Because we scoop out the litter box, our cat’s stool is probably more important to us than other animals’ stool. If it’s runny, it can mean a complete change of the litterbox, which can get expensive and take extra time. Sadly, some cats seem to have weaker digestive systems than others, causing them to develop runny stools more often.
What a cat eats plays a significant role in what their stool is like. If a cat eats something that upsets their stomach, they can have diarrhea. Fortunately, there are foods out there that can help keep your cat’s stool firm, even if your cat is more prone to diarrhea.
Of course, some foods are better than others in this regard. In this article, we created reviews of the best cat foods for firm stool out there for your feline.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated in 2023)
|Best Overall||Smalls Fresh Bird Recipe (Human Grade Fresh Cat Food Delivery)||
||Click to Save 33%|
|Best Value||Purina ONE Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food||
|Hill's Prescription Digestive Care Dry Cat Food||
|Hill's Prescription Diet Digestive Care Canned Cat Food||
|Royal Canin Feline Digestive Care Dry Cat Food||
The 7 Best Cat Foods for Firm Stool
1. Smalls Fresh Bird Recipe (Human Grade Fresh Cat Food Delivery) – Best Overall
If you are hunting for cat food that can’t be beaten in terms of health and will also help harden your cat’s stool, Smalls Human Grade Fresh has the food for you. We give the Fresh Bird Recipe from Smalls our pick for best overall, as it’s primarily made up of chicken thigh and chicken breast, which is perfect for your little meat-eater.
Since cats are obligate carnivores that get all their needed nutrients from meat, you want a food that is as close to their natural diet as possible and Smalls offers you just that. This food is high in moisture and low in carbohydrates, exactly what your cat needs to thrive.
If anything will help them balance their system and return stools to normal, it’s high-quality fresh food that is balanced perfectly for their needs. This is a subscription service, which may turn some away, but the convenience and personalization may even make the wariest owners rethink their stance. Fresh food can get a little pricey and may take up storage space in the refrigerator or freezer, but many owners find it’s well worth it.
Smalls only use USDA-certified ingredients that are fit for human consumption and each recipe meets AAFCO standards for pet food nutrient profiles for all life stages. As for the Human Grade Fresh line, you can even choose whether you want a “smooth” or pulled” texture with each recipe for the most finicky eaters.
2. Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food — Best Value
The Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food is designed for sensitive stomach and digestive systems, which may help improve your feline’s stools. It is also extremely inexpensive. Turkey is the first ingredient, a high-quality option. Chicken by-product meal is the second ingredient. As this is lower-quality meat, it is the second ingredient and adds extra protein and fat to the formula. It is better than high amounts of grains or vegetables.
Rice flour, corn gluten meal, and soybean meal follow the meat ingredients. These are obviously lower-quality options. The rice flour is an unnecessary grain, but it may be necessary to keep the dry food together. It doesn’t do much for your cat, nutritionally speaking, however. Corn gluten meal and soybean meal are both added to increase the protein content. However, they add plant-based protein, which is sometimes difficult for cats to digest fully. Unlike dogs and humans, cats cannot always absorb and use the contents of plant-based vitamins and minerals.
Compared to other foods on the market, this one has a slightly higher-than-average protein content. However, it is essential to remember that much of this protein is from plants. Higher protein content is not an indicator of meat level. Omega fatty acids are included to support your cat’s skin. There are also included antioxidants to support the feline immune system. Overall, this is the best cat food for firm stool for the money.
3. Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food
If your cat has serious digestive problems, you may want to consider using Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food. This digestive diet may be helpful for felines with food allergies, lack of digestive enzymes, or other digestive issues. It is explicitly designed to improve digestive health and stool quality.
Chicken is included as the first ingredient. This is a quality option, which is somewhat surprising considering that most prescription diets include lower quality ingredients. However, the rest of the ingredient list is relatively low-quality. Cracked pearled barley is the second ingredient, followed by a list of other grains. Cats don’t need grains in their diet, and they don’t get much out of them. Other, more nutritious options would be better for most cats.
There are multiple fiber sources in this food to improve your cat’s gastrointestinal health. Antioxidants are also added to control cell health and prevent oxidation.
4. Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food
Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food is a wet food formula. It does require a prescription and is designed for digestive problems in felines. However, many owners may not find a wet diet suitable for their cats with runny stools, as it can make their stools worse. Other owners and their cats find it a helpful change. It just depends on the feline.
Water is the first ingredient in this food. It is necessary to make the wet food wet and doesn’t add any calories or nutrients. It’s only there to keep the moisture level high. Chicken and pork liver come next. Both of these are high-quality ingredients that provide plenty of protein and fat for your cat.
That said, there are several lower-quality ingredients as well. Wheat gluten is the fourth ingredient, with rice starch as the fifth. Neither of these is exceptionally high-quality. The wheat gluten adds quite a bit of protein to the formula. However, this is a lower-quality protein because it comes from plants. Cats may not be able to take advantage of these nutrients as well as meat-based protein.
