Best cat food for diarrhea

What’s The Best Cat Food For Diarrhea in 2020?

There are lots of causes of diarrhea in cats, and food is definitely one of them. The wrong food will cause loose poop for just about any cat.

It’s important to get your cat checked if they’ve got diarrhea because it can be a sign of illness. If your veterinarian tells you that your cat just has a sensitive tummy or an intolerance make sure you feed the best cat food for diarrhea.

Best cat food for diarrhea

Best overall – Crave Chicken Pate Grain-Free trays

Pros

  • Very high protein
  • Grain free
  • Very low carbs
  • Mainly animal sourced ingredients

Cons

  • Some unnecessary ingredients – cats don’t eat tomatoes!
  • Not the cheapest option
  • Less environmentally friendly ingredients
  • Could be higher in fiber

Crave is a brand that aims to create diets that meets cats’ nutrient requirements and instinctive drive to eat protein rich food. Meat is always the main ingredient. Crave foods are all cooked in the USA from ingredients from around the world.

This is one of the highest protein and lowest carb foods on the market. It is rich in species appropriate protein and is highly digestible.

While not marketed specifically for helping diarrhea, the high digestibility and generally high quality ingredients makes it perfect for resolving dietary causes of diarrhea.

Crave foods do not contain any grains which is good for cats with grain intolerances.

The only real negative of this food is the inclusion of ingredients that just don’t need to be included. For some reason it has tomatoes in it! This shouldn’t cause any harm, and the vitamins will still be useful, but it’s unnecessary.

This is a great quality food for any cat, particularly cats with grain intolerances or a sensitive tummy

Best dry food – Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive

Pros

  • Contains prebiotic fibers
  • Great value
  • High protein

Cons

  • Less animal sourced ingredients than some
  • Not grain free
  • More carbs than wet foods

Purina is one of the biggest names in pet foods. The company is well over 100 years old, though they’ve been making cat food since 1963. Purina’s foods are manufactured in the USA and Canada. Ingredients are usually sourced locally, but some are imported.

This dry food is specifically formulated for cats with sensitive stomachs and skin. It is a high protein and high fiber food which is ideal for mild diarrhea. The fiber helps to bind things together and also acts as a prebiotic.

This food does contain grain, which makes it unsuitable for grain intolerant cats. Grain intolerance is unusual, but definitely avoid this if your cat is grain intolerant!

This food is great value, but like all kibble, it is higher in carbs than wet food. Most cats should be fine with this, but a wet food like Crave could be better for some cats.

A significant amount of the protein in this food is from plants, which isn’t ideal. However, plant protein is good for cats as long as they get animal protein alongside it. In this case the plant protein keeps costs down without compromising nutrition.

Cats are generally reported to really enjoy eating this food.

Best budget wet food – Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Wet

Pros

  • Grain free
  • Low carbs
  • High in prebiotic fiber
  • Environmentally friendly ingredients
  • High meat content

Cons

  • Multiple protein sources – not as good for certain dietary intolerances

This is the wet form of the Purina food discussed above. It is lower in carbs and higher in protein than the dry food. This version is also grain free which makes it ideal for grain intolerant kitties.

It has high levels of fiber which bind poop together and make it less sloppy. This fiber also acts as a prebiotic to improve cats’ digestive health.

Its ingredients are environmentally friendly and high quality. Cats are generally reported to really enjoy eating this food.

The downside to this food is that it contains multiple sources of protein. This is absolutely fine for the vast majority of cats. However, cats with certain intolerances would be better suited by a more limited-ingredient food.

Honorable mention – Taste of the wild rocky mountain grain-free

Pros

  • Grain free
  • High protein
  • Nutrient dense and environmentally friendly ingredients

Cons

  • More carbs than wet foods
  • Has unnecessary ingredients like blueberries and tomatoes
  • Less fiber than others

Taste of The Wild is a brand that aims to create high quality and affordable cat food. The main ingredient is real meat or fish and they use unique proteins found in few other foods.

This is a grain free recipe that’s high in species appropriate protein. The ingredients are nutrient dense and environmentally friendly.

Like a lot of kibbles this food has more carbs than wet foods which could be a downside for very sensitive cats. The main upside to being a kibble is that it helps keep the cost down.

There are a few unnecessary ingredients that let this food down. It contains a long list of berries and other vegetables that add very little except unnecessary intolerance risks.

We wish there was more fiber in this food to help with digestive health.

Overall, this is a great quality, great value food that cats generally really enjoy.

Honorable mention – I And love you simple limited ingredient

Pros

  • High in prebiotic fiber
  • Environmentally friendly ingredients
  • High in omega 3 for skin health 

Cons

  • Not every cat likes the taste
  • Higher carbs than competitors

I And Love You is owned by Only Natural Pet and was established in 2011. The brand is based in Colorado. It is manufactured in the USA with ingredients sourced mostly from the USA and Canada.

This food scores highly for environmental friendliness. The ingredients are generally high quality. There is a high level of prebiotic fiber which should help with digestive upsets.

High levels of omega 3 make this a great food for joint and coat health.

There are mixed reports when it comes to flavour. Some cats just don’t seem to like it. The other downside is that its carb levels are higher than the ideal amount for a sensitive food. That said, the carb levels are moderate, and lower than other kibbles.

