2022 Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources

Best Cat Food for IBD

Is your cat struggling with vomiting or chronic diarrhea? Have you noticed lethargy or sudden changes in your cat’s appetite? Your cat may be suffering from Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Depending on the type, proper medication and nutritional therapy can help cats live comfortably and happily despite having the condition. In this article, we have reviewed the best cat food for IBD in the market today.

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What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract caused by an over-reactive immune system in response to food or bacterial components. It can affect the cat’s stomach, small intestine, and/ or colon. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on the other hand, is the severe and sudden inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Cats of any age can be affected by IBD, but the condition is more common in cats aged between 5-12 years of age.

The type of IBD depends on the type of inflammatory cells present in the gastrointestinal tract or the location that is affected.

What to Look For in Cat Food for IBD

The specific adjustments to be made on your cat’s food will depend on the type of IBD, as well as the region of the gastrointestinal tract affected. Your vet may prescribe commercially available food, prescription food, or even a recipe that has the right balance of nutrients that your cat needs. 

Novel Protein

Changing your cat’s diet to one that has a protein source she has never had is one of the most important parts of managing IBD linked to food sensitivities. Select a food that is single-source protein. 

A novel protein diet and limited-ingredient diets are advisable for cats with IBD. Recipes or meals with more food ingredients increase the risk of exposing the cat to food allergens.

Food with hydrolyzed protein can also help. Hydrolyzed proteins are commonly used in vet prescription cat foods. The proteins in such foods are broken down so small that they are absorbed easily by the cat’s body without triggering allergic reactions.

High In Fiber

A higher dietary intake can be beneficial to cats with IBD. Look for cat foods with psyllium, pumpkin, or other healthy fiber sources that are not cheap fillers such as corn, wheat, or soy. Don’t hesitate to ask your vet what he or she recommends as carb or fiber sources for your kitty. This will help you narrow down your search for the right food.

Low In Fat

Depending on the type of IBD, your vet may prescribe a low-fat diet for your cat. Ask your vet about the fat percentage range that would be ideal for your cat.

Hydration

Access to fresh, clean drinking water must be provided to all cats. Having a water fountain can help entice your cat to drink more. 

Increase your cat’s water consumption by feeding wet cat foods or giving freshly cooked food. In addition to canned cat foods, you can also give your cat broths to lap up, or you can pour it over their meals.

Best Cat Food for IBD

IMAGE PRODUCT  
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 1
Hill's Prescription Diet z/d
  • Help improve digestion
  • Highly digestible proteins
  • Reduce gastrointestinal workload
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 2
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals
  • Great-tasting wet cat food
  • Natural highly-digestible recipe
  • Especially formulated for GI conditions
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 3
Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Intestinal Support Diet
  • Gluten-free carbs
  • Single-source protein
  • Limited ingredient formula
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 4
Freely LID Rabbit Recipe
  • Grain-free recipe
  • Made with limited ingredients
  • Rabbit meal is the first ingredient
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 5
Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care
  • Single animal protein source
  • A limited ingredient cat food
  • Formulated to help meet the needs of your senior cat
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 6
Natural Balance L.I.D. Tuna & Pumpkin Formula
  • Great for kitties with sensitivities
  • Features lean, premium-quality flaked tuna
  • Fortified with vitamins, minerals and essential taurine
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 7
Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula
  • 100% free from chemicals
  • High-protein, mouth-watering formula
  • Contains no gluten, grain, or plant protein
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 8
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Recipe
  • Single-protein recipe
  • Grain free and nutrient dense
  • Safely air-dried and ready to serve
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 9
Instinct Raw Boost Recipe with Real Salmon
  • Crafted with wild-caught salmon
  • All-natural, minimally processed
  • Combination of high-protein kibble & freeze-dried raw ingredients
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 10
Smalls Human-grade Fresh Cow
  • Gently cooked
  • Profiles for all life stages
  • All natural, human-grade ingredients
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[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 11
  1. Hill's Prescription Diet z/d
  2. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals
  3. Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Intestinal Support Diet
  4. Freely LID Rabbit Recipe
  5. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care
  6. Natural Balance L.I.D. Tuna & Pumpkin Formula
  7. Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula
  8. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Recipe
  9. Instinct Raw Boost Recipe with Real Salmon
  10. Smalls Human-grade Fresh Cow

1. Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities

First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver, Rice Protein Concentrate, Powdered Cellulose, Soybean Oil

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 12
Designed to improve digestion and stool quality with ingredients to help reduce gastrointestinal workload. Helps eliminate food related causes of skin irritation and a healthy skin barrier.

