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What’s the Best Food for Cats With Kidney Disease?

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Medically reviewed by  JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
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Updated by  Jackie Brown
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Dietary management can’t turn back the clock on kidney disease, but it can make the future brighter. Feeding your cat the right food is the best way to slow the disease’s progression, minimize symptoms, and give your cat the best life possible.

We recommend Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy as the overall best cat food for kidney disease because it’s low in phosphorus with controlled sodium, added B vitamins, and anti-inflammatory omega-3s. No diet is perfect, but this product has a strong reputation for helping cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

At a Glance: Best Food To Buy for Cats With Kidney Disease

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2760
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Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food

  • Maximized energy density to help keep cats strong and muscular
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation
  • Low phosphorus levels help your cat to feel better
Runner Up
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

  • Controlled phosphorus levels
  • Added omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inflammatory effect
  • Calorie-dense to support muscle mass
Best Non-Prescription
9.8
Picked by 18 people today!

Weruva Wx Phos Focused Chicken Formula in Gravy Grain-Free Wet Food

  • Contains more than 50% protein on a dry matter basis
  • Made with lean animal-based protein from chicken and egg white
  • Contains up to 50% less phosphorus than AAFCO minimums
Best Budget
9.7
Picked by 18 people today!

Dave’s Pet Food Chicken Liver and Chicken in Juice Pate Recipe Restricted Phosphorus Canned Food

  • Top three ingredients are animal-based
  • Rich in hydrating moisture to support renal function
  • Made with a single source of animal protein
Best Prescription Raw Food
9.6
Picked by 21 people today!

Darwin’s Natural Intelligent Design™ KS Kidney Support Raw Cat Food

  • Restricted phosphorus content
  • Added omega-3 fatty acids
  • Elevated levels of B-complex vitamins
Best Prescription Dry Cat Food
9.5
Picked by 18 people today!

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support F Dry Cat Food

  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil help reduce inflammation
  • Controlled phosphorus helps your cat feel healthier
  • Customers report that the square kibble is easy for their senior cats to eat
Best for Early Stages
9.4
Picked by 31 people today!

Weruva TruLuxe Grain-Free Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy

  • Low in phosphorus, which might help to prevent and ease the symptoms of kidney disease
  • Rich in easily-utilized animal protein
  • Low carbohydrate content
Best for Advanced Stages
9.4
Picked by 25 people today!

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care

  • Low in phosphorus
  • Highly palatable
  • Calorie dense to support lean body mass

Why Trust Cats.com

Before selecting products for testing, we dug deep into the subject of dietary management of kidney disease in cats. We reviewed scientific studies, vet interviews, and other resources to determine what qualities make a cat food product appropriate for cats with kidney disease. Finally, we consulted our own panel of veterinary experts for advice.

With this expert guidance, we selected a handful of products for in-depth evaluation. We spent hours analyzing labels, reading customer reviews, and communicating with the manufacturer directly to determine each product’s dry matter phosphorus content. The products featured here were purchased at full retail price and personally tested by members of our team with their own cats at home.

Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats Explained

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

What To Look For in Cat Food for Kidney Disease

Years of scientific research and experience have left cat owners, seasoned veterinarians, and scientists with more questions than answers regarding chronic kidney disease (CKD).

This article can’t give you all the answers to the feline CKD puzzle, but it will help you understand the complex dynamics between diet and disease. You should walk away from this article feeling less overwhelmed and more confident about your ability to make the right choices for your cat.

You’ll find out why food matters, learn what goes into a great diet, and read reviews of the best foods for cats with kidney disease. Let’s start with the key principles of feeding a cat with CKD.

Monitoring the progression of your cat’s kidney disease is essential, even if you make dietary changes. Kidney-Chek, an at-home saliva test, can help you keep tabs on your cat’s kidney function. Learn more about Kidney-Chek here.

Protein and CKD

When dietary protein breaks down during digestion, it produces waste. One of these waste products is urea. Healthy kidneys filter out this waste and send it on its way into the litter box.

But as your cat loses kidney function, it becomes increasingly difficult to remove these waste products. Instead of passing through your cat’s body, waste products remain in the bloodstream. This is why blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels rise in cats with CKD. BUN is a measurement that veterinarians analyze on routine bloodwork to evaluate kidney health.

