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10 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

cat eating semi moist cat foodDealing with pancreatitis in cats can be difficult and finding a food that’s appropriate for your cat with pancreatitis is overwhelming. Pancreatitis involves inflammation of the pancreas that essentially causes the pancreas to begin releasing digestive enzymes and digesting itself. Cats with pancreatitis need a moderate-fat diet that is easy to digest, and while veterinary prescribed diets are typically the best choice, there are some non-prescription options as well.

The most important takeaway from these reviews is that this is a guide to help you identify foods that may be appropriate for your cat. This is not medical advice or recommendations of foods you should give your cat without consulting your vet. When treating pancreatitis, never make dietary changes without consulting with your vet first. If your cat isn’t eating, it’s necessary for you to let your vet know and get their guidance on trying something different.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Hills Prescription Diet Z/D Dry Food Hills Prescription Diet Z/D Dry Food
  • Made for cats with allergies that effect the skin and digestive tract
  • Hydrolyzed proteins are easier to digest Fat content of 11.5%
  • Fat content of 11.5%
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Control Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Control
  • Best value
  • Fat content between 12 – 15%
  • Made specifically for weight control and digestive support
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Protein Formula Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Protein Formula
  • Primary protein is a novel soy-based protein
  • Hydrolyzed proteins are easier to digest
  • Fat content of 10%
  • Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support
  • Fat content is 15.5%
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Designed to support digestive health
  • Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie
  • Features slices in gravy
  • Fat content of 9.8%
  • Shouldn’t lead to inappropriate weight gain
  • The 10 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Hills Prescription Diet Z/D Dry Food– Best Overall

    Hills Prescription Diet Z_D Dry Food

    Fat Percentage: 5%
    Form: Kibble
    Primary Protein: Hydrolyzed chicken liver
    Prescription: Yes

    The best overall food for cats with pancreatitis is Hills Prescription Diet Z/D Dry Food. This food is made for cats with allergies to common proteins and it features hydrolyzed proteins, which means the proteins have been broken down into a highly digestible form. It has a fat content of 11.5%, making it ideal for cats with pancreatitis. This food is designed to improve gastric efficiency and stool quality, allowing your cat’s GI tract a chance to rest while the pancreas heals. It also contains antioxidants that have been clinically proven to improve the skin barrier and immunity. You may see a healthier coat and reduction in shedding while your cat is on this food.

    This food may be prohibitively expensive for many people, especially if it’s being fed long-term. Also, some cats don’t find it particularly palatable and may not eat it.

    Pros
    • Made for cats with allergies that effect the skin and digestive tract
    • Hydrolyzed proteins are easier to digest
    • Fat content of 11.5%
    • Designed to improve GI tract function to allow the GI tract to heal
    • Includes clinically proven antioxidants that support skin health and immunity
    • May reduce shedding

    Cons

    • Premium price
    • May not be palatable


    2. Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Control – Best Value

    Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Control (1)

    Fat Percentage: 12 – 15%
    Form: Kibble
    Primary Protein: Chicken
    Prescription: No

    If you’re on a tight budget, the best cat food for pancreatitis for the money is the Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Control dry food. This food has a fat percentage between 12% and 15%, and it is made specifically for the weight and digestion needs of indoor cats. It’s easy to digest and uses chicken as the first ingredient. It has L-carnitine in it, which can help support healthy metabolism. It contains a fiber blend that can improve the quality of stools and take some stress off of the GI tract. This food is non-prescription and is available at most major retailers.

    This food contains some fillers, like corn grits and corn gluten meal. Since this is a weight loss food, it’s important to ensure that you are feeding an appropriate amount to your cat to support healing and prevent weight loss.

    Pros
    • Best value
    • Fat content between 12 – 15%
    • Made specifically for weight control and digestive support
    • Chicken is the first ingredient
    • Supports a healthy metabolism
    • Fiber blend may reduce GI tract stress
    • Non-prescription and widely available

    Cons

    • Contains fillers
    • May lead to unnecessary weight loss if package instructions are followed


    3. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Protein Formula – Premium Choice

    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Protein Formula (1)

    Fat Percentage: 10%
    Form: Kibble
    Primary Protein: Hydrolyzed soy protein isolate
    Prescription: Yes

    The Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Protein Formula contains hydrolyzed chicken-based protein, but the primary protein is hydrolyzed soy protein isolate, which is a novel protein for most cats. This food should be easy to digest and has a fat percentage of 10%. The main carbohydrate source in this food is a good source of medium chain triglycerides, which don’t require energy for absorption or use, allowing the GI tract to rest. This food is designed specifically for cats with allergies or digestive problems, including pancreatitis.

