A sensitive stomach cat food can give your cat back his quality of life. When eating a food that triggers a reaction like vomiting, your cat is uncomfortable at best and damaging his digestive system at worst.1 Picking the right cat food is crucial to a prolonged and healthy life for your cat.
Our vet advisor, Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, took a close look at the ingredients in a variety of sensitive stomach cat foods to find the elimination of triggers for adverse food reactions like allergies and the inclusion of stomach-soothing ingredients. In her professional opinion, Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Canned Cat Food is the best food for most cats with sensitive stomachs.
While this was Dr. Coates’ top choice, she also offers a series of her top tips for what to look for in choosing the best cat food for a sensitive stomach, a section on who should avoid purchasing these kinds of food, and she personally selected the best sensitive stomach cat foods for a variety of specific use cases.
The 5 Best Cat Foods for a Sensitive Stomach
- Best Overall – Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Canned Cat Food
- Best Budget – Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Classic Arctic Char Grain-Free Entree Canned Cat Food
- Best Dry Food – Royal Canin Adult Cat Sensitive Digestion Dry Adult Cat Food
- Best for Older Cats – Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Adult 7+ Turkey & Giblets Entree Classic Canned Cat Food
- Best for Kittens – Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Entree Canned Cat Food
Sensitive Stomach Cat Foods Compared
Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different products.
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Rating||Canned or Dry||Prebiotics?||Limited Ingredient?|
|Best Overall||Hill’s Prescription Diet ZD Skin/Food Sensitivities Canned Cat Food||Canned|
|Best Budget Buy||Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach||Canned|
|Best Dry Food||Royal Canin Adult Cat Sensitive Digestion Dry Adult Cat Food||Dry|
|Best for Older Cats||Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Adult 7+ Classic Canned Cat Food||Canned|
|Best for Kittens||Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Canned Cat Food||Canned|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Eat a Sensitive Stomach Cat Food
- Kitties with an Upset Stomach – If your feline friend has shown signs of a mildly upset stomach but seems to feel fine otherwise, then you may want to try a food that is a bit easier on her stomach.
- Odd Appetites – Although this isn’t a guarantee of food sensitivity, there’s a chance that she has an upset stomach if you find your cat chomping on unusual things. Just be aware that nibbling on grass can be a normal behavior in cats.
- Itchy Skin – Food allergies are typically associated with frequent scratching and infections in the ear or skin, which can be improved with a dietary switch.1
Who Should Not Eat a Sensitive Stomach Cat Food
- Bigger problems – If you don’t know the cause of your cat’s sensitive stomach, or if you do know that an underlying health problem is to blame, it’s best to take your kitty to the vet to address your cat’s condition.
- Sudden symptoms – If your cat has a sudden onset of frequent vomiting with no history of a recent diet change, it’s likely that something else is upsetting his stomach. For example, you’ll want to make sure he’s not eaten any poisonous plants or potentially dangerous human food.23
Buying Guide: Research Tips From a Veterinarian
A cat’s sensitive stomach may be a sign of many different health concerns including food allergies, food intolerances, hairballs, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. Once you and your veterinarian have decided that a change in diet is in order, here’s what you should look for in a sensitive stomach cat food.
- Pay attention to ingredients – Options may include limited ingredient diets, hydrolyzed protein diets, grain-free diets, and foods that include prebiotics, highly digestible ingredients, and fatty acids/fish oil. Reducing the number of ingredients will lower the probability of food reactions.4
- Try canned foods – Canned food better meets a cat’s nutritional needs than does dry food. In fact, just switching a cat from dry to canned food will sometimes take care of their digestive problems.
- Prescription is quality – Prescription diets, like Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d, are produced under the strictest quality control measures and are therefore less likely to be cross-contaminated with ingredients not listed on the food’s label that could lead to a flare-up of a cat’s symptoms.
- Look for certifications – All foods need to provide complete and balanced nutrition based on a cat’s stage of life and other factors. Only feed foods that are labeled with an appropriate AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement of nutritional adequacy.
- Find reputable brands – Only purchase foods from companies that have a well-deserved reputation for making quality products.
Of course, a sensitive stomach isn’t the only possible cause of a cat’s gastrointestinal distress. You may want to try some home remedies to stop his symptoms and settle his stomach, but for severe or long-lasting problems, always talk to your veterinarian first.
How Much Do They Cost?
Between $1-$1.50 a day
The price of any pet food depends on its quantity and quality. You wouldn’t pay the same for ground beef as you would a steak, and you won’t pay the same for different quality cat foods either. Sensitive stomachs typically require more expensive ingredients, and that means a bit higher of a price tag for the food as a whole. However, that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank feeding your fur baby. You can look to spend around $1-$1.50 a day for your cat’s sensitive stomach cat food.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily
I have only recommended sensitive stomach cat foods made by companies with a well-deserved reputation for their excellent quality control standards and that make foods that follow AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines. The products I’ve selected are commonly recommended by veterinarians, and vets report having had good success using the products listed, which has led me to these picks. For significant health problems, you should talk to your veterinarian to determine the best food based on your cat’s particular needs. – Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
The Best Sensitive Stomach Cat Food Reviews
1. Best Overall – Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Canned Cat Food
Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Canned Cat Food is made with hydrolyzed protein that won’t trigger your cat’s immune system. With limited ingredients, this food unlikely to contain something that your cat’s digestive tract will object to. It’s made with a single animal protein source and a single carbohydrate source, plus it has essential fatty acids and natural fiber.
