November 10, 2023
It's not uncommon for cats to have sensitive stomachs. Some cats are born with irritable digestive tracts, and others develop sensitivity due to old age or certain health conditions. If your cat vomits easily or often has loose stools, you should buy cat food for felines with sensitive stomachs. But what's the best cat food for sensitive stomach? We're here to help answer that question.
Many pet companies make high-quality food for cats with specific needs. However, our goal was to choose the best of the best. We reviewed the most popular foods for a cat’s sensitive stomach, and at the end of our testing process, we chose five brands we believe to be the best in the industry.
Why We Love It
Smalls is a pet food company that puts quality over convenience. We were really impressed with the ingredients in their wet food, all of which are fresh, human-grade, and USDA-certified. Smalls also sources their ingredients sustainably, and they make sure the foods have been harvested humanely.
Smalls makes their cat food in multiple textures. The ground options have a bit more texture and are good for younger cats with good teeth. If you have an older cat with dental problems, try the smooth options. They are very finely textured and easily licked out of a bowl.
Small's Smooth Fish food receives rave reviews from customers whose cats have sensitive stomachs. They say their cats vomit less often and seem to have firmer stools after a few days of eating this food.
Customers whose cats are sensitive to chicken or poultry often prefer Small's Smooth Cow food, made with beef and beef liver. Reviewers also appreciate that all of Smalls' foods are free from sodium nitrate, guar gum, and other artificial ingredients that may irritate cats' stomachs.
Customers interested in Smalls cat food can order a sample package to start. Smalls' foods are available by subscription, and customers can cancel or change their order at any time.
• Made with human-grade ingredients
• Shipped on dry ice
• Soft, easy-to-chew texture
• Needs to be thawed before feeding
• Size: 4.1 ounces/package, 5 ounces/package, 5.5 ounces/package
• Type: Frozen fresh food
• Flavor(s): Smooth Bird, Ground Bird, Smooth Other Bird, Ground Other Bird, Smooth Cow, Smooth Fish
Why We Love It
JustFoodForCats Fish and Chicken Recipe is a great choice for adult cats due to its fine texture and high moisture content. Reviewers say their older cats have no trouble chewing this food for sensitive stomachs.
We saw several glowing reviews from customers whose older cats gained weight after switching from dry kibble to this fresh cat food. The high moisture level is also great for older cats who don't drink enough and those prone to kidney and urinary tract problems.
We were pleased to see that JustFoodForCats uses real, wild-caught cod in its wet cat foods. The formula is free from all grains and gluten, which makes it a good option for cats with sensitive stomachs and food allergies. Chicken thighs, chicken livers, and sardines make this food not only nutritious but also very appealing to older cats who may not have the strongest sense of smell.
JustFoodForCats Fish and Chicken Recipe saves cat owners time compared to making home-cooked cat food. The packages of food arrive frozen and must be thawed before use. JustFoodForCats provides instructions on how much to feed your cat based on their weight.
JustFoodForCats offers free shipping on most cat food orders. They also offer discounts to customers who sign up for their Autoship program.
• Gluten-free and grain-free
• High moisture levels for hydration
• Made with wild-caught cod
• Must be thawed before use
• Size: 18 ounces/package
• Type: Frozen fresh food
• Flavor(s): Fish & Chicken
Why We Love It
If your cat is picky and often turns up their nose at dry food, we recommend trying Made by Nacho Digestive Support cat food. This cat food is made with several aromatic and appealing ingredients that your cat will love, like bone broth, turkey, and chicken fat. Reviewers say even their picky cats get excited to eat this food.
Made by Nacho Digestive Support, this cat food contains both prebiotics and probiotics to help build your cat's intestinal microbiome for improved digestive health. Customers say their cats’ stools become more solid within a few weeks of switching over to this food. Several reviewers mention a reduction in vomiting with this cat food, too.
We were pleased to see many high-quality ingredients in this cat food for sensitive stomachs. It contains dried blueberries, butternut squash, and brown rice. Salmon oil provides ample omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healhthier coat and skin. For best results, Made by Nacho recommends slowly transitioning your cat to this food over a period of 10 days.