    This food comes at a premium price, so it may not be affordable for many people. Some cats don’t find this food to be palatable, and the largest bag size available is only 8 pounds.

    Pros
    • Primary protein is a novel soy-based protein
    • Hydrolyzed proteins are easier to digest
    • Fat content of 10%
    • Good source of MCTs
    • Designed to improve GI tract function to allow the GI tract to heal
    • Made for cats with allergies and digestive difficulties

    Cons

    • Premium price
    • May not be palatable
    • Largest bag is 8 pounds


    4. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support

    Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support (1)

    Fat Percentage: 5%
    Form: Kibble
    Primary Protein: Deboned chicken
    Prescription: Yes

    The Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support cat food contains 15.5% fat and has deboned chicken as the first ingredient. This food is designed to optimize digestion and nutrient absorption. It contains prebiotic fibers that support natural digestive microflora. It contains ingredients that are high in antioxidants to support your cat’s immune system. Although expensive, this food is on the lower end of cost when it comes to prescription foods. Some people find their cats aren’t big fans of the taste of this food, so its palatability may be low for fussy cats. This food is currently only available in a 7-pound bag.

    Pros
    • Fat content is 15.5%
    • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
    • Designed to support digestive health
    • Prebiotic fibers support normal gastrointestinal microflora
    • High in antioxidants
    • Less costly than some other prescription food options

    Cons

    • Moderate to premium price
    • May not be palatable
    • Only one bag size available


    5. Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie

    Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie (1)

    Fat Percentage: 8%
    Form: Slices in gravy
    Primary Protein: Chicken liver
    Prescription: Yes

    Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie food is chicken-flavored wet food with slices in gravy. It only contains 9.8% fat, making it a good pick for cats with pancreatitis. This food is made for cats with digestive issues who are also prone to weight gain, so if fed properly, it shouldn’t lead to inappropriate weight gain in your cat. It contains soluble and insoluble fiber to support digestion, as well as other ingredients to support digestive health and healthy stools. Many cats find this food to be palatable. This food is premium priced, and it is only available in one flavor, so picky cats may not like it. The cans are only 3 ounces each, so most cats will require multiple cans per day.

    Pros
    • Features slices in gravy
    • Fat content of 9.8%
    • Shouldn’t lead to inappropriate weight gain
    • Supports digestive health and healthy stools
    • Many cats find it palatable

    Cons

    • Premium price
    • One flavor
    • Cans are 3 ounces


    6. Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entrée in Broth

    Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entrée in Broth (1)

    Fat Percentage: 3%
    Form: Flakes in broth
    Primary Protein: Tuna
    Prescription: No

    The Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entrée in Broth is a canned food that has a fat content of 23.3%. It features tuna as the first ingredient and also includes mackerel and salmon. It is non-prescription and contains sunflower oil, which supports coat and digestive health. This food is prepared by hand and is available in two can sizes. This food can become expensive quickly if it’s the primary food your cat is receiving. Although this food is intended to flake in broth, some people have reported it being more of a thick liquid with some chunks.

    Pros
    • Fat content of 23.3%
    • Tuna is the first ingredient
    • Non-prescription
    • Supports digestive and coat health

    Cons

    • Moderate price
    • Texture may be thicker and with larger chunks than advertised


    7. Orijen Six Fish

    Orijen Six Fish (1)

    Fat Percentage: 2%
    Form: Kibble
    Primary Protein: Whole mackerel
    Prescription: No

    The Orijen Six Fish dry cat food contains 22.2% fat and features proteins as the first nine ingredients, including whole mackerel, whole herring, flounder, Acadian redfish, monkfish, and whole hake. The food includes organs and bone, so the food consists of 90% animal ingredients. Most of the proteins are raw, ensuring maximum nutrition in the food, and the kibble is coated in freeze-dried raw proteins for maximum flavor. This food is a premium price, though. Although formulated for maximum flavor, cats who are used to poultry or beef foods may find this fishy food to be not palatable.

    Pros
    • 2% fat content
    • 90% animal ingredients, including animal proteins as the first nine ingredients
    • Maximum nutrition is ensured
    • Coated in freeze-dried raw food

    Cons

    • Premium price
    • May not be palatable


    8. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP (1)

    Fat Percentage: 5%
    Form: Kibble
    Primary Protein: Hydrolyzed soy protein
    Prescription: Yes

    The Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP kibble uses hydrolyzed soy protein as the primary protein source, making it ideal for digestion. It has 19.5% fat content and contains healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat. Most kitties seem to find this food palatable, but pickier cats may not. It carries a premium price tag and may be difficult to find since some vet clinics do not carry Royal Canin foods, and it is frequently out of stock online.

