It’s not uncommon for cats to have digestive issues at some point during their lives. Whether it’s kittens getting used to solids, older cats struggling to digest protein, or outdoor cats eating things they probably shouldn’t, it doesn’t take much to upset a cat’s stomach.

But for some moggies, gastrointestinal irritation is more than an occasional experience. For these cats, the wrong food can cause months of discomfort, from diarrhea and vomiting to serious malnutrition and inflammation.

That’s why manufacturers put time and resources into developing recipes specifically for sensitive feline stomachs. These cat foods should be made of simple, calming ingredients, allowing owners to make the right choices for their cats.

Let’s take a look at the main causes of feline food sensitivity, how to ensure your cat receives the right nutrition, and the best cat foods for sensitive stomachs on the shelves in 2020.

Common signs of food sensitivities, intolerance, and allergies in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, lethargy, or a dull coat. If your cat frequently experiences any of these symptoms, or if symptoms are combined with abdominal pain, depression, significant weight loss or gain, hiding, or aggression, then seek veterinary consultation as soon as possible.

Why does your cat have a sensitive stomach?

Sensitivities and intolerances

Sometimes, a cat’s digestive issues can as simple as an allergy or intolerance. Removing the offending food from their diet can quickly clear up symptoms. Common feline food intolerances include:

While it may be simple to remove a food from a cat’s diet, replacing lost nutrients isn’t always so easy. Thankfully, supplement powders are available, formulated with probiotics and digestive enzymes to ease digestion and prevent diarrhea.

Sudden dietary or lifestyle changes

Diagnosing a food sensitivity that’s not caused by an intolerance can be tricky, but newly appearing digestive issues in cats are often related to a change in their diet or lifestyle. Switching food brands or even flavor may cause diarrhea, while stressful events can trigger the onset of constipation.

Even minor amounts of stress can also change a cat’s relationship with food, causing them to avoid their bowl or seek out food in other places (such as trying to get into kitchen cupboards). Likewise, cats who are unhappy with their litter box for some reason may become constipated, which can lead to other stomach issues.

Sudden dietary or lifestyle changes

Diagnosing a food sensitivity that’s not caused by an intolerance can be tricky, but newly appearing digestive issues in cats are often related to a change in their diet or lifestyle. Switching food brands or even flavor may cause diarrhea, while stressful events can trigger the onset of constipation.

Even minor amounts of stress can also change a cat’s relationship with food, causing them to avoid their bowl or seek out food in other places (such as trying to get into kitchen cupboards). Likewise, cats who are unhappy with their litter box for some reason may become constipated, which can lead to other stomach issues.

If a cat displays sudden and serious vomiting or food refusal, they may have a parasite or have eaten a toxic substance. Take them straight to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Chronic diseases

Stomach issues that begin gradually and continue to intensify may signal the presence of an underlying condition. This is especially true if there are no idetifiable changes to a cat’s diet or environment. In such cases, vets should test for GI disease and infections, such as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, bacterial or fungal infections, or hormonal conditions like hyperthyroidism.

Nutritional breakdown

The best diet for cats with general stomach sensitivity aids digestion without skimping on essential nutrients and food groups. Ideally, food should contain no significant carbohydrates, low levels of fat, and protein from clearly identifiable sources (to aid owner diet planning).

Here’s what cats with sensitive stomachs should be looking to retain in their diet:

The best cat food for sensitive stomachs in 2020

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Savory Selects Dietetic Management Formula Canned Cat Food

Delivering a balanced meal, low in fat and high in protein, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management Feline Formula is optimized for cats with special dietary requirements.

Key Benefits

  • One of the best tasting wet cat foods out there! It’s also great for diabetic management
  • Made using recommendations from nutritionists, researchers, and vets

  • Protects against struvite and calcium oxalate crystals

  • Promotes healthy levels of glucose, using a high protein, low carb recipe

  • Designed to aid the unique needs of diabetic cats, whilst supporting urinary health

Proudly made in the USA, this canned wet cat food is thoughtfully formulated with quality sources of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Felines suffering from diabetes require daily monitoring, an active lifestyle as well as watching what they eat. It is crucial for pet parents to ensure diabetic kitties consume the correct amount, and type of nutrients, in order to prevent or lessen the effects of diabetes, enteritis, loose stools, etc. If you have a cat with special needs in your care, consider Purina Pro Plan’s diabetic canned cat food.

Water Sufficient for Processing, Chicken, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Meat By-Products, Corn Starch-Modified, Soy Flour, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Taurine, Salt, Choline Chloride, Added Color, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide.

Caloric Content

1,095 kcal/kg, 171 kcal/5.5oz can

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management Formula Dry Cat Food

Help your furry friend take on diabetes with Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management Feline Formula Dry Cat Food.

Key Benefits

  • Great-tasting dry cat food for diabetic management.
  • Crafted in collaboration with nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians.

  • Specially formulated to help support the unique nutritional needs of diabetic cats.

  • Also features a defense against the development of both struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.

  • Developed with a high protein and low carbohydrate recipe that supports urinary health.

This great-tasting dry food is specially formulated to help support the unique nutritional needs of diabetic cats. It is crafted in collaboration with nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians in a high protein and low carbohydrate recipe that supports urinary health. This dry cat food is paw-fect for all breeds of cats in any stage of life and features a defense against the development of both struvite and calcium oxalate crystals as well as healthy antioxidants for your amigo.

Poultry By-Product Meal, Soy Protein Isolate, Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Flour, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E), Corn Starch, Animal Liver Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Phosphoric Acid, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Powdered Cellulose, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Sodium Selenite.

Inactive Ingredients: Disodium Edta, Docusate Sodium, Pcmx, A Monosaccharide Complex (L-rhamnose, D-Galactose, D-Mannose), and FD&C Blue #1.

Caloric Content

4,118 kcal/kg, 592 kcal/cup

Primalix Number 2 for Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats

Made with high-quality human grade, organic ingredients, Primalix Number 2 was created especially for cats and dogs suffering from diarrhea.

Key Benefits

  • Natural herbal extract tincture for all breeds of cats (and dogs)
  • Made with organic human grade quality ingredients (USDA Certified Organic)

  • Absorbs 5x more than pills, tablets or granules

When used under the supervision of a trusted veterinarian, a unique blend of calendula flowers, barberry root bark, marshmallow leaf and oregon grape root assists in easing diarrhea symptoms in felines.

Organic herbs are suspended in a mixture of kosher, food grade, GMO-free apple cider vinegar, vegetable glycerine and citric acid. To ensure freshness and quality, Primalix utilizes amber glass bottles, in order to prevent damage caused by UV rays. Because of the nature of this herbal supplement, it’s best to store Primalix Number 2 in the refrigerator upon receipt, as well as after opening.

Because of this product’s liquid nature, when compared to tablets or pills, this herbal tincture is 5 times more absorbable by the gut. Pet parents only need to add ½ dropper, two times per day to their kitty’s food. Alternatively, cat owners may administer by mouth, for up to 14 days. Once symptoms begin to subside, consult your vet, or simply stop using Primalix Number 2.

Ingredients:
Barberry Root Bark
Oregon Grape Root
Calendula Flowers
Marshmallow Leaf

Other Ingredients: Purified Water, USP Kosher Food Grade GMO-Free Vegetable Glycerine, Apple Cider Vinegar and Citric Acid.

Dosing Instructions:
Cats and small dogs (up to 20 lbs.) 1/2 dropper twice daily
Medium dogs (21 to 60 lbs.) 1 dropper twice daily
Large dogs (61 to 100 lbs.) 2 droppers twice daily
Giant dogs ( 101 lbs. and up) 3 droppers twice daily

Refrigerate after opening.
Treat daily for 10 days to 2 weeks or until symptoms are eliminated.
Administer by mouth or add to food.