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea has a number of causes, but there are two main types. Acute and chronic diarrhea.

Acute diarrhea

“Acute” is a medical term that means “of short duration”. Acute diarrhea lasts for a few days, if it continues longer it becomes “sub-acute”, then eventually “chronic”.

Acute diarrhea is usually caused by gastrointestinal (GI) irritation. Occasionally it is caused by an illness that affects the whole body (like an infection). Acute diarrhea often happens after a cat eats something that doesn’t agree with them or has gone-off.

If your cat gets diarrhea suddenly, make sure to check for these symptoms:

  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stool
  • Dark, tarry poop

If you see any of these symptoms then you definitely need to get your cat checked by a veterinarian. Often this is just a precaution, but sometimes these symptoms are a sign of serious disease.

Dehydration can be a real problem for certain cats. Kittens, old cats, cats with kidney or bladder problems for example. Take extra care if your cat falls into one of these categories.

Here’s a video of how to check if your cat is dehydrated. This is a skin tent test or (“skin turgor” if you’re feeling fancy):

How to treat acute diarrhea

First thing to say is, follow your veterinarian’s advice. They know your cat and their medical history, I don’t. That said, for mild cases there are some things you can do easily.

Don’t starve them!

This is common, but false advice. I see people say this all over the internet and it really annoys me! This advice is out of date, and will slow your pet’s recovery.

You should keep feeding cats with diarrhea because they will get better faster. Cats with diarrhea have damage to the lining of the intestines (gut). The lining of the intestines gets its energy directly from the food passing through. The blood supply to the lining isn’t good enough to deliver enough nutrients to allow it to heal.

Until food is moving through the intestines, they can’t heal. Simple as that.

Switch to a bland diet

For acute diarrhea you won’t need to fully change your cat’s diet in the long term. However, it can really help to change to a tasty, bland and easily digestible foodstuff.

Traditionally people recommended cooked chicken and rice. In this instance I think that tradition has got it right.

Keep the rice level down to a minimum. Cats can only absorb a little bit of carbohydrates, too much will make diarrhea worse. Also, too much rice can really put your cat off eating, which makes things worse. The only thing the rice is for is to provide sugars to the inner lining of the intestines for energy to repair.

If your cat is grain intolerant leave the rice out completely.

Rest
Sleepy cat

Can be easier said than done! Try to encourage your cat to get some rest so they can recover. If they’re bouncing off the walls and full of energy, don’t worry about this too much!

Maintain hydration

Cats with diarrhea can lose a lot of fluids and become dehydrated. Always make sure they have access to water so they can drink. 

Chronic diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea can be a sign of illness. So it’s always worth getting your cat checked if diarrhea lasts more than a few days.

If there’s no sign of other illness and you’ve ruled out worms or parasites, food could well be the problem. Changing diet is often the main way to treat chronic diarrhea. 

Some cats have allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients in foods. Others can’t absorb high levels of carbohydrates. 

Cats with diarrhea often have an upset microbiome. A “microbiome” is the collection of microorganisms that live in the intestines. It is often referred to as the “good bacteria”. The microbiome is almost like an extra organ, and if it’s not in balance it can cause lots of health problems.

A healthy microbiome needs high quality, and species appropriate food. Good bacteria in the gut like to eat fiber too, so high levels of fiber can help.

What to look for in the best cat food for diarrhea

Nutrients

The most important thing about any cat food is the nutrients it contains. Ingredients can vary, but the nutrients must be there.

The three most important nutrients to consider when choosing food for diarrhea are protein, carbohydrates and fiber.

Protein is a key part of a cat’s diet and is required for all aspects of health. A protein level of 40% is needed to maintain muscle mass. No cat should eat a food lower than 40% protein.

Carbohydrates in cat food are controversial. Cats are not good at eating large amounts of carbohydrates because they struggle to absorb them. Too many carbs can cause an upset tummy. Cutting out the carbs can really help cats with chronic diarrhea.

A cat sits next to corn

Fiber is great for cats with diarrhea. It binds everything together to make it less sloppy and it’s good for the gut bacteria. Extra fiber in food is definitely a good thing, as long as it isn’t excessive.

Ingredients

We also need to consider the ingredients of food when we want to choose the best one. Unfortunately, this is where things get complicated and even more controversial!

Manufacturers of foods list their ingredients in order of weight. So the things that appear at the start of the list are the things that weigh the most. This can mean that food with lots of water but not much nutrients appear high on the list.

To the untrained eye, ingredient lists can look much better (or worse) than they really are.

For example, “chicken breast” has lots of water in it, whereas “chicken meal” is quite dry. Per ounce, chicken meal has much more protein than chicken breast (even if it doesn’t sound as tasty).

Ingredients like “meat meal” and “meat digest” are by-products. They might not sound like a good thing but by-products are not a bad thing.

By-products are often very nutritious and tasty for cats. Always remember, you are choosing a food for your cat, not for you. Just because you don’t like the sound of “meat by-product meal” doesn’t mean your cat won’t!

PedMD has a useful article on exactly what by-products are.

Final Thoughts

Some cats have sensitive stomachs and that’s just the way they are. The right food can really help sort out diarrhea. Your cat will thank you, and it’ll make cleaning litter boxes a bit less gross!

We recommend trying Crave Chicken Pate. You can even mix it with Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive to keep costs down.

Take a look!

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