Skip to main content

Best cat food for allergies: Great nutrition for sensitive stomachs

best cat food for allergies
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you find your feline friend has a lot of food triggers, investing in the best cat food for allergies could make all the difference to their quality of life. Believe it or not, cats can struggle with allergies and digestive problems just as much as we humans can, so swapping them over to a limited-ingredient formula may be all that's needed to get them back to their happy and healthy selves. 

While the best cat food will be more than suitable for most moggy's, a few of our feline friends will suffer from intolerances and that's when an allergy-specific formula can come in handy. But before you make the switch, there are a few things worth considering.

First up, familiarize yourself with the common symptoms of food allergies. Vomiting, diarrhea, poor coat condition and itchy skin are all signs that your kitty may be ingesting something that doesn't agree with them. We recommend that your first port of call be your vet who will be able to rule out more serious health conditions and any other triggers in your cat's environment that could be causing their symptoms. 

Food is amongst several common allergies in cats and there are any number of ingredients that could set off a reaction. Things like wheat, gluten corn and soy are all common culprits, as are certain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Sometimes it could also be a case of a particular formula containing too many proteins, fruits or vegetables, and the digestive system struggling to break them down.

So, when it comes to choosing a cat food for allergies, what exactly should you be on the lookout for? Well, we recommend opting for a single-protein formula and wherever possible, opt for novel proteins such as duck, venison or rabbit over common proteins like chicken and beef, as these are easier for your cat's body to digest. 

It's also best to go with a single vegetable source and wherever possible, avoid common triggers such as gluten, corn and soy until you're sure that these aren't the cause of the problem. Basically, you want the cleanest and most limited ingredient list you can find as the less ingredients, the less chance there is of your cat having a problem.

To help make choosing a product that little bit easier, we've rounded up the best cat food for allergies, with options to suit every feline furkid and budget. Let's take a look...

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food

Best cat food for allergies overall

Specifications

Type of food: Dry
Veterinary approval needed?: Yes
Good for: Vomiting, Diarrhea, Stool health

Reasons to buy

+
Helps support a healthy immune system
+
Formulated to help improve digestion and stool quality
+
Promotes healthy skin and coat

Reasons to avoid

-
Vet approval needed

One of the most well regarded brands on the market, Hill's Science are masters at creating dry and wet food dishes that are tailored to your kitty's needs. And this Prescription Diet formula is no exception.

Formulated by Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians to support your cat’s skin and food sensitivities, this tasty kibble contains a hydrolyzed single animal protein and single carbohydrate source and has been designed to help avoid the skin and digestive signs that typically occur from adverse food reactions.

It's free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, as well as soy protein and lactose, and contains high levels of natural fiber, omega fatty acids and vitamin E to both keep the digestive system running smoothly and ensure that your cat's coat and skin stays in tip-top condition.

You'll also find that this kibble includes a clinically proven blend of antioxidants and controlled minerals for bladder health, plus the ingredients help to normalize stools which will make cleaning out the litter box that much easier.

Now, we're not going to lie, this is far from the cheapest kibble on the block and it does require vet approval in order to get it, but pet parents of feline allergy sufferers report that it's well worth the money, so it's definitely a formula worth considering.

Reveal Tuna Fillet in Natural Broth

(Image credit: Amazon)

Reveal Tuna Fillet in Natural Broth

Best wet food for allergies

Specifications

Type of food: Wet
Veterinary approval needed?: No
Good for: Sensitive Digestion

Reasons to buy

+
Single ingredient
+
High in protein
+
Great source of omega fatty acids

Reasons to avoid

-
No added vitamins or minerals

Looking for a tasty treat that won't upset your cat's delicate digestive system? Then this tuna fillet in broth could be just the ticket. Featuring just the one ingredient, this is a truly allergy-friendly formula with no grains, corn, soy or articial colors, flavors or preservatives. Wet food doesn't get any cleaner than this!

Because it contains only tuna, this formula is incredibly easy to digest and will be super gentle on your cat's stomach. It features only the highest quality protein and comes jam packed with omega 6 fatty acids to ensure your cat's coat stays shiny and healthy.

This dish is definitely a splurge financially and the lack of added vitamins and minerals means we wouldn't recommend you serve this up daily, but alongside another wet or dry option, it's a great choice as unless your kitty is adverse to tuna, there's literally nothing in this product that would cause any kind of upset. 

