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10 Best Cat Foods for Kidney Disease (Low Phosphorus) in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks
By Nicole Cosgrove
Chronic kidney disease is one of the most common conditions facing domestic cats, and unfortunately, it is a reality that many cat owners will have to face. The good news is that symptoms can be minimized, and the progression of this disease can be slowed and controlled by proper nutrition, specifically with a diet that is low in phosphorus. The only way to confirm that your cat has kidney disease is through an official diagnosis from a vet, and many of the foods that can minimize the symptoms of the disease will require a prescription from the vet too. This is because it can be dangerous to feed your cat a diet low in phosphorous if they are not suffering from kidney issues. Make sure you have confirmation from your vet before moving ahead with a special diet for your feline friend. Since proper nutrition is so vital for managing kidney disease in your cat, it can be stressful to find the right food to give them. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we rounded up the 10 best foods for cats with kidney disease, complete with in-depth reviews to help you find the best food for your feline.
The Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care dry food is specially developed by nutritionists and veterinarians to support kidney health in your cat and is our top choice overall. Decreased kidney function can significantly decrease your cat’s appetite, resulting in loss of muscle mass. This food is formulated with Enhanced Appetite Trigger (E.A.T.) technology that helps stimulate the appetite and thus increase caloric intake to prevent weight loss and loss of muscle mass. It is also made with carefully controlled phosphorus levels and low sodium, as well as high levels of essential amino acids to help build and sustain muscle. We love that this food is proudly made in the U.S.A. and clinically tested to improve and lengthen the quality of life for your cat. Unfortunately, there seems to be poor quality control at Hill’s, as some of the kibble is far too small for older cats to eat comfortably, a real problem for cats that need to eat more calories.
Specially developed by nutritionists and veterinarians
Formulated with Enhanced Appetite Trigger (E.A.T.) technology
Made with carefully controlled phosphorus levels
Low in sodium
High levels of essential amino acids
Made in the U.S.A.
Irregular kibble size
2. Purina Pro Plan Vet Diets NF Kidney Dry Cat Food — Best Value
The Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function dry cat food is the best cat food for kidney disease for the money. The food is specially formulated to aid kidney function in your cat, with a low phosphorus content and high-quality protein. The food is packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids from tuna, EPA and DHA, and healthy antioxidants to aid in immune function. Purina Pro Plan is specially crafted by nutritionists and veterinarians to help minimize symptoms of kidney disease in cats, while tasting great too! The first ingredient listed on this food is corn gluten meal, with barley at number three. We would prefer to see an animal protein at the top of the ingredient list.
Specially formulated to aid kidney function
High-quality protein (tuna)
Packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids
Added DHA and EPA
Packed with antioxidants
Contains corn gluten and barley in the top three ingredients
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3. Blue Buffalo Vet Diet Kidney + Mobility Dry Cat Food — Premium Choice
If you are looking for a premium choice of food to aid kidney disease in your cat, the Blue Buffalo Natural Kidney and Mobility dry food is our favorite. Chicken is the first listed ingredient for a controlled level of healthy protein for your feline, and the food is free from grains with carefully controlled levels of phosphorous (0.3–0.7%) and sodium (0.3%) to help support kidney health. The food is also packed with vital nutrients like DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin for healthy joints and increased mobility, and it is free from poultry by-products, corn, soy, and wheat. The only issue that we found with this food is the high price, and a high number of customers reported that their cats would simply not eat it.
If you’re looking for a great-tasting, quality canned food for managing your cat’s kidney issues, look no further than the Hill’s Prescription Diet Chicken and Vegetable Stew canned food. This food is developed by Hill’s team of nutritionists and veterinarians and formulated especially for cats with kidney disease. It comes in bite-sized chunks and is loaded with beneficial vitamins like C, B12, and E, as well as healthy amino acids and taurine for good heart health. The recipe contains carefully controlled amounts of phosphorus and is low in sodium. This food has a rather pungent smell that fussy cats may not enjoy. Also, this food is expensive and not something that you want to go to waste.
Formulated especially for cats with kidney disease
Loaded with beneficial vitamins C, B12, and E
Contains essential amino acids and taurine
Carefully controlled amounts of phosphorus and low in sodium
The Renal Support canned food from Royal Canin is formulated with the precise nutrients that your cat needs for kidney health and to avoid renal failure. The food is coated in an enticing and delicious sauce that your cat will love to help encourage appetite, and it has an energy-dense formula packed with precise protein levels, antioxidants, healthy omega acids from fish, and controlled phosphorus levels. The formula is packed with nutrients, which is ideal for cats that have kidney issues because they often have a reduced appetite, and with this food, they can get adequate nutrition without needing to eat that much. This food recently got a new recipe that several owners said their cats didn’t like, and it contains chicken and pork by-products. The food is also greasy and stains easily, and it is more expensive per ounce than the previous recipe.
The Renal Support F dry cat food from Royal Canin is a veterinary-exclusive dry food for your cat that is specially formulated to support kidney health. The “F” stand for flavorful, and the food is designed to stimulate your cat’s appetite with its highly flavorful, energy-dense, delicious flavor. The food is formulated with a precise antioxidant complex, including vitamins C and E that help with immune support, essential fatty acids from the included fish oil, a low phosphorous content, and a targeted protein content that comes from chicken and pork, which is ideal for cats with kidney issues. Unfortunately, this food is not a flavorful as it claims, as many customers reported that their cats would not eat it. Also, it is a small bag and is rather pricey for the amount that you get.
