The Best Cat and Kitten Foods for Allergies

The Best Cat Foods for Allergies (2022 Reviews)

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Cat foods for allergies are often one of the first things your veterinarian may recommend when you think your cat might be suffering from allergies. Cat foods for allergies use minimal ingredients and usually have just one source of carbohydrates and hydrolyzed protein sources or novel protein sources other than beef, fish, and chicken that may cause problems for some cats and kittens. But what should you look for when buying cat food for allergies?

Our vet advisor, Dr. Danielle Morosco, DVM,  looked at all types of cat foods for allergies to determine which is the best option for most cats with allergies. She looked at factors like flavor, nutritional content, food quality, and more. She chose the Purina Pro Plan HA Hydrolyzed Protein Feline as the best overall for several reasons, but especially because of its single source of protein, which makes it easier to digest. Read how she chose the top 5.

Best Overall

Purina Pro Plan HA Hydrolyzed Protein Feline

For the best in cat and kitten foods for allergies, look no further than Purina Pro Plan HA Hydrolyzed Protein Feline.

Though you should fix the problem causing an upset stomach, you’ll still want to ease your cat’s discomfort in the meantime. If you’re worried about how your cat will adjust to a change in his or her diet, try to be consistent and find a way to keep your fur baby content. For a cat who enjoys the freedom to roam outside, you may want to monitor his comings and goings while you’re fixing his allergies. Once the issues are settled, though, feel free to give your cat back his freedom with a cat door.

Our Vet’s Top 5 Cat Foods for Allergies

Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models to find the right one for you.

Editor’s Picks Model Rating Hydrolyzed Protein Wet or Dry Prescription Required?
Best Overall Purina Pro Plan HA Hydrolyzed Protein Feline 4.2 Dry
Best Budget Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Cat Food 4.6 Dry
Best Wet Food Purina ProPlan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Duck Entree 4.6 Wet
Best Dry Food Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D 4.6 Dry
Best Hypoallergenic Cat Treats Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Feline Treats 4.6 Dry

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy Cat Foods for Allergies

  • Cat parents who notice something wrong – If your cat is vomiting or has diarrhea, it’s obvious that something is wrong. Switching his food is the natural first step to making your cat feel better. You will, of course, want to make sure you’re not giving him any table food or that he’s not getting into something else that could be causing his issues, but before you worry, try the simple fix first.
  • Stinky homes – It may not be as obvious to you, but if your cat has an abundance of flatulence, it may be coming with stomach pains. If you notice more and more stink coming from your cat, try food with limited ingredients that may eliminate whatever their bodies are reacting to.
  • Overly-scratchy cats – An allergy sensitivity may not appear to you to be a digestion problem if the symptoms manifest externally. In the case of a cat or kitten developing a skin reaction, rashes, dry skin, or just overly itchy, changing foods may be the solution. Make sure there are no other environmental causes, but an allergy-sensitive food could do wonders.

Who Should Not Buy Cat Foods for Allergies

  • Owners of a cat who is perfectly healthy – No, a food for sensitive stomachs won’t necessarily hurt your cats or kittens, but it doesn’t make ensuring they get all the nutrients they need any easier. It may be harder to find consistently and is definitely more expensive, so why spend the money if you don’t have to?
  • Those feeding strays – Not only do you not need to purchase the more expensive foods when you’re just feeding the neighborhood strays, but you may be doing them a disservice when you’re acclimating their digestion to one type of diet. When they move onto another area, they may not be able to digest the foods available to them.

Research Tips (From a Veterinarian)

When you are researching cat foods for allergies, there are a few important considerations. Whenever you are researching pet products, don’t forget to consult your veterinarian or other reputable sources, including looking at trusted reviews online. Here’s what to consider when selecting cat and kitten foods for allergies:

  1.  WSAVA guidelines – WSAVA stands for the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, and they have created a list of stringent standards for pet food companies to strive to meet. Purina, Hill’s, Royal Canin, and Iams foods meet WSAVA guidelines and test their foods via feeding trials. Check to see if the food you’re considering advertises the WSAVA certification.
  2. Veterinarian approval for purchase – Prescription novel protein and hydrolyzed protein diets may be more expensive, but they are going to be the most effective for relieving your cat’s allergies.
  3. Consider what type of allergies your cat is suffering from – Food allergies can manifest as skin and gastrointestinal issues, while dietary sensitivities mostly manifest as gastrointestinal issues. Ask your veterinarian about whether a diet for food allergies or a gastrointestinal diet would be more appropriate for your cat. 
  4. Be cautious with BEG diets. This stands for boutique, exotic, and grain-free diets. With a surplus of pet-food manufacturers and new brands constantly hitting the market, it can be confusing for pet owners to navigate which cat food is best. The most common allergen in cat foods is the protein source, with chicken, fish, and beef being linked to food allergies.1 Allergies to grain and gluten are rare in cats, so don’t fall prey to this common marketing trap employed by pet food manufacturers. Instead, consider foods with novel proteins, such as lamb, duck, or rabbit. 
  5. Don’t disregard prescriptions – While some over-the-counter foods may be suitable for a cat with allergies, ask your veterinarian if your cat could benefit from a prescription diet for allergies. These diets contain either hydrolyzed protein, meaning the proteins are broken down into the smallest pieces possible so your cat’s immune system won’t react to them, or a novel protein, such as duck, venison, or rabbit, to reduce the chances of an allergy flare-up.2
  6. Check taurine content – Ensure that the food contains high-quality protein to provide adequate taurine supplementation. Taurine deficiency has been linked to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in cats. 3 4
  7.  Avoid blood tests for food allergies – The RAST (Radioallergosorbent Test) for cats is generally not accurate, as the test was designed for humans. The only way to test for food allergies with accuracy is through a strict food elimination trial.5   

