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11 Best Cat Foods For IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – 2024 Reviews and Top Picks

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you own a cat that’s struggling with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it can be frustrating trying to find the right food for IBD. We completely understand the struggle, and that’s why we tracked down and reviewed the best cat foods for cats with IBD.

While we can’t guarantee that every product will work with your cat, we can say that at least one of these products is exactly what your cat needs.

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (2024 Update)

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls Fresh Other Ground Bird Cat Food Smalls Fresh Other Ground Bird Cat Food
  • Contains alternative protein source
  • No preservatives
  • Gently cooked to maintain nutrients for easier digestion
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Tiki Cat Salmon Canned Cat Food Tiki Cat Salmon Canned Cat Food
  • Wild-caught flaked Alaskan salmon
  • High protein to support healthy muscles
  • Complete diet for cats of all ages
  • Third place
    Hill’s Prescription i/d Canned Cat Food Hill’s Prescription i/d Canned Cat Food
  • Clinical nutrition developed by nutritionists and veterinarians
  • Helps maintain gastrointestinal health
  • Highly palatable recipe
  • Stella & Chewy's Rabbit Morsels Cat Food Stella & Chewy's Rabbit Morsels Cat Food
  • Limited-ingredient list (98% rabbit!)
  • Cats love raw food options
  • Organic, grass-fed, and nutrient-rich food
  • Blue Buffalo Duck Canned Cat Food Blue Buffalo Duck Canned Cat Food
  • Limited-ingredient diet for sensitive adult cats
  • Irresistibly tasty
  • Good for cats with IBD
  • The 11 Best Food for Cats With IBD

    1. Smalls Fresh Other Ground Bird Cat Food Subscription – Best Overall

    a tabby cat looking at a bowl of smalls smooth bird recipe

    Food Type: Fresh
    Protein Source: Turkey
    Size Options: 11-ounce
    Special Diet:  Hypoallergenic, limited-ingredient diet

    If your kitty is dealing with IBD, they need food that’s easier on the stomach. Smalls is a subscription delivery service that provides just that.

    With its human-grade fresh line of recipes, Smalls offers foods free from the sort of preservatives that can sometimes cause digestive issues and vomiting. And because the fresh line is only gently cooked, more nutrients are preserved, making for easier digestion.

    The Fresh Other Ground Bird recipe, in particular, is excellent for felines with IBD as it is made with turkey; the most common proteins that cause food allergies in cats are chicken and beef, so turkey as the main protein equals fewer upset stomachs. Other ingredients in this recipe include green beans, kale, peas, and a host of minerals and vitamins.

    Of course, you’ll have to have a Smalls subscription for your cat to enjoy the Fresh Other Ground Bird cat food, which might not be the preferred method of getting cat food for some. And as a subscription service, Smalls will be a bit pricier than simply buying food from the pet store.

    All in all, we think Smalls Fresh Other Bird is the best cat food for IBD that you can buy this year.

    Pros
    • Contains alternative protein source
    • No preservatives
    • Gently cooked to maintain nutrients for easier digestion
    • Delivered right to your door
    • Convenient subscription

    Cons
    • Can be pricier than getting cat food from the store


    2. Tiki Cat Wild Salmon Wet Cat Food – Budget Buy

    Tiki Cat Hanalei Luau Wild Salmon in Salmon Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Food Type: Wet
    Protein Source: Salmon
    Size Options: 8-ounce case of 12, 6-ounce case of 8
    Special Diet:  Contains no grains, gluten, carbohydrates, starches, or flour

    With Tiki Cat Hanalei Luau Wild Salmon, wet cat food doesn’t have to drive you out of your house and home. It’s an affordable wet cat food solution, but that doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing quality. All the salmon is 100% Alaskan wild-caught, and salmon is an excellent protein source if your cat has IBD.

    It only comes in smaller package options, so you’ll need to purchase more than one at a time. But for an affordable wet cat food, it’s worth taking a shot to see if your cat can handle it.

    To conclude, we think this is a great budget cat food for IBD.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Salmon is a good protein source for IBD
    • 100% wild-caught salmon
    • High-quality ingredients

    Cons
    • Not the best for IBD
    • More ingredients than we would like for IBD


    3. Hill’s Prescription i/d Digestive Cat Food

    Hill’s Prescription Diet i_d Digestive Care Cat Food (1)

    Flavor: Chicken and vegetable stew
    Sizes:  9-oz cans, case of 24
    Food Texture: Canned
    Special Diet:  Vet diet, sensitive diet

    Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care is a canned food that comes in a case of 24 and is a chicken and vegetable stew flavor. Like all Hill’s Prescription Diet products, the food is designed by vets and nutritionists to aid cats with digestive problems. It contains fats and protein that are highly digestible and mixed fiber for gastrointestinal health. Nutrients and antioxidants aid in replenishing the body and controlling cell oxidation.

