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10 Best Food for Cats With IBD in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

grey cat licking lips after eating cat food from bowl inside on floor

We all want to feed our cats the best food out there, but when they have irritable bowel disorder (IBD), finding the best food can be a bit of a challenge. Since simply switching their food can cause a flare-up, you want to get them on the right diet the first time.

That’s why we tracked down and created reviews of 10 of the best cat foods out there for cats with IBD. This way, your cat can get the nutrition that they need without the uncomfortable and often painful IBD flare-ups.

We also developed a comprehensive buyer’s guide to walk you through everything that you need to know to get the right food the first time. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to spend a ton of money on a new diet!

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Purina Pro Plan Diets EN Gastroenteric Purina Pro Plan Diets EN Gastroenteric
  • Feature iconA great mix of price and nutrition
  • Feature iconOutstanding protein amount
  • Feature iconSupports urinary health
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe
  • Feature iconAffordable
  • Feature iconNo prescription required
  • Feature iconDecent crude protein percent
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe
  • Feature iconNo prescription required
  • Feature iconHigh-quality food
  • Feature iconDecent crude protein percent
  • Best for Kittens
    Dr. Elsey's CleanProtein Chicken Formula Dr. Elsey's CleanProtein Chicken Formula
  • Feature iconHigh protein percent
  • Feature iconNo prescription required
  • Feature iconGood mix of price and nutrition
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein
  • Feature iconRabbit is a great novel protein
  • Feature iconDecent fiber amount at 5.7%
  • Feature iconTons of helpful nutrients
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    The 10 Best Food for Cats With IBD — Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Formula — Best Overall

    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Gastroenteric Dry Cat Food

    Food type: Dry
    Primary protein: Poultry
    Crude protein percent: 50
    Size: 6 or 10 pounds

    Prescription pet foods are notoriously expensive. But Purina’s Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Formula bucks that trend. You still get all the benefits of a prescription pet food, but you don’t have to deal with the prescription pet food price!

    It’s a phenomenal mix of price and nutrition, and it has a minimum of 50% crude protein, which is outstanding for your cat’s health. Moreover, it supports both their gastrointestinal and urinary health, which is a big deal for cats with IBD.

    The only downside is that you will need a prescription, but if you reach out to your vet, they shouldn’t have any problem giving you one. With all these perks, it’s not hard to see why it is the best overall food for cats with IBD.

    Pros
    • A great mix of price and nutrition
    • Outstanding protein amount
    • Two size options
    • Gentle on gastrointestinal health
    • Supports urinary health
    Cons
    • Requires prescription
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    2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe — Best Value

    Blue Buffalo High Protein Grain Free

    Food type: Dry
    Primary protein: Salmon
    Crude protein percent: 40
    Size: 5 or 11 pounds

    Not everyone can afford prescription cat foods, and not everyone wants to keep up with a prescription for their cat food. That’s when it’s worth trying out a product like Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe. Salmon is a great novel protein for IBD, and it might be all that your cat needs to get their IBD under control.

    You don’t need a prescription, it’s affordably priced, and it has 40% crude protein. So, not only does it save your bank account (and you) some stress, but it also gives your cat everything that they need to thrive.

    So, while Blue Buffalo didn’t specifically formulate for your cat’s gastrointestinal health, its food can often help get it under control for a fraction of the price of other cat foods. It easily earns its place as the best food for cats with IBD for the money.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • No prescription required
    • Decent crude protein percent
    • Salmon is a good protein for gastrointestinal health
    Cons
    • Not specifically formulated for gastrointestinal health
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    3. The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe — Premium Choice

    The Honest Kitchen Turkey Recipe

    Food type: Dehydrated
    Primary protein: Turkey
    Crude protein percent: 38.5
    Size: 2 or 4 pounds

    If you’re not worried about how much your new cat food will cost, Honest Kitchen’s Turkey Recipe is exactly what you’ve been looking for. You don’t need a prescription, and it’s all extremely high-quality food.

    It’s a freeze-dried food, which means it’s much higher quality than a typical dry food. However, that also means it’s far more expensive. The crude protein amount is just under 40%, but that’s still more than the 30% that your cat needs.

    Overall, it’s a super high-quality cat food, but it has to be within your budget to feed it to your cat meal after meal. But with simple ingredients, it’s often exactly what your cat needs to get their IBD under control.

    Pros
    • No prescription required
    • High-quality food
    • Decent crude protein percent
    • Tons of nutritional benefits
    Cons
    • Expensive per meal
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    4. Dr. Elsey’s CleanProtein Chicken Formula — Best for Kittens

    Dr. Elsey's CleanProtein Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Food type: Dry
    Primary protein: Chicken
    Crude protein percent: 59
    Size: 2 or 6.6 pounds

    Even kittens can have sensitive stomachs. That’s where a product like Dr. Elsey’s CleanProtein Chicken Formula comes in. It has the high protein amount that kittens need to grow and thrive, and it’s available without a prescription.