In an attempt to reduce BUN levels, cats with CKD are often given protein-restricted foods. But in recent years, this practice has become increasingly controversial.

Experts worry that a protein-restricted diet will lead to severe protein deprivation, decreased muscle mass, and poor physical condition. Instead of cutting back to 20% or fewer calories from protein, you might choose to feed moderate levels of highly digestible, low-waste protein from high-quality animal sources.

The bottom line is that you want your cat to feel better, not worse. Although a protein-restricted diet helps some cats feel better, it might also lead to muscle wasting and weakness. Talk to your veterinarian about the costs and benefits of a low-protein diet for your cat.

Phosphorus Content Less Than 0.5%

As kidney function declines, phosphorus is one of the things that doesn’t get filtered out. As phosphorus builds up in the bloodstream, your cat will start to feel ill and kidney function declines even more quickly.

The best way to counteract this effect is to reduce the amount of phosphorus in your cat’s diet. The ideal diet for a cat with CKD contains less than 0.5% phosphorus on a dry matter basis.

Relatively Low Sodium Content

Because excessive sodium consumption can increase blood pressure and worsen kidney damage, most renal (kidney) diets are low in sodium. You’ll also want to avoid any high-sodium treats like lunch meat and salty cheese.

Anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Many cats with kidney disease develop nephritis, which is inflammation of the kidneys. Along with other anti-inflammatory supplements, consider omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA. These fatty acids have a well-documented ability to reduce inflammation, helping your cat to feel better.

Although humans and other animals can benefit from omega-3 fatty acids derived from plant sources like flaxseed oil, cats can only utilize those found in animal fat. Good sources include various types of fish oil—like salmon oil, menhaden fish oil, and sardine oil—as well as krill oil. You can also consider green-lipped mussels. In addition to being a good source of other omega-3s, they’re the ocean’s most concentrated source of the fatty acid EPA.

Although many foods contain sources of these beneficial fatty acids, you might also want to supplement your cat’s diet with a good omega-3 supplement.

Supplementation With B Vitamins

Because cats with kidney disease urinate so much, they often lose crucial B vitamins in the litter box. Deficiency in B vitamins is associated with loss of appetite and overall poor health.

Prescription or therapeutic diets for kidney disease are usually fortified with additional B-complex vitamins. Your veterinarian might also recommend B12 shots to give your cat a boost.

In addition to vitamins in your cat’s diet and subcutaneous injections, consider giving your cat a multivitamin supplement like Vetoquinol Renal K+. Formulated for cats and dogs with kidney disease, this gel contains B-complex vitamins and potassium. Both substances support muscle function and your cat’s nervous system health.

High Moisture Content

Kidney disease causes cats to urinate excessively and lose their appetites, so dehydration is common among cats with the condition. Many cats rely on subcutaneous fluid injections (injections under the skin) to stay hydrated, but there’s more than one way to increase your cat’s water intake.

Wet food is 70% water or more, making it an effortless source of the hydration your cat needs. If you’re currently feeding a dry diet, switching to wet food might give your cat an additional four ounces of water each day. That’s as much or more than they’d get in a typical fluid injection.

Your cat might still need additional subcutaneous fluids, but feeding a juicy diet will significantly reduce your cat’s risk of severe dehydration.

Should You Feed Your Cat Prescription Food for Kidney Disease?

Currently, prescription or therapeutic diets are the only foods that check all the boxes from the previous section.

Frustratingly, those diets often have other not-so-great qualities like high carbohydrate content, added sugar, and potentially low-quality animal by-products.

You can hold your nose over the ugly parts of a therapeutic or prescription diet. You can opt for non-prescription food that meets one or two of the above criteria. Or you can make CKD-appropriate food at home.

By doing it yourself, you can provide the nutrition your CKD cat needs while being able to choose the types of ingredients you prefer. But you’re also taking a risk—homemade food takes time to prepare, and it can be hard to get everything right. If you’re going to make homemade cat food for kidney disease, always work with a veterinary nutritionist or your veterinarian to ensure the recipe is appropriate.

For more information, check out our guide to creating a raw diet for your cat with kidney disease.

The 8 Best Foods for Cats With Kidney Disease

Prescription or therapeutic diets earn the top spots on our list of recommendations because they offer a combination of renal disease-appropriate qualities that you won’t find in any other commercial food.

