. Also, handling raw meat can expose you to those same disease-causing bacteria. If this worries you, you might opt for home-cooked food as a less pathogenic middle ground.

Most commercially available raw foods contain a considerable amount of bone. If your cat has constipation, excessive bone content could make the situation worse.

One alternative is to make your own raw food instead, controlling everything that goes into the recipe. This requires careful planning, research, and adherence to well-formulated recipes. A veterinary nutritionist who is experienced in developing raw food diets for cats can help you with this.

Should You Feed Your Cat A Prescription Cat Food For IBD?

By eliminating or hydrolyzing the components most often implicated in feline food allergies and sensitivities, prescription foods omit common inflammation triggers and give the digestive tract a chance to heal.

Some cats thrive on prescription foods, but it’s important to remember that every case of IBD is unique. Also recall that cats with IBD are still carnivores and, like every other cat on the planet, should receive a species-appropriate, meat-based diet.

This means that regardless of veterinarian endorsement, prescription dry foods are still dry foods and do not offer all of the species-appropriate benefits as other food formulations, such as canned foods.

For example, here are the first 5 ingredients in two of the most popular IBD-focused prescription foods on the market:

Neither of these dry foods offers species-appropriate nutrition for an obligate carnivore. Minimally nourishing plant ingredients dwarf the animal inclusions on the list. To add to the oddness of it all, both foods contain chicken, one of the top cat allergens.

In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab.

We bought the products at full retail price, and the entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.

Analytical testing in a food chemistry lab gives us the exact macronutrient and micronutrient content of each recipe. The tests also look at microbial content, yeast, mold, and heavy metals, helping you ensure that you’re only putting the best in your cat’s bowl.

In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab.

We bought the products at full retail price, and the entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.

Analytical testing in a food chemistry lab gives us the exact macronutrient and micronutrient content of each recipe. The tests also look at microbial content, yeast, mold, and heavy metals, helping you ensure that you’re only putting the best in your cat’s bowl.

To access the lab reports for each food reviewed here, click the “view lab report” link in the product review.

Top 8 Best Cat Foods For IBD Reviewed

#1 Overall Best: Smalls Fresh Ground Other Bird Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Turkey Thigh, Turkey Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Kale

If you’re looking for a healthy, wholesome diet to maximize your cat’s nutrition, check out this Fresh Other Ground Bird recipe from Smalls. It’s made entirely with human-grade ingredients, including turkey as the main source of premium animal protein.

This formula features fresh turkey thigh as the primary ingredient, with chicken liver as a supplemental source of protein and rich source of nutrients.

Fresh veggies like green beans, peas, and kale provide natural sources of key nutrients, though some supplementation with synthetic vitamins and minerals is still needed. Fortunately, Smalls provides a breakdown by percentage for each of the main ingredients. These three veggies make up only about 6% of the total recipe.

In addition to being packed with protein, this recipe is loaded with moisture. Together, these qualities make it a highly digestible and highly nutritious recipe for your cat. Plus, Smalls sends you deliveries of fresh food right to your door as part of their subscription.

Ingredients

Turkey Thigh, Turkey Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Kale, Tricalcium Phosphate, Canola Oil, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Magnesium Sulfate, Niacinamide, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 16%
Crude Fat: 8.5%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 72%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 57.14%
Fat: 30.36%
Fiber: 5.36%
Carbs: 7.14%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 41.4%
Fat: 53.42%
Carbs: 5.18%

What We Liked:

  • Made with human-grade ingredients including fresh turkey
  • Shipped right to your door in regularly scheduled deliveries
  • Available in two different textures: minced or ground

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Price is above market average

#2 Runner Up: The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Minced Turkey in Bone Broth Gravy Wet Cat Food

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First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Blueberries

Moisture is extremely important for cats with IBD which is why we love this wet cat food from The Honest Kitchen. It features a single source of animal protein and is cooked in a flavorful bone broth which provides digestive benefits.

This recipe contains fresh turkey as the main ingredient and the only source of animal protein. The only other main ingredients are pumpkin, carrots, blueberries, and cranberries. These act as natural sources of essential nutrients and dietary fiber to help regulate your cat’s digestion.

Not only is this recipe formulated for balanced nutrition and easy digestibility, but it’s made with high-quality ingredients. The Honest Kitchen uses human-grade ingredients and manufacturers their products in human food facilities.