The Wellness Healthy Indulgence Morsels are convenient pouches that are ideal for travel but great for everyday use too. The food is grain-free and doesn’t require a veterinary prescription. It is loaded with chicken in the first three ingredients and drenched in a delicious savory sauce that your cat will love. It is low in phosphorous, so it is ideal for cats with kidney issues. It contains antioxidant-rich cranberries to help promote urinary health. The food is free from wheat, corn, soy, and artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. While this food is low in phosphorous, it has a fair bit of sodium, which is not ideal. Also, the gravy may be too delicious, as some customers reported that their cats ate the gravy and left the food!
High-quality chicken protein
Contains antioxidant-rich cranberries
Free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
The Advanced Care Formula dry cat food from Purina Pro Plan is carefully crafted with nutritionists and veterinarians to help support kidney health and function in cats. The food is loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, EPA, DHA, and antioxidants to support immune health. It is also packed with natural fiber and has a high protein-to-calorie ratio. It tastes great, so it is ideal for cats with a reduced appetite. The food is low in phosphorus and contains restricted amounts of protein for your cat’s health. This food is expensive, though, and many customers reported that their cats wouldn’t eat it after the recent recipe change.
Carefully crafted by nutritionists and veterinarians
Loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids from salmon
This wet food from Forza10 is specially formulated for cats with kidney issues, including low phosphorous, low sodium, and low protein. The food contains antioxidants like cranberry for immune support, dandelion for urinary tract support, and natural essential omega-3 fatty acids from 100% Icelandic salmon. The high water content is a great way for cats with kidney issues to get additional moisture, and the food is free from wheat, corn, soy, and by-product meals. There are no GMO ingredients or artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Many customers reported that the food had a strong fish smell and gummy texture, and their cats would not eat it. It is also fairly pricey.
Specially formulated for cats with kidney issues
Contains natural antioxidants (cranberries)
Contains dandelions for urinary support
Packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids from 100% Icelandic salmon
Free from grains, GMO ingredients, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Strong fish odor
10. Blue Buffalo Natural Vet Diet Kidney + Mobility Wet Cat Food
This Veterinary Diet canned food from Blue Buffalo is made using high-quality chicken in a controlled form to help manage a cat’s kidney’s workload. The food is also free from grains and has carefully controlled levels of phosphorous and sodium, making it ideal for cats with kidney issues. It is loaded with beneficial nutrients, like glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and mobility, DHA, and essential omega fatty acids. The water and chicken broth are added for your cat to get adequate hydration, an important aspect for cats with kidney issues. This food is expensive, though, and many customers reported that their cats wouldn’t eat, and it even caused nausea and vomiting in some cats. Also, the food is thick and may require added water to make it palatable.
Made with high-quality chicken
Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
Packed with essential omega fatty acids
May cause nausea
Some cats wouldn’t eat it
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease (Low Phosphorus)
Acute kidney disease can affect cats of any age or breed and can come on suddenly. The exact cause of kidney disease in cats is largely unknown but can be potentially caused by many factors, including poisons, shock, and bacterial infection. With careful treatment, it can usually be cured. Chronic kidney disease, on the other hand, typically occurs in older cats and comes on gradually over several years. A special diet can help manage the disease and extend your cat’s lifespan significantly, although it will not reverse the disease. No matter the cause, the disease is characterized by your cat’s kidneys ceasing to properly remove waste products and excreting them in their urine — namely, phosphorous, sodium, and protein. This is why low-phosphorous foods are so important for cats with kidney problems.
What to look for in foods for cats with kidney disease
Since there is no cure for kidney disease, medication and careful management of your cat’s diet are the only ways to manage the disease. It is done with a specialized diet that is low in phosphorous, protein, and sodium, as the disposal of these is what is limited by kidney disease. With this in mind, you’ll need to look for food with the following aspects in your cat’s food.
The food that you choose will need to have fairly low protein levels, as the breaking down of protein can produce excessive waste products that need to be dealt with by your cat’s kidneys. While protein is vital to the health of your feline, they’ll need a reduced protein intake or preferably, a low concentration of high-quality proteins. Since they are getting a reduced amount of protein, it’s essential to give them the best protein source possible.
Kidney damage and loss of function are sped up by high concentrations of phosphorous in your cat’s bloodstream, and when levels are low, the damage is slowed down. This will also help your cat feel more energized and happier overall, and this is why most foods for kidney disease have restricted phosphorous levels.
Kidneys are also responsible for the regulation of sodium in your cat’s blood system. If they are not functioning correctly, this will naturally lead to high levels of sodium in their bloodstream. This build-up can lead to increased blood pressure and retention of fluids, which in turn, puts even more pressure on the kidneys, perpetuating the issue.
High moisture content
While dry foods are great, wet canned foods have the benefit of adding extra moisture to your cat’s diet. When your cats have damaged kidneys, dehydration is a real problem due to the lack of fluid balance coming from the kidneys. Since even healthy cats drink very little water, this can help with kidney disease.
It’s common for cats with kidney disease to lose their appetite and thus, body weight. This is why tasty and great-smelling food is vital because it helps encourage your cat to eat.
The best cat food for cats with kidney disease is Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care. This food is formulated with Enhanced Appetite Trigger (E.A.T.) technology that helps stimulate the appetite and thus increase caloric intake, with carefully controlled phosphorus levels, low sodium, and high levels of essential amino acids to help build and sustain muscle. The Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function dry cat food is the best cat food for kidney disease for the money and is specially formulated with a low phosphorus content and high-quality protein. The food is packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, and healthy antioxidants to aid in immune function. If you are looking for a premium food to aid kidney disease in your cat, the Blue Buffalo Natural Kidney and Mobility dry food contains a controlled level of healthy protein for your feline, is free from grains, and has carefully controlled levels of phosphorous and sodium to help support kidney health. It’s always devastating to learn that your cat is suffering from chronic health issues, but kidney disease is at least manageable with a special diet. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped narrow down the options to help you choose the best food for your feline friend.
Featured Image Credit: Stamat Vitalii, Shutterstock