If prescription food isn’t within your budget—or if your cat is in the early stages of kidney disease—a non-prescription product might suit your needs. You’ll find several options on this list.

#1 Overall Best: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 6.5% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 33
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $5.51 per day

This gravy-style food from Royal Canin receives consistently positive reviews and doesn’t seem to share the palatability problem that most kidney formulas face. It has a chunky consistency that most cats seem to love.

The food is 30% protein and 0.44% phosphorus on a dry matter basis, helping control toxic buildup in the bloodstream. It uses what Royal Canin describes as a “carefully curated antioxidant complex” to keep your cat’s kidneys functioning as well as they can. Fish oil adds omega-3 fatty acids and helps control inflammation.

Ingredients

Water Sufficient For Processing, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken, Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Powdered Cellulose, Pork Plasma, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Flour, Egg Product, Natural Flavors, Fish Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Guar Gum, Fructooligosaccharides, Vitamins [L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source Of Vitamin E), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Choline Chloride, Citric Acid, Salt, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Sodium Carbonate, Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Magnesium Oxide.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 6.5%
Crude Fat: 6.5%
Crude Fiber: 1.7%
Moisture: 78.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 30.23%
Fat: 30.23%
Fiber: 7.91%
Carbs: 31.63%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 22.35%
Fat: 54.27%
Carbs: 23.38%

What We Liked:

  • Maximized energy density to help keep cats strong and muscular
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation
  • Low phosphorus levels help your cat feel better
  • Low protein helps to limit urea waste

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Many cats prefer pate-style food

#2 Runner Up: Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 6.0% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 33
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.53 per day

If your cat prefers pate-style food, this product from Hill’s might be a good choice. It has a soft, smooth consistency that’s easy to water down for more hydration and easier eating. The phosphorus content of this food is restricted to 0.49% on a dry matter basis, and the protein is 30% on a dry matter basis.

According to Hill’s, this pate-style canned cat food is “clinically tested to improve and lengthen the quality of life.” It achieves this by ticking all the standard kidney disease diet boxes.

Reviewers have commented that their cats gladly accept this cat food, even after turning up their noses to other prescription formulas. Several also mention that their underweight cats put on weight after starting to eat this food regularly.

Ingredients

Water, Pork Liver, Chicken, Egg Product, Brewers Rice, Sugar, Chicken Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Modified Rice Starch, Powdered Cellulose, Fish Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Citrate, Guar Gum, Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor, Caramel color, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K), Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, L-Arginine, L-Carnitine, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate), Choline Chloride, Beta-Carotene.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 6%
Crude Fat: 4%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 88.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 52.17%
Fat: 34.78%
Fiber: 13.04%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 38.18%
Fat: 61.82%

What We Liked:

  • Controlled phosphorus levels
  • Added omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inflammatory effect
  • Calorie-dense to support muscle mass
  • Highly palatable

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains sugar
  • Contains caramel color

#3 Best Non-Prescription: Weruva Wx Phos Focused Chicken Formula in Gravy Grain-Free Wet Food

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10.0% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 27
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.91 per day

Available without a prescription, this low-phosphorus wet cat food features lean protein from chicken and egg whites with nutrient-rich chicken fat and fish oil for essential fatty acids and omega-3s.

After chicken broth as a hydrating source of moisture, the main ingredient in this recipe is fresh chicken followed by egg white. These ingredients provide the majority of the over 50% protein content of this recipe when measured on a dry matter basis. Though plant-based sunflower oil is sandwiched between the two, chicken fat and fish oil provide animal-based fats for a dry matter composition of about 31.6%.

Though this recipe isn’t specifically formulated for kidney disease, it contains up to 50% less phosphorus than AAFCO minimum recommendations. This makes it an appropriate choice for cats in the early stages of kidney failure or for healthy older cats that have an increased risk of kidney disease.

It’s important to note that this diet is only labeled for intermittent feeding. Talk to your vet about the best way to safely include this food in your cat’s diet.

Overall, this is a primarily animal-based wet food with high protein and fat content with limited phosphorus and carbohydrate content.

