Julia Ogden

Written by Julia Ogden

Updated: May 15, 2024

What are the best cat foods for a sensitive stomach?

Updated: May 15, 2024

Every cat is different and some can be really sensitive to the food they eat, causing them to suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence

Cats with a sensitive stomach may have food intolerances and some foods may just be too rich for them.

If your cat has a sensitive stomach you might want to try a different food to help ease their symptoms. 
See below for our recommendations of the best cat food for a sensitive stomach.

  • I and Love and You Naked Essentials Chicken & Duck (Dry)

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    Recommended

    I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Chicken & Duck received the Cat Food Advisor’s high rating: 4.5 stars.

    It is one of eight dry recipes in this product range made by I and Love and You, a company founded in 2011 in Boulder, Colorado.

    I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Chicken & Duck derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which  is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 37.8% protein, 15.6% fat and 38.7% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 41%.

    It is a formulated blend that boasts a meat-first ingredient list with prebiotics and probiotics to aid healthy digestion.

    Read our review of the full I and Love And You Dry Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, dried garbanzo beans, dried peas
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 37.8%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For All cats

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    Sample buyer review...

    "My name is Ollie Jet; I started to experience tummy upset from my previous kibble. My mom looked into my food I was eating and discovered it was only 3 stars on the Clean Label Project. I’m a super picky eater so my mom tried out the small bag first. The recommendations for switching my diet were to mix my old dry food in with the new; so that’s exactly what my Mom did. Well I liked the new food so much better I picked out all the old kibble and spit them out on the floor and only eat my Naked Essentials Chicken and Duck! My tummy is doing much better, I look so handsome because the new food also has made my fur coat more soft and less oily. My new food is “puurrrfeect!” I love my Mom and ILY food!"

  • Blue True Solutions Blissful Belly (Dry)

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    Highly Recommended

    Blue True Solutions Adult Cat Blissful Belly Digestive Care Formula received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of five dry cat food recipes in a range made by Blue Buffalo, a company owned by General Mills.

    Blue True Solutions Adult Cat Blissful Belly Digestive Care Formula derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 37.4% protein, 17.6% fat and 37.1% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 47%.

    Made from high-quality natural ingredients such as real chicken and with no added artificial flavors or preservatives, this range is formulated to support your cat’s lifestyle. Variants include digestive care and skin and coat care for more specific needs.

    Read our review of the full Blue Buffalo True Solutions Dry Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, pea protein, barley
    Texture Dry
    Type Nuggets
    Protein Percentage 37.4%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Kittens, cats & senior cats

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    Sample buyer review...

    "We started using Blue Buffalo Blissful Belly on our two year old cat to help with his gas and it works like a charm. No gas or upset stomach and he loves the taste of it. We tried many other brands before this and they either didn’t work or he had no interest in eating the food."

  • Halo Holistic Whitefish Sensitive Stomach Support (Dry)

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    Highly Recommended

    Halo Holistic Wild-Caught Whitefish Cat Food (Sensitive Stomach Support) received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of seven dry food recipes in a range made by Halo, a company set up in 1980 and now owned by Best Choice Company Inc.

    Halo Holistic Wild-Caught Whitefish Cat Food (Sensitive Stomach Support) derives the bulk of its protein from whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 36.3% protein, 18.7% fat and 37.1% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 52%.

    Halo Holistic uses fresh meats and fish in its dry food recipes. The food does not contain corn, wheat, wheat gluten or rice and has no artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives added

    Read our review of the full Halo Holistic Dry Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Whitefish, brewers rice, pork, brewers dried yeast, pork fat
    Texture Dry
    Type Kibble
    Protein Percentage 36.3%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult and senior cats, particularly those with a sensitive stomach

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    Sample buyer review...

    "My cat Riley is a very picky eater who has developed GI issues with aging. He is sensitive to both grain and chicken so finding food that he can digest has been a real challenge. Halo Holistic has been a real find."

  • Wellness Core Digestive Health, Wholesome Grains, Chicken & Rice (Dry)

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    Wellness Core Digestive Health with Wholesome Grains Adult Chicken & Rice dry recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s second highest rating: 4 stars.

    It is one of two recipes in this product range, which provides cats with an excellent source of quality protein and essential fatty acids, made with natural, wholesome ingredients, free from grains, carrageenan, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

    Wellness Core Digestive Health with Wholesome Grains Adult Chicken & Rice recipe derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids a cat needs to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 42.2% protein, 18.9% fat and 30.9% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 45%.

    Read our review of the full Wellness CORE Digestive Health Dry Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), rice, barley, oats
    Texture Dry
    Type Kibble
    Protein Percentage 42.2
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Cats & senior cats

    Save up to 35%

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    Sample buyer review...

    "Looking at reviews online, it was said that this brand of cat food is one of the best and is great protein wise. I recently took in a stray underweight cat and she's scoffed this food and it seems to have had positive effects. Will be buying again."

  • Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein with Alaskan Pollock & Egg (Dry)

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    Recommended

    Solid Gold Dry Indigo Moon High Protein with Alaskan Pollock & Egg received the Cat Food Advisor’s second highest rating: 4 stars.

    It is one of nine dry cat food recipes in this product range made by Solid Gold and provides cats with an excellent source of quality protein and essential fatty acids, made with natural, wholesome ingredients, free from grains, carrageenan, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives..

    This particular recipe derives the bulk of its protein from ocean fish meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 46.7% protein, 22.2% fat and 23.1% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 48%.

    Read our review of the full Solid Gold Indigo Moon Dry Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Ocean fish meal, chicken meal, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pollock
    Texture Dry
    Type Kibble
    Protein Percentage 46.7
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Cats & senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
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    Sample buyer review...

    "This is the first dry food that my baby will eat and not spit out! The high protein content helps to keep him fit."

What can cause cats to have a sensitive stomach?

Cats can have sensitive stomachs for various reasons. Here are some common factors that can contribute:

Food allergies or intolerances: Cats may develop allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients in their food, common ingredients which can cause sensitivities include beef, chicken, fish & dairy.

Dietary changes: A cat’s digestive system is made to process a limited number of foods, a sudden change in their diet can disrupt their digestive system, leading to stomach sensitivities. It’s important to introduce new foods gradually and maintain a consistent feeding schedule.

Poor-quality diet: Low-quality or inappropriate diet can result in gastrointestinal problems. Cats require a diet that is appropriate for their life stage and nutritionally balanced.

Food sensitivities: Cats can be sensitive to certain ingredients or additives commonly found in commercial cat foods, such as artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. These can cause gastrointestinal distress and sensitivity.

Eating too quickly: If your cat has a tendency to eat their food too quickly this can result in indigestion, vomiting, or other stomach issues. Slow feeder bowls or interactive feeding toys can help slow down their eating pace.

Hairballs: Cats groom themselves by licking their fur, and this can lead to the formation of hairballs in their stomachs. Hairballs can cause discomfort and digestive disturbances.

Stress or anxiety: Cats are sensitive animals, and a change in their environment or routine can cause stress or anxiety and result in an upset stomach. 

What are the main symptoms of a sensitive stomach in cats?

Cats with sensitive stomachs may exhibit a variety of symptoms related to their gastrointestinal distress. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Vomiting: Cats with sensitive stomachs may vomit more frequently than usual. The vomit may contain undigested food or bile and can occur shortly after eating or at random times.
  • Diarrhea: Loose or watery stools can be a sign of a sensitive stomach. Their stool may have an unpleasant odor and their bowel movement may be more regular.
  • Flatulence: You may notice your cat passing gas more frequently or having foul-smelling gas. These are symptoms of a sensitive stomach. 
  • Poor appetite or picky eating: They may eat smaller amounts or show disinterest in meals; it could be a sign of GI issues such as gastroenteritis. 
  • Weight loss: Digestive issues can lead to weight loss in cats. If their sensitive stomach is preventing proper nutrient absorption, it may cause a gradual decline in body weight.
  • Abdominal discomfort: If your cat is showing increased restlessness, pacing, or discomfort when touched in the abdominal area this could be symptoms of a sensitive stomach.
  • Changes in behavior: Cats experiencing digestive sensitivities may display changes in behavior, including lethargy, decreased activity levels, or irritability.
  • Dehydration: If your cat is frequently vomiting or has diarrhea this can lead to dehydration, look for signs of increased thirst, dry gums or reduced elasticity in their skin.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also indicate other underlying health conditions, so it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What should you do if you think your cat may have a sensitive stomach?

If you suspect your cat has a sensitive stomach, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian. They can help determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications to alleviate the issue.

What sort of food is beneficial for cats with a sensitive stomach?

When feeding a cat with a sensitive stomach, it’s important to choose a diet that is easily digestible, gentle on the stomach, and formulated to address digestive sensitivities. Here are some guidelines for selecting food for cats with sensitive stomachs:

Limited ingredient diet: Opt for cat food with a limited number of high-quality ingredients. This can help identify and eliminate potential allergens or irritants from your cat’s diet.

Novel protein sources: If your cat has been eating chicken-based food, you can try a food with novel proteins like duck, rabbit, or venison. This can help determine if your cat has any specific protein sensitivities.

Easily digestible carbohydrates: Easily digestible carbohydrates, such as rice or sweet potato can provide a gentle source of energy and reduce the likelihood of stomach upset.

Avoid common allergens: Ingredients that are known to commonly trigger food allergies or sensitivities in cats are beef, dairy, fish, or grains, check food labels and avoid these ingredients.

High-quality and balanced nutrition: Look for food that is specifically formulated for cats with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues and ensure they provide a complete and balanced nutrition.

Wet or moist food: The higher moisture content can help prevent dehydration and provide additional hydration for your cat, so try wet or moist cat food that can be easier to digest compared to dry kibble.

Gradual transition: When deciding to introduce new food, start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the old food, gradually increasing the proportion of the new food over time. This gradual transition can help minimize digestive upset.

Sources

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Article reviewed by
Georgia Jeremiah

Veterinarian

Dr Georgia Jeremiah has a first class honors degree in comparative pathology with field experience in anatomic and clinical pathology, studying disease processes in a multitude of species.

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