Cats

The 5 Best Cat Foods for Cats That Throw Up

September 1, 2019
Mallory Crusta

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The 5 Best Cat Foods for Cats That Throw Up

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The best cat food for cats that throw up is a meat-based, highly-digestible product with no noxious inflammatory ingredients like artificial dyes, carrageenan, and chemical preservatives.

That’s why I’ve chosen Vital Cat Freeze-Dried Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Cat Food as the overall best cat food for cats that throw up. It has a no-frills recipe made with turkey as its lone protein source and contains a mix of digestive supplements to help keep your cat’s gut happy.

At a Glance: Best Cat Foods for Cats That Throw Up To Buy

We highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each product. You’ll also find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • Made with rabbit, which is rarely allergenic
  • Simple ingredient list minimizes irritants
  • Contains a blend of digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and other ingredients for gut health
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  • Rich in highly-digestible protein
  • Features rabbit, a novel protein for many cats
  • Single protein source
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  • Features a single source of protein
  • Contains tuna oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • A great value
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  • Features goose and turkey, neither of which are common allergens
  • Minimally-processed ingredients may have greater bioavailability
  • Contains a blend of probiotics and fiber to support digestive health
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  • Rich in highly-digestible protein
  • Unusually low carbohydrate content
  • Features salmon oil as an anti-inflammatory
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What Is The Best Cat Food For Cats That Throw Up?

Before you start thinking about food, make sure your cat’s not sick. Vomiting doesn’t always point to illness or poisoning, but it does if accompanied by lethargy, abnormally-colored gums, diarrhea, blood in the vomit, and other signs of illness. If your cat appears unwell, bring her to the veterinarian.

If your cat is bright-eyed, playful, and otherwise her normal self, food may be able to help.

Intermittent vomiting that’s not accompanied by signs of illness may be indicative of subclinical pancreatitis, IBD, allergies, or food intolerances. A blood test can help you to determine what’s wrong, giving you some direction in choosing the best food for your cat’s unique issues.

The Best Cat Food For Cats That Throw Up Is Meat-centric And Simple.

Do you know what cats are? Carnivores. When you have a carnivore in your care, you feed them meat and other tissues you get out of an animal.

Yet most house cats today eat like omnivores. They consume high-carbohydrate, moisture-depleted foods made with peas, corn, and soy.

Though we don’t know exactly how these modern-day diets affect cats, we do know a few things. One is that cats who eat them have different gut microbe populations than those who eat a high-protein, meat-first diet.

Gut bacteria have a profound effect on overall health and imbalances may lead to disturbances, including vomiting. We also know that frequent vomiters find relief after switching to a species-appropriate diet.

If your cat is currently eating a species-inappropriate diet and has been throwing up a lot, try feeding her something that more closely reflects a carnivore’s natural diet.

A species-appropriate diet could be nothing but flesh, organs, fat, connective tissue, and bone. It will more likely contain a mix of the above plus supplements. It will always have high protein content, moderate fat, and low to no carbohydrate content.

Regardless of what you choose, give your cat a diet that works in synergy with her carnivorous body.

A Limited-ingredient Diet Can Help You To Identify Irritants And Allergens.

Limited ingredient diets aren’t necessary for every cat who throws up, but it can help you to know if your cat has food intolerances or allergies. These diets should contain a single protein source and three to four primary ingredients, plus supplements. That’s it.

It Doesn’t Contain Any Irritating Or Inflammatory Ingredients.

Frequent vomiting sometimes results from inflammation. We don’t always know what causes inflammation, but there are a few ingredients that can make things worse.

  • Carrageenan is a potentially-carcinogenic and inflammatory ingredient used as a stabilizer and thickener. Though many manufacturers have switched to less controversial gums, you’ll still find carrageenan in canned foods spanning the price and quality spectrum.
  • Dairy ingredients like milk and cheese are rare in cat food, but watch out for the few products that contain them. Adult cats are lactose-intolerant, so drinking pasteurized milk can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Artificial colors and chemical preservatives may also stir up inflammation and make your cat sick. Like most things that you’ll see on cat food ingredient naughty lists, the evidence against these ingredients is mixed and controversial. We don’t know for certain that they will cause problems, but we know that they might. Since there are plenty of perfectly good cat foods that don’t contain them, why not avoid them?

And while you’re giving your cat a food that’s free of inflammatory ingredients, you can also supplement it with some safe anti-inflammatories. That could mean adding a fish oil supplement or mixing in probiotics.

Best Cat Food For Cats That Throw Up: Our Top 5 Picks

Overall Best: Vital Cat Freeze-Dried Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Protein: 52% Min
  • Fat: 15% Min
  • Fiber: 3% Max
  • Life Stage: All Life Stages
  • Type: Dry
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Made with rabbit, which is rarely allergenic
  • Simple ingredient list minimizes irritants
  • Contains a blend of digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and other ingredients for gut health

Cons:

  • Limited customer reviews and feedback

If your cat has digestive issues of any kind—including frequent vomiting—this dry food from Vital Essentials is one to consider. Several qualities set it apart for cats with digestive problems. It has a single protein source and it represents 96% of the total recipe. This translates to minimal potential irritants and an easier time determining what your cat is sensitive to.

The food doesn’t contain any of the most common irritating ingredients. Instead of carrageenan, it’s made with agar-agar. It barely contains any plant ingredients in general.

Finally, the food is supplemented with a system of digestive enzymes, probiotics, and other additives that Pure Vita says can help to support digestive health.