5. Royal Canin Feline Digestive Care Dry Cat Food
For many cats, their runny stool is caused by digestive problems. Sensitive stomachs can produce smelly stools that aren’t precisely firm. However, the Royal Canin Feline Digestive Care Dry Cat Food is formulated to support your feline’s sensitive stomach. It has ring-shaped kibble to slow down your cat’s eating, since fast eating can cause digestive upset and stool problems. We recommend using this food alongside a slow feeder. This makes the kibble especially effective.
That said, the ingredients in this gastrointestinal food for cats are pretty low-quality. Brewer’s rice is the first ingredient, followed by wheat gluten. These are both grains that your cat doesn’t necessarily need. They are high in protein, but it is plant-protein and therefore, lower-quality when it comes to cats. Chicken meal finally appears as the third ingredient. This is a high-quality option, but it does appear further down on the list than we would like to see.
This food is packed full of prebiotics and fiber to help your feline’s digestive tract. You can combine this dry food with the company’s wet food option if your cat isn’t particularly impressed by the flavor.
6. Purina Beyond Grain-Free Turkey, Sweet Potato & Spinach Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food
For cats with minor digestive problems, Purina Beyond Grain-Free Turkey, Sweet Potato & Spinach Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food is exceptionally high-quality and relatively inexpensive compared to other foods out there. For this reason, it may help a cat’s digestive tract simply with its higher quality ingredients.
The first ingredient is turkey broth. This is to help the food stay moist because it is a canned food. It also adds a few nutrients to the cat food, as it is made from meat. Turkey, chicken, and liver are also included. These are all high-quality ingredients and provide plenty of nutrients for felines. Our only complaint is that the liver’s source is not named, so you don’t know what kind of liver it is.
Dried egg whites are included a bit further down on the list. Eggs can provide many of the nutrients that a feline needs to thrive. However, most of these are in the yolk. It seems that the egg whites were added to this food to improve the protein content.
This food includes plenty of prebiotic fiber, which improves your cat’s digestive system and supports their gut biome. There is no poultry by-product meal or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. No corn, wheat, or soy are included either.
7. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PD in Gel Canned Cat Food
For cats that are sensitive to specific meats, the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PD in Gel Canned Cat Food may be a suitable option. It includes water as the first ingredient, which is to be expected from a wet food. Duck and duck liver are the next two ingredients. Duck is counted as a novel protein because it isn’t typically found in cat foods. Both ingredients are nutritious sources of protein and fat for your feline, especially if they’re allergic to the more common meats used in cat food.
There are lower-quality ingredients on this list as well, though. For instance, pea flour is the fourth ingredient. This adds a decent amount of carbohydrates to the food without providing many nutrients. Cats aren’t good at absorbing nutrients from plants.
This food also isn’t designed for digestive problems in particular. It just has a unique protein source. It is also costly. You can find many other limited-ingredient cat foods out there that are much cheaper. Plus, they don’t require a prescription from your vet.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Cat Food for Firm Stools
When your cat has a sensitive stomach and runny stools, choosing a food can seem stressful. There are so many different foods out there. But most of them are not suitable for cats with sensitive stomachs. For this reason, it requires a bit of digging and searching to discover foods that are suitable for cats with runny stool.
Furthermore, not all formulas designed for sensitive stomachs are suitable for all cats with runny stools. There are many reasons that a cat may need to firm up their stool. Some foods only treat one or two of these reasons. If your cat doesn’t fall into the category that a food treats, you likely won’t notice much change.
We can help you figure out the best food for your specific feline. Here are common reasons for runny stool, as well as how food can affect the stool’s quality.
Causes of Runny Stool
Figuring out why your cat isn’t having firm stools is essential to fixing the problem. There are many reasons that your cat’s digestive system may be off-center and need a little help.
Change in Diet
A change in diet can affect your cat’s stool. Their new diet may contain ingredients that they are not used to yet. This is not a sign of the food’s quality. High-quality foods can cause more digestive changes at first, as they often include more decadent ingredients. It’s the difference between eating a burger and a piece of toast. The high-quality food is more nutritionally complete for your feline, but it will likely cause more digestive upset at first than their old low-quality food.
However, this should not persist for more than 2-3 days. If it does, there is likely another cause involved.
Some medications may cause diarrhea, including antibiotics. These can upset your cat’s digestive tract and cause serious diarrhea in most cats. However, most cats need antibiotics to get better. Choosing quality food with probiotics may help prevent diarrhea and make it clear up sooner after your cat stops their antibiotic treatment.
Stress can cause digestive problems for felines, similar to people. Acute stress is usually the cause, such as a move or having too many visitors over at once. Treating your cat’s stress by giving them somewhere to hide and feel safe is often the best option. Food doesn’t necessarily mean much in this circumstance.
Parasites can cause diarrhea, as they can irritate your cat’s digestive system. This is more common in kittens, and their digestive tracts are smaller and can become irritated more easily.
Many different infections can cause digestive problems. Sometimes, treatment for bacterial infections is available. Viruses are a bit more complicated, though. Sometimes, supportive therapy is all that you can do. A high-quality food can be helpful in this circumstance because it can support your cat’s healing body and keep their gut biome healthy.