If you’re looking for a simple and nutritious recipe for your cat that’s easy to digest, this wet food recipe is a good option that is packed with protein and animal-based protein.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Pumpkin, Carrots, Blueberries, Cranberries, Natural Turkey Flavor, Agar Agar, Dandelion Greens, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Copper Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Zinc Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Turmeric.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9.5%
Crude Fat: 4%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 52.78%
Fat: 22.22%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 19.44%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 41.82%
Fat: 42.77%
Carbs: 15.41%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Rich in moisture and fiber to support healthy digestion
  • Free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
  • Comes in a resealable, recyclable container

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly expensive, over $0.50 per ounce

#3 Best Limited Ingredient: Koha Minimal Ingredient Chicken Stew for Cats

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth, Chicken Liver, Porcine Plasma

Featuring fresh chicken as the primary ingredient, this recipe is packed with animal protein. After moisture-rich chicken and vegetable broths, several supplemental sources of protein appear on the list including chicken liver, porcine plasma, and dried egg product.

While porcine plasma may sound like a questionable ingredient it has significant nutritional value for cats. Plasma is a clear, nutrient-rich fluid separated from whole blood which supplies essential amino acids as well as protein and essential micronutrients.

At over 44% protein calculated on a dry matter basis, this recipe is largely animal-based. It does, however, contain starchy chickpeas and xanthan gum. Pumpkin provides dietary fiber which may help regulate digestion in cats with IBS.

Chickpeas may contribute to the recipe’s protein level, but the bigger concern is their phytic acid content. Phytic acid can negatively impact the absorption of key nutrients like calcium and iron. The total carbohydrate content of this food is a little high, but chickpeas and pumpkin are the only significant sources of added carbs.

Though less expensive than some options here, this canned food is fairly pricey at roughly $0.40 per ounce. It is, however, similarly priced to the Hound & Gatos canned food.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth, Chicken Liver, Porcine Plasma, Dried Egg Product, Dried Chickpeas, Xanthan Gum, Pumpkin, Calcium Carbonate, New Zealand Green Mussel, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Parsley, Cranberries, Dried Kale, Turmeric, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Ginger, Fenugreek Seed, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 8%
Crude Fat: 3.5%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 44.44%
Fat: 19.44%
Fiber: 8.33%
Carbs: 27.78%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 37.21%
Fat: 39.53%
Carbs: 23.26%

What We Liked:

  • Contains numerous sources of animal-based protein
  • Rich in moisture to support hydration and digestion
  • Very limited number of main ingredients
  • Supplemented with pumpkin to help regulate digestion

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains dried chickpeas
  • Fairly pricey, around $0.40 per ounce

#4 Premium Pick: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Rabbit with Ground Bone, Olive Oil, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate Monobasic

The internet is full of stories from people who say that after trying “everything” on the market, raw food was the only thing that relieved their cat’s IBD symptoms. As the closest approximation of your cat’s natural ancestral diet, a raw diet is a highly-digestible choice that honors your cat’s biological needs.

These freeze-dried morsels from Stella & Chewy’s are made primarily from rabbit, which is a novel protein for most cats and unlikely to worsen inflammation.

The recipe is free from grains, potatoes, and other high-carbohydrate, minimally-nutritious plant ingredients.

It’s supplemented with probiotics, which can help fortify the good bacteria in your cat’s gut, thus improving digestion and potentially reducing inflammation.

Ingredients:

Rabbit with ground bone, Rabbit Liver, Olive Oil, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacilius coagulans Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Dandelion, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, etc…

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 44%
Crude Fat: 30%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 46.32%
Fat: 31.58%
Fiber: 5.26%
Carbs: 16.84%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 33.12%
Fat: 54.84%
Carbs: 12.04%

What We Liked

  • Rabbit is usually a novel protein for cats
  • Raw food has a good reputation among cats with IBD
  • Supplemented with probiotics
  • Primarily made from highly-digestible animal protein sources

What We Didn’t Like

  • This food takes a few minutes to rehydrate, so it may not be convenient for every schedule

#5 Best Canned: Wellness CORE Digestive Health Chicken Pate Recipe

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Made with two sources of animal protein, this wet food formula is highly digestible for most cats. It doesn’t contain grains or artificial additives which might exacerbate your cat’s IBD symptoms and the food is high in moisture to help improve digestibility.

Though this isn’t a single-protein formula, all of the animal protein comes from poultry. Salmon oil is the primary source of added fat, but proteins are more likely than fats to trigger food allergies in cats. Plus, salmon oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids which help fight inflammation and boost skin and coat health.