There are several different types of prescription cat food that your vet may recommend depending on the type, affected region, and severity of your cat’s IBD.

One of the most commonly recommended by vets for cats with IBD is the low allergen cat food from the famous brand Hill's.

It is specially formulated for cats suffering from gastrointestinal issues, ear infections, skin and/ or coat conditions caused by food allergies. A vet’s authorization is required to purchase this dry food.

This Hill’s Prescription Diet has hydrolyzed chicken liver instead of chicken meal as its main protein source.

Because the amino acids in this vet diet have been broken down into very small parts, the body can absorb them easily without triggering an allergic reaction.

Despite having brewers rice as the first ingredient, this prescription cat food is quite high in protein at 29%. It is also low in fat at 10.5% Having rice as the main carb and fiber source makes this food highly digestible, which is important for cats who have inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

This formula has clinically proven antioxidants that help boost your cat’s immune system. They also promote a healthy skin barrier, which a cat suffering from skin allergies needs to give her relief from itchy, inflamed skin.

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d has received great feedback from owners of cats with various food allergies. According to owners of cats with IBD, this food has helped their cats become healthier.

They are no longer vomiting, have healthier skin, shiny coats, and brighter eyes. Some who initially lost weight from the disease have also managed to gain some weight back.

There are several who stated that they tried z/d after trying prescription cat foods from other brands. According to them, this particular formula has delivered much better results than previous ones they’ve tried. For this reason, z/d is our top pick for the best food for cats with IBD in the prescription category.

Pros:

  • Formulated for gastrointestinal issues
  • Hydrolyzed protein source: hydrolyzed chicken liver
  • Highly digestible carb source: rice
  • Limited ingredient cat food
  • Low-fat
  • High-protein
  • Antioxidants for cat’s skin barrier, immune health

Cons:

  • Expensive

2. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals 

First 5 ingredients: Meat By-Products, Ocean Whitefish, Water, Chicken, Long Grain Rice

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 13
Paw-fect for all breeds of adult cats and features a natural highly-digestible recipe to promote optimal nutrient absorption as well as added vitamins and minerals for your mate.

Formulated specifically for gastrointestinal issues in cats, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Gastroenteric Naturals wet cat food is one of the canned cat foods that vets often prescribe to cats with IBD. This formula is crafted by vets and nutritionists to provide a natural, highly-digestible meal to promote optimal nutrient absorption. A vet’s prescription is required to buy this product.

Compared to Hill’s z/d, this recipe is not a limited-ingredient diet. It has meat by-products, ocean whitefish, and chicken as its sources of protein. None of these protein sources are hydrolyzed. However, they make this highly digestible minced wet food very palatable, which is important to help stimulate cats’ appetites.

Long grain rice is high in fiber and easy to digest even for cats with tummy issues. Oat hulls and sweet potato add even more fiber to this recipe, which helps aid digestion by helping food move through the cat’s GI tract or digestive tract. Fiber also improves cats’ stool quality.

The majority of the pet parents who purchased this prescription cat food for IBD are relieved that their kitties are eating again.

The high palatability of this formula has helped cats who suffered from weight loss gain some of their weight back. Others purchased this formula as their cats have stopped eating their prescription cat foods from different brands.

Aside from improving their stool quality, some pet parents have remarked that they observed an improvement in the skin condition and coats of their cats.

Overall, this dry food is a great way to add hydration to your cat’s food or diet – something crucial, especially for cats suffering from gastroenteritis. 

Pros:

  • Formulated for gastrointestinal issues
  • Highly palatable
  • Highly digestible
  • Low-fat
  • Improves digestion and stool quality
  • Has L-carnitine to promote a healthy fat metabolism

Cons:

  • Meat by-products
  • Some cats pick out the pieces of long grain rice
Also Read: Purina Pro Plan Cat Food Review

3. Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Intestinal Support Diet 

First 5 ingredients: Ground Rice, Anchovy Meal, Hydrolyzed Fish Protein, Fish Oil, Chicken Fat

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 14
A limited-ingredient formula with single-source protein and carb helps avoid common allergens that can cause digestive upset, while therapeutic plant and fruit extracts work holistically to improve overall health.

Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Intestinal Support Diet is a dry cat food developed specifically to address chronic gastrointestinal issues such as upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive salivation, belching, ulcers, nocturnal vomiting on an empty stomach, gastric swelling, flatulence, intestinal noises, hairballs, and gastritis. Prescription is not required to purchase this cat food.

Made for sensitive stomach, this limited-ingredient diet has only anchovy meal and hydrolyzed fish protein as its protein sources. This minimizes the risk of triggering further inflammation in cats with food allergies. It offers a high-protein diet at 29% protein. 

To help inflamed gastrointestinal tracts digest food easily, this formula has ground rice as its main carb and fiber source.

Rice is gentle even on very sensitive stomachs. This is why it is commonly used in prescription diets or those made to help improve a cat’s digestive system problems.

Fish oil and chicken fat provide omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are vital in reducing inflammation in the gut as well as in cats’ skin.

Natural extracts of dried rose hips, psyllium seed husk, and oregano are added for their high nutritional value and fiber content. Psyllium is highly recommended by vets for cats with IBD.

This excellent cat food for IBD has received numerous rave reviews from owners of cats with various gastrointestinal conditions. It has improved the stool quality of the cats and resolved the vomiting as well. 

The brand promises to deliver results in just 7 days, and it seems to have delivered on its promise on many occasions.

This earns Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Intestinal Support the top spot among the best food for cats with IBD in the non-prescription dry category.

Pros:

  • Formulated for gastrointestinal/ digestive system issues
  • Non-prescription
  • Limited-ingredient 
  • High-quality protein sources
  • Includes hydrolyzed protein
  • Highly palatable
  • Highly digestible
  • Contains psyllium seed husk
  • Superfoods for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Smells strongly of fish

4. Freely Limited Ingredient Rabbit Recipe 

First 5 ingredients: Rabbit Meal, Peas, Rabbit, Sweet Potatoes, Sunflower Oil

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 15
Made with limited ingredients, providing your kitty with balanced nutrition and no extra fillers. Tasty and nutrient-dense rabbit meal is the first ingredient and the only protein in this recipe.

Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient grain-free kibble is a single-source protein food that is highly recommended for cats sensitive to proteins such as chicken, beef, fish, or lamb.

Rabbit is a novel protein commonly recommended by vets to cats with inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies. This recipe is suitable for all life stages.

This natural dry cat food has both rabbit meal and fresh rabbit meat. Both as high-quality sources of lean protein.

This recipe has a protein content of 31%. However, the fat content of this recipe is quite high at 18%. Ask your vet what fat levels are ideal for your cat before purchasing new food.

This grain-free cat food has peas and sweet potato as its fiber and carb sources. Both provide complex carbs and are high in nutritional value.

Aside from peas, lentils and pea protein are also included as additional sources of protein. Prebiotics are added to help promote a healthy gut microbiome. 

Omega fatty acids that help fight inflammation and promote good overall health in cats are provided by salmon oil and sunflower oil. This recipe is fortified with antioxidants to help strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation.

So far, Freely has been gaining a lot of support from pet parents of cats with food sensitivities. Many cats are put on a limited-ingredient diet with rabbit as the only animal protein source to see if they would improve. True enough for majority of the cats, the elimination of other protein sources seems to have helped improve their overall health.

Cats who have lost a lot of fur due to allergies have started getting their fur back. Their coats are also much healthier.

Digestive system issues such as vomiting and diarrhea have also been resolved for a lot of the kitties suffering from IBD and other conditions. 

Pros:

  • Limited-ingredient
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • Premium animal protein
  • Rabbit is the only protein source
  • Grain-free
  • High-protein
  • Prebiotics to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut
  • Antioxidants
  • Highly palatable

Cons:

  • Fat content is a bit high at 18%

5. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Formula (Indoor Mature )

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Tapioca Starch

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 16
Formulated to help meet the needs of your senior cat. It features a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals carefully selected to support your pal’s immune system, life stage needs and a healthy oxidative balance.

Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Grain-Free Formula Turkey & Potato Indoor Mature is a dry cat food specially formulated for senior indoor cats who have food sensitivities.

This grain-free, limited-ingredient recipe. The lower fat content of this food makes it ideal even for younger cats who require a low-fat, high-protein diet.