    That said, this is a costly food and requires veterinarian authorization.

    Pros
    • Developed by vets and nutritionists for cats with digestive issues
    • Highly digestible fats and proteins
    • Mixed fiber for gastrointestinal health
    • Antioxidants and nutrients replenish and control cell oxidation

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Needs vet authorization
    • Not gluten-free


    4. Stella & Chewy’s Rabbit Dinner Morsels

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

    Food Type: Freeze-dried raw
    Protein Source: Rabbit
    Size Options: 5, 8, and 18 ounces
    Special Diet:  Hypoallergenic, grain-free

    There are diets that are great for your pets, then there are raw food diets. All you have to do to see the difference is look at the ingredients list. For Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels, it’s a diet that consists of 98% rabbit!

    Fewer ingredients mean less chance for IBD flare-ups, and since it’s a raw food option, your cat is sure to love it. Now keep in mind that this is a freeze-dried raw food option. What that means is that you’ll need to rehydrate it by having it sit in water before feeding it to your cat.

    It’s not a huge deal, but it does mean that the smaller product sizes go a bit further. That’s a good thing because of how much these small packs cost. They’re not cheap, but your cat will love them—and chances are that their stomach will, too.

    Pros
    • Limited-ingredient list (98% rabbit!)
    • Cats love raw food options
    • Organic, grass-fed, and nutrient-rich food

    Cons
    • Not all cats respond well to the new protein source
    • More expensive option


    5. Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato Canned Cat Food

    blue buffalo basics limited ingredient duck and potato

    Food Type: Wet
    Protein Source: Duck
    Size Options: 3-ounce 24 pack
    Special Diet:  Does not contain any chicken, beef, dairy, eggs, grain, gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives

    Blue Buffalo is one of the largest names in the pet food industry, and it made its way to the top by producing high-quality foods free of fillers. With its Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato recipe, it takes that philosophy a step further.

    Not only do you get high-quality food, but it’s also a limited-ingredient recipe. What’s great for cats with IBD is that it’s a single protein source, and it also has potatoes and pumpkin. Both ingredients help settle a cat’s stomach, so it’s a win-win for your cat.

    But the Blue Buffalo Basics line is anything but cheap. If you’re exclusively feeding your cat a wet food diet, this won’t even last 2 weeks, and it’s not a cheap product.

    Pros
    • Potatoes and pumpkin aid in digestion
    • Limited-ingredient recipe
    • High-quality ingredients
    • No prescription required

    Cons
    • Expensive


    6. Ziwi Peak Venison Canned Cat Food

    Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food

    Food Type: Wet
    Protein Source: Venison
    Size Options: 3-ounce 24-pack or 6.5-ounce 12-pack
    Special Diet:  Hypoallergenic, limited-ingredient diet

    Some owners swear that wet foods are better for a cat with IBD, while others swear by dry food. The truth is that it all comes down to your cat. But one thing is for sure: Wet foods tend to cost more. That trait certainly holds true with the Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe, and it’s another great canned cat food for cats with IBD.

    But while it might have a higher price tag, when you look at everything that it offers, it’s easy to understand why and to justify the cost. For starters, it only uses a limited number of ingredients. This makes it easier on your cat’s digestive tract.

    Second, all the protein is free-range and hormone-free. It’s an ethical and healthy way for your cat to eat. But when you pair the facts that it’s more expensive and doesn’t last that long, it can be a hit on the budget. If it’s what your cat needs, though, then it’s well worth it.

    Pros
    • Multiple sizing options enable you to buy for multiple cats
    • Limited-ingredient formula
    • Free-range farming product

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • It doesn’t last as long as some other options


    7. Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey Canned Cat Food for IBD

    Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Food Type: Wet
    Protein Source: Turkey
    Size Options: 5-ounce case of 24
    Special Diet:  Grain-free

    One wet food option that you have is the Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula. It’s an affordable wet food with a poultry-based protein that’s not chicken. Don’t let the name fool you—while it certainly has liver, it’s all turkey liver.

