The 10 Best Cat Foods for Sensitive Stomachs

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Here’s a fact:

Tummy troubles are common for kitties. Their stomachs are rather sensitive and they can’t digest everything they find delicious.

Some cats, however, are more sensitive than others. When others enjoy their after-meal playtime, those poor souls are stuck with puke or poop time.  To prevent such scenarios, you need to be extra cautious about their diet.

Thankfully, there is a plethora of sensitive cat food out there. Sadly, most of them aren’t as good as they claim.

I’ve wasted money on my fair share of duds -products that did nothing – or to my absolute horror, made my kitty even sicker.


Through trials and errors, I have managed to find real gems. And I am about to share my top seven picks with you.

So…What’s the Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach?

If I let my cat choose her own meal, I can bet it will pick Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Natural Adult Dry Cat Food every single time.

Since my cat has an extremely sensitive tummy, I know for sure that it is not just the taste but also the way it makes my cat feel afterward.

Most meals make her feel sick, and consequently, sad. This one always makes her seem happier and more active after a meal.

Here is why:

  • Contains healthy prebiotics that supports digestion
  • Features real meat and not the by-products that usually cause problems
  • Has a patented “Lifesource” formula, which makes it rich in essential nutrients
  • Not completely grain-free as it contains brown rice and barley
  • A delicious formula that doesn’t kill your cat’s appetite
  • The bits aren’t too hard and are just the right size

In short, it is hypoallergenic yet high energy product. It is not like you will have to compromise on your cat’s nutritional needs just because it’s born with a tummy that requires extra care.

While my cat would rate it a full 10/10, I will give it a 9 because unlike my cat, yours might reject it because of its gluten content.

In that case, try one of the gluten-free ones from the list below.

My Top Picks

  1. Best Overall:
    Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

    A light, stomach safe cat food that doesn’t compromise on nutrition 
  2. Best Grain-free:
    Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe Natural Cat Food
    Grain and dairy-free formula super sensitive stomachs 
  3. Best Budget:
    Purina ONE Sensitive Systems Adult Dry Cat Food

    Turkey-based light formula that doesn’t cost a limb
  4. Best Seafood Formula:
    Halo Natural Dry Cat Food, Sensitive Stomach Seafood Medley

    A one-of-a-kind whole fish formula for fish-loving cats
  5. Best Wet Cat Food:
    Halo Impulse Grain-Free Quail & Garden Greens Canned Cat Food

    All-natural formula with good water content and real meat
  6. Best Healthy Treats:
    Wellness Kittles Crunchy Natural Grain Free Cat Treats

    All-natural delicious treats that don’t contain common allergens
  7. Best Kitten Food:
    Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Pate

    Easy to digest delicious patte for the little ones

Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Natural Adult Dry Cat Food – The Best Overall

It isn’t just me or my cat. This one has garnered great reviews from a majority of people who bought it. People have reported a miraculous difference in their cat’s overall health and behavior after switching to this one. Let’s take a look at what you get:

  • The base product is 100% real, lean chicken meat rich in healthy proteins
  • Feature the patented “Lifesource” bits that are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Includes 4 strains of FOS prebiotics that aid in digestion
  • Free from the most common allergens: wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, and preservatives
  • Developed with the help of veterinary professionals
  • Formulated according to the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles
  • Nutrition: 32 % protein, 16 % fat, 3.5 % fiber, 9% moisture, 22% carbs
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Best Grain-free: Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe Natural Cat Food

Now my top favorite may not be everyone’s ideal cat food because it contains grain. While those are high quality, easily digestible grains, there is always a possibility of a reaction. For uber-sensitive cats, you can’t take a risk with any food that contains too many ingredients. This limited ingredient product from Nature’s Variety contains one protein source and one vegetable.

Product highlights:

  • Real turkey meat as a single protein source and peas for a healthy dose of beneficial carbs, vitamins, and minerals
  • Meat sourced from the finest, cage-free, healthy turkey
  • Free of grains and common allergens including dairy, beef, eggs, fish, high-carb vegetables, corn, wheat, soy, and additives
  • One of a kind product that features kibbles coated with freeze-dried raw
  • Doesn’t contain any over-processed ingredient
  • Nutrition: 35.50 % protein, 16.50 % fat, 2.5 % fiber, 9% moisture, 22% carb
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Best Budget: Purina ONE Sensitive Systems Adult Dry Cat Food

Purina One is a find I am really proud of. You won’t be able to find many budget-friendly options that have real meat as the main ingredient and 0% filler ingredients. It is a protein-rich formula that is slightly high in fats and can help your cat gain some muscles and weight.

