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8 Best Cat Foods for Kidney Disease in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

cat eating_Lenar Nigmatullin_Shutterstock

Kidney disease can seem like a debilitating diagnosis for cats. However, kidney disease can often be controlled through diet. A specific diet is often one of the necessary steps to lessen the effects of kidney disease.

Because diet is so important, it can be overwhelming to choose an appropriate food for your cat. There are many options out there, and making the right choice could be the difference between life and death. You should work with your vet to choose the right food, of course. Doing your research and being informed is essential too.

In this article, we’ll review some of the top foods for kidney disease out there, as well as look at everything you need to know about kidney disease cat food.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (2021 Update)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconGrain-free
  • Feature iconIncludes plenty of added nutrients
  • Feature iconHigh-quality protein included
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Kidney Function Canned Cat Food Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Kidney Function Canned Cat Food
  • Feature iconRestricted protein
  • Feature iconVariety of meat ingredients included
  • Feature iconPea-free
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Royal Canin Renal Support D Canned Cat Food Royal Canin Renal Support D Canned Cat Food
  • Feature iconControlled phosphorus and protein levels
  • Feature iconPalatable
  • Feature iconWet food for added moisture
  • Hill's Prescription Diet Kidney Care Cat Food Hill's Prescription Diet Kidney Care Cat Food
  • Feature iconControlled levels of minerals
  • Feature iconAdded omega fatty acids
  • Feature iconIncludes high-quality grains
  • Hill's Prescription Diet Kidney Care Canned Cat Food Hill's Prescription Diet Kidney Care Canned Cat Food
  • Feature iconHigh-quality protein included
  • Feature iconPalatable
  • Feature iconHigh-moisture
  • The 8 Best Cat Foods for Kidney Disease

    1. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best Overall

    Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo is well-known for its high-quality cat food. However, they also have a veterinary line for specific health conditions, like their Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. This diet is made explicitly for kidney disease. It has controlled levels of protein to prevent your cat’s kidneys from becoming overwhelmed. It is grain-free and has controlled levels of phosphorus and sodium. This helps support your cat’s overall health.

    Other essential nutrients are also added, included DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These help your cat’s overall health, such as their joint function and mobility.

    The first ingredient in this renal cat food deboned chicken, which is quite surprising for a kidney diet. However, the protein levels are pretty low. The second two ingredients are peas and pea starch. This is a technique called ingredient splitting, where the company splits an ingredient in half to make it appear lower on the ingredient list. If the pea and pea starch were included as one item, they would likely outnumber the chicken.

    All in all, we think this is the overall best food for cats with kidney problems.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • High-quality protein included
    • Includes plenty of added nutrients
    • Controlled levels of minerals
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    Cons
    • Includes lots of peas
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    2. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Kidney Function Canned Cat Food – Best Value

    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Formula Canned Cat Food

    If you need a cheaper option, you may want to consider Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Kidney Function Canned Cat Food. Purina is a less expensive company in general, though they still produce pretty good food. This cat food is specifically made to support kidney function. However, you are losing some quality due to the job in price.

    The first ingredient is water, which is necessary for all wet foods. However, meat by-products are the second ingredient, which is an extremely low-quality option. There is no way to know where this meat comes from, as it is labelled as just “meat.” This is likely one of the most low-quality meats you can put in cat food.

    There are other meats included as well, including chicken hearts, liver, and poultry by-products. Salmon is included as well, though it is much further down on the list. This ingredient does add some omega fatty acids, which are essential for your feline’s health.

    If budget is a main focus, we think this is the best cat food for kidney health for the money.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Restricted protein
    • Variety of meat ingredients included
    • Pea-free
    • Omega-fatty acids included
    Cons
    • Low-quality meat included
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    3. Royal Canin Renal Support D Canned Cat Food – Premium Choice

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food

    Cats with kidney disease often have lower appetites, so Royal Canin Renal Support D Canned Cat Food is made to be highly palatable. It is wet food, which many cats find yummier. Plus, the added moisture is helpful for your cat’s kidneys. This food is also low in phosphorus while still being high in antioxidants and fatty acids. Protein levels are controlled as well.

    The ingredients are decently high-quality in this cat food for kidney disease. The first one is water, which is essential for high-moisture wet foods. Chicken by-products are the second ingredient. This isn’t high-quality. However, the by-products source is named, so it isn’t the worst option out there. Chicken liver and whole pork are included as well.

    This food is pea-free and doesn’t include that many veggies. Mostly, it seems to be made of the necessary protein and a few grains to decrease the food’s overall protein content.