Things like pancreas and thyroid imbalances can cause digestive problems. Often, these are not curable. Supportive therapy is often used instead to keep your cat healthy. Sometimes, synthetic hormones are provided to ensure that your feline’s body is as balanced as possible. Quality food can support your cat’s gut biome and prevent unnecessary issues.
Many inflammatory disorders affect the digestive tract. This can cause your cat to develop diarrhea. Of course, these problems often aren’t curable. However, high-quality food can keep their digestive tract in tip-top shape and encourage healthy stool firmness.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, many cats with constipation also have diarrhea. This is often because they have some sort of blockage and can only pass liquid stuff through. This often makes it appear like they have diarrhea. This is especially common in older cats, which tend to get motor issues in their colon.
You can treat constipation with high-quality food in many cases. Medication is sometimes necessary as well, but dietary changes work best in the long term.
What to Feed a Cat With Diarrhea?
Decades ago, it was recommended to withhold food from a cat with diarrhea, to let the intestines find their balance again. However, we now know that the intestines need nutrients to repair themselves. The question is which nutrients are best.
Fiber is always a solid option. It works as a great regulator and is helpful for diarrhea and constipation. If your feline is constantly having unfirm stools, they likely need more fiber in their diet. While most cat foods have the minimum amount of fiber that a cat needs, some cats simply need more. We recommend choosing a high-fiber food for practically any feline that has problems with their stool consistency.
You can choose a food that is higher in fiber in general, usually through the addition of starches and indigestible plant protein. Or you can add extra fiber to their food yourself, such as canned pumpkin. Of course, if you do this, you should be careful to read the ingredient list completely. Many foods have additives like sugar and extra sodium, which are not good for your feline, even causing serious health problems.
Besides fiber, what your particular cat needs will probably differ. For instance, some cats thrive on high-quality meat products. These felines will do well on a diet full of high-quality meats and similar proteins. However, other cats don’t do well with these rich foods. They often need a plainer diet. Some particular cats are sensitive to specific proteins, like chicken or beef. If they eat these, they may develop health problems, like loose stools.
Formulas that contain more digestible ingredients, like lean meats, are often better for many cats. These don’t irritate the digestive tracts quite as much, which can be beneficial for cats that already have digestive problems. You may want to avoid meats like salmon, as these are high in oils that may upset the digestive tract. You may also want to avoid vegetable-based fats, like vegetable oil or canola oil. These can sometimes upset a cat’s digestive system.
Of course, you don’t want to avoid fats and oils altogether. In moderate amounts, they are suitable for many cats. Those with sensitive stomachs may simply need fewer oils than others, as their digestive system may be unable to handle it. For this reason, we generally recommend simply reducing the amount of oil that your cat is consuming if they have digestive problems.
Other Things to Consider
While you should obviously avoid things that may upset your cat’s stomach, there are several other things that you may want to take a look at too. For instance, cats thrive on a diet that is high in protein and fat. This is what they evolved to live off of and what they should be eating even when domesticated. Usually, this means plenty of high-protein ingredients in their food, including meats and other animal products. Typically, animal products are high in fat and protein — the two things that cats need.
Many cats find that grains upset their stomach. Grains are one of the foods that cats are commonly allergic to. As you might guess, allergies can cause all sorts of problems in the digestive system. For this reason, we recommend avoiding grains if your cat is currently eating them. They may be the reason that your feline is having stool problems.
You may also want to check for probiotics in your cat’s food. If they currently aren’t eating probiotics, you may want to switch foods or provide them with a separate supplement. This can be a bit complicated, though. Not all probiotics are made equal, and your cat may benefit from some more than others. Generally, the higher the probiotic count, the better.
Want to see more cat food reviews? Check out our review page here!
There are several cat foods on the market that may help your cat’s stool become firmer. Usually, the unfirm stool is caused by some sort of sensitive stomach or digestion problem. Smalls Human Grade Fresh has the food for you. We give the Fresh Bird Recipe from Smalls our pick for best overall, as it’s primarily made up of chicken thigh and chicken breast, which is perfect for your little meat-eater.
Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food is a good food for those cats with digestive problems. It is also much cheaper than other options, making it ideal for owners on a budget.
Diet plays a huge role in your cat’s stool. A change in diet often results in a change of stool. If your cat has chronic diarrhea, a change in diet is likely called for. However, changing your cat’s diet may make the problem worse at first. We recommend trying the new food for at least 3 months before deciding if it is working or not, as well as consulting your vet.
Featured Image Credit: Lenar Nigmatullin, Shutterstock
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated in 2023)
- The 7 Best Cat Foods for Firm Stool
- 1. Smalls Fresh Bird Recipe (Human Grade Fresh Cat Food Delivery) – Best Overall
- 2. Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food — Best Value
- 3. Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food
- 4. Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food
- 5. Royal Canin Feline Digestive Care Dry Cat Food
- 6. Purina Beyond Grain-Free Turkey, Sweet Potato & Spinach Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food
- 7. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PD in Gel Canned Cat Food
- Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Cat Food for Firm Stools
- Causes of Runny Stool
- What to Feed a Cat With Diarrhea?
- Other Things to Consider
- Final Verdict