Instinct Limited Ingredient Cat Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instinct Limited Ingredient Cat Food

Best dry cat food for allergies

Specifications

Type: Dry
Veterinary approval needed?: No
Good for: All sensitivities

Reasons to buy

+
Grain-free
+
1 protein and 1 vegetable
+
Raw-coated kibble

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

This kibble has one of the shortest ingredient lists we've seen, containing just one protein and one vegetable for optimal digestion. Free from grains, dairy, eggs, corn, wheat, soy and a host of other common allergens, this natural cat food packs quite the nutritional punch.

Using farm-raised rabbit, a healthy, easily digestible protein that provides all the essential amino acids, this kibble is raw coated and freeze-dried to lock in all the nutrients, ensuring your kitty receives their full dose of vitamins and minerals.

Featuring coconut oil to nourish the digestive tract while providing shine to the coat and soothing the skin, it also contains everything your cat's immune system needs to stay healthy while boosting energy and vitality. Overall, a quality kibble that's a top contender for a place in your grocery cart.

Royal Canin Feline Digestive Care dry cat food

(Image credit: Royal Canin)

Royal Canin Feline Digestive Care Dry Cat Food

Best value cat food for allergies

Specifications

Type of food: Dry
Veterinary approval needed?: No
Good for: Sensitive Digestion, Slower Eating, Diarrhea
Special Diet assistance: Pea-free, Sensitive Digestion

Reasons to buy

+
More reasonably priced
+
Good for sensitive digestion
+
Can help with over-eating

Reasons to avoid

-
Less likely to prevent vomiting and weight loss

There are degrees of severity when it comes to digestive sensitivity. If your cat doesn’t require a specifically prescribed food to manage allergies or other stomach problems, you can try them on the regular version of Royal Canin’s Feline Digestive Care dry food. 

It’s almost half the price of the veterinary diet version, and can still improve your cat’s quality of life in many ways. If you suspect that your cat is intolerant to certain food types, but isn’t suffering day to day, this could be the option for you. We would, as ever, recommend that you consult with a vet if you have any questions or concerns whatsoever about your cat’s diet.

This version of Feline Digestive Care can be combined with wet foods, to give your kitty a more rounded (and tasty) diet so is good if your cat prefers a bit of both. What’s also good about this kibble is that it’s specially shaped to prevent cats from eating too fast, which can help with weight control. Appetite loss is one issue, but over-eating is quite another, and this food is suitable for cats that gain weight easily.

If you’re looking for negatives with this food, they’re few and far between. Again, user reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so it’s a product that is loved by all kinds of cats. It is more expensive than regular dry foods, for sure, and the flavors are severely limited so your cat may not like it at all. Overall, though, it’s very good for your cat and won’t break your bank balance either.

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support Dry Cat Food and Wet Cat Food, Chicken

(Image credit: Amazon)

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Novel Protein Alligator Grain-free Dry Food

Best cat food for severe allergies

Specifications

Type of food: Dry
Veterinary approval needed?: Yes
Good for: Allergies, Sensitive Digestion, Skin Problems
Special Diet assistance: Pea-free, Sensitive Digestion, Gluten/Grain-free

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent for allergies
+
Uses high-protein meats
+
Rich in vitamins and minerals

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Not all cats love it

While many specialized dry foods help to support general sensitivities in cat digestion, there are a number that target specific issues that arise from these health problems. This Blue Buffalo Vet Diet dry food helps to target the causes of cat allergies specifically, thanks to a formula that cuts out a wide variety of ingredients that can cause flare-ups. It’s grain-free, and doesn’t contain soy or wheat, which is essentially gluten free for kitties.

More than this, it uses alligator-protein to provide essential nutrition, which is clinically proven to cause fewer allergic reactions in cats. On top of this, it comes with many other more natural ingredients to provide a rounded and balanced diet for your kitty, including Omega-3 for skin, flaxseed for coat, and various berries like cranberries to help with urinary health and immunity. This is a neat blend of natural ingredients and science, for cat owners looking to alleviate a number of symptoms arising from digestive health issues in their pet.

The problem with it, much like all veterinary-prescribed cat foods is the cost, which is among the highest in our guide at almost $60 for a 7lb bag of dry food. It’s excellent food, but won’t be worth the cost unless you genuinely need it for your cat’s allergies. There’s also no guarantee that your cat will enjoy it, and there is no wet-food companion for combo feeding.