    To conclude, when it comes to premium picks, we think this is the best cat food for kidney health out there.

    Pros
    • Added antioxidants and fatty acids
    • Controlled phosphorus and protein levels
    • Palatable
    • Wet food for added moisture
    Cons
    • By-products included
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    4. Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care Cat Food

    Hill's Prescription Diet k:d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food

    Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care Cat Food might be a good choice for many cats if you need to choose dry food for whatever reason. This is one of the few dry-food options for cats with kidney disease. This food is made to be palatable to increase your feline’s appetite, which is essential for many cats with kidney disease.

    This food is made with controlled levels of phosphorous and sodium. There are also high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and l-carnitine. It includes all the necessary amino acids your cat needs, though it is low-protein.

    The ingredients are okay, especially when you consider that it is made for cats with kidney disease. Brown rice and corn gluten meal are the first two ingredients. Typically, we would consider this very high-quality. However, because protein needs to be controlled, adding lower meat levels is the only way to make a diet for cats with kidney disease functionally.

    The meat included is high-quality. Most of it is chicken. Pork fat is added, though this doesn’t increase the protein content.

    Pros
    • Controlled levels of minerals
    • Added omega fatty acids
    • Includes high-quality grains
    • High-quality meat included
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Low in moisture
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    5. Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care Canned Cat Food

    Hill's Prescription Diet k:d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

    Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care Canned Cat Food is an average food for cats with kidney disease. Moisture is essential for many cats with kidney disease. This is mainly because water is vital for kidney function. There is quite a bit of chicken included, which is a high-quality option. Pork liver is included as well, which is also very high-quality. Despite these included protein sources, this food is one of the lowest in protein we have seen. It is only at 4%, which is relatively lower than many other options. This may be a good or bad thing for your cat. We recommend speaking with your vet.

    This food is designed to be palatable. If your feline is having appetite problems, this may be helpful. This is a common problem with kidney disease.

    The protein level of this food is controlled. It includes limited levels of both phosphorus and sodium as well.

    Pros
    • Limited protein, phosphorus, and sodium
    • High-quality protein included
    • Palatable
    • High-moisture
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Easy for selective eating
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    6. Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Care with Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

    Hill's Prescription Diet k:d Kidney Care + Mobility Care with Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

    Senior cats often have all sorts of problems. If your cat has kidney disease and mobility problems, the Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Care with Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food may be a suitable option. This food is designed to handle pretty much any problem your senior cat may be having, including kidney disease, cognitive problems, and mobility issues.

    This food has controlled phosphorus and sodium, which is essential for controlling kidney function. High levels of amino acid are included to prevent further mobility issues, while the overall protein content is relatively low. It includes added antioxidants and therapeutic levels of fatty acids. This can improve your feline’s mobility, as fatty acids are helpful for joint health.

    The ingredients are pretty high-quality. Chicken is the second ingredient after water. Pork liver is the third ingredient and is a very high-quality option.

    Pros
    • Controlled levels of minerals
    • Valid for senior cats with multiple problems
    • Added antioxidants and fatty acids
    Cons
    • Very niche
    • Expensive
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    7. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food_1

    The recommended diet for renal disease is quite similar to kidney support diets. For this reason, they are sometimes used interchangeably. However, the diets are not entirely the same, so it is best to use a kidney support diet where possible. Renal diets may be used in emergencies where you are unable to get anything else.

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food is designed for renal support in particular. It can be used for kidney disease. However, we do not particularly recommend it, as it isn’t made for kidney disease in particular. It does have targeted protein levels, which is suitable for a kidney support diet. The phosphorus is low as well.

    This food is pea-free and includes many antioxidants. Fish oil is included for extra fatty acids.

    Pros
    • Targeted protein
    • Pea-free
    • Added fish oil and antioxidants
    Cons
    • Not designed specifically for kidney disease
    • Allows for selective eating
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    8. Weruva Truluxe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    While Weruva Truluxe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is sometimes recommended for kidney disease, it isn’t designed for kidney disease. It includes beef broth as the first ingredient, which raises the protein content by a bit. Beef is the first ingredient and the only meat ingredient in this food. It is a high-quality option. However, it adds to the food’s protein content substantially.

    The protein content of this renal cat food is relatively high – at 10%. This is much higher than cats with kidney disease need, which is why this food landed so low on the list. The sodium and phosphorus content is also not controlled according to the description.