Turkey is the only animal protein source in this recipe. It has both deboned fresh turkey and turkey meal – both high-quality ingredients. Turkey is a great alternative for cats who like chicken but are allergic to it.

Peas, potatoes, and tapioca starch are the main carb/ fiber sources in this recipe. Crafted specifically for cats with sensitive stomach and skin, this recipe is made even more digestible by the inclusion of pumpkin.

Pumpkin is high in soluble and insoluble fiber that helps food move through the digestive tract. Probiotics are also included to promote a healthy gut flora and improve nutrient absorption.

Like all Blue Buffalo recipes, this dry food for mature cats has the brand’s unique LifeSource Bits. These bits contain a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists, to support cats’ immune system health.

This Blue Buffalo Basics grain-free cat food has been working quite well for numerous cats who were suffering from chronic vomiting. Many of them are cats with IBD. 

The limited-ingredient turkey recipe is also a hit with chicken lovers who have chicken allergies. They seem to like the savory flavor of turkey. Increased energy levels have also been noticed among cats who enjoyed this crunchy turkey dinner.

Pros:

  • Limited-ingredient
  • Formulated specifically for senior indoor cats with sensitive stomachs and skin
  • Single-source protein: turkey
  • High-protein
  • Low-fat
  • Probiotics for a healthy intestinal flora
  • L-carnitine for efficient fat metabolism
  • Antioxidants for immune system health and inflammation reduction
  • Highly digestible

Cons:

  • Kibbles are a bit too small for some cats

6. Natural Balance L.I.D. Tuna & Pumpkin

First 5 ingredients: Tuna, Tuna Broth, Pumpkin, Canola Oil, Guar Gum

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 17
Made especially for kitties with sensitivities, this recipe contains just a few carefully-chosen ingredients that will keep him thriving, including a single animal protein source—flaked tuna—as the top ingredient to support all those furry adventures.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Tuna & Pumpkin Formula is our pick for the best wet cat food in the non-prescription category.

This recipe is a flakes in broth type of wet cat food that is served in convenient pre-portioned trays. The tasty broth makes this food a great source of hydration for cats with IBD. This wet cat food is formulated to be nutritionally complete and balanced for adult cats.

This limited-ingredient recipe has only real tuna as its animal protein source. Tuna is naturally high in omega fatty acids that play an important role in helping reduce inflammation in cats with IBD. Its meat is full of flavor that cats love and it is also easy to digest. 

Tuna broth gives this complete meal a tasty soup that cats enjoy lapping up. Rehydration is very important as it is one of the principal treatments for cats with IBD-related conditions like gastroenteritis. Many cats are not too fond of drinking water, so a tasty broth can add to their moisture intake.

Pumpkin is the only carb and fiber source in this natural cat food. It is one of the best superfoods for gastrointestinal health. The fiber in the pumpkin improves stool quality.

It also aids the food in moving through the colon, which would be very helpful for cats with IBD. This recipe is free from grains, corn, soy, or any artificial enhancers.

Based on feedback from buyers, a lot of cats seem to go nuts for this tuna and pumpkin recipe. They love the tuna flakes and its tasty broth. Some even call this “kitty crack” cause their cats get so excited for mealtimes.

The single-source protein and carb formula seem to be working very well for cats with IBD, other digestive issues, and skin allergies.

According to the pet parents, the vomiting has stopped and the cats’ skin health is much better. They have also shown an increase in activity levels.

Overall, based on its carefully selected ingredients, digestive benefits, and great feedback from pet parents, hence deserving a spot on our list.

Pros:

  • Single-source protein and carb: tuna and pumpkin
  • Free from chicken, grains, gluten, peas, potatoes, legumes
  • High-protein at 11%
  • Low in fat at 2.0%
  • Highly palatable
  • Highly digestible
  • Complete and balanced
  • Recyclable trays

Cons:

  • Contains carrageenan

7. Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula

First 5 ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 18
Made in the USA with 98% turkey and turkey liver, using only the highest quality of wholesome pet food sources available. Ultra-hydrating pate style canned food gives felines the moisture they need.

Hound & Gatos 98% Turkey & Liver Formula is a pate that is formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for cats of all life stages. This limited-ingredient canned food is soft and easy to chew even for senior kitties.

