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My cat Zoe loves food—but not all cat foods agree with her. Things were pretty messy and smelly around our house until I upped the quality of what I was feeding my poor tabby and removed a few ingredients that just didn’t sit right with her. If you’re trying to find the best cat food for a sensitive stomach, take heart! We’ve got a few tips on finding a better diet and have included a list of easily digestible foods to help get you started.
First, check with your vet to make sure there isn’t an underlying health problem causing loose stools or vomiting. Next, take a look at the ingredients label on your cat’s current food. If it seems like the food has a little bit of everything thrown into it, or some of the ingredients seem vague (“meat” instead of “chicken” or “fish”), that’s a sign that you need to up the quality. But what, exactly, should you be looking for?
This comprehensive article from the Cornell Feline Health Center covers the basics of feline nutrition and outlines some ways you can serve a healthy diet to your cat. Cats are “obligate carnivores” (they need animal protein) and should be eating foods that are mostly high-quality animal protein and animal fats. They also require more than a dozen other nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids), including taurine.
Signs Your Cat May Have a Sensitive Stomach
It’s normal for a cat to cough up the occasional hairball—it’s simply a consequence of accidentally swallowing hair during grooming. But if your cat is vomiting after meals, or experiencing frequent diarrhea, it could indicate a mismatch between their stomach and the food they’re eating.
Here are some of the signs of a sensitive stomach in cats:
- Diarrhea, constipation, or changes in stools
- Increased thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Poor coat condition
- Itching or other skin problems
If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, ask yourself if the problem is acute or chronic. Acute digestive issues are ones that seem to come on out of the blue, while chronic issues develop slowly. In cases of acute digestive upset, the problems could be the result of a change in diet, an infection, intestinal disease, or stress. Chronic digestive problems are more likely caused by food allergies or a sensitive stomach—that’s when you may want to consider foods specially formulated to relieve digestive problems.
What to Look for in Cat Food for a Sensitive Stomach
If your cat begins suffering from digestive issues, your first step is to talk with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to rule out underlying health problems or behavioral issues and they can offer advice about treatment options. If it becomes clear that your cat’s issues are food-related, the next step is to transition him to cat food that’s going to be gentler on his stomach.
Here’s what you should expect to find in cat food for a sensitive stomach:
- Wholesome, natural ingredients
- High-quality animal protein (ideally a single source)
- Healthy fats (including Omega fatty acids)
- Easily digestible carbohydrates
- Nutritionally complete and balanced
- Beneficial supplements (like probiotics and prebiotics)
- No artificial additives, fillers, or by-products
Most cat foods for sensitive stomachs rely on a single source of animal protein. Some rely on what’s called a novel protein, a less-common meat (like rabbit or venison) that is unlikely to be involved in your cat’s stomach issues. Feeding your cat a single-protein food for a while can help you figure out what proteins your cat can (and can’t) enjoy.
The Best Cat Food for a Sensitive Stomach
Aside from balanced nutrition, digestibility is the most important quality in cat food for sensitive stomachs. Look for recipes that include beneficial supplements like prebiotic fibers and probiotics to ensure healthy and regular digestion.
Read on for our top picks for the best cat food for a sensitive stomach.
Formulated specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs, this dry food features highly digestible ingredients including fresh chicken, whole-grain carbohydrates, and probiotic supplements.Shop on Chewy
If your cat prefers wet food, this protein-rich recipe features mackerel and New Zealand grass-fed, free-range lamb. It’s packed with plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat plus essential vitamins and minerals.Shop on Chewy
This formula is made with a limited number of ingredients to reduce the risk for upset stomach and features real chicken and grain-free carbohydrates (chickpeas, peas, and alfalfa meal) for balanced nutrition.Shop on Chewy
Made with a single source of less-common animal protein (one that your cat has probably not encountered before) one vegetable, and a limited number of other ingredients, this rabbit recipe is highly digestible and loaded with healthy nutrients.Shop on Chewy
This holistic, natural recipe features whole meat ingredients, non-GMO vegetables, and a variety of other wholesome ingredients to provide complete and balanced, highly digestible nutrition.Shop on Chewy
Featuring 95% protein from Pacific Ocean fish meal along with antioxidant-rich blueberries, this high-protein, limited-ingredient diet is a great option for cats with sensitive stomachs.Shop on Chewy
This nutrient-rich limited-ingredient diet, rich in salmon and sweet potatoes, is free from poultry and grains. Includes prebiotics and probiotics to aid digestion.Shop on Chewy
This grain-free fish-based recipe features seven main ingredients, including fresh salmon as a rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids to support your cat’s healthy skin and coat.Shop on Chewy
If your cat suffers from severe food allergies and requires a prescription diet, this recipe is made with a novel source of protein, alligator, and is uniquely formulated to minimize negative reactions. This variety is also available as wet food. You’ll need to provide your pet food supplier with your vet’s prescription or your vet’s contact information in order to purchase this one.Shop on Chewy
Another holistic recipe from Halo, this seafood medley cat food is specifically designed for cats with sensitive stomachs. It’s rich in high-quality protein—the whitefish and salmon are whole, no fish meal in sight—and easy to digest.Buy Now on Chewy
Made without grains, potatoes, or artificial fillers, this salmon-based formula is both limited in ingredients and high in protein—plus, it’s supplemented with plenty of fiber for healthy digestion.Buy Now on Chewy
More Information About Your Cat’s Diet
Finding the best food for your cat—and getting your cat to accept it—isn’t always easy on you or your wallet. We’ve also put together a list of high-quality cat foods that won’t break your budget. Read more about The 10 Healthiest Cat Food Options to Dish Out on a Budget.