Once upon a time, it was only available at your vet’s office. However, you can now purchase it online, with veterinary authorization, making it all the easier to keep your kitty comfortable.
- Contains natural fiber and essential fatty acids
- Promotes a healthy skin barrier
- Single animal protein source that has been hydrolyzed
- No variety in flavor
- Limited availability
2. Best Budget – Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Classic Arctic Char Grain-Free Entree Canned Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Classic Arctic Char Grain-Free Entree Canned Cat Food is highly digestible and comes in a variety of flavors your cat is sure to enjoy. The grain-free recipe is packed with protein to match her nutritional needs, and may help her sensitive stomach, too.
The food contains linoleic acid, which helps to support healthy skin and coat, as well as high-quality protein sources such as real fish in every serving and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Feed one can of this food for every 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of body weight. If you divide a can into multiple servings, you’ll want to refrigerate after opening.
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
- Highly digestible
- Larger tender bites to keep cat engaged with food
- Contains multiple protein sources
- Not limited ingredient
3. Best Dry Food – Royal Canin Adult Cat Sensitive Digestion Dry Adult Cat Food
Royal Canin Adult Cat Sensitive Digestion Dry Adult Cat Food is highly digestible and contains prebiotics. It has a high concentration of nutrients in a small serving size, so your kitty can get the nutrients she needs in smaller meals, which can help with digestive sensitivities. If you’re looking for a combination of dry and wet, it’s best paired with Royal Canin Digest Sensitive wet cat food formulas.
NOTE from our vet advisor: All other recommendations are for canned foods because they are generally superior to dry for cats, especially cats with sensitive stomachs. However, should you opt for dry food, this is an excellent option for your cat with a sensitive stomach.
- High energy density per serving
- 3 sizes available for bulk buys and trial periods
- Unique kibble shapes for maximum cat interest
- Oily texture displeasing to some cats
- Only one flavor option
4. Best for Older Cats – Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Adult 7+ Turkey & Giblets Entree Classic Canned Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Adult 7+ Turkey & Giblets Entree Classic Canned Cat Food contains prebiotic fiber with high quality protein sources to create a cat food that can ease your cat’s upset stomach. It’s specially formulated to improve gut microflora, promote lean muscle mass, and maintain a healthy weight.
Most adult cat foods are also appropriate for senior cats, but this cat food will take into consideration the additional support your senior cat with a sensitive stomach needs, with a proprietary blend to extend a cat’s life. For combo feeding, mix with Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus dry cat food.
- 2 senior cat age formulas: 7+ years and 11+ years
- 5 flavor options for picky cats
- Animal protein sources are the primary ingredients
- Includes multiple meats
- Contains artificial flavors
5. Best for Kittens – Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Entree Canned Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Entree Canned Cat Food is a limited ingredient cat food made with turkey as the sole animal protein and no grains. This means you won’t have to worry about the presence of many different ingredients that may upset your cat’s stomach.
This diet contains fish oil as a source of DHA to give a boost to your kitten’s cognitive development and no wheat, a commonly included product used to thicken the food.5
- Limited ingredient
- DHA for kitten’s brain development
- No grains
- No flavor variety for picky kittens
- Only ships within U.S.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
- Barnette C. Food allergies in cats. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 3, 2021.
- ASPCA. Poisonous plants. Aspca.org. Accessed March 8, 2021.
- ASPCA. People foods to avoid feeding your pets. Aspca.org. Accessed March 8, 2021.
- Jordan E. Food intolerance in cats. Catvets.com. Published April, 2008: 50. Accessed March 4, 2021.
- Vuorinen A, Bailey-Hall E, Karagiannis A, et al. Safety of Algal Oil Containing EPA and DHA in cats during gestation, lactation and growth. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2020;104(5):1509-1523. doi:10.1111/jpn.13324
- Lenox C. Role of Dietary Fatty Acids in Dogs & Cats. Todaysveterinarypractice.com. Accessed March 19, 2021.
- Verbrugghe A, Hesta M. Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy?. Vet Sci. 2017;4(4):55. Published 2017 Nov 15. doi:10.3390/vetsci4040055
- Grześkowiak Ł, Endo A, Beasley S, Salminen S. Microbiota and probiotics in canine and feline welfare. Anaerobe. 2015;34:14-23. doi:10.1016/j.anaerobe.2015.04.002
- American Association of Feline Practitioners. Signs & symptoms. Catfriendly.com. Accessed March 4, 2021.
- Animal Health Digest. Cat food: What’s okay and what’s dangerous. Aaha.org. Published March 12, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021.