With real turkey and turkey liver as the only animal protein source, this rich wet cat food is easy to digest and ideal for cats who are allergic to chicken. It is free from plant-based proteins such as pea proteins, legumes, chickpeas, or potatoes.

This low-carb best wet cat food is heavy on protein. It does not have any fillers or even any other vegetables or grains. This simple recipe is one of the best wet cat foods for kitties who need a low-glycemic diet.

Buyers find great value in this canned food as it is almost purely just turkey and liver. Cats seem to enjoy the meaty goodness of this recipe. As it has very few ingredients, cats with allergies or food sensitivities are thriving on this canned cat food.

It has received good feedback from owners of many cats with IBD. According to them, this wet cat food does not make their cats vomit. 

Pros:

  • Single-source protein: turkey
  • High-protein
  • Low-glycemic
  • No fillers
  • No plant-based proteins
  • Highly palatable
  • Soft, easy to chew and digest pate

Cons:

  • Low in fiber – it has zero veggies or other carb sources

8. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Recipe 

First 5 ingredients: Venison, Venison Tripe, Venison Heart, Venison Lung, Venison Liver

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 19
Naturally promotes mobility, vitality and overall well-being with 10% superfood inclusions of cold-washed green tripe, New Zealand green mussels, and organic kelp.

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Recipe is another meat-rich recipe that makes use of a novel protein source – highly recommended for cats allergic to chicken, beef, fish, or lamb. This air-dried/ dehydrated cat food can be served as a meal on its own, or as meal-toppers and treats.

The only source of animal protein in this cat food is venison – a novel protein that is lean and packed with nutrients. With venison tripe as the second most plentiful ingredient, this recipe offers a lot of benefits for cats’ digestive health.

A superfood for cats, tripe is a superfood for cats that they also find quite tasty. It promotes good gut health, healthy skin, and boosts the immune system and cats’ overall health.

Gently air-dried for maximum nutrient retention, this venison recipe has a protein load of 45%. Contributing to this high protein content are venison heart, lung, and liver. These nutrient-dense venison organs make every air-dried piece of this recipe burst with red meat flavors. 

The air-drying process combines the nutrition of a cat’s natural diet with the convenience of kibble.

Comments from buyers show that a lot of them bought this Ziwi Peak Venison recipe for their kitties who have allergies and digestive issues.

Majority of them are quite happy with the results that this food was able to deliver. Their cats have much healthier skin and coats, their digestion has improved, and they seem satisfied until their next meal.

Most of the lower ratings were from owners of cats who were not venison fans, or simply did not like the texture of the air-dried pieces.

Pros:

  • Single-source protein: venison
  • Novel protein/ premium animal protein
  • Venison tripe is the second ingredient – great for digestive health
  • Air-dried for maximum nutrient retention
  • High-protein 
  • Low-glycemic
  • Join support from New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels
  • Can be given as meals, treats, toppers

Cons:

  • High in fat at 23%
  • Expensive
Also Read: Ziwi Peak Cat Food Review

9. Instinct Raw Boost Recipe with Real Salmon

First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, White Fish Meal, Peas, Herring Meal

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 20
This all-natural formula is made in the USA and combines high-protein kibble with bites of freeze-dried raw meat, along with other minimally processed whole-food ingredients like real salmon and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies to support overall health.

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Salmon & Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces is a combination of crunchy kibbles and meaty freeze-dried raw pieces. This is the best dry cat food to try if you want to transition your cat from raw food diets to dry food.

While it is labeled as a salmon recipe, this Instinct Raw Boost recipe is actually a multi-protein food, meaning it has multiple sources of animal proteins.

Aside from real salmon, it also has menhaden fish meal, white fish meal, and herring meal. It seems that the freeze-dried raw food bits are made of freeze-dried raw beef and beef organs such as beef heart, liver, kidney, and spleen. This surf and turf cat food is packed with protein at 42%.

This grain-free recipe has peas and tapioca as the main sources of fiber. It also has superfoods such as carrots, apples, and cranberries. Not only are they high in fiber for healthy digestion, but they are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties beneficial to cats with IBD.

Feedback has been great for this kibble + freeze-dried raw recipe. Despite having more than one source of animal proteins, a lot of sensitive cats seem to be doing well on this fish and beef recipe. 

A lot of the buyers are pleased with the high protein content of this recipe. The high amount of meat proteins also makes this cat food highly palatable, which is great for cats who have decreased appetites due to IBD.

Pros:

  • High-protein
  • Grain, gluten, and potato-free
  • High in omega fatty acids
  • Highly palatable
  • Has crunchy fish kibbles plus bits of freeze-dried raw food made with beef and organs
  • Antioxidants from superfoods
  • Probiotics for healthy digestion

Cons:

  • Not suitable for cats allergic to beef
  • Not so low in fat at 18.5%
Also Read: Instinct Cat Food Review

10. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cow

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 21
Cooked with high-protein food using only USDA-certified, humanely-harvested, sustainably-sourced ingredients, maintaining all of the nutrients cats need to be healthy.

Smalls Human-grade Fresh Cow is a fresh-cooked cat food that is the closest your cat can get to a homecooked meal without all the fuss on your part.

Specializing in high-quality human-grade food just for felines, Smalls offers a fresh-cooked cat food subscription that will keep your cat healthier and happier.

Carefully prepared in the company’s kitchen in Chicago, Illinois, the food is made of fresh, human-grade ingredients sourced from the US and Canada.

The food is then gently cooked to retain most of its nutritional value and natural flavor. This is one of the best cat foods you can give to your pet.

This high-protein recipe is made with fresh lean ground beef, beef liver, and beef hearts for a truly flavorful dinner that your cat will love. This low-carb recipe has only green beans, spinach, and peas as its fiber and carb sources. 

Nutritionally complete and balanced, this human-grade meal for kitties is available in two different textures: ground and smooth. Ground has more of a minced texture, while smooth is in pate form. 

The brand also makes recipes in chicken and turkey. However, their turkey recipe does include chicken liver. These poultry recipes are available in ground, smooth, and pulled (shredded) textures.

Reviews are very positive from this brand of fresh cat food. The pet owners are very pleased with the significant health improvements their cats have shown since being switched to this recipe.

According to them, the chonkier kitties have lost weight and seem to be satisfied until their next meal. The absence of fillers is helping the cats feel fuller for longer.

Many not only noticed much healthier skin and glossy coats on the cats, but they also noticed fresher breath.

The litter boxes also seem to be smelling much fresher than before due to the improvement in their digestion.

Pros:

  • Fresh, human-grade ingredients
  • Single-source protein: beef
  • No cheap fillers
  • Gently cooked for maximum nutrient retention
  • Highly palatable
  • Easy to digest
  • Food texture options
  • Free from artificial flavors, colors, enhancers

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for cats allergic to beef
[year] Best Cat Food for IBD: Highly Digestible Novel Proteins, Fiber Sources 22

Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Enteritis

The most common type of feline inflammatory bowel disease, lymphocytic plasmacytic enteritis means that lymphocytes and plasma cells are the primary types of inflammatory cells present in the small intestine mucosa. 

While the cause is not known, this type of IBD is associated with an abnormal immune response to environmental stimuli that when continued, creates chronic inflammation resulting in the disease.

Eosinophilic

This type of IBD involves eosinophils, which is another type of inflammatory white blood cell. According to Cornell University’s Feline Health Center, they may be the predominant cell type on occasion, but they are more commonly part of a mixed population of inflammatory cells.

Neutrophilic

This type of IBD involves neutrophils. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that kills and digest fungi and bacteria to help heal wounds and protect the cat’s body from infection. Neutrophilic IBD is not very common in cats.

Granulomatous

According to the Veterinary Information Network, this rare type of IBD in cats is characterized by the presence of not periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) positive macrophages and other inflammatory cells within the lamina propria. 

It usually presents as a segmental, thickened, partially obstructed segment of the bowel. The ileum and colon appear to be the most commonly affected areas.

Forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Based on GI Region

Enteritis

  • The inflammation occurs in the small intestine
  • Common symptoms: chronic vomiting, diarrhea

Gastritis

  • The inflammation occurs in the stomach
  • Common symptoms: chronic vomiting

Colitis

  • The inflammation occurs in the colon or the large intestine
  • Common symptoms: chronic diarrhea, blood in the stool

Enterocolitis

  • Inflammation of both the large and small intestines
  • Common symptoms: chronic diarrhea, blood in the stool

Gastroenteritis

  • Inflammation of the stomach and the intestinal tract
  • Common symptoms: vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy
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What Causes IBD in Cats?

