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 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.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (2022 Update)
The 11 Best Food for Cats With IBD
1. Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Water Bird Recipe – Best Overall
|Special Diet:||Hypoallergenic, limited ingredient diet|
When your cat has IBD, you want to be sure you’re giving them great food that won’t trigger episodes. Our pick for the best overall cat food for IBD is Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Water Bird recipe. If you’ve not heard of Smalls, they are a company that provides cats with fresh meals via subscription service. These meals come in either a wet food texture or freeze-dried raw, with the raw foods having freeze-dried pieces of raw meat that resemble kibble.
All Smalls foods are made with limited ingredients, meaning there are fewer ingredients to trigger your pet’s IBD. In fact, the only ingredients in the Freeze-Dried Raw Water Bird recipe are finely ground duck with bone, duck heart, duck liver, duck gizzard, duck egg, duck blood, goat’s milk, water, eggshell membrane, and herring oil. Because duck is a less common protein, there’s less risk of your cat being sensitive or allergic to it, which equals fewer IBD flare-ups (although the herring oil may affect kitties with sensitivities to fish). The recipe is also incredibly high in protein, as well as natural micronutrients, so there are lots of good things for your pet here
2. Tiki Cat Wild Salmon Wet Cat Food – Best Value
|Size Options:||8-ounce case of 12, 6-ounce case of 8|
|Special Diet:||Contains no grains, gluten, carbohydrates, starches, or flours|
With Tiki Cat Hanalei Luau Wild Salmon, wet cat food doesn’t have to drive you out of house and home. It’s an affordable wet cat food solution, but that doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing on 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 definitely worth taking a shot to see if your cat can handle it.
To conclude, we think this is the best cat food for IBD for the money.
Regardless of whether you feed your cat dry or wet food, you need a bowl that is sure to keep the mess contained—you can do just that with the Hepper Nom Nom Bowl.
Our product is designed with your cat’s comfort in mind. The whisker-friendly bowls are low and wide to prevent whisker fatigue, and the wide catch tray ensures that all food stays exactly where it should—inside the bowl.
3. Hill’s Prescription i/d Digestive Cat Food – Premium Choice
|Flavor:||Chicken and vegetable stew|
|Sizes:||9-oz cans, case of 24|
|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 control cell oxidation.
That said, this is a costly food and requires veterinarian authorization.
4. Stella & Chewy’s Rabbit Dinner Morsels — Best for Kittens
|Food Type:||Freeze-dried raw|
|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 flareups, 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.
5. Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato Canned Cat Food
|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 a 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.
6. Ziwi Peak Venison Canned Cat Food
|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.
7. Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey Canned Cat Food for IBD
|Size Options:||5-ounce case of 24|
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.
8. Go! Sensitivities LID Duck Cat Food for IBS
|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 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!
9. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Cat Food
|Sizes:||4 and 8 pounds|
|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.
10. Royal Canin Vet Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Cat Food
|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.
11. Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Dry Cat Food
|Sizes:||2, 5, 7, 10, 15 pounds|
|Special Diet:||Sensitive digestion, soy, wheat, and corn free|
If your cat is not sensitive to chicken, a great option 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 feeds 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.
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 the 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.
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 it. 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.
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.
The best overall food for a cat with IBD is the Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw Water Bird Recipe. It’s a great choice, and while the price is a little high, it’s easy to justify spending it. If that doesn’t work, you can always try the more expensive Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care.
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 cats diet.
Featured Image Credit: Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock