Some cats have sensitive stomachs. Whether due to genetics or their gut microbiome, some kittens can’t handle the same foods that other cats can. The stomach upset that follows can be frustrating for you, but it can be quite painful for the kitten!
Luckily, there are foods out there designed explicitly for cats with sensitive stomachs. These foods include ingredients like probiotics and generally stay away from lower-quality ingredients that may upset your cat’s stomach.
Of course, not all foods for sensitive stomachs are created equal. Some of them include many low-quality ingredients that you probably don’t want to give your kitten. Others include plenty of animal protein and similar foods.
In this article are 10 of our favorite recipes on the market. Take a look at the reviews to find the best option for your feline!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (2021)
|Best Overall||Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food||
|Best Value||Purina Pro Plan Kitten Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food||
|Premium Choice||ORIJEN Free Run Chicken & Turkey, & Wild Caught Salmon & Herring Grain||
|FirstMate Grain Friendly Cat & Kitten Formula Cat Food||
|Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food||
The 10 Best Kitten Foods for Sensitive Stomachs
1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food — Best Overall
|First Five Ingredients:||Deboned turkey, turkey meal, deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas|
For most kittens out there, we highly recommend Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food. This formula is specifically designed for kittens and includes high-quality animal proteins.
There are several sources of animal protein spread throughout this formula, from turkey to herring and chicken. These ingredients provide most of the protein and fat in the recipe. However, there are veggies that also raise the protein content, like peas.
This kitten recipe is entirely grain-free. It has antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies to help support immune health and prevent oxidative damage.
Salmon oil is added for extra DHA and omega fatty acids. Flaxseed is included to raise the omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are vital for brain and eye development.
Probiotics are added to the recipe. This formula isn’t explicitly advertised as suitable for sensitive digestion. However, the inclusion of probiotics makes it more than enough for many felines.
This recipe is easily the best overall kitten food for sensitive digestion based on all these added nutrients. It’s an excellent choice for your kitten’s first year.
2. Purina Pro Plan Kitten Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food — Best Value
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, rice, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, beef fat|
Purina Pro Plan Kitten Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food is the best option for those looking to save money. It’s less expensive than much of the competition while remaining somewhat high-quality. It has excellent value for the price.
Purina is a quality company overall. It has few recalls despite producing most pet food on the market. Therefore, its food is considered to be safe.
This formula is specifically designed for kittens. It includes DHA and other omega fatty acids to support brain and vision health. Antioxidants are provided through natural fruits and veggies to prevent oxidative damage, which can cause a range of diseases.
The first ingredient is real chicken. This meat is both inexpensive and provides lean protein for your growing cat. Much of the formula’s protein comes from the chicken.
However, there are a few low-quality ingredients in this recipe. For instance, rice is included as the second ingredient. This is white, refined rice, so it doesn’t provide much nutrition for felines. Corn gluten meal is also included, which raises the protein content with lower-quality protein.
The food’s lower price is mainly due to these ingredients. Still, this is the best kitten food for sensitive digestion for the money.
3. ORIJEN Free Run Chicken & Turkey, & Wild Caught Salmon & Herring Grain-Free Dry Kitten Food — Best Premium
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, turkey, salmon, whole herring, chicken liver|
If only the best will work for your kitten, we recommend purchasing ORIJEN Free Run Chicken & Turkey & Wild Caught Salmon & Herring Grain-Free Dry Kitten Food.
This food is packed full of high-quality protein. Chicken is the first ingredient, but it is followed by a massive list of other meat products. Everything from turkey to whole herring is included, along with a variety of different organ meats.
The inclusion of so much meat is what drives up the price of this product. When you’re using expensive meat ingredients, the end product is more expensive too!
There are many different kinds of prebiotics included in this formula. The sources used are entirely natural, such as whole pumpkin and apples. These support your cat’s digestion and can be extremely helpful for felines with existing digestive problems.
Many of the ingredients in each bag are raw and frozen. This is the company’s primary source of preserving its whole meats.
To conclude, this is our premium choice pick for best kitten food for sensitive stomachs this year.
4. FirstMate Grain Friendly Cat & Kitten Formula Cat Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Ocean fish meal, chicken meal, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken fat|
FirstMate is not a popular brand, but FirstMate Grain Friendly Cat & Kitten Formula Cat Food is a quality option for many kittens. This formula is designed for both kittens and adult cats. Therefore, you can start your kitten on this food and then never worry about changing it.
Ocean fish meal is added as the first ingredient. This is fish that has been cooked down and concentrated. Therefore, it is higher in protein and fat than whole fish, as much of the moisture content has been removed.
According to the company, the ocean fish is a combination of herring, anchovies, and sardines. All these fish are quality options for kittens.
The use of fish as the first ingredient also means that this formula is high in omega fatty acids. Real berries are included throughout, upping the antioxidant content significantly.
This formula is also completely free from peas, potatoes, corn, wheat, and soy. It’s also low glycemic and gluten-free.
5. Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken liver, chicken broth, carrots, natural flavor|
Wellness makes high-quality cat foods. We highly recommend the Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food, as it is easily one of the better wet foods on the market.
It includes chicken as the first ingredient and uses chicken broth as the primary source of moisture. This raises the protein and fat content substantially. Plus, chicken is a quality and inexpensive protein for kittens. It’s good for their health and won’t break the bank.
Fish oil and flaxseed are both added to improve the omega fatty acid content. Antioxidants and taurine are in the recipe to prevent health problems in the future. This formula may be a bit expensive, but the extra nutrients make it worth it for many pet parents.
We recommend this food for kittens with urinary health problems, as the high moisture content may prevent further issues. Many felines have trouble getting all the water that they need from fresh water alone because they evolved to get high levels of moisture from their prey.
However, wet foods can also cause stomach upset in some felines. Therefore, this isn’t a suitable option for all kittens.
6. Diamond Naturals Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, grain sorghum, chicken fat, dried yeast|
Diamond Naturals is one of the best pet brands on the market. Its Diamond Naturals Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food is one of the better recipes that you can purchase.
It includes whole chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Both provide high-quality nutrients and help support your growing kitten’s health.
DHA is added to support your feline’s brain and vision development. Nutrient-dense foods are included throughout, including blueberries and oranges. Many of these fresh fruits and veggies provide potent antioxidants that can protect your kitten from oxidative damage.
Probiotics are included for a healthy digestive system, along with a robust dose of prebiotics.
That said, there are a few lower-quality ingredients included here. Grain sorghum is the third ingredient, for instance. While this isn’t harmful to most kittens, they don’t exactly need the added grain. This formula is also expensive and the value just isn’t there.
7. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Healthy Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, dried potato, peas|
Merrick makes high-quality pet food. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Healthy Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food is one of the higher-quality kitten foods on the market. However, it is not designed explicitly for kittens with sensitive digestion. Its high-quality ingredients may prove to be enough to calm some kittens’ stomachs. However, many will need probiotics and extra support that this food just doesn’t provide.
Over 70% of the protein in this formula comes from animals. Much of it is from chicken, though turkey is included as the third ingredient. The rest of the protein comes from the added peas and potatoes, both of which are surprisingly high in protein for veggies.
Taurine is added to support your kitten’s growing heart, as are omega fatty acids. Overall, this formula includes all the added nutrients that you would expect in kitten food.
However, it does not include any probiotics and only a moderate number of prebiotics. Therefore, it may not be suited for kittens with significant digestive problems.
8. Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, pea protein, peas|
Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is relatively similar to many other cat foods. The first ingredient is whole chicken, followed by chicken meal and turkey meal. Pet food companies seem to like using chicken in their formulas (and for a good reason — it’s cheaper and provides lean protein)!
However, we also found a few low-quality ingredients in this food. For instance, it has a high amount of pea protein, which appears as the fourth ingredient. That is a large amount of vegetable-based protein that our cats may not be able to utilize properly.
Whole peas are the fifth ingredient. This is a form of ingredient splitting, which involves the company splitting up ingredients to make them show up further down the ingredient list. If you combined the pea protein and the whole peas, peas would likely be much higher on the list.
This formula is also costly, especially for what it is. You can find higher-quality kitten food for cheaper.
9. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Entree Canned Cat Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Turkey, turkey broth, turkey liver, fish oil, natural flavor|
Blue Buffalo is easily one of the most popular pet brands on the market. The Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Entree Canned Cat Food may be a good option for a few kittens out there, but you can likely find a better option for cheaper.
This recipe focuses on turkey as the primary protein source. It includes whole turkey, turkey broth, and turkey liver — all high-quality options for kittens.
Fish oil is added to up the omega fatty acid content, which is vital for kittens’ brains and eyes.
The entire formula is also gluten- and grain-free. If your kitten is sensitive to any particular ingredient, this formula may work well. After all, it is missing many of the more common ingredients used in kitten food, like chicken and beef.
However, this formula will likely be less than helpful if your kitten has a sensitive stomach in general. It doesn’t include any probiotics and only limited amounts of prebiotics. No stomach-calming ingredients are included.
This formula is far more focused on removing potentially harmful ingredients than it is on adding helpful ones. That’s fine for kittens that are sensitive to particular things. For others, you should look elsewhere.
10. Adirondack Kitten Dry Cat Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken meal, brown rice, chicken fat, ground grain sorghum, egg product|
The Adirondack Kitten Dry Cat Food is advertised as containing high amounts of protein for growing kittens. However, this advertising is a bit misleading. Based on some other recipes, this one has lower protein than average. The fat content is also a bit lower than many higher-quality formulas.
It utilizes chicken meal as the first ingredient, which provides plenty of lean protein. However, it is also heavy on the grain, with brown rice as the second ingredient. Ground grain sorghum is the fourth ingredient.
The use of grain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, for the price of this food, we are expecting far more animal protein.
Probiotics are added to the recipe, making it a good option for kittens with sensitive stomachs. Taurine and similar nutrients are also added, as you would expect from kitten food. Omega fatty acids are added for skin and coat health.
We do like that this formula is made in the U.S.A. Its use of only one animal protein may be helpful for some kittens, though others won’t find much benefit at all.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Kitten Food for Sensitive Stomachs
Choosing a kitten food can seem overly complicated. After all, there is so much to consider! You have to read the ingredient list, double-check brands, and look at the protein content.
When your kitten has a sensitive stomach, it can be even more difficult. Sometimes, it’s something obvious that upsets your cat’s stomach. Other times, they seem to react to random things.
Here, we review everything that you need to know about kittens with sensitive stomachs.
Sensitive Stomachs vs. Allergies
Sensitive stomachs and true allergies are different and require different foods.
Kittens with sensitive stomachs just get stomach upset when they eat certain foods. It usually isn’t a reaction to specific proteins in the food, though it can be. They may be able to eat certain things sometimes and not at other times.
Kittens with true allergies are allergic to specific proteins in their food. The most common allergies are the most common ingredients in cat food, such as chicken and turkey. However, this is because these are the proteins that cats tend to eat, not because they inherently are more likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions can cause digestive issues. However, there are also other symptoms. Usually, kittens with allergies become itchy. They may scratch at their paws and extremities. They may open up sores and cause hair loss.
Food allergies are treated by avoiding the allergen causing the problem. Often, this means using a limited-ingredient food because it’s much easier to avoid certain foods if the ingredient list is shorter. However, this isn’t necessary. If the food doesn’t include the allergen, it should be a suitable option for that kitten.
There is no reason to purchase an expensive allergy food for your feline. A regular diet missing their allergen should be just fine! There is no such thing as hypoallergenic cat food because all cats have different needs.