While a definitive cause has not been well established, there are several possible causes of IBD in felines:

  • Bacterial infection such as Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella, or E. coli
  • Parasites such as Giardia or Tritrichomonas foetus
  • Food hypersensitivity, allergy, or intolerance to a specific protein found in the diet

IBD Symptoms 

There are several signs of IBD you can look out for. Depending on the area affected, the IBD symptoms may vary. If your cat suffers from any of these, take her to the vet:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lethargy
  • Not wanting to be touched or handled around the abdomen
  • Changes in appetite: poor appetite or significant increase in appetite
  • Vomiting hairballs more than once or twice a month
  • Weight loss
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How is IBD Diagnosed?

If you suspect that your cat has IBD, take her to the vet. They can perform a number of tests to properly diagnose your cat’s condition and determine the type and course of action to take. This also helps rule out other causes of gastrointestinal disease.

Your vet may perform diagnostic tests such as fecal examination, urinalysis, blood work, serum biochemistries, serum thyroxine level, dietary trials, Xrays, and/or ultrasound. Tests for the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may also be requested.

Microscopic examination of small pieces of the intestinal lining (mucosal biopsy) is the most definitive way to diagnose the specific type of IBD. Depending on the location of the IBD, tissue samples can be obtained during abdominal surgery or endoscopic examination. Such procedures require general anesthesia. 

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How Is IBD Treated?

Deworming

Your vet will likely prescribe broad-spectrum deworming to get rid of intestinal parasites. 

Medical Therapy

Depending on the type of IBD your cat has, your vet may prescribe corticosteroids for their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, which have relatively few side effects in cats. These are usually taken orally. However, in cases of severe vomiting, your vet may give an injectable corticosteroid. 

Antibiotics such as metronidazole or tylosin are also given to some cats with IBD. Metronidazole contains antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antiprotozoal properties. Side effects to this antibiotic are quite uncommon at low dosages, but loss of appetite and vomiting may occur. 

Excessive salivation is one of the common reactions of cats after receiving the drug. This is probably a response to the unpleasant taste of the medication. 

Sulfasalazine is another medication used in treating IBD. It is commonly used if large bowel inflammation (colitis) is the predominate problem.

In more severe cases or in cases when other medical treatments have not worked, more potent immunosuppressive drugs, such as chlorambucil or azathioprine may be prescribed by the vet. The vet will need to closely monitor the patient as these types of drugs can suppress the production of white blood cells, red blood cells, and, less commonly, platelets, in the bone marrow.

Dietary Management

Dietary changes are an important part of improving the health of cats living with IBD. A change in diet can provide symptomatic relief, as food allergies play a part in the cause of gastrointestinal inflammation in some cats.

Your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic diet. A food trial using hypoallergenic diets typically includes protein or carb sources that are completely new to your cat. Common protein source choices are rabbit, venison, kangaroo, alligator, duck, etc. 

With the guidance of your vet, homemade food can also be given to your cat. Ideally, a novel protein source or one your cat has not eaten before is used, and no other meats. Increased dietary fiber can be beneficial to cats with IBD. The fiber sources must be highly digestible and the cat food recipe must also be low in fat.

Improvement may take several weeks or longer to be observed after a diet change. During a food trial period, all other food sources such as table food, other cat foods, treats, and flavored medications must be eliminated from your cat’s diet.

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Prognosis

Many cats improve after dietary changes, medication, or a combination of both. Relapses can occur if the treatment regimen prescribed by the vet is not followed completely. However, there are cases that even with proper management, IBD symptoms may still come and go.

It is critical that cats with IBD are closely monitored by the cat owners and the vet so that relapses can be properly assessed, and the treatment can be adjusted accordingly.

Conclusion

While it is true that there is no cure for IBD, there are many ways to manage the disease, and lots of cats are able to live with it quite comfortably. We highly recommend working closely with your vet to enable your cat to manage IBD in the best way possible. 

Every case is different in the form or type of IBD, as well as the severity of the disease. For this reason, we have carefully selected various food options that may be suitable for cats living with the disease. 

Whether your vet recommends a novel protein-based food, or a low-fat food with limited ingredients for your cat’s IBD, all of the cat food we have selected have received positive reviews from owners of cats with IBD and other allergy and digestion-related health issues. 

We hope that our review helps you find the best food for your cat and that she enjoys her meals for more years to come. 

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  • Updated March 31, 2022
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.