What makes this recipe truly ideal for cats with IBD, however, is the inclusion of prebiotic fibers like apple powder and pumpkin powder. Prebiotics provide food for the beneficial bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract to help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

The food is pretty pricy and only comes in small cans but many cat owners have found that their cats enjoy the food and tolerate it well.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Apple Powder, Cranberry Powder, Pumpkin Powder, Taurine, Salmon Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Inulin, Choline Chloride, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Blueberry Powder, Papaya Powder, Pomegranate Powder, Vitamin E Supplement, Peppermint Leaf Powder, Cinnamon, Fennel Powder, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 7%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 31.82%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 6.82%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 35.09%
Fat: 59.65%
Carbs: 5.26%

What We Liked:

  • Simple recipe free from inflammatory ingredients
  • Rich in animal-based protein from poultry
  • Salmon oil provides a great source omega-3 fatty acids
  • High moisture content improves digestibility

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive, priced over $0.70 per ounce
  • Carbohydrate content could be lower

#6 Best Dry: Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food Review

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat

Did you remember that high-moisture food is best for cats with IBD? That means that dry food, with its moisture content often lower than 10%, is seldom a good option for cats with IBD. On top of the moisture issue, dry food is more likely to contain starch and plant ingredients your cat doesn’t need.

But if your cat refuses to eat anything else, dry food might be your only option. If you’re going to feed your cat kibble, this food from Dr. Elsey’s is about as good as it gets.

In contrast to your typical dry food, this food emphasizes high-quality protein, with chicken, dried egg product, and pork protein isolate dominating the ingredient list. The food doesn’t contain a lot of plant ingredients. Instead of containing high-carbohydrate binders like most dry foods, this recipe uses gelatin as its kibble binder. It contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

All of this translates to an efficient food that nourishes your cat without a lot of waste or inflammatory ingredients. Aside from the moisture factor, this food fits our description of a great diet for cats with IBD.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharide, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Etc…

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 59%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 67.05%
Fat: 20.45%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 7.95%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 53.78%
Fat: 39.84%
Carbs: 6.38%

What We Liked:

  • Features highly-digestible animal proteins
  • Significantly lower carbohydrate content than the typical dry food
  • Contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Dry food doesn’t provide enough moisture

#7 Best Hypoallergenic: Vital Essentials Chicken Dinner Patties Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Heart, Chicken Liver, Herring Oil, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative)

This straightforward, chicken-centric recipe is a winning option for cats with food allergies. It contains nothing but rabbit meat, organs, and bones with water, goat’s milk, herring oil, and tocopherols as preservatives.

Herring oil is added as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can reduce inflammation and promote skin and coat health, helping soothe and heal itchy skin.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Heart, Chicken Liver, Herring Oil, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 53%
Crude Fat: 20%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 8%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 57.61%
Fat: 21.74%
Fiber: 2.17%
Carbs: 18.48%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 44.7%
Fat: 40.96%
Carbs: 14.34%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Very straightforward, simple ingredient list minimizes exposure to potential allergens
  • Features herring oil as a source of soothing omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not all cats enjoy the chicken taste
  • Expensive

#8 Best For Diabetes And IBD: Hound & Gatos Turkey & Turkey Liver Canned Cat Food Review

Hound & Gatos Turkey & Turkey Liver Canned Cat Food

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First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Broth, Duck Liver, Agar-Agar, Potassium Chloride

With just one novel protein source and no additives that could aggravate your cat’s gut, this food is an outstanding choice for cats with IBD. In fact, Hound & Gatos company founder Will Post says that “the IBD cats are our largest customers.”

This recipe is 98% duck, duck broth, and duck liver. In addition to nourishing animal protein sources, the food contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Thanks to its lack of carbohydrate matter, this food is also a good choice for cats who’ve developed diabetes secondary to IBD.

Ingredients:

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Agar-Agar, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Taurine, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 8.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 38.64%
Fiber: 4.55%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 32.63%
Fat: 67.37%

What We Liked:

  • Made from duck, which is a less-allergenic alternative to more common protein sources
  • Free from commonly inflammatory ingredients
  • Limited ingredient list minimizes potential inflammation
  • Highly digestible
  • Zero carbohydrate content

What We Didn’t Like

  • One of the most expensive foods on the market

In Addition To A Superb Diet, Cats With IBD Can Benefit From Certain Supplements.

Here’s a quick overview of the supplements that may improve your cat’s digestion and help him start to feel better. Consult with your veterinarian before giving supplements to your cat.

Probiotic Supplementation For Cats With IBD

Remember, the relationship between bacteria and its host is profound, affecting almost every aspect of your cat’s health. Probiotics are a crucial immunoregulatory agent and can help control inflammation. Because IBD is fundamentally an inflammatory disease and a condition of dysbiosis (microbial imbalance), supplementation with “good” bacteria touches at the root of the problem.

Click Here For Our Guide To The Best Probiotics For Cats

B12 Supplementation For Cats With IBD

Because cats with IBD are unable to properly absorb nutrients, most are deficient in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 plays many important roles in a cat’s body, including digestion, immune health, and cognition. This vitamin can be supplemented via subcutaneous injection.

Stocks And Broths For Cats With IBD

Provide an unseasoned, salt-free broth made from joints, bones, and meat. Meat and fish stocks provide the nutritional building blocks that can heal the gut lining.