    It does include gravy, which may be useful for attracting picky cats. It is completely grain-free and balanced. There are no GMOs or MSG in the food. Amino acids, vitamins, and minerals are all added and balanced, though not necessarily for a cat with kidney disease.

    Pros
    • High-quality ingredients included throughout
    • High levels of amino acids and vitamins
    • Grain-free
    Cons
    • High in protein
    • No controlled mineral levels
    • Not for all picky cats
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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease

    Choosing the best cat food for kidney health can seem stressful, especially with all the options on the market. Selecting a commercial cat food for kidney disease can be even more stressful, as it may be the difference between slowing the disease and allowing it to progress. There are quite a few options on the market for kidney disease.

    In this section, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about selecting the right food for your feline with kidney disease.

    What is Kidney Disease?

    The kidneys filter out waste from your cat’s blood and transmit it into the urine. This is an essential function, as your cat can’t remove wastes any other way. However, sometimes the kidneys stop working at full capacity for a variety of reasons. This makes the level of waste s build up in your cat’s blood system, which can cause all sorts of issues.

    Eventually, this disease can lead to death. Chronic kidney disease is not curable, but it can be treated with diet and similar therapies.

    Nutrition and Kidney Disease

    Nutrition is essential for treating kidney disease. Your cat will need a special diet. Diet can help control clinical symptoms of kidney disease, which can improve your cat’s quality of life. Usually, diets with kidney disease have less protein, sodium, and phosphorous. This lowers the amount of work your feline’s kidneys need to do. Increased omega-3 fatty acids are also included, as they may help improve your cat’s symptoms.

    What are the Specific Nutritional Requirements for Cats with Kidney Disease?

    Water

    Cats with kidney disease need higher levels of water, which helps support the kidneys. Often, cats will automatically drink more when they’re affected by kidney disease. However, it is still essential to increase their moisture intake any way they cat. Canned food is usually the best way to accomplish this, as it includes higher levels of moisture naturally.

    Of course, you should provide your cat with plenty of freshwater as well.

    Protein

    The kidneys must filter out waste products from protein. If the cat eats less protein, their blood will contain fewer of these waste products, decreasing the amount of work the kidneys must do. This can prevent the progression of the disease and lower your cat’s symptoms.

    This is likely the essential part of any kidney disease diet. You don’t want the protein too low, though, as your cats may begin to break down their own muscle mass to compensate.

    grey cat eating meat
    Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

    Sodium

    Sodium should be somewhat restricted to help the kidneys, as they filter out excess sodium as well. This can reduce the progression of the disease as well.

    Phosphorus

    Phosphorus should be limited as well to slow the progression of the disease. Why this works isn’t known, but it is a commonly accepted fact within the community. Most foods have restricted phosphorous levels.

    Omega Fatty Acids

    Omega fatty acids may help your feline’s kidneys. This is thought to be due to their inflammation-fighting properties, though it isn’t wholly understood either. It may reduce the amount of protein that leaches through the kidneys.

    Can Cats with Kidney Disease Eat Chicken?

    Yes. It is not about the specific ingredients in their food but the overall phosphorus, sodium, and protein amounts. Many suitable foods may be including chicken as the primary protein but are formulated to keep protein levels low. You should not feed your cat cooked or raw chicken, though. Chicken is just made of protein, which is the last thing a cat with kidney disease needs extra of.

    Are Eggs Good for Cats with Kidney Disease?

    In moderation. Eggs may be added to include extra nutrients, as they are very nutrient-dense. They are also low in phosphorus, which can make them a suitable choice.

    However, the eggs need to be combined with other foods to ensure the diet is low in protein overall. Eggs are pretty protein-rich, so your cat should not be given plain eggs. If it’s in a formulated diet, that’s okay, as other foods have offset their protein content. It’s the whole diet that matters, not necessarily the specific ingredients.

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    Conclusion

    Out of all the kidney disease cat foods, Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is the best option. It includes low levels of protein, but the protein included is exceptionally high-quality. It is also low in phosphorus and sodium, which is essential for cats with kidney disease. Many added nutrients are also included, including omega fatty acids.

    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Kidney Function Canned Cat Food is another good budget option. It has controlled protein levels and added omega fatty acids. However, it is much cheaper than other veterinary diets.

    Hopefully, this article helped you shift through the many kidney support diets out there. Choosing a diet can seem overwhelming. But, with a bit of background knowledge, it can be much more doable. Plus, our reviews should help you choose the exact diet that fits your needs.

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    Featured Image Credit: Lenar Nigmatullin, Shutterstock