    Additionally, it’s a good mix of price and nutrition and comes packed with tons of helpful nutrients. So, while chicken isn’t always the best choice for cats with IBD, if it’s not one of your kitten’s trigger foods, this might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

    Finally, while this might be our top choice for kittens, there’s no reason that you can’t feed them Dr. Elsey’s CleanProtein Chicken Formula as they get older too. Just ensure that they’re getting plenty of activity to burn off all that protein!

    Pros
    • High protein percent
    • No prescription required
    • Good mix of price and nutrition
    • Tons of helpful nutrients
    Cons
    • Chicken isn’t the best protein choice for IBD
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    5. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein

    Royal Canin Diet Selected Protein

    Food type: Dry
    Primary protein: Rabbit
    Crude protein percent: 30
    Size: 8.8 pounds

    Royal Canin and Hill’s Prescription diet are two of the top names in the prescription pet food industry, and when we stacked them up here, Royal Canin came out just ahead. The 30% crude protein amount is enough to keep your cat healthy, and the 5.7% fiber keeps your cat feeling full while helping their digestion.

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein is formulated to help with your cat’s gastrointestinal health, has tons of helpful nutrients, and has a limited-ingredient formula that is great for cats with sensitive stomachs. Moreover, the company uses rabbit as its protein source, and it’s a great novel protein for IBD.

    It is a pricier option, and you will need a prescription to order it, but if your vet is asking you whether you want Royal Canin or Hill’s Prescription Diet, we give a slight edge to Royal Canin.

    Pros
    • Rabbit is a great novel protein
    • Decent fiber amount at 5.7%
    • Designed for cats with gastrointestinal problems
    • Tons of helpful nutrients
    • Limited-ingredient formula
    Cons
    • Requires prescription
    • Lower protein amount
    • Expensive
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    6. Hill’s Prescription Diet

    Hill's Prescription Diet Original Skin Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food

    Food type: Dry
    Primary protein: Chicken liver
    Crude protein percent: 29
    Size: 4 or 8.5 pounds

    We don’t think that there’s a bigger name in the prescription pet food industry than Hill’s. While it’s certainly a trustworthy brand, it’s worth noting that bigger isn’t always better. First, you need a prescription for the food.

    While this gets you a food specifically tailored for gastrointestinal health, it also drives up the cost quite a bit. But the tradeoff is in the form of high-quality ingredients that are great for your cat’s health.

    The crude protein amount is a bit low, but the chicken liver is far better for your cat’s IBD than regular chicken. Furthermore, there are tons of antioxidants, and the fiber percent is more than enough to help your cat’s digestion along.

    So, while it’s extremely expensive, there’s a good chance that it’ll get your cat’s IBD under control.

    Pros
    • Designed for cats with gastrointestinal problems
    • Decent fiber amount at 4.5%
    • Chicken liver is more digestible than regular chicken
    • Tons of antioxidants for better health
    Cons
    • Low protein amount
    • Expensive
    • Requires prescription
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    7. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet

    Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Food type: Wet
    Primary protein: Turkey
    Crude protein percent: 9
    Size: 5-ounce case of 24

    Some cats simply do better with wet cat food. Fortunately for you, there’s a great wet cat food option for cats with IBD in Merrick’s Limited Ingredient Diet. It’s a simple ingredient recipe that can simplify your cat’s diet to help with IBD.

    It uses a potato-free recipe with turkey as its novel protein, which most cats respond better to compared to chicken. Since Merrick’s uses a single source of protein in its cat food, that helps simplify everything even more for your cat’s digestive tract.

    There are tons of antioxidants in the food, and it’s great for your cat’s coat. However, keeping your cat on a wet food diet is a little expensive. Most cats require multiple cans a day, which drives up the cost for this already expensive food.

    Pros
    • Potato-free recipe
    • Tons of antioxidants
    • Single-source protein cat food
    • Great for your cat’s coat
    Cons
    • Most cats need multiple cans per day
    • Expensive
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    8. Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels

    Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels

    Food type: Freeze-dried
    Primary protein: Rabbit
    Crude protein percent: 44
    Size: 3.5, 8, or 18 ounces

    If you’re trying to tackle your cat’s IBD, one of the best things that you can do is switch them to a simpler diet. That’s precisely what you can do with Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels. It’s a freeze-dried food option that has at least 44% protein in every serving!

    It’s a simple-ingredient recipe that’s great for your cat, and there are multiple size options available. However, while it does a great job at getting your cat’s IBD under control, it’s also one of the most expensive options for feeding your cat.

    That said, they’ll love every bite, and you’ll be feeding them food that actually looks like food.