Bone broth is mineral-rich and a good source of collagen, which contains two important amino acids (proline and glycine). These help to heal the lining of the gut and reduce intestinal inflammation. Broths also contain glycosaminoglycans, which are building blocks for tissue repair.

Additional Resources

Because IBD affects so many cats and their humans, the web is full of credible and reputable resources for anyone struggling to treat their cat’s chronic GI inflammation.

Here are a few resources to help you further your understanding of IBD in cats:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: This comprehensive page is a good starting point for those who want to understand IBD in cats. It explains the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prognosis of feline IBD.
  • IBDKitties: This site is a tremendous resource for anyone who has a cat suffering from IBD. The site features case studies, medication advice, instructions for making your own cat food, and a wealth of information on the condition.
  • Raw Feeding for IBD Cats: If you’re interested in taking the raw route, this website is the GPS that will keep you from getting lost. In addition to a strong foundation of personal experience and passion, the site is thick with references to research on IBD in both cats and humans.

Even with these web-based resources, your veterinarian will always be your best source of information and advice for managing your cat’s unique IBD.

If you suspect your cat is struggling with IBD, the first thing you should do is talk to your veterinarian. Your vet will know what tests to give your cat to confirm a diagnosis at which point you can discuss treatment options.

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About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is the Head of Content at Cats.com and an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on Cats.com is accurate, clear, and engaging. When she’s not reviewing pet products or editing content, Mallory enjoys skiing, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She has two cats, Wessie and Forest.

14 thoughts on “Best Cat Food For IBD

  1. Meagan

    Curious, do you not recommend Koha Rabbit pate for cats with IBD? I’m considering trying that for cat and he is picky and doesn’t consistently like Stella & Chewy’s rabbit morsels. Also, his vet does not favor raw foods.

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hey Meagan, great question. In fact, we would highly recommend KOHA’s cat food for cats with IBD, but this article hasn’t been updated in several months. We’ll be sure to consider it for placement in the next round of updates, and in the meantime, I’d encourage you to give this product a shot.

      Reply
  2. Kat

    Hi! I noticed your comment about the top two vet-recommended IBD foods: “Neither of these dry foods offers species-appropriate nutrition for an obligate carnivore. Minimally nourishing plant ingredients dwarf the animal inclusions on the list. To add to the oddness of it all, both foods contain chicken, one of the top cat allergens.” But then under #4 of your recommended IBD foods, Best Dry: Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food Review, you state “Features highly-digestible animal proteins,” which proteins appear to be chicken and pork. I’m confused by you saying the vet recommended IBD foods contain a top allergen (chicken) and then saying under another product that it’s a highly-digestible protein. I’m looking for clear information about IBD foods that are well tolerated by cats with IBD.

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Good observation. I was trying to underline the irony of the way these vet-recommended foods are formulated, but it didn’t mean that a chicken-based food is always bad for cats with IBD. If you’ve ruled out a chicken sensitivity, then either the Dr. Elsey’s food or perhaps even one of these “prescription” diets could be a good option. I agree, though, that it doesn’t make much sense to feature chicken-based food as the number one dry product on the list, and this article needs to be edited accordingly. You can get some additional recommendations for good limited-ingredient dry foods here.

      Reply
  3. Allison Howard

    For the Dr Elseys dry food, is it just the chicken recipe thats good or is any of the other clean protein ones good too?

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      All of them! We just defaulted to the chicken flavor because it’s popular. I will note that all of them contain a variety of proteins, so none of them are exclusively composed of the meat on the front of the bag.

      Reply
  4. Vicki

    Im currently feeding rawz chicken and pumpkin along with merrick limited turkey pate..how do these rate for a potential IBD cat?.she has not been diagnosed yet but is showing all the signs.

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Both of those could be good options for cats with IBD! They should be fairly easy to digest, with minimal ingredient lists and potentially-inflammatory additives. I would consider sticking to a single protein, though, to make it easier to rule out a particular protein source as the cause of your cat’s irritation. Another good brand to look into is Koha, which offers limited-ingredient diets that feature anti-inflammatory ingredients like New Zealand green-lipped mussel and skip additives that might make that inflammation worse, like guar gum (present in the Merrick food).

      Reply
  5. Vicki

    Ok..thanks for the information. I’m looking into rabbit pate instead of the turkey..trial and error. Tried koha in the past and they didnt like it..lol..

    Reply
  6. Vicki

    What is your opinion on rawz meal free dry cat food..ive read the ingredients and it seems to be in line with the articles recommendations…

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Yes! I’m so sorry about this—I’m not sure what happened. I definitely had the duck recipe listed here originally, and it looks like an article update was botched. Sorry about that! Thank you for letting me know.

      Reply

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