Hill's Science Diet, Grain Free Dry Cat Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hill's Science Diet, Grain Free Dry Cat Food

Best cat food for sensitive stomachs

Specifications

Type of food: Dry
Veterinary approval needed?: No
Good for: Sensitive Digestion

Reasons to buy

+
High in prebiotics
+
Rich in vitamin E and omega fatty acids
+
Gentle on the digestive tract

Reasons to avoid

-
Contains corn and gluten

Jam-packed with prebiotic fiber to fuel beneficial gut bacteria and support a grown cat's microbiome, this crunchy kibble from Hill's Science is highly digestible for optimal nutrient absorption and is made with natural ingredients that will nourish your kitty from the inside out.

Containing added FOS, a prebiotic fiber that helps keep the digestive system running smoothly, this formula also features high levels of vitamin E and omega 6 fatty acids to keep the skin and coat in tip-top condition.

Designed in collaboration with scientists and vet-recommended, this nutritious and delicious kibble will reduce the risk of the typical symptoms associated with digestive distress, such as vomiting and diarrhea, and enable your feline furkid to enjoy their mealtimes once again. 

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Kitten Grain-Free wet food

(Image credit: Blue Buffalo)

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Kitten Grain-Free Wet Food

Best cat food for allergies for kittens

Specifications

Type of food: Wet
Veterinary approval needed?: No
Good for: Kittens, Sensitive Digestion
Special Diet assistance: Grain-free, Pea-free

Reasons to buy

+
Balanced well for kittens
+
Grain-free food
+
Still very tasty

Reasons to avoid

-
Not vet controlled
-
Not specialized for allergies

If you suspect that your kitten has a sensitive stomach, you should try them on an enhanced wet food like this Buffalo Freedom variety. While it isn’t a special-diet food, and is freely available without a veterinarian prescription, it does offer some real health benefits for your young cat. It’s grain-free, which can be the source of allergies in cats of all ages, and it doesn’t use soy or other substitute ingredients. It’s pea-free, but does give your kitten a variety of vegetables that will help them develop well into a strong, healthy adult cat.

It’s made without wheat as a thickening agent, which means that the texture is a little looser than you may be accustomed to, but your kitten will find this easier to eat. While kittens can be fickle with flavor, this chicken-based item is well loved by the majority of cats, according to their owners. 

If you’re looking to give your kitten a good start in life, it’s worth investing in more healthy cat food like this. While this is in no way guaranteed to prevent or relieve allergies in your kitten, it does provide them with a healthy immune system and is specially formulated for younger cats, who are indoors more. It is comparatively expensive when compared to other kitten foods, so it really comes down to whether or not you feel your little cat will benefit from the health benefits it brings.

How to choose the best cat food for allergies and other issues

As ever, consult with your vet before selecting cat foods that deal with specific digestive or health issues in your pet. That should be your number one priority, and you should always follow the advice given to you. If your cat needs it, they will give you permission to buy specially formulated ‘veterinary diet’ food that provides specialized care for digestive sensitivity and other issues. But what if you don’t need a prescription?

According to Chewy, veterinarians recommend foods with higher fatty acid content for allergies, as this helps to relieve inflammation and itching caused by allergies. So, if you’re shopping for non-prescription cat food you should look out for ones that contain things like Omega-3 or flaxseed. These ingredients are great for hair and skin too, so the benefits are many.

Cats are creatures of habit, and the more you switch their diets the more likely they are to discover or develop something they are intolerant of, so where possible you should stick to a brand and flavor that your cat enjoys. If you combo-feed wet and dry, you may need to choose one or the other to eliminate the number of potential proteins that your cat could have an adverse immune response to.

We would also recommend looking to cut out foods that contain things like gluten, soy, or cheaper cuts of meat. All these are things that can upset your cat’s digestive system, and they can lead to your kitty developing allergies.

Finally, if you’re going to treat a cat with a sensitive stomach, or with known allergies, then make sure you give them appropriate cat treats. In fact, it’s often better to give them food you’ve cooked yourself - like plain chicken or tuna - to offer special treats and still be kind to their digestive system.

Andy is an online Editor-in-Chief, a photographer, and a cat owner of 25 years. He has owned many types of cat, rescuing some and adopting others from kittens. He currently lives with Pickle, a tortie, who loves to play with Christmas wrapping bows and eat flowers.