Made by Nacho offers free shipping on orders over a certain cost. They also offer discounts to customers who sign up for their Subscribe & Save program.
• Contains prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion
• Enhanced with omega-3 fatty acids
• Appealing flavor
• Not ideal for cats with dental issues
• Size: 2 pounds/bag, 4 pounds/bag
• Type: Dry food
• Flavor(s): Digestive Support, Skin & Coat Support
Why We Love It
Kittens can have sensitive stomachs, too, but it's not always easy to find a sensitive stomach cat food that is appropriate for kittens. Miracle Vet Instant Fresh Cat Food can be given to kittens as young as four weeks, and it can also be fed to pregnant and nursing cats.
This cat food comes in a dehydrated form. Before serving, add water to your cat's food ration and let it soak for three minutes. The formula is veterinarian-reviewed, containing natural and minimally processed ingredients that are easy on cats' stomachs.
Reviewers say their cats and kittens thrive on this food. Several reviewers mentioned using this food for kittens with loose stools and suspected food allergies. They say their kittens seem healthier and more vibrant after switching to Miracle Vet.
Customers also appreciate not having to store this food in the fridge or freezer. Miracle Vet offers discounts to customers who sign up for their Subscribe & Save Program.
• Appropriate for kittens as young as four weeks
• Made in small batches
• Does not need to be refrigerated
• Must hydrate for three minutes before feeding
• Size: 15 ounces/bag
• Type: Dehydrated wet food
• Flavor(s): Chicken & Vegetables
Why We Love It
Dry food is convenient, but not all dry cat food is good for cats with sensitive stomachs. If you prefer to feed dry cat food, we recommend trying Hill's Prescription Diet Digestive Care. Available with a prescription from your vet, this kibble offers clinically-proven nutrition and is specifically formulated to be easy on your cat's stomach and intestines.
Hill's Prescription Diet Digestive Care is formulated with multiple sources of fiber, which helps calm the stomach and improve stool quality. This cat food contains healthy grains, including cracked pearled barley and whole-grain corn. It's also enriched with pork fat, which helps promote a healthier coat and skin.
Customers say their cats eat this cat food willingly. Some customers feed it alone, and others feed it in combination with a portion of fresh or wet food. We saw several reviews from customers whose cats reportedly became more friendly and playful after switching to this cat food for sensitive stomachs.
Customers who sign up for Autoship through Chewy can enjoy discounts and free shipping when they order Hill's Prescription Diet Digestive Care.
• Contains added antioxidants for cellular health
• Clinically proven nutrition
• Made with highly digestible proteins and fats
• Fiber from multiple sources
• Only available by prescription from a vet
• Size: 4 pounds/bag, 8.5 pounds/bag
• Type: Dry food
• Flavor(s)/Varieties: Chicken
Sensitive stomach cat food is formulated especially for cats with sensitive digestive tracts. If your cat vomits often, sometimes has diarrhea or loose stools, or has ever been diagnosed with a condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), then it could likely benefit from sensitive stomach cat foods.
Sensitive stomach cat foods are usually made with simple, easily digestible ingredients. They typically contain fish or chicken as a protein source, as these ingredients are easier to digest than beef or pork. Sensitive stomach cat food is often free from preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors that may irritate cats' digestive tracts. Plus, it tends to be high in fiber, which can help bulk up the stool and relieve diarrhea.
Many popular cat food brands make formulas for cats with sensitive stomachs. However, our goal was to choose the five very best cat food brands to recommend in this article. To achieve this goal, we considered three sources of information: product descriptions, reviews, and our own testers' results. Here are the top features and criteria we considered throughout the process:
Cats with sensitive stomachs often react to lower-quality ingredients. They may also be sensitive to certain food additives, such as artificial colors and flavors. As such, we aimed to select cat foods made with high-quality, natural ingredients. Some of the cat foods featured here are even made with human-grade ingredients!
When feeding a cat with a sensitive stomach, you want to be careful not to feed too much or too little. As such, we aimed to feature cat foods with detailed feeding instructions on the label. We also found that the best cat food brands included lots of information about their ingredients and food sourcing on the package.