Product Highlights:

  • Real Turkey is the first ingredient and the main source of quality proteins
  • An easily digestible formula that improves stomach health
  • Nourishing formula for sensitive skin and dull coat
  • Suitable for cats of all ages – kitten to aging cats
  • A budget-friendly product that can easily compete with the more expensive variety in the list
  • Nutrition: 34 % protein, 14 % fat, 4 % fiber, 12% moisture, 34% carb
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Best Seafood Formula: Halo Natural Dry Cat Food, Sensitive Stomach Seafood Medley

Seafood and sensitive stomach don’t really go together – but what can you do when your sensitive friend loves to fish? Deprive them of their favorite food?

Let me tell you what you should do. Get a bag of Halo Natural Dry Cat Food Seafood Medley. Halo is one of my most trusted cat food brands because of its commitment to all things natural. I like how they say “the proof is in the poop” because it puts an end to all poop-related issue for my cats. No diarrhea. No constipation.

Product Highlights:

  • A natural product made from wild “Whole” fish and not rendered the fish meal
  • Main ingredients are whitefish and salmon
  • Contains bioavailable nutrients that help with digestion
  • Free of all GMOs, artificial additives, and preservatives
  • Higher than an average rank on AAFCO digestibility test
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Nutrition: 32 % protein, 16 % fat, 5 % fiber, 10% moisture, 34% carb
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Best Wet Cat Food: Halo Impulse Grain-Free Quail & Garden Greens Canned Cat Food

Didn’t I just tell you that Halo is one of my favorite brand for my cat?

It is one of the few brands that I can trust to be “natural”. Lack of thirst is one of the rare symptoms of a sensitive stomach, and dehydration can further aggravate the situation. Call it a CAT-22.

Well, if you find yourself dealing with that kind of cat conundrum, it is time to switch that bag o’ kibbles with a can of wet food. Here is why I trust Halo Impulse Grain-Free Quail & Garden Greens Canned Cat Food:

Product Highlights:

  • Made from WHOLE quail and chicken meat
  • High in moisture content for cats who don’t drink much water
  • Grain-free formula
  • Free of harmful additives, GMOs, and preservatives
  • Nutrient-rich quality greens including dandelion greens, parsley, and agar-agar
  • Nutrition: 10.5 % protein, 7.5 % fat, 1.25% fiber, 74% moisture
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Best Healthy Treats: Wellness Kittles Crunchy Natural Grain Free Cat Treats

Choosing a treat for cats with a sensitive stomach isn’t easy because most treats are loaded with filler ingredients that can cause a reaction.

That doesn’t mean you should deprive your furry friend of delicious treats every now and then. I found Wellness Kittles Crunchy Natural Grain Free Cat Treats to be safest for sensitive tummies. It is one of the few treats that feature real animal meat as the first ingredient.

Product Highlights:

  • All-natural treat with no grains, by-products, or additives
  • Made from real animal meat, fruits, and vegetables
  • Low calorie treats for cats of all ages
  • Comes in around 7 different flavors
  • Nutrition: 30 % protein, 12 % fat, 4 fiber, 10% moisture
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Best Kitten Food: Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Pate

Kittens are generally more sensitive than adult cats. If your kitten is born with the uber-sensitive stomach, the chances are even the adult variety of sensitive stomach food will be too harsh for its tummy.

Since most of the product on this list is dry cat food, I admit that there is a possibility that your kitten won’t react well to it. That is why I have included a product that is exclusively for kittens with sensitive tummies.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Pate is easy to eat and digest.

Product Highlights:

  • High-quality proteins from real chicken meat
  • The grain-free, all-natural formula for sensitive tummies
  • Free of by-products, artificial flavors, and preservatives
  • Easy-to-bite smooth loaf pate
  • Nutrition: 11 % protein,7 % fat, 1 fiber, 74% moisture
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Buyer’s Guide: Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach

The first step in buying the right product is knowing the right problem.

The sensitive stomach isn’t just diarrhea and vomits. There are other signs that indicate sensitivity. Some cats are born with a sensitive stomach but others might develop this problem later in life.

Either way, watch out for the signs and change their diet immediately as required.

Signs of a Sensitive Stomach

Let’s face it:

Diarrhea and vomiting is something every cat parent has to deal with. However, if a cat vomits after every other meal, or falls sick too often, know that your fur baby has a sensitive stomach problem.

In simpler words:

It means your cat is unable to digest most foods, even the things other cats can easily eat and enjoy without a hiccup.

But wait:

Don’t diagnose just yet!

Look for these signs to confirm you have a kitty with a sensitive tummy:

  • Your cat vomits out food that seems undigested
  • Regurgitation is a common habit
  • Your cat has diarrhea every other day
  • Constipation is too frequent a problem
  • Your cat stool is too smelly
  • The coat stays dull and keeps shedding
  • Cat’s skin is too sensitive or irritated
  • Your cat doesn’t gain weight

As I said, some cats might develop these sensitivities later in life, for one reason or another. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons.

Causes of a Sensitive Stomach

There is a reason I want to discuss it in the buying guide. Knowing what triggers your cat’s sensitivities is crucial for finding safer and healthier food for your cat.

So, maybe your cat is born with it. Maybe it’s…

  • Allergies– Some cats may be allergic to high-protein food including poultry and other forms of meat
  • An Intolerance – It is not uncommon for kitties to have lactose or gluten intolerance
  • Other Diseases – Digestive issues can be a symptom of liver or gallbladder disease
  • A Hairball – A big ball of fur can disrupt digestive functions

Sudden changes in lifestyle can also lead to digestive problems due to increase in stress. Make your kitty happy and comfortable to rule that one out.

Ingredients to Avoid

It makes sense to avoid any ingredient that can trigger allergies and intolerance. You need to be very observant to find out what actually upsets your kitty’s tummy.

Common culprits include:

  • Dairy Products – Most cats ARE lactose intolerant. “But they are mammals!” you must be wondering! There is a difference in the kind of lactose found in a cat’s milk and a cow’s milk or any other mammal’s milk for that matter.
  • Grains – Keep in mind that cats are CARNIVORES. Their stomach is designed to digest animal food, not plant food. They are more likely to be sensitive to non-animal food, which is why cats are often gluten intolerant as well.
  • Meat by-products – Meat by-products are the non-flesh part of an animal, and that can include anything from lungs to intestines. While cats naturally enjoy these parts, and they do have nutritional value, they aren’t easy to digest.
  • Red Meat – Beef isn’t as easy to digest as white meat, even for us humans. Keep it away from sensitive little kitty cat.
  • Fat Trimmings – The only thing fat trimmings can convert into is diarrhea. Steer clear of any product that contains fat trimmings, unless you are dealing with a constipated cat.
  • Fillers and Additives – There is an endless list of fillers and additives that can be included in cat food. I’ll make it simple for you: if you can’t tie an ingredient with any direct nutritional benefit for your cat, it’s a filler!

Ingredients to Look for

My first advice would be to look for “named”sources and avoid “unnamed” sources.

For instance, don’t buy anything that says “meat” on the label. What meat? 

Look for products that mention the specific kind of meat such as chicken meat, turkey meat, rabbit meat, etc.

Same goes for meat by-products, fish, oil, or any ingredient that can be more specific.

Moving on to what your sensitive kitty needs in its diet:

  • Proteins – Look for proteins, ideally from animal sources. Meat is a good source of quality proteins. For sensitive cats, protein from chicken and turkey is a good option.
  • Fatty Acids – Omega fatty acids are vital for your cat’s immune system and digestive system.
  • Good Carbs – Your cat doesn’t really need carb as a nutrient, but a few digestible carbs can improve the absorption of nutrients from the food. Choose green peas, rice, or oats over “unnamed” carbs.
  • Probiotics – Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria. Their job is to aid digestion. Need I say more? It is best to choose a product that mentions the number of live cultures on the label.

The lesson here is: Always read the label. Keep a mental note of what you need to avoid and what you need to get AND stay away from ingredients that sound vague or confusing.

Wet or Dry

I am about to bust a myth:

Wet food is not healthier than dry food.

No, that doesn’t mean dry food is healthier. It just means wet or dry has little to do with the quality of food.

While keeping your cats hydrated can keep their tummies healthy, food isn’t the only source of hydration. Give them plain old water instead.

Whether you should choose wet cat food or dry depends on what your cat prefers. Personally, I have trained my cats to like dry food because it makes my life easier. As selfish as it may sound, I can buy dry cat food in bulk as it has a longer shelf life. This bulk buys to prove more budget-friendly as well.

That said, if your cat doesn’t drink a lot of water on it’s own, wet food would be a relatively “healthier” choice in that specific scenario.

The Post Purchase Dilemma: My Cat Doesn’t Like My Pick

So you followed the instructions and bought a cat food that seems perfect for your sensitive kitty, but your cat refuses to eat it.

How did you not see it coming!

Relax. There is nothing unusual about it. You don’t have to restart your search for the best cat food for sensitive stomachs. You just have to ease your pet into the new diet. It is called a transition. Keep that in mind whenever you are about to change your cat’s diet for any reason.

Help your cat make a successful transition:

  • Replace just around 25 percent of your cat’s regular food with the new food for the first two days.
  • Make it 50 percent for the next two days. Go back to 25 if the cat refuses to eat. Keep it at 25 for another two days before trying the 50-50 recipe again.
  • Now gradually move on to 75-25, and finally, 100 percent new food.

Do observe how your cat’s symptoms improve throughout the transition. If everything goes smoothly, your cat will be visibly healthier and happier by the phase.

Final Advice

Diet is important but it is just one aspect of your cat’s healthcare. If you suspect your cat has a sensitive stomach, your first instinct should be to visit a vet for a proper diagnosis. A vet can identify the underlying reasons and triggers. Once you know what your cat can digest and what it can’t, you can pick a product that is healthiest and safest for your furbaby.

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