How Much Do They Cost?

Between $30-70

Pet food is a unique item to price. You’ll have different costs depending on your much your cat eats – and just like humans, that will vary pretty widely. One cat may only eat half a three-ounce wet food container a day, while others may eat two! However, based on the average cat, with an average weight and healthy eating habits, you can expect to pay between roughly $30-70 a month on your sensitive cat and kitten food.

Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily

As a veterinarian, I’ve learned that, in order to find the best cat and kitten foods for allergies, you should always look for an AAFCO statement. AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and while they do not inspect or regulate pet foods, they aim to prevent malnutrition by requiring certain components to be included on pet food labels. The presence of an AAFCO statement doesn’t mean the food is perfect for your cat, but it is the bare minimum requirement to ensure you aren’t feeding something harmful to your cat. I’ve seen a lot of complications to a cat’s health that can be prevented or helped by finding the right, high-quality food. Between my discussions with other veterinarians and pet owners, I’ve seen plenty of evidence to support this, and combined with my own experience, I know just what to look for in a food that will keep your cat happy and healthy. – Dr. Danielle Morosco, DVM

The Best Cat and Kitten Foods for Allergies: Full Reviews

Best Overall

Purina Pro Plan HA Hydrolyzed Protein Feline

For the best in cat and kitten foods for allergies, look no further than Purina Pro Plan HA Hydrolyzed Protein Feline.

Purina Pro Plan HA Hydrolyzed Protein Feline has a formula designed for cats with sensitive stomachs and skin. There is only one source of carbohydrate: a rice starch that is known for being easily digestible. It also has several hydrolyzed ingredients, including soy protein, chicken liver, and canola oil. This means your cat’s body won’t need to break down so many ingredients during digestion, and that might just be the fix he needs for comfort.

According to our vet, this food is suitable for cats with food allergies, gastrointestinal sensitivities, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis. You may also want to take a close look at this food if your cat has had a history of struvite or oxalate crystals in his urine because it will create a urinary pH that prevents the formation of these crystals.

Pros
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Single carbohydrate source
  • Palatable flavor that most cats enjoy
Cons
  • Veterinary prescription required
  • Corn oil ingredient can agitate digestion
Best Budget

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Cat Food

The Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Cat Food will give your cat the high-quality food he needs for his sensitive stomach without the high price.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Cat Food will give your cat with a sensitive stomach the kind of food that will keep him healthy. Unlike a lot of other “sensitive skin and stomach” foods, this recipe still includes all the essential nutrients and minerals he needs. It even includes a boost of taurine and vitamin A. Combined with the prebiotic fibers, omega-6 fatty acids, and live probiotics, this formula is designed to support healthy digestion.

This food’s only sources of carbohydrates are rice and oatmeal, which are easily digestible, preventing several potential complications. You’ll also appreciate that lamb is the first ingredient listed, meaning that this food contains more lamb than any other ingredient. When you consider what you’re getting, it makes the price tag even more tempting.

Pros
  • Includes probiotics, prebiotics, taurine, and omega-6s
  • Variety of sizes and flavors available
  • No vet prescription required
Cons
  • Multiple sources of protein
  • No hydrolyzed protein
Best Wet Food

Purina ProPlan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Duck Entree

For a wet cat food option for a sensitive stomach, try Purina ProPlan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Duck Entree.

Purina ProPlan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Duck Entree is an excellent option for cats with highly discerning taste. If you’ve tried a wide variety of dry cat foods for your kitty’s sensitive stomach and all have been rejected, trying wet food is definitely your next step. Not only is the texture more preferable to your cat, but the quality of the ingredients in wet food tends to be a bit higher. You may get lucky and not need anything other than tasty food to help your cat.

Of course, the taste and texture aren’t all this food has going for it. It has a single carbohydrate source, which makes it more digestible compared to other cat foods. It also contains natural prebiotic fiber that offers additional digestive support.

Pros
  • 24 – 3 oz cans per box
  • 4 flavor options
  • No vet prescription required
Cons
  • Recently changed formula to add additional protein
  • Contains meat byproducts
Best Dry Food

Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D

Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D is an exceptional dry food option for an allergy sensitive cat.

Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D is an excellent option when you’ve just not had success anywhere else with your cat’s allergies or digestion problems. In fact, Z/D is the most commonly available prescription cat food because most vets keep it in stock. It contains naturally occurring fibers that help normalize your cat’s stool, making her feel better faster – and reduce the messes around your home. This is also an exceptional choice for cats with skin allergies and flare-ups, making it all the more versatile.

The single carbohydrate source is rice, which is easy for your cat to digest, and all of the carefully selected ingredients add up to create a food that’s bound to give your cat some relief from seemingly never-ending allergies.

Pros
  • Hydrolyzed source of protein
  • Contains taurine and folic acid
  • 3 packaging options
Cons
  • Veterinary prescription required
  • Unpleasant smell
Best Hypoallergenic Cat Treats

Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Feline Treats

If you’re looking for a way to still reward your food-sensitive cat, try the Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Feline Treats.

Finding the right food to balance your cat’s allergies or food sensitivities is all well and good, but if you don’t also find a treat held to the same standards, all may be for naught. Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Feline Treats will allow you to maintain your usual routine, whether that’s training or just welcome home treats when your kitty is well-behaved. You won’t’ have to stop spoiling your cat just because she has allergies.

The formula for these treats includes a carefully selected hydrolyzed soy protein and no carbohydrates to fatten your kitty up. There are no fillers in these snacks, just pure yummy goodness, and it will even work for cats going through an elimination diet. It is the ideal complement to a prescription hydrolyzed protein diet.

Pros
  • Contains hydrolyzed protein
  • Includes taurine and folic acid
  • Palatable taste
Cons
  • Veterinary prescription required
  • Pricey

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if your cat has a food allergy?

Probably the most common food allergy indicators are dermatological or gastrointestinal reactions. That means if your cat is struggling with itching, rashes, vomiting, or diarrhea, an allergy may be the cause. However, more serious reactions can involve higher risks, like those that manifest as attacks on your cat’s respiratory and nervous systems. If your cat has trouble breathing, moving, or experiences a seizure, get him seen by an emergency vet right away.6

How long does it take for food allergies to go away in cats?

Unfortunately, if your cat has an allergy, the fix isn’t going to happen overnight. As a rule, you can expect most food allergies to resolve between 2-4 weeks – sometimes up to 8 weeks, if you’re doing an elimination diet to resolve it. So, unfortunately, you’ll need more than a sample size of the new food to really determine if it will help.7

What are cats usually allergic to?

Meat! While cats can be allergic to a variety of food ingredients and other allergens, the most likely culprit is actually the protein source  in your cat’s food.8

When a food’s recipe includes several types of meat or fish, meat byproducts, or meat “meal,” it’s more likely to cause a reaction. A cat food for allergies that contains hydrolyzed protein will have a greater potential for success.[/FAQ_question]

What to do if my cat has an allergic reaction?

It depends on how severe the reaction is. If it’s just some diarrhea or maybe a bit of vomiting, then you can try some home remedies. For dermatological reactions, you may be able to give your cat Benadryl – but definitely call your vet first for proper dosage and other advice. For digestion issues, go easy on the food: limit his intake, try an allergy-sensitive food, and check with your vet. If there are any breathing problems or signs of nerve damage, get your pet to the emergency vet as soon as possible.

Article Sources

Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Barnette C. Food Allergies in Cats. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed February 24, 2022.
  2. Barnette C. Food Allergies in Cats. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed February 24, 2022.
  3. Miyazaki T, Sasaki SI, Toyoda A, et al. Impaired bile acid metabolism with defectives of mitochondrial-tRNA taurine modification and bile acid taurine conjugation in the taurine depleted cats. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):4915. Published 2020 Mar 18. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-61821-6
  4. Kathrani A, Fascetti AJ, Larsen JA, Maunder C, Hall EJ. Whole-Blood Taurine Concentrations in Cats With Intestinal Disease. J Vet Intern Med. 2017;31(4):1067-1073. doi:10.1111/jvim.14773
  5. Allergy Tests for Cats. FirstVet.com. Accessed 4 Feb 2022.
  6. J Wills, J Harvey. Diagnosis and management of food allergy and intolerance in dogs and cats. Veterinary Journal. 1994; 71(10). pages 322-326. doi:10.1111/j.1751-0813.1994.tb00907.x
  7. Olivry, T., Mueller, R.S. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (9): time to flare of cutaneous signs after a dietary challenge in dogs and cats with food allergies. BMC Vet Res. 2020; 16(158). doi:10.1186/s12917-020-02379-3
  8. J Wills, J Harvey. Diagnosis and management of food allergy and intolerance in dogs and cats. Veterinary Journal. 1994; 71(10). pages 322-326. doi:10.1111/j.1751-0813.1994.tb00907.x
Dr. Danielle Morosco
Dr. Danielle Morosco, DVM is a Consulting Veterinarian in Clinical Toxicology and experienced small animal emergency veterinarian. She graduated with Honors from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. She loves spending time with her furry family members, composed of 2 rescue dogs and 3 cats.