    Pros
    • Rabbit is a great novel protein
    • High protein percentage
    • Multiple size options
    • Simple-ingredient recipe
    Cons
    • Expensive
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    9. Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties

    Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties

    Food type: Freeze-dried
    Primary protein: Rabbit
    Crude protein percent: 60
    Size: 8 ounces

     

    When you’re looking to get your cat’s IBD under control, you want to simplify their diet. Nothing is simpler than a freeze-dried rabbit recipe. It contains 60% protein, and you’ll struggle to find a recipe with fewer ingredients in it.

    Since rabbit is a novel protein, it’s typically an excellent choice for cats with IBD. Vital Essentials only uses the best possible ingredients in this cat food, and that’s a win for both you and your cat.

    However, it’s also expensive, beyond the price range for many owners. When you pair that with the low fiber amount of 3%, it’s not hard to see why such a nutritious and simple ingredient choice is not that popular.

    Pros
    • Rabbit is a great novel protein
    • High protein amount
    • Simple-ingredient recipe
    • Only high-quality ingredients
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Low fiber amount of 3%
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    10. Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula

    Hound & Gatos Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Food type: Wet
    Primary protein: Turkey
    Crude protein percent: 10
    Size: 5.5-ounce case of 24

    The Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula is a wet cat food option that can help get your cat’s IBD under control. It’s a simple-ingredient recipe that comes packed with all the nutrients that your cat needs to thrive.

    Not only can it help get their IBD under control, but it also is great for your cat’s coat. Cats love the food and it makes mealtime a breeze.

    However, most cats will need multiple cans a day, and it’s already an expensive product. This means if you’re looking to switch your cat to a wet-food diet, you need to expect that you’re going to spend more in the long run.

    Pros
    • Great for your cat’s coat
    • Simple-ingredient recipe
    • Tons of helpful nutrients
    • Cat-s love it
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Most cats need multiple cans per day
    • Not the best protein for IBD

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    Buyer’s Guide

    With so many excellent cat food choices out there, it can be hard to narrow down the best possible choice for your cat. That’s why we created this comprehensive buyer’s guide to walk you through everything that you need to know.

    Picking a Protein

    While we’d love to recommend a specific protein for you to feed your cat and help with their IBD, the truth is that each cat will respond differently to different protein sources.

    Since you’re already noticing symptoms, it’s generally a good idea to switch your cat to a novel protein like duck or rabbit. From there, ensure that the food you’re using is a single-source protein. This enables you to narrow down the cause of a flare-up if one does happen.

    But also keep in mind that while the protein is often a major cause of the flare-up, there could be another ingredient in the food that’s causing the reaction too. Try to stick with foods with a limited number of ingredients to help narrow down potential problem foods.

    Switching Your Cat Food

    Anytime that your cat switches food, you can expect their stomach to react. This doesn’t mean that the new food is the problem, but it can be frustrating for both you and your cat. This is why you should always switch their foods slowly and give them time to adjust to their new food before jumping to any conclusions.

    The last thing that you want to do is jump from food to food when the only problem is that their stomach hasn’t had time to adjust to their new diet!

    How Much Protein Does Your Cat Need?

    cat eating food from automatic feeder
    Image Credit: Kylbabka, Shutterstock

    It depends on the age of your cat, but ideally, your cat should get anywhere between 28% and 45% crude protein in their food. While aging cats can get by with less, 30% is the recommended minimum amount for cats of all ages.

    Moreover, kittens should get at least 40% crude protein. They’re growing and need the extra protein to do it! You can give your adult cat more than 45% crude protein in their diet, but you need to ensure that your cat is working it off. Protein that your cat isn’t using turns to fat, and you don’t want an overweight kitty just because you’re giving them the wrong type of food!

    Finally, keep in mind that wet foods work differently. Cats can eat more of it because it’s mostly moisture, so if the food contains 7.5% to 12.5% protein, you’re in good shape.

    Ordering a Prescription Food

    There are a few cat foods that you’ll need a prescription for. While that can seem a little daunting, once you’ve talked to your vet about it, it’s quite simple. All you need to do through a site like Chewy is provide it with your vet’s contact information. Chewy’s support team will reach out and do the rest! You can speed up the process by uploading a copy of the prescription on the site. As long as the prescription is active, you won’t need to do anything else to order it again!

    So, ordering a prescription cat food is easier than you might think, and you can get a specifically formulated food that can help keep your cat healthy.

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    Conclusion

    If you’re still stressing out about what cat food to purchase to help with your cat’s IBD after reading these reviews, don’t overthink it. There’s a reason that Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Formula is our top choice. Call your vet and see if you can get a prescription.

    But if you don’t have a vet whom you can contact, you can always try Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Salmon Recipe. You don’t need a prescription, it’s extremely affordable, and it’s a simple-ingredient option with a protein that’s easy on the stomach.

    But don’t wait and hope for the best — get your cat a food that will get their IBD in check!

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    Featured Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock