Best Cat Food for IBD

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best cat food for ibd

As a fellow cat owner, I understand the challenges of searching for the best cat food for IBD. While my cats are mostly healthy, I’ve witnessed friends struggling with their cats’ Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

For any cat owner, finding suitable IBD-friendly diets can be distressing and seemingly impossible.

Worry less, I’ve spent hours researching and consulting cat experts to support you in this journey.

My top pick? It’s the Instinct Original Grain Free Real Rabbit Recipe. However, this isn’t the only choice. We’ve compiled a list of the 7 best foods for cats with IBD.

Stay with me to find the one that fits your situation. Let’s begin.

Best Food for Cats with IBD Overview

What is IBD?

IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, is a chronic condition that affects a feline’s digestive system. It causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. While the exact cause of IBD is still unknown, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the lining of the intestines.

Cats with weak immune systems are more likely to develop IBD as their body’s defense mechanisms may not be able to control the inflammation in their digestive system. Genetics may also play a role in the development of IBD in cats, as certain breeds, Siamese and other oriental breeds, are more prone to the condition.

Symptoms of IBD in Cats

Recognizing the symptoms of IBD is crucial for early diagnosis and effective management. One of the most evident signs is chronic gastrointestinal upset, which may present as recurring diarrhea, vomiting, or both. Weight loss is also a prevalent symptom as the cat’s body struggles to absorb nutrients from food properly.

How is IBD in cats diagnosed?

This may sound surprising to you, but diagnosing IBD in feline companions can be quite challenging as the symptoms often mimic those of other diseases.

The most accurate method of diagnosing IBD in cats is through a biopsy. Tissue samples are collected from the intestinal walls during an endoscopy or surgery. These samples are then sent to a specialized laboratory for analysis. The lab report can reveal the presence of inflammation in the intestinal lining, confirming a diagnosis of IBD.

Treatment for Cats with IBD

Treatment for Cats with IBD mainly involves medication and dietary management.


Treating IBD in cats often begins with Metronidazole, which helps reduce inflammation and fights off harmful bacteria. If this doesn’t work, vets might prescribe corticosteroids or stronger immunosuppressive drugs. These medications aim to control the immune response causing the inflammation.

Dietary Management

The food your cat eats plays a big role in managing IBD. Vets usually recommend special diets that are gentle on the stomach. These might include hypoallergenic foods or those with novel proteins (like rabbit, duck, or venison) and digestible carbs. Supplements like prebiotics, probiotics, and dietary fiber can also support your cat’s gut health.

7 Best Cat Food for IBD Cats

Now that you understand the importance of diet for cats with IBD, let’s explore our top choices of best cat foods to manage IBD.

Instinct Original Grain-Free Real Rabbit Recipe

– Best Overall

instinct original grain-free rabbit canned cat food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: Rabbit, Pork, Pork Liver, Pork Broth, Ground Flaxseed
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 10%, Crude Fat (min) 3%, Crude Fiber (max) 1.5%, Moisture (max) 78%.
  • Dry Matter Basis: Protein: 45.45%, Fat: 13.64%, Fiber: 6.82%, Carbs: 17.25%
  • Protein Source: Rabbit, Pork
  • Price: 0.65/oz

Balancing cost and quality, Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Rabbit Recipe is my top pick for cats with IBD.

The real rabbit in this formula really stands out. It’s a novel protein that’s gentle on sensitive stomachs, which is crucial for our furry friends with digestive issues.

This recipe is grain-free, a big plus for reducing gastrointestinal stress. But that’s not all. It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed and fish oil, known to calm irritated digestive systems.

Another cool thing? It includes Montmorillonite clay, a natural detoxifier that supports digestive health.

For gut flora balance, it uses Bacillus coagulans probiotics, great for easing GI upset.

Though it’s packed with benefits, the diverse ingredients might not be ideal for every cat with IBD, especially those needing a limited-ingredient diet.

The quality here is top-notch, which is reflected in the price, something to keep in mind for some cat owners.

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Rabbit Cat Food 

– Best Premium

stella & chewy’s freeze-dried raw rabbit cat food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: Rabbit with ground bone, rabbit liver, olive oil, pumpkin seed, potassium chloride
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 44%, Crude Fat (min) 30%, Crude Fiber (max) 5%, Moisture (max) 5%.
  • Dry Matter Basis: Protein: 46.32%, Fat: 31.58%, Fiber: 5.26%, Carbs: 16.84%
  • Protein Source: Rabbit
  • Price: 3.59/oz

I’ve seen a lot of chat on Reddit and theCatSite about how a raw diet can really help cats with IBD. If you’re thinking about giving raw food a try, Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Rabbit Cat Food is a fantastic choice.

This food is packed with 46.32% protein, much like what your cat would eat in the wild. Rabbit meat is a novel protein for many cats, which means it’s less likely to trigger IBD symptoms.

It’s not just free from grains, artificial additives like red dye, and low-quality plant fillers; it’s also loaded with probiotics to support your kitty’s digestive health.

The freeze-drying process keeps all the vital nutrients and enzymes intact, so your cat gets all the goodness in every bite. Just add water when feeding to make sure they’re staying hydrated.

I’m impressed with the quality, but I have to say, the price is on the higher side. It’s the priciest option on our list, but for the health benefits, it might just be worth it.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Duck Recipe 

– Best Value Wet Food

merrick limited ingredient diet grain-free real duck recipe

  • Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Duck, Water, Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, MINERALS
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 8%, Crude Fat (min) 4%, Crude Fiber (max) 1.4%, Moisture (max) 78%.
  • Dry Matter Basis: Protein: 36.36%, Fat: 18.18%, Fiber: 6.36%, Carbs: 39.1%
  • Protein Source: Duck, Pea
  • Price: 0.45/oz

We all understand that wet cat food is often preferred over dry, but affordability can be an issue. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, I’ve got a suggestion.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Duck Recipe is a great choice for our sensitive feline companions.

It’s made with real duck, a novel protein that many cats haven’t encountered. This reduces the chance of food sensitivities, especially for cats that react to common proteins like chicken or beef.

This recipe’s limited ingredients are a plus, aiming to reduce allergic reactions. It’s a solid pick for cats with a history of dietary issues.

However, it includes plant-based proteins and fats, which aren’t as beneficial as those from animal sources. Also, using guar gum raises eyebrows among some cat owners, as it might affect protein digestibility.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Dry Cat Food 

– Best Value Dry Food

blue buffalo wilderness salmon dry cat food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 40%, Crude Fat (min) 18%, Crude Fiber (max) 4%, Moisture (max) 9%.
  • Dry Matter Basis: Protein: 43.96%, Fat: 19.78%, Fiber: 4.40%, Carbs: 31.86%
  • Protein Source: Salmon, Chicken, Pea, Fish
  • Price: 0.25/oz

Finding the perfect cat food for our IBD-affected fur friends while keeping an eye on the budget is a real quest.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Dry Cat Food emerges as a champion in this journey. It’s grain-free, with real salmon at the forefront, offering high-quality protein that’s both palatable and gentle on the tummy.

The mix also includes sweet potatoes and peas, ensuring digestible carbs are on the menu.

Omega fatty acids in this blend do wonders for maintaining a shiny coat and healthy skin, crucial for cats battling IBD.

And let’s not forget the LifeSource Bits—those little nuggets packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that boost immune health.

Though it also steers clear of poultry by-products and artificial additives, this dry cat food still contains plant sources of protein, fiber, and fat.

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food 

– Best Dry Food

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein chicken recipe dry cat food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Hydrolyzed Pork, Pork Plasma, Gelatin, Chicken Fat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 59%, Crude Fat (min) 17%, Crude Fiber (max) 4%, Moisture (max) 12%.
  • Dry Matter Basis: Protein: 67.05%, Fat: 19.32%, Fiber: 4.55%, Carbs: 9.08%
  • Protein Source: Chicken, Pork
  • Price: 0.48/oz

It’s known that high-moisture food is typically the go-to for cats with IBD since dry food’s moisture content is usually less than 10%, which isn’t ideal.

Plus, dry kibbles tend to be rich in starch and unnecessary plant ingredients.

However, if your furry friend turns up their nose at anything but kibble, Dr. Elsey’s offers a beacon of hope.

This food is a standout because it’s packed with high-quality protein from chicken and pork, free from high-carb fillers.

Instead, it cleverly uses gelatin to hold the kibble together and includes salmon oil, a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

However, chicken isn’t always a great choice for cats with IBD. So, make sure it’s not your kitten’s trigger foods before feeding.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken Wet Cat Food 

– Best with Chicken

wellness core grain-free chicken wet cat food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey, Ground Flaxseed
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 10%, Crude Fat (min) 7%, Crude Fiber (max) 1%, Moisture (max) 78%.
  • Dry Matter Basis: Protein: 45.45%, Fat: 31.82%, Fiber: 4.55%, Carbs: 6.36%
  • Protein Source: Chicken, Turkey
  • Price: 0.67/oz

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken Wet Cat Food could be my top choice if it has novel protein sources. It’s made for cats with sensitive tummies, including those battling IBD.

Unlike other foods on the list, the protein source of this food recipe mainly comes from poultry – chicken and turkey.

Plus, it contains prebiotic fibers like Apple Powder and Pumpkin Powder. They feed the good bacteria in your cat’s gut, helping to keep the digestive system healthy and balanced.

There are also Omega-3 fatty acids, like those in salmon oil, to help reduce inflammation, a big issue in IBD.

And guess what? It’s grain-free and has no artificial additives, so it’s less likely to upset your cat’s stomach.

This recipe matches what vets suggest for cats with IBD, focusing on easy digestion and gut health support.

However, chicken is one of the most common food allergens for cats. We’d suggest only for those cats who never have chicken, which may be rare, or those who never seem to have any problems digesting chicken.

Hound & Gatos 98% Duck & Liver Wet Cat Food 

– Best for Diabetes & IBD

hound & gatos 98% duck & liver wet cat food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Broth, Duck Liver, Agar-Agar, Potassium Chloride
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 10%, Crude Fat (min) 9%, Crude Fiber (max) 1%, Moisture (max) 78%.
  • Dry Matter Basis: Protein: 45.45%, Fat: 40.91%, Fiber: 4.55%, Carbs: 9.09%
  • Protein Source: Duck
  • Price: 0.52/oz

This may sound surprising to you, but cats with IBD are the major customers of Hound & Gatos. The limited ingredients of this Hound & Gatos 98% Duck & Liver Wet Cat Food is its superpower.

It’s all about what’s in it: 98% duck, duck broth, and duck liver offering that novel protein source that’s music to the ears of any cat owner dealing with IBD.

The inclusion of salmon oil, rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, is like a soothing balm for their inflamed guts.

Plus, it’s low in carbs and contains no plant ingredients, ticking all the boxes for diabetic kitties too.

However, finding commercial cat food without controversial ingredients seems impossible. This food contains agar-agar, a thickener that, while not as harmful as carrageenan, still raises concerns among some cat owners.

What to Look for When Choosing the Best Food for Cat with IBD

Navigating the world of cat food for our beloved felines with IBD can be quite the journey, I’ve picked up a few key pointers along the way.

Nutrition Value

The cornerstone of managing IBD in cats revolves around high-quality, easily digestible nutrition. Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring rich animal-based proteins for optimal health. 

A diet high in quality protein supports their energy levels and maintains muscle mass without straining their digestive system.

Novel Protein

Opting for a novel protein source, something your cat hasn’t been exposed to, can significantly reduce the chances of an immune reaction. Foods like duck, rabbit, or venison can be game changers for sensitive stomachs.

High in Fiber

While too much fiber can be problematic, the right amount can aid in digestion and stool quality including constipation. It’s about finding a balance that suits your cat’s individual needs.

Wet Food vs. Dry Food for IBD Cats

Wet food typically takes the cake due to its higher moisture content, aiding hydration and digestion. However, if your cat prefers dry food, look for high-protein, low-carb options designed with IBD in mind.


Does My Cat Need a Prescription Diet or Not?

Not necessarily. While prescription diets are formulated for specific health issues and can be beneficial, many high-quality commercial foods also meet the nutritional needs of cats with IBD. Always consult with your vet for personalized advice.

Are Raw Diets Appropriate for IBD?

Raw diets can be hit or miss for cats with IBD. While some cats thrive on them, others may not tolerate raw food well. It’s crucial to proceed with caution and under veterinary guidance.

Will a Hydrolyzed Protein, or Hypoallergenic Diet Help My Cat’s IBD?

For some cats, yes. Hydrolyzed protein diets break down proteins into smaller components, reducing the risk of immune responses, and making them a good option for cats with food sensitivities.

Should I Feed My Cat Probiotics to Help Her IBD?

Probiotics can be beneficial for supporting gut health and maintaining a balanced intestinal flora, which is often disrupted in cats with IBD.

Can CBD Oil Help My Cat with IBD?

CBD oil has been noted for its anti-inflammatory properties and may help manage some symptoms of IBD, though research is still in its infancy. Always discuss with your vet before introducing new supplements.

Final Words

Embarking on this journey with a cat with IBD requires patience, love, and a bit of detective work. Finding the best cat food for IBD is a pivotal step towards managing their condition.

If you are overwhelmed by the choices, give Instinct Original Grain Free Real Rabbit Recipe a try.

Remember, what works for one cat might not work for another, always consult with your vet before changing diet.

Here’s to finding that purr-fect meal that makes your kitty’s heart (and stomach) content!

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