Runner-Up: Hound & Gatos Rabbit Formula Canned Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Protein: 11% Min
  • Fat: 7.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Rich in highly-digestible protein
  • Features rabbit, a novel protein for many cats
  • Single protein source
  • Free of irritating or inflammatory ingredients
  • Low carbohydrate content

Cons:

  • One of the most expensive foods on the market
  • Some cats don’t like the way it tastes

If the first product listed doesn’t work for you, consider this one from Hound & Gatos. It’s primarily made from rabbit, a novel protein for most cats. Because rabbit isn’t a part of most housecats’ diets, it’s not a common allergen. It’s also a normal part of the feline diet and, according to some, is among the most digestible proteins for cats.

It’s a straightforward food with nothing but rabbit, agar-agar as a thickener, salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s, and supplements.

Because Hound & Gatos foods are so simple and so carnivore-appropriate, they are popular among cats with food sensitivities, allergies, and inflammatory conditions.

The food has a couple of drawbacks. One is that it’s expensive. A case of 24 cans comes in at just under $80. The second problem is that it’s not a feline favorite. A lot of cats don’t like the way it tastes. Out of 38 reviews on Chewy, for example, it has a 3.8 out of 5-star rating—not terrible, but not great.

Best Affordable: WholeHearted Chicken Recipe Flaked in Gravy

Product Info:

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 3.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Features a single source of protein
  • Contains tuna oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Free of carrageenan, harmful preservatives, and artificial colors
  • A great value

Cons:

  • Some cats don’t like the way WholeHearted foods taste
  • Contains multiple thickening gums

A lot of the top foods for cats with food sensitivities and digestive issues are expensive. But they don’t have to be. This food from WholeHearted is a good option for people who want to give their cat the best on a budget.

Though not quite as straightforward as some of the other foods on this list, the food is simply-made with chicken featuring as the first ingredient. It is made with flaked chicken set in a broth with tapioca starch and xanthan gum.

The food contains tuna oil as its primary fat source and a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to reduce inflammation. The food is free of common inflammatories like carrageenan, artificial colors, and preservatives.

Best Freeze-Dried: Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Dinner Morsels

Product Info:

  • Protein: 40% Min
  • Fat: 30% Min
  • Fiber: 5.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Freeze-Dried
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Features goose and turkey, neither of which are common allergens
  • Minimally-processed ingredients may have greater bioavailability
  • Contains a blend of probiotics and fiber to support digestive health
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients

Cons:

  • May have too much bone content for some cats
  • Contains multiple protein sources

Freeze-dried food can be a great option for cats who throw up intermittently. It is minimally-processed, which allows it to retain the inherent nutritional value of raw meat. The food contains duck with ground bone, turkey with ground bone, turkey liver, goose meat, and turkey gizzard as easily-digestible sources of protein and other nutrients.

The food is supplemented with fiber sources and probiotics to support healthy digestion.

Because it has a simple, meat-based recipe that doesn’t contain any inflammatory additives and does contain supplements to keep digestion working smoothly, this food is a good option for cats who throw up or have other digestive issues.

Best Dry: Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Protein: 59% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 4.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Dry
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Rich in highly-digestible protein
  • Unusually low carbohydrate content
  • Features salmon oil as an anti-inflammatory

Cons:

  • Contains multiple protein sources
  • No dry food can keep your cat hydrated

Dry foods usually aren’t the best choice for cats who throw up. Most are high in carbohydrates and have busy ingredient lists bogged down with potentially low-value proteins and additives that could increase inflammation. On top of that, dry food is low in moisture, which could add even more problems on top of your cat’s digestive issues.

This dry food from Dr. Elsey’s doesn’t escape the hydration problem, but it does deliver plenty of animal protein without a lot of carbohydrate matter.

It contains a mix of easily-digestible protein sources, including chicken, dried egg product, and pork protein isolate. This variety of protein sources makes it a less-than-ideal option for cats with potential food allergies.

Instead of high-carbohydrate, potentially-inflammatory ingredients, the food is bound with gelatin. The food contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Overall, this is one of the few dry foods that is a good option for cats who throw up.

Many people, including veterinarians, feel that throwing up is normal for cats.

Whether their problems are brushed off as hairballs, a sensitive tummy, or just being a puker, cats who throw up frequently are dismissed into the same category as those who don’t like their food. Just a cat. Just a quirky, finicky, inexplicable feline.

But what if frequent vomiting isn’t a normal part of being a cat? What if it’s our fault?

Frequent feline vomiting has been normalized, but it’s not normal. Cats are mammals just like us. They aren’t vultures and they don’t regurgitate food to feed their young. Vomiting—violently expelling partially digested food through the mouth—means that something is wrong.

Vomiting isn’t normal for almost any species on the planet, yet cats seem to be doing it more than any other domesticated animal. That’s why the products on this list focus on what’s natural and essential for cats and avoid anything that could disrupt healthy digestion.

Along with anti-inflammatory supplements, probiotics, and digestive enzymes, these foods and other products like them should help to reduce her vomiting and ease her digestion back to normal.

Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta is a blogger and adventurecat enthusiast who brings you the facts about cat products, wellness, and care. She's the co-founder of Wildernesscat, a resource for savvy cat guardians who want to give their felines richer, healthier lives. Visit Wildernesscat for product reviews, radically natural nutrition tips, and lifestyle inspiration
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