Sensitive digestion requires food that supports the digestive system. Often, the protein used doesn’t matter. The biggest concern is choosing a food full of digestion-supportive ingredients.
Sensitive digestion food probably isn’t going to do much for a cat with allergies. A limited-ingredient diet probably won’t do much for cats with sensitive digestion, unless the cat happens to be sensitive to a particular ingredient
What Ingredients Are Important for Sensitive Digestion?
There are a few ingredients that are particularly helpful for kittens with sensitive digestion. Not all of these have solid scientific data behind them, and many common digestive-supporting ingredients don’t have any data at all.
Here, we included a list of the most promising digestion-friendly ingredients.
Probiotics are essential for kittens with sensitive digestion.
Just like people, cats have a microbiome in their bodies that helps them digest their food. Without a proper microbiome, they may be unable to digest certain foods, upsetting their digestion. Harmful bacteria can also set up in their gut if there aren’t enough good bacteria hanging around.
There is a great deal of evidence to support the usefulness of probiotics. Not only do they help with digestive issues, but they can also be used to treat certain respiratory infections.
Not all cats will benefit from probiotics, though. It depends on their current microbiome. If their gut is already in tip-top condition, probiotics probably won’t do much!
Pumpkin and Other Prebiotics
Pumpkin and similar fibers have been shown to promote proper metabolism in the gut. It isn’t precisely that the pumpkin improves digestion. Instead, it just happens to be a healthy prebiotic that can support the digestive system.
However, pumpkin’s helpfulness for pets is the most well-known, so it is the most commonly included prebiotic in digestive health foods.
Technically, any prebiotic would likely have similar results. Here is a shortlist of common prebiotics that are useful for cats. According to the science that we have so far, many of these will have the same result:
Many of these are not what most pet owners consider “high-quality ingredients.” For instance, corn is often considered a poor addition to cat food. However, the actual science proves otherwise. The addition of things like corn and barley may be helpful for felines with digestive issues.
Do All Kittens Have Sensitive Digestion?
No, not all kittens have sensitive digestion. Many kittens can eat just about anything without a problem.
However, some kittens do have significant sensitivities, though. These digestive issues may be due to a lack of a healthy gut biome. When kittens are born, they have to start from scratch when it comes to their gut microbiome.
Some kittens may not get the bacteria that they need, leading to digestive issues. If they don’t develop the proper gut biome, they will continue to have issues into adulthood.
Luckily, probiotics are ideal for improving a feline’s microbiome. You can purchase probiotics separately as supplements to add to their food, or you can purchase a general sensitive digestion food that includes probiotics. This latter option is usually the cheapest. Probiotics by themselves can be expensive, but foods containing them usually aren’t.
We hope that our reviews have helped you figure out the best sensitive digestion food for your kitten. There aren’t actually that many foods out there designed for kittens with sensitive stomachs specifically. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re short on options.
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food is our favorite food for kittens with sensitive digestion. It includes probiotics for gut health and many additives to support a kitten’s development.
We recommend Purina Pro Plan Kitten Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food for those on a stricter budget. This formula includes probiotics and a few other helpful ingredients. However, it is also much cheaper than most other options.
Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (2021)
- The 10 Best Kitten Foods for Sensitive Stomachs
- 1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food — Best Overall
- 2. Purina Pro Plan Kitten Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food — Best Value
- 3. ORIJEN Free Run Chicken & Turkey, & Wild Caught Salmon & Herring Grain-Free Dry Kitten Food — Best Premium
- 4. FirstMate Grain Friendly Cat & Kitten Formula Cat Food
- 5. Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
- 6. Diamond Naturals Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food
- 7. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Healthy Kitten Recipe Dry Cat Food
- 8. Solid Gold Touch of Heaven Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- 9. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Entree Canned Cat Food
- 10. Adirondack Kitten Dry Cat Food
- Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Kitten Food for Sensitive Stomachs