    Turkey is usually a safe bet with cats that suffer from IBD, but it comes down to what your cat can handle. With Hound & Gatos, it’s a limited-ingredient recipe and all of the ingredients are high-quality.

    There’s only one size option available, but it’s a larger bulk option. So, if it does end up working for your cat, you don’t have to worry about spending a ton because you can’t buy in bulk.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Turkey is an excellent protein source for IBD
    • Limited-ingredient recipe
    • High-quality ingredients

    Cons
    • Only one size option is available
    • No prescription needed


    8. Go! Sensitivities LID Duck Cat Food for IBS

    Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Food Type: Dry
    Protein Source: Duck
    Size Options: 3, 8, and 16 pounds
    Special Diet:  Grain-free, limited-ingredient

    With this recipe, Go! Sensitivities Limited Ingredient Duck Recipe, the name tells you almost everything that you need to know. There are limited ingredients, and everything that Go! did was for cats with sensitive stomachs in mind.

    But those aren’t even the best perks. This food comes in a massive 16-pound bag, and it’s available for an affordable price. Additionally, since it’s a dry cat food, it’s easy to transition to, and you can leave it out if your cat doesn’t eat it all at once.

    However, duck isn’t always the best protein source for every cat with IBD. Some cats see improvement with this protein, but others do not. But, it’s worth a shot, especially since you can start with a 3-pound bag. If it doesn’t work out, you won’t be stuck with a ton of food that you can’t use, and if it does, you have an affordable option to feed your cat!

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Limited-ingredient option
    • Sensitive stomach formula

    Cons
    • Not always the best protein source for IBD


    9. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Cat Food

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

    Flavor: Chicken
    Sizes:  4 and 8 pounds
    Food Texture: Dry
    Special Diet:  Vet diet, works for IBD, hydrolyzed protein

    Another good diet option for cats with IBD is Purina Pro Plan’s Veterinary Diets Cat Food. It’s a dry cat food that is veterinarian-approved, with low-allergen carbohydrates and simple proteins that can aid in allergic reactions to certain foods. The protein source is hydrolyzed, which essentially means it’s been broken down into smaller elements, and this makes it less likely for a cat to have a bad reaction to the food. The carb source is medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that don’t take any energy to be used, absorbed, and stored in the body.

    The biggest problem with this food is that it’s quite expensive, and you need authorization from your vet to purchase it. It also might not work for your cat.

    Pros
    • Veterinary diet
    • Uses simple proteins for easier digestion
    • Proteins are hydrolyzed, decreasing the chance of a bad reaction
    • Carbs are MCTs that don’t take energy to use, absorb, or store in the body

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Needs vet authorization
    • Doesn’t always work


    10. Royal Canin Vet Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Cat Food

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food

    Flavor: Chicken
    Sizes:  8 pounds
    Food Texture: Dry
    Special Diet:  Sensitive digestion, vet diet, pea-free

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Cat Food is a dry kibble designed for sensitive digestion. It’s high in fiber that is both soluble and insoluble, which helps your cat with gastrointestinal upset. It also has prebiotics to help maintain the good bacteria in the stomach, as well as DHA and EPA, omega-3 fatty acids for the GI system. It also has the advantage of the S/O Index, which helps your cat’s bladder from forming urinary crystals.

    The downside of this food is that it is quite expensive and needs vet authorization. It also doesn’t always work for every cat with IBD.

    Pros
    • Contains soluble and insoluble fiber for GI upset
    • Prebiotics for aiding in digestion
    • Contains omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA for GI tract health
    • S/O Index for prevention of urinary crystals in the bladder

    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Needs vet authorization
    • Doesn’t work for all cats


    11. Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

    Flavor: Chicken
    Sizes:  2, 5, 7, 10, 15 pounds
    Food Texture: Dry
    Special Diet:  Sensitive digestion, soy, wheat, and corn free

    If your cat is not sensitive to chicken, a great option for cat food for IBD is the Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Cat Food. It comes in five sizes, starting at 2 pounds and up to 15 pounds, and is a dry cat food made with deboned chicken. This food is designed to help cats with sensitive stomachs and digestion issues. It does this by including FOS prebiotics, which feed all the good bacteria found naturally in the gut. These prebiotics (which should not be confused with probiotics) aid in the absorption of nutrients and help with digestion. This food also includes omega-3 and omega-6, which are fatty acids that can help your cat’s coat and skin, as well as added minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants. Blue Buffalo does not include artificial preservatives or flavors, and there are no corn, soy, wheat, or meat by-products.

    Disadvantages of this food include that it’s high in calories and might cause weight gain in some cats, particularly less active cats. Some cats might not respond well to it if they have sensitivities to chicken and could continue to have stomach issues, including vomiting.

    Pros
    • Comes in five different sizes
    • Deboned chicken is the primary ingredient
    • Includes FOS prebiotics to help sensitive stomachs
    • Has added vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants
    • Does not include any artificial ingredients or wheat, soy, corn, or animal by-products

    Cons
    • Less active cats might gain weight because it’s high in calories
    • It won’t help all cats with sensitive stomachs

    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Cat Food for Cats with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    With so many options and so many factors that you need to keep track of when getting your cat on a new IBD-friendly diet, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why we’re here to walk you through everything that you need to know and get it all sorted out as soon as possible.

    Picking a Protein Source

    Since the primary food source in cat foods is protein, you can usually assume that this is what is causing IBD flare-ups when one happens. Since many cats are sensitive to different proteins, you should always stick to a food with a single protein source.

    But every cat food has a single protein source, so how do you know which one to choose? The truth is that you don’t. It’s a trial-and-error process until you can figure out what your cat can handle. That said, we do know that three protein sources are more likely to cause flare-ups: beef, fish, and chicken.

    So, if you’re looking to get it right the first time, try a novel protein source like venison, duck, or salmon. These proteins are usually a little easier for your cat to process, but there’s no guarantee of what your cat can or can’t handle.

    persian cat eating
    Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

    Wet/Dry/Raw Food Options

    Outside of the protein source, another factor that you need to consider is whether you’re feeding them wet, dry, or raw cat food. These all have their own various advantages.

    The advantage of dry food is simple. It’s affordable and easy to feed. You can put it out in the morning and leave it out all day, and it comes in large quantities. It almost never spoils, and most cats like it. However, most cats prefer wet or raw food options.

    Wet foods are more expensive, but they often have higher quality ingredients, and it can be easier to convince your cat to eat them. But the tradeoff is the price. Wet cat food is more expensive, and if your cat doesn’t eat it right away, you need to refrigerate the leftovers.

    Finally, there are raw food options. There are freeze-dried raw foods and 100% fresh raw food options. But both are extremely expensive. You can expect to spend anywhere from $5 to $12 a day to feed a single cat under 10 pounds!

    The tradeoff is that they get a delicious and nutritious meal that’s easy on their bellies. If you can afford it, raw foods are among the best options out there.

    Regardless of the type of food your feline companion prefers, finding a bowl that is sure to keep the mess contained can be tough. Our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl features a wide tray designed to ensure that all food stays exactly where it should—inside the bowl and off the floor. The whisker-friendly bowls fit securely into the PP plastic base and are low and wide to prevent whisker fatigue. Its contemporary style will fit seamlessly into any home and it is completely dishwasher safe. 

    Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
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    • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
    • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...

    Prescription vs. Non-prescription

    If you’re looking to get either the Purina Pro Plan Gastroenteric Formula or the Hill’s Prescription Diet Food Sensitivities diet, you’ll need to go to a vet and get a prescription for them. The reasoning for this is that they’re the only foods that say that they can “cure, treat, or mitigate” certain conditions on the packaging.

    While these foods can certainly do those things, it’s debatable if they do a better job than other foods. We always recommend speaking to a vet about your cat’s IBD before starting any new food regimen. Ask them if a prescription food is right for your pet or if another cat food would do the trick.

    Transitioning to a New Cat Food

    While you should slowly transition a cat to any new food, this is particularly important if your cat has IBD. Always follow the instructions on the packaging, but this usually means mixing 25% of the new food with 75% for a time before increasing the amount of new food and lowering the amount of the old food.

    Keep in mind that even while doing this, it’s not uncommon for cats with IBD to have flare-ups from their new diet. Give time for everything to settle down before making your decision that the new food is right for your cat. The last thing you want to do is keep switching to new foods without ever giving their stomach time to adjust.

     

    Final Thoughts

    The best overall food for a cat with IBD is the Smalls Fresh Ground Other Bird Recipe. It’s a great choice, and while the price is a little high, it’s easy to justify spending it. 

    However, if you can’t get a prescription, try Tiki Cat Hanalei Luau Wild Salmon. It’s a prescription-free option available for a great price!

    If your cat has IBD, you need to work on finding them the right food right away, and it’s always a good idea to consult with your cat’s veterinarian before making any extreme changes to your cat’s diet.


    Featured Image Credit: Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock

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