We read lots of reviews from the owners of cats with sensitive stomachs. The foods we chose are all ones that reviewers found calmed their cats' digestive tracts. When we saw reviews that mentioned less frequent vomiting or diarrhea, we took notice. We also made sure reviewers said their cats enjoyed the foods we chose. Cats with sensitive stomach concerns are often picky, and the foods listed here all receive good reviews from the owners of picky cats.
Here are some common signs your cat may have a sensitive stomach:
• Frequent diarrhea or loose stools
• Frequent vomiting after eating
• Excessive passing of gas
• Bad breath or frequent belching
• Refusal to eat or perceived pickiness
• Irritability after eating
• Unwillingness to eat more than a small amount at a time
If your cat shows any of these symptoms, it's a good idea to make an appointment with your vet. While your cat may simply have a sensitive stomach, these symptoms can sometimes be caused by an underlying health condition that requires treatment. For example, chronic vomiting in cats is sometimes caused by conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, renal disease, or food allergies.
If your vet diagnoses your cat with a medical condition, treatment for that condition will likely improve your cat's symptoms. However, your vet may also recommend switching to a cat food for sensitive stomachs.
When choosing the best cat food for sensitive stomach, there are a few factors to consider:
There are four primary types of cat food: kibble, wet cat food, dehydrated cat food, and fresh cat food. Each type has its pros and cons.
Kibble, also known as dry cat food, is the easiest type to feed. You simply scoop it into your cat's bowl. There is little to no odor and not much mess. On the downside, kibble can be hard for cats to chew, particularly if they have dental problems. Therefore, kibble for a sensitive stomach is not the best choice for older cats or those with missing teeth.
Wet cat food has a soft, moist texture and usually comes in a can or a pouch. It is a bit messier to feed than kibble, and it tends to have a strong odor. However, this odor does make it appealing to picky cats and those with a compromised sense of smell. Wet food is also a good choice for cats with dental ailments.
You do want to check the ingredients carefully when selecting wet cat food. Some brands contain a lot of fillers and additives. The best cat food for a sensitive stomach contains more natural ingredients and foods you'll recognize, like chicken and rice.
Dehydrated cat food is usually made with natural, real-food ingredients. Those ingredients are dried out before being packaged. To serve this style of cat food, you have to stir in some water and let the food sit for a few minutes. This allows the food to rehydrate, creating a moist meal for your cat to enjoy.
Dehydrated cat food for a sensitive stomach can be a good option if you want to feed your cat a more natural diet but don't want to deal with the hassle of refrigerating fresh food. However, some cat owners don't like waiting for the food to rehydrate.
Fresh cat food is essentially cat food made from whole, natural ingredients. It's not preserved via canning or dehydration. As such, it must be kept in either a refrigerator or a freezer. Some brands ship their fresh cat food frozen with the instructions for customers to thaw it before feeding it to their cats.
Fresh cat food is often a good choice for cats with food allergies since it typically contains few ingredients. If your cat has a sensitive stomach, they may have an easier time digesting fresh food than kibble. The downside to fresh foods is the lack of convenience. Fresh cat food for sensitive stomachs also tends to come at a higher cost than dry cat food or conventional wet food.
Regardless of the type of cat food you prefer, make sure you look at the ingredients. Ideally, you should see a specific meat listed as the first ingredient. If your cat has a sensitive stomach, food with chicken, fish, or even turkey as a main protein source is generally better than one made with beef or pork, which are harder for cats to digest.
The best cat food contains more than just meat. Many brands add some vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to provide necessary nutrition.
While grain-free foods can be a good choice for some cats allergic to gluten and grains, not every cat requires a grain-free diet. You do, however, want to see grains listed further down the ingredient list, not as a first ingredient. Cat food for sensitive stomachs is often made with whole grains such as whole-grain oats or barley. These grains are good sources of fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion.
If you know or suspect that your cat has a food allergy, make sure the food you choose does not contain allergens that irritate your cat. The most common allergens for cats include beef, chicken, wheat, corn, and dairy products. If you're unsure what your cat is allergic to, see your vet for allergy testing. It is far easier to choose food for a cat with food allergies once you know what specific ingredient or ingredients to avoid.
Finally, look into the company whose cat food you're considering buying. The best cat food companies usually work with vets or animal nutritionists to create their formulas. They should share information about their ingredient quality and sourcing, too. If the company is involved with pet-related charities or partners with animal rescues, that's another sign that they're reputable and dedicated.
If your cat has a sensitive stomach, here are a few key benefits of feeding them a specialty diet.
Many cats with sensitive stomachs have diarrhea or loose stools. Not only is this unpleasant for the cat, but it can lead to a messy litter box or defecation outside the litter box. Cat owners often find that their cats' stool becomes firmer and more formed when they switch to food for sensitive stomachs.
Cats with a sensitive stomach often have very smelly bowel movements. They may also pass gas frequently. Switching to a sensitive stomach cat food usually helps reduce odors, making living with your cat far more enjoyable.
Contrary to what pet owners sometimes think, it is not normal for cats to vomit frequently. When cats do vomit frequently, it is often because they are struggling with irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, or other intestinal ailments. While some of these conditions require veterinary care, changing your cat's diet can also help. Your vet may recommend a specific food to help calm your cat's sensitive stomach, so they vomit less frequently.
If your cat struggles with diarrhea or frequent vomiting due to a sensitive stomach, they're probably not absorbing the nutrients from their food very efficiently. Changing your cat's diet to one that's easier on their digestive tract can improve nutrient absorption. As a result, you may notice that your cat's coat and skin start to look healthier. You may also notice other healthy changes, such as increased energy levels and clearer eyes.
Many cats with sensitive stomachs struggle to maintain a healthy body weight. Once you switch foods, your cat will be better able to absorb and utilize the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in their food. As such, they may put on weight.
If you have an older cat who is underweight, this is an especially important point to consider. When you switch foods, consider also moving away from dry cat food. Many older cats can't chew dry cat food well. Switching to a portion of wet or fresh food will make it easier for them to chew, which can help them put on some healthy weight.
There are many reasons why a cat may have a sensitive stomach. Some cats have sensitive stomachs due to stress. They may feel stressed out and anxious because they recently moved to a new home or because their owners recently introduced a new pet or family member to the household.
Cats may also develop a sensitive stomach due to parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, or flukes. Outdoor cats are at an increased risk for parasitic infections compared to indoor cats. A cat may also catch tapeworms from fleas. It's a good idea to have your vet check your cat for parasites to rule this out as a cause for their stomach sensitivity.
Another cause of stomach sensitivity in cats is food sensitivities. Your cat may be sensitive to or allergic to an ingredient in the food you are providing. This is one reason why switching to a sensitive stomach cat food often makes a big difference in symptoms. Most foods made specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs are free from the ingredients to which cats most frequently have food sensitivities.
If your cat is allergic or sensitive to grains, they will do better on a grain-free diet. However, grain-food cat food is not inherently better for cats than cat food made with grains. If your cat does not show any signs of grain sensitivity, it is perfectly okay to feed them cat food that contains grain. You should, however, look for cat food that contains meat as a primary source of protein. Grain should only be used as a secondary ingredient to ensure the food offers balanced nutrition.
Owners sometimes prefer to feed their cats homemade food as a means of avoiding the preservatives and other questionable ingredients in conventional dry cat food. However, homemade diets have some key limitations. Cat owners, while well-meaning, do not always have the nutritional and veterinary knowledge to design a balanced diet that meets all of the cat's nutritional requirements. As such, cats on homemade diets are at risk for various nutrient deficiencies.
Cat owners who wish to feed a more natural, whole foods-style diet are often better off buying commercially prepared, fresh cat foods. These foods are generally formulated by or with the oversight of veterinarians to ensure they contain all the nutrients cats need to thrive.
If your cat has a sensitive stomach, feeding them cat food made with simple, stomach-friendly ingredients will likely lead to an improvement in their symptoms. There are plenty of sensitive stomach cat foods on the market, but the five brands recommended above are the best of the best. Whether you're looking for wet cat food, dry cat food, or a fresh diet, we suggest reading more about the options above and selecting the one that best fits your cat's needs. Your kitty will surely thank you with purrs and a happy "meow."