FAQ

The best cat food to support those sensitive tummies is formulas that will aid with digestion. You need to look for food that:

  • Is not irritating. Look for food that contains botanical anti-inflammatories. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are especially helpful in this regard. 
  • Is high in pure, premium animal protein. Since cats are obligate carnivores, it’s much easier for them to digest animal protein. This includes organs and muscle meat, not by-products. 
  • Has supplemental fiber to assist with digestion, especially diarrhea symptoms. 
  • Is packed with prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes. 
  • Has no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Aim for food labeled by the AAFCO for being nutritionally complete. 

Ultimately, your cat needs quality food that will comfort upset stomachs while providing the nutrients your cat needs to be healthy.

To help your cat’s sensitive stomach, there are ingredient dos and ingredient don’ts. If you’re trying to get your cat on a healthy path again, avoid feeding your cat the following: 

  • Meat such as beef, lamb and sometimes white fish can cause sensitivity issues in some cats.
  • Any diary, grains, soy or corn. 
  • Treats – at least for a while until your cat feels better. Or ask your vet for some treat recommendations that won’t irritate a sensitive stomach. 
  • Human food – it’s tempting to offer your cat pieces of your dinner, but it’s best to refrain from this in the meantime.

You can either source food that meets all of the needs mentioned above but in some instances, manufacturers will make food formulas to cats with sensitive stomachs. If you change to other named meat protein sources – this can also help your cat’s digestion. Diet is one of the main ways you can help your cat get on a better path. Your cat needs to eat, so feeding quality food that contains less ingredients will help their stomachs adjust in no time.

Even with good intentions, a sudden change in diet can still trigger stomach issues. If you’re trying to experiment with other food options, you need to tread with caution. Your cat already had some digestion sensitivity so they’re more vulnerable to it if you switch their diet too fast. 

Start by mixing around 25% of the new food with their old food and observe any progress. Ensure you feed them at the same times every day. Then if all goes well, after a few days incorporate up to 50% and so on. If the symptoms don’t improve or your cat’s sensitivity increases – consult your vet right away.

There are some tell-tale signs and symptoms you can keep watch for to see if your kitty is having tummy issues. Don’t jump to conclusions until checking with your vet. 

  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy and weakness 
  • Smelly or loose stools 
  • Bloating and gas 
  • Unexplained weight loss

Sensitive stomach issues can be either acute or chronic. Acute symptoms will be more short-term and chronic symptoms will be brought on slowly and may last a while. Keep an eye on your cat and track the symptoms you’re noticing and how often they occur. Then talk to your vet.

As a pet owner, it can feel hopeless when your cat is suffering and throwing up after they eat what you’re putting in front of them. But fear not, there’s probably something happening in their digestive system. A couple of common reasons behind sudden nausea and stomach sensitivity could be: 

Food allergies or sensitivity  

Your cat may be having an allergic reaction to food. It could be due to a newly introduced food product or even food that they have been regularly eating. Allergies and intolerances can come out of the blue. Once you know the underlying cause of the allergy, you can better control what you’re feeding your cat to keep their tummy happy. 

Intestinal parasites 

A more common root of gastrointestinal problems, intestinal parasites occur from contaminated food, dirt, prey or even mother’s milk for kittens. 

Inflammatory bowel disease 

This is a potentially more harmful condition and it occurs when the mucus stomach lining changes your cat’s ability to digest some foods.

Diet may be one of the main things in your control to help your cat’s digestion issues. However, there are some other ways to help your cat heal besides quality food. 

Hydration 

Water and moisture rich food will help digestion, in addition to hydrating internal organs. Ensure your cat has access to plenty of water, either through a running source (such as a mini water fountain) or through a wet food intensive diet. 

Less treats 

We know – treating pets is a pet owner’s favorite pastime. But in this case, it could potentially harm your cat’s stomach more. Too many treats can quickly upset the stomach. That’s why treats should not ever make up more than 10% of a cat’s daily calorie intake. 

Reduce stress 

Just as stress contributes to a lot of health issues in humans, it can also exacerbate issues for cats. Maintain a quiet, relaxing atmosphere and don’t be too overbearing with your cat while they eat. And place their food in an area of the home that won’t cause them disturbance.