    Pros
    • Hydrolyzed proteins are easier to digest
    • Primary protein is a novel soy-based protein
    • Omega-3 fatty acids support skin, coat, and digestive health
    • Most cats find this food palatable

    Cons

    • May not be palatable to picky cats
    • Premium price tag
    • May be difficult to find


    9. MeatMe Rabbit Recipe Frozen Cat Food

    MeatMe Rabbit Recipe Frozen Cat Food (1)

    Fat Percentage: 5%
    Form: Frozen
    Primary Protein: Rabbit with ground bone
    Prescription: No

    If you’re looking for a frozen food option, the MeatMe Rabbit Recipe Frozen Cat Food is a good option, although it has a higher fat content than most of the other foods at 28.5%. It contains rabbit with ground bone and rabbit liver as the first two ingredients. The rabbits used in this food are raised on small farms in the US, and the food is made in small batches. This food does come at a premium price; however, a 5-pound bag will last an average sized adult cat for close to 20 days. Some cats don’t care for rabbit, so starting with the smaller bag is ideal to prevent expensive wastage. Keep in mind that since this is a frozen food, it does need to be thawed in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before feeding.

    Pros
    • Frozen food
    • Contains rabbit, which is a novel protein to most cats
    • Rabbits are sourced from small USA-based farms
    • Food is made in small batches

    Cons

    • Premium price
    • May not be palatable for some cats
    • Needs to be thawed in the refrigerator before feeding


    10. Purina Beyond Grain Free Trout & Catfish Recipe

    Purina Beyond Grain Free Trout & Catfish Recipe (1)

    Fat Percentage: 7%
    Form: Pate
    Primary Protein: Trout
    Prescription: No

    For a budget-friendly wet food, the Purina Beyond Grain Free Trout & Catfish Recipe pate is a good option. It contains 22.7% fat and features protein from trout, catfish, chicken, and egg. The trout is farm-raised in the US and the food has prebiotic fiber to aid in healthy digestion. The food is made in Purina’s US-based factories that are working to reduce water usage and waste production. This food does have a fishy smell that may be noticeable and is unappetizing to some cats. It is only available in 3-ounce cans

    Pros
    • Budget-friendly
    • Fat content is 22.7%
    • US-based food
    • Prebiotic fiber aids in healthy digestion

    Cons

    • Unappealing fishy smell
    • May not be palatable for some cats
    • Only available in 3-ounce cans


    Buyer’s Guide

    Why Does Fat Content Matter?

    The primary reason you want to keep an eye on the fat content in the food you choose for your cat with pancreatitis is because the pancreas is responsible for releasing the enzymes that the body uses to digest fat. If your cat’s pancreas is already inflamed and you are feeding food with high fat content, then your cat’s pancreas is having to work overtime while it’s already struggling, leading to further inflammation and a decrease in your cat’s ability to properly digest foods.

    It’s important to note that fatty foods can be difficult to digest anyway. Sometimes when you eat a large, fatty meal, you end up with an upset stomach afterwards, and cats are no different. Feeding foods that are difficult to digest while the body is already struggling to keep up with the demands of digestion for survival and metabolic processes can lead to a rapid decline in your cat’s health status.

    Choosing the Right Food for Your Cat with Pancreatitis

    The best way to choose the right food for your cat with pancreatitis is to talk to your cat’s veterinarian. Your cat’s vet is familiar with more than just your cat being a cat with pancreatitis. Your cat’s vet is also familiar with your cat’s medical conditions and history, medications and supplements your cat takes, and your cat’s current health status. Pancreatitis can go hand in hand with other medical problems, and your vet would be aware of these issues via assessing your cat physically and performing diagnostic tests. They will be able to suggest a food for you to try your cat on while their body attempts to heal. If you have concerns about what your vet might recommend, you can put together a list of foods, flavors, or textures that your cat likes, and then the two of you can work together to find the best fit.

    Conclusion

    Remember that these reviews are a starting point to helping you find the perfect food for your cat suffering from pancreatitis, but this is not a complete list, and your vet should be involved in helping you decide if a food is appropriate. The best overall option is Hills Prescription Diet Z/D Dry Food, which is available through most veterinarians and online pharmacies. If you’re on a tight budget, ask your vet if Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Control will work for your cat. It’s affordable but is likely to meet the nutritional needs of your cat during the healing and recovery process.


    Featured Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock