Let’s face it, we love our pets, especially our cats. They offer us an endless supply of companionship and entertainment. They can make even the darkest of days seem brighter with just a nuzzle of your hand or a slow rub up against your ankle. We often wonder what we would ever do without them.
With that in mind, it is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of cat ownership to see your favorite feline struggling with a health issue. One of the more difficult ailments to deal with is a sensitive stomach, which can often result in additional symptoms such as diarrhea.
This type of issue is often the result of hyper-sensitivity to many of the mainstream ingredients in today’s cat food. If you have a cat that struggles with a sensitive stomach or issues with diarrhea then read on to get helpful information on the causes of these issues and the best cat food alternatives to help with your kitty’s upset tummy.
In This Article...
- What is the Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs?
- What are the Symptoms to Look for?
- What are the Potential Causes?
- When Should You Get Your Vet Involved?
- Potential Treatment Options
- Top Recommended Cat Foods for Sensitive Stomaches
What is the Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs?
What are the Symptoms to Look for?
Your first clue that your cat has sensitive stomach issues is most likely going to occur when you clean out the litter box. If you notice loose stools and/or an increased volume of feces in the litter box then it is very likely that your cat has an upset tummy.
Diarrhea is not a common occurrence for a healthy cat so if you see evidence of it then it is certainly worth investigating. The first step in that process is to try to gauge the frequency and intensity of your cat’s diarrhea. Now, unless you routinely hang out near the litter box, this is not as easy as it sounds. However, if you are diligently cleaning out the litter box then you should be able to determine when any symptoms of diarrhea started to occur.
This is an important factor because it allows you to quickly gauge the severity of the issue. If the duration of the diarrhea issue is relatively short, then it was most likely caused by something your cat ate or drank. The issue should go away as soon as your cat passes the guilty substance out of its system.
If the diarrhea is persistent it could be considered chronic. This means that the symptoms have been occurring consistently over the course of several weeks. This may point to a consistent cause such as an allergic reaction to your cat’s regular diet.
If the symptoms seem to start and stop, meaning they are intermittent, then it may be more difficult to determine the culprit. It could be an allergic reaction to its normal diet or it could be the fact that the neighbor’s kid is feeding it bowls of milk every now and then. You may not know that giving your cat the milk that you drink can routinely cause diarrhea.
One last symptom to look for in the litter box is the presence of blood in the stool. As you can imagine, this should be considered a serious issue and be dealt with accordingly.
Here are some other indicators that your cat may be suffering from sensitive stomach issues or diarrhea. These won’t require you looking in the litter box.
- Pale or yellow colored gums
- Sluggish actions or a depressed mood
What are the Potential Causes?
One common cause for the onset of diarrhea is a sudden change in your cat’s diet. If you have recently decided to try a different cat food, your pet may take a while to adjust to it. Sometimes you have to change because you don’t have time to swing by the specialty food store and ended up picking up a small bag at the convenience store to tide your kitty over.
Perhaps, you just couldn’t pass up the lower price on a different brand at the supermarket. Whatever the reason for the switch, you need to be mindful that it can upset your cat’s digestion. Your pet will adjust and should get back to normal litter box duties fairly quickly.
Another potential culprit is that your cat got a hold of some spoiled food. Whether it was foraging around outside or found some human food up on the counter, it is possible that your cat just ate some bad food. Just like you, this will cause some discomfort for a period of time but should subside.
If your cat is on any prescribed medications it is possible that it could cause a side effect such as diarrhea. These symptoms should be brief in nature as well and should not last any longer than the time that our cat is actually taking the antibiotics or other medications.
Hyper-sensitivity to the food you are feeding your cat could be the most likely issue. Many of the pet food brands on the market have a long list of ingredients. Some brands also contain a significant amount of wheat, gluten, and other by-products. Most pets, especially cats, will have trouble digesting these ingredients even if it doesn’t cause symptoms such as diarrhea.
Even if you are feeding your cat one of the all-natural pet foods, It is still possible that for your feline friend to have an allergic reaction. Many of these all natural foods will include fruits and vegetables such as apples, blueberries, pumpkin, and spinach. It could be that one or many of these ingredients is causing an allergic reaction that is affecting your cat’s digestive system.
When Should You Get Your Vet Involved?
If diarrhea is happening for more than 24 hours then it’s a good idea to get your cat in to see the vet. You will need to make sure you are armed with some details about the frequency, onset, and severity of the diarrhea. This will help our vet determine potential causes and treatment.
If you notice that your cat is refusing to eat or drink then a trip to the vet may be in order. In addition to losing strength from not eating, your cat can quickly become dehydrated. Dehydration is a serious issue for cats and can lead to a number of other serious health issues. For this reason, dehydration should never be ignored.
Cats with upset tummies may also experience a decrease in activity level or interest in engagement. You may be the proud owner of that cat that sits on the window sill all day so it may be tough to determine a reduction in activity. However, if your cat does not show any interest in engaging with you then you need to pay attention. Your pet may be quietly sending you a loud and clear message that their health is in danger.
Potential Treatment Options
Your vet will most likely run a series of diagnostic tests on your cat to determine the cause of the diarrhea. One such test is to look for the existence of parasites, or worms, in your cat. You may or may not have noticed worms in the stool. The parasite test will help determine if worms are the cause of your cat’s intestinal issues. If so, then your cat will be treated with a de-wormer. You should begin to see improvements in your cat soon thereafter.
If your vet determines that your cat is experiencing hyper-sensitivity to its diet, then you will need to look for alternative pet foods to try to alleviate the issue. There are many hypoallergenic, limited ingredient foods on the market. The reason that a limited ingredient cat food is important is that it minimizes the number of potential allergens in your cat’s diet. Many of the mainstream cat foods have a wide variety of ingredients, any of which could be the reason why your kitty is struggling.
So if you find yourself in the market for a low ingredient, hypoallergenic cat food, here are four of the best options to choose from.
Top Recommended Cat Foods for Sensitive Stomaches
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
This specially formulated cat food from Natural Balance is specifically made for cats with sensitive stomachs. It features a recipe of succulent duck and green peas that makes for a delicious and healthy meal for your cat. Natural Balance carefully selects each of the limited ingredients in this grain-free formula.
Your cat still needs optimal nutrition, even if it is dealing with a sensitive stomach. This green pea and duck formula from Natural Balance is still packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals. It also has essential taurine that is an important part of healthy heart function and vision.
Your cat will still get all the energy it needs as well. This pet food formula is full of limited carbohydrate sources. This results in highly digestible energy for your playful companion. Your cat will also benefit from healthier skin and a bright, shiny coat. This cat food has essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are critical to that beautiful and healthy look.
Another benefit of this limited ingredient diet is that it only has one source of protein. In this case, it is the delicious duck your cat will crave. Combined with high-quality, complex carbohydrates, this unique formula will provide a balanced nutritious meal that will maintain optimal digestive health.
Natural Balance has decades of experience providing high-quality pet foods. Founded in 1989, they have made it their mission to provide your pet’s with “food for a lifetime”. Using proven scientific principles and a sincere concern for the well-being of your animals, Natural Balance has become a trusted brand for some of the top animal trainers as well as many rescue shelters. With a reputation like this, you can be confident giving your cat Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food.
- Grain free
- Lean duck as primary source of protein
- Contains omegas and taurine
- Limited ingredients
Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food
Featuring lean chicken as its primary protein based ingredient, Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach formula is proven to help soothe sensitive tummy issues for your feline companions. Free from gluten and other by-products, this specially formulated dry cat food is loaded with all the healthy elements that your cat needs and deserves.
Blue Buffalo has loaded this cat food with all kinds of anti-oxidant rich superfoods. Featuring pumpkin, spinach, cranberries, and blueberries, this unique recipe delivers all the vitamins and minerals necessary to support your cat’s optimal health. Plus you get omega 3 and 6 for healthy skin, taurine for a healthy heart and beta-carotene for superior vision.
To help with your kitty’s digestive health, Blue Buffalo provides ample probiotics and prebiotics that are packed into the Life Source Bits in this dry cat food. As a result, your cat will experience improved digestion and better nutrient absorption. This will lead to an improved immune system and a longer, healthier life for your cat.
Blue Buffalo offers more life stage and life cycle specific pet foods than any other natural cat food manufacturer. Their pet foods are formulated with specially selected, high-quality natural ingredients featuring protein-rich meat. With a foundation of love for their own pets, the makers of Blue Buffalo are passionate about providing pet owners with the best in natural and holistic pet foods.
- Lean chicken as primary source of protein
- Rich in antioxidants
- Contains both pre and probiotics
- Price as compared to non-prescription brands
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Cat Food
You can get the best of both worlds with this specialty formula cat food from Hill’s Science Diet. Your cat will benefit from improved digestion as well as healthier skin. Hills is widely recognized as one of the top prescription brand pet foods in the industry.
What makes Hills so special is that they put all of their ingredients through rigorous testing to ensure it meets their exacting standards. They focus on nutritional content as well as purity when it comes to their holistic list of ingredients. This results in some of the finest specialized cat foods available with or without a prescription.
Their scientific approach makes this cat food a precisely balanced blend of nutrition. Combining the healthy skin benefits of omega fatty acids and Vitamin E will give your cat healthy skin without the aggravating itching. Antioxidants support healthy cellular function and digestive health. Along with a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, Hills Science Diet will ensure your cat has a strong immune system.
Hills uses the combined talents of over 200 veterinarians, nutritionists, and food scientists to design their unique formulas. This significant amount of experience and intellect allow Hill’s to stay on the leading edge of research and development of nutritious options for your pets. After all, they are the brand the many veterinarians feed their own pets. Perhaps you should give it a try for your cat and its sensitive tummy.
- Great for digestion and skin health
- High nutritional content
- Requires a veterinary prescription
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food
If your cat is suffering from sensitive stomach issues or just happens to be a very picky eater, then Royal Canin’s Fiber Response Dry Cat Food is an excellent choice. Its special formula has balanced sources of fiber that aid with your cat’s sensitive digestive issues. As a result, your cat will get the optimal absorption of valuable vitamins and minerals to support optimal health.
Of course, every good cat food needs a sturdy supply of high-quality protein. Royal Canin uses highly digestible proteins as a staple of their nutritious cat foods. This form of protein provides the necessary building blocks for muscular health as well as helping to soften stools. This makes it easier for your cat to easily process and then dispose of its meal. This can be heavenly for a cat that struggles with intestinal issues.
Improving digestion through the use of fermentable fibers is another feature of this cat food. This promotes the development of the so-called “good” bacteria in the digestive tract. Along with maintaining intestinal flora balance, this “good” bacteria helps your cat to fully break down the food and optimize the nutritional content.
Royal Canin also specializes in maintaining healthy urinary tract function. Their Fiber Response dry cat food contains their proprietary Urinary S/O Index® formula. This unique additive helps to prevent the formation of painful crystals in the urinary tract.
Royal Canin is widely known as one of the most advanced makers of specialized pet foods in the industry. Their specially formulated pet foods are routinely prescribed by veterinarians to help alleviate a number of digestive and food allergy issues in cats and other household pets.
- High Fiber content
- Supports healthy urinary tract
- Requires a veterinary prescription