Ingredients

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Egg White, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil, Egg Shell Meal, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 55.56%
Fat: 33.33%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 5.56%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 39.11%
Fat: 56.98%
Carbs: 3.91%

What We Liked:

  • Contains more than 50% protein on a dry matter basis
  • Made with lean animal-based protein from chicken and egg white
  • Contains up to 50% less phosphorus than AAFCO minimums
  • Rich in moisture to support hydration and renal function
  • Contains fish oil as an animal source of omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive, priced around $0.66 per ounce
  • Not specifically formulated for cats with kidney disease
  • Only intended for intermittent feeding

#4 Best Budget: Dave’s Pet Food Chicken Liver and Chicken in Juice Pate Recipe Restricted Phosphorus Canned Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 5.5% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 27
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.40 per day

This non-prescription cat food doesn’t require veterinary approval for purchase, but you still have the peace of mind knowing that it was formulated with the help of a vet specializing in kidney disease. This recipe is also more budget-friendly than many prescription diets, priced under $0.50 per ounce.

Featuring chicken liver and fresh chicken as the two main ingredients, this recipe is a good source of species-appropriate protein. The total protein content is limited around 30% dry matter, although, as Dave’s Pet Food notes, it’s higher than many prescription renal diets for cats.

In addition to animal protein, this recipe contains omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and water as a supplemental source of moisture.

This recipe contains about 0.79% phosphorus on a dry matter basis which is a little higher than some prescription renal diets.

Ingredients

Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Water Sufficient For Processing, Rice Flour, Pumpkin, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt, Zinc Oxide, Reduced Iron, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Taurine.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 5.5%
Crude Fat: 3%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 81%
Ash: 3%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 28.95%
Fat: 15.79%
Fiber: 7.89%
Carbs: 31.58%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 29.28%
Fat: 38.78%
Carbs: 31.94%

What We Liked:

  • Top three ingredients are animal-based
  • Rich in hydrating moisture to support renal function
  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Contains fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly low protein content

#5 Best Prescription Raw Food: Darwin’s Natural Intelligent Design™ KS Kidney Support Raw Cat Food

Darwin's Natural Intelligent Design™ KS Kidney Support Raw Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 9% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: NA
  • Typical Cost Per Day: NA

Instead of focusing on low protein levels, this food approaches kidney disease from a different angle. With 0.9 grams of phosphorus per 1,000 calories, it’s not as low as some renal diets, but comes in below the recommended 1.25 grams per 1,000 calories for healthy cats.

Additionally, it contains chitosan and elevated calcium. The former is a salivary phosphate binder that helps to limit the amount of phosphorus the body can absorb. Higher levels of calcium also reduce phosphorus absorption.

Like the other foods on this list, the food has elevated levels of B-complex vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids for reduced inflammation.

Though it doesn’t have a strong base of customer reviews, this recipe shows promise as an unconventional, carnivore-appropriate alternative to traditional renal diets.

Ingredients

Chicken Thigh Meat, Turkey Hearts, Chicken Hearts, Beets, Zucchini, Turkey Livers, Chicken Livers, Celery, Fish Oil, Egg Whites, Parsley, Gelatin, Oyster Shell Pwdr, Cod Liver Oil, Dandelion Root Powder, lnulin, Turmeric, Potassium Chloride, Spirulina, Taurine, Tomato Pomace, Vitamin E ,Cranberry Powder, Chitosan, Magnesium Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Thiamine Mononitrate, Aloe Vera, Vitamin Bl 2, Black Pepper, Selenium Proteinate, Folic Acid, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Iodine

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 40.91%
Fat: 27.27%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 27.27%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 30.43%
Fat: 49.28%
Carbs: 20.29%

What We Liked:

  • Restricted phosphorus content
  • Added omega-3 fatty acids
  • Elevated levels of B-complex vitamins
  • Rich in biologically available animal protein

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Darwin’s Natural Pet foods have been recalled several times

#6 Best Prescription Dry Cat Food: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support F Dry Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 24% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Cup: 376
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $1.03 per day

High-moisture food is ideal but it’s especially valuable for cats with kidney disease. Feeding your cat a water-depleted diet of dry kibble might have you giving them subcutaneous fluid injections sooner than they would otherwise be necessary.

That said, a high-moisture diet doesn’t do any good if your cat turns up their nose to it. If dry food is all your cat wants to eat, it’s better than nothing. For cats that insist on dry food, this prescription kibble from Royal Canin has low protein, restricted phosphorus, and supplemental EPA and DHA from fish oil.

Its protein content sits somewhere between 24.5% and 28.8% on a dry matter basis, with up to about 0.59% phosphorus on a dry matter basis.

The food has a 4.6 out of 5-star rating on Chewy and a strong following among owners of cats with kidney disease. It is, however, very high in carbohydrates, primarily from rice, corn, and wheat ingredients.

Ingredients

Brewers Rice, Corn, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Fat, Pork Digest, Pea Fiber, Corn Gluten Meal, Natural Flavors, Dried Chicory Root, Fish Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Vegetable Oil, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Potassium Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Powdered Psyllium Seed Husk, Fructooligosaccharides, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source Of Vitamin E), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Calcium Sulfate, L-Lysine, Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate], Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Rosemary Extract, Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 28%
Crude Fat: 15%
Crude Fiber: 5.9%
Moisture: 8%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 30.43%
Fat: 16.3%
Fiber: 6.41%
Carbs: 46.85%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 26.04%
Fat: 33.88%
Carbs: 40.08%

What We Liked:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil help reduce inflammation
  • Controlled phosphorus helps your cat feel better
  • Customers report that the square kibble is easy for their senior cats to eat
  • Targeted protein helps to lower urea waste
  • Unlike some other prescription renal diets, the food is free of artificial colors or added sweeteners

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Lacks the moisture your cat needs
  • High carbohydrate content

#7 Best For Early Stages: Weruva TruLuxe Grain-Free Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy

Weruva TruLuxe Grain-Free Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Cup: 21
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $6.29 per day

Since this food doesn’t target CKD specifically, it might not be a good choice for cats with advanced renal disease. However, it has several qualities that make it a good option for cats in the early stages of kidney failure. Remember that you won’t start seeing symptoms until your cat has lost a significant amount of kidney function. And since all older cats fall into the at-risk category, this food is a good choice for healthy seniors.

The food is rich in biologically available protein from beef but, unlike most protein-rich foods, it’s relatively low in phosphorus. With 0.57% phosphorus on a dry matter basis, this food is on par with some prescription diets.

Remember, this isn’t a renal diet. It doesn’t have elevated levels of B vitamins, low sodium, or added omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.

Ingredients

Beef Broth, Beef, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Potato Starch, Carrot, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3 Supplement), Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 1.3%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 86%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 71.43%
Fat: 9.29%
Fiber: 3.57%
Carbs: 15.71%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 65.12%
Fat: 20.56%
Carbs: 14.33%

What We Liked:

  • Low in phosphorus, which might help prevent and ease the symptoms of kidney disease
  • Rich in easily digestible animal protein
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Free of potentially inflammatory ingredients

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Doesn’t contain any fish oil or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Not formulated for cats with kidney disease
  • Expensive

#8 Best For Advanced Stages: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Formula Canned Cat Food Review

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Formula Canned Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 6% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Cup: 30
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.55 per day

This food from Purina does everything a standard renal diet does. It has controlled levels of protein, low phosphorus, and reduced sodium. Added B-complex vitamins help to break down nutrients and help your cat feel better.

On a dry matter basis, the formula is approximately 0.49% phosphorus and 34% protein. At around 17% fat measured as dry matter, this recipe is lower in fat than the other prescription canned foods on this list.

Customer experience with this Purina Pro Plan formula is hit or miss. Some reviewers comment that their cats can’t get enough of the food while others say it has a dry texture and unpleasant aroma. It seems the product was reformulated at some point, so it’s possible some of the negative reviews involved cats that had gotten used to the previous formula.

Ingredients

Water, Meat By-Products, Chicken Hearts, Rice, Powdered Cellulose, Pork Fat (Preserved With TBHQ And Citric Acid), Salmon, Calcium Gluconate, Glycine, Inulin, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil, Guar Gum, Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Carrageenan, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Sodium Selenite. C253420.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 6%
Crude Fat: 4%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 77%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 26.09%
Fat: 17.39%
Fiber: 13.04%
Carbs: 32.61%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 25.85%
Fat: 41.85%
Carbs: 32.31%

What We Liked:

  • Low in phosphorus
  • Highly palatable
  • Calorie dense to support lean body mass

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains carrageenan, which might create inflammation
  • No omega-3 supplementation

Above All, Cats With Chronic Kidney Disease Need To Eat

From Dr. David J. Polzin, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM’s 11 Guidelines for Conservatively Treating Chronic Kidney Disease: “In many or most dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease, death or euthanasia results directly or indirectly from starvation.” 

The dietary recommendations above apply only to cats that are still eating. But if the disease has progressed to a point where your cat is no longer interested in food, nutritional rules go out of the window. If your cat is refusing to eat, don’t worry about feeding a therapeutic diet. Any food they’re willing to eat is good food.

Consider Giving Your Cat High-Calorie Supplements

In addition to traditional food, talk to your veterinarian about giving your cat high-calorie supplements. High-calorie gels and treats help to curb weight loss and keep your cat feeling as well as possible. Consider nutritional gels like Tomlyn Nutri-Ca and Vetoquinol Nutri-Cal.

Food toppers, broths, and treats can also help. Some cats, especially those with poor dental health, might be willing to eat baby food.

You Might Also Consider Supplementing Your Cat’s Diet With a Probiotic

When bacteria and endotoxins enter the gut, probiotics might help to perform “enteric dialysis,” taking on some of the detoxifying function that the kidneys have lost.

Azodyl is a synergized prebiotic and probiotic supplement designed for cats with kidney disease. The supplement contains patented strains of Enterococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus. The three probiotics are synergized with psyllium husk, a source of prebiotic fiber.

While it’s not clear that Azodyl will help, it does show some promise. If you’re not willing to spend more than $70 a bottle for the putative benefits of Azodyl, consider supplementing with another probiotic.

Talk to your veterinarian before giving your cat any supplements, including probiotics. Your vet can help you determine which supplements could help your cat and instruct you on how to give them.

Read Our Guide To The Best Probiotics On The Market

Here Are a Few Additional Resources To Help You Out

These resources might help you learn more about feline kidney disease and decide which foods are right for your cat.

FelineCRF.org

Also known as Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease, this site is an extraordinary free resource for pet owners. Though not written by a veterinarian, the site’s informative content has been endorsed by vets and veterinary specialists. The massive site contains more than 1,000 pages of information and covers almost everything you need to know about this disease and its treatment.

If you prefer, you can also buy the paperback version of the site. The 630-page book is available on Amazon at around $39.99.

Cat Food Database

As your cat’s kidney disease progresses, you’ll probably have to pry out their appetite with a variety of foods. The following databases might help you to evaluate your options based on CKD-relevant metrics.

Click here to browse FelineCRF.org’s food databases of dry and canned products sold in the US and UK. 

An Interview with Dr. Lisa Pierson

In this 34-minute interview, well-known veterinarians Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Lisa Pierson explore the causes and treatment of kidney disease in cats. Pierson’s common-sense approach is a calm in the storm of confusion that is CKD.

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods are good for cats with kidney disease?

Cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) benefit from foods that have controlled levels of protein, and are low in phosphorus and sodium. B-complex vitamins can help to break down nutrients to help your cat feel better, and omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help cats with kidney disease. A high-moisture food (a wet food) is best to provide hydration cats with kidney disease need.

How can I slow down my cat’s kidney failure?

Dietary modification—feeding a diet that’s helpful for cats with chronic kidney disease—can help slow disease progression. Cats with kidney disease also need support resolving or preventing dehydration, often via subcutaneous fluid administration. Your veterinarian might also recommend certain supplements or medications to support your cat’s individual health needs.

What not to feed a cat with kidney disease?

Cats with kidney disease should not eat foods that are high in phosphorous or sodium. High-protein diets are also not good for cats with kidney disease. Protein should be controlled so that it is not too low and not too high. A canned wet diet is preferably to a dry diet to help keep your cat hydrated. Talk to your veterinarian about the most appropriate diet to feed your cat with kidney disease.

What makes kidney disease worse in cats?

Inappropriate diet, excessive levels of salt or phosphates, dehydration, low potassium levels, hypertension, and anemia can make kidney disease worse.

Note: The values in our nutrient charts are automatically calculated based on the guaranteed analysis and may not represent typical nutrient values. This may lead to discrepancies between the charts and the values mentioned in the body of the review.
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About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is 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.