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5 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis

October 2, 2019

5 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis

The best cat food for pancreatitis is easy to digest, tastes great, and helps to reduce inflammation. That’s why we’ve chosen Pure Vita 96% Grain-Free Turkey & Turkey Liver Entree as the best food for cats with pancreatitis. This highly-digestible food nourishes your cat without stirring up inflammation.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Features highly-digestible turkey muscle meat and liver as the primary ingredient
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients
  • Contains a blend of digestive supplements
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  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Doesn’t contain any commonly-inflammatory ingredients
  • Low carbohydrate content
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  • Formulated for cats with GI inflammation, including pancreatitis
  • Customer reviews suggest that the food can help cats with pancreatitis
  • Contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
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  • Contains highly-bioavailable animal protein
  • Contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients
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  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Contains green-lipped mussel as a source of ETA—this fatty acid may help cats with arthritis
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What Are The Qualities Of The Best Cat Food For Pancreatitis?

To understand the qualities that set apart the best cat food for pancreatitis, we have to understand what pancreatitis is and how it affects your cat.

The pancreas sits nestled between the stomach and small intestine, where it plays a critical role in the digestive process. This little organ secretes insulin and digestive enzymes, helping to break down the protein, fat, fiber, and sugar that enters the body. We say that a cat has pancreatitis any time this organ becomes inflamed.

While many cats appear to develop pancreatitis spontaneously, the inflammation may stem from other conditions. Disorders that cause pancreatitis include intestinal inflammation, physical trauma, infection, drug use, and infectious diseases.

Regardless of its cause, pancreatitis is characterized by physical discomfort, gastrointestinal distress, and a loss of appetite.

If a cat is suffering from an acute bout of pancreatitis, the best food is either nothing—until vomiting subsides—or a bland diet.

It’s vital that your cat starts eating again as soon as possible, but introducing too much food too soon can make him feel even worse. Cats who are vomiting and having diarrhea can fast for 12-24 hours. If symptoms persist longer, you may switch your cat to a bland diet of boiled chicken breast, tuna in water, turkey, and other raw or cooked protein sources.

If your cat suffers from chronic pancreatitis, you should focus on making the pancreas’ job easier while easing inflammation. 

The best cat food for pancreatitis won’t solve the problem completely, but it addresses it in several ways. It’s highly-digestible. It’s delicious and easy to eat, which helps to encourage sick cats to get the calories they need. It focuses on anti-inflammatory ingredients and doesn’t include anything that could worsen inflammation.

Inflammatory ingredients include carrageenan, added sweeteners, and artificial colors. 

Note that I haven’t mentioned fat content as a consideration when choosing the best cat food for pancreatitis. Unlike other animals, cats with pancreatitis don’t benefit from fat restriction. Nor is excessive fat intake associated with an increased risk of feline pancreatitis. Though they can help dogs and people with pancreatitis, low-fat foods don’t show any ability to help cats with pancreatic inflammation.

Best Cat Food For Pancreatitis: Our Top 5 Picks

Overall Best: Pure Vita 96% Grain-Free Turkey & Turkey Liver Entree

Product Info:

  • Protein: 11% Min
  • Fat: 8.5% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Features highly-digestible turkey muscle meat and liver as the primary ingredient
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients
  • Contains a blend of digestive supplements

Cons:

  • Limited customer reviews

Pure Vita foods are some of the best on the market for cats with digestive issues of every variety, including pancreatitis. Their recipes have limited ingredient lists, feature single protein sources, and incorporate supplements for healthy digestion.

Turkey represents 96% of the total recipe. The remainder is constituted of agar-agar as a thickener, supplements to make each meal nutritionally complete, and—most importantly for cats with pancreatitis—a blend of digestive enzymes, probiotics, and prebiotics.

Though it has limited customer reviews, the food’s combination of turkey muscle meat, turkey liver, and natural flavors should make it a highly-palatable choice for cats who’ve lost their appetite.

Runner Up: 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:

  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Doesn’t contain any commonly-inflammatory ingredients
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Supplemented with probiotics

Cons:

  • May have too much phosphorus for some older cats

This freeze-dried food from Stella & Chewy’s has several qualities that make it a good option for cats with pancreatitis.

First, it’s a minimally-processed product, which helps it to retain the readily-digestible nutrition of fresh meat, organs, and bones. Secondly, it’s supplemented with probiotics, which help to support healthy digestion and may fight inflammation.

The food’s straightforward, meat-based recipe features a mix of duck, turkey, and goose. With no inflammatory additives and radically low carbohydrate content, this food should nourish your cat without stirring up pancreatic inflammation.

Best Prescription: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Canned Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Protein: 6.0% Min
  • Fat: 1.5% Min
  • Fiber: 2.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Formulated for cats with GI inflammation, including pancreatitis
  • Customer reviews suggest that the food can help cats with pancreatitis
  • Contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
  • Contains prebiotics to support healthy gut flora

Cons:

  • Made with animal by-products
  • Made with low-value plant ingredients
  • Available with a prescription only

Cats with pancreatitis don’t necessarily need a prescription diet, but if you’d like to try one, this recipe from Royal Canin may be able to help. The recipe addresses various types of gastrointestinal inflammation and malabsorption. Royal Canin recommends it for cats with IBD, colitis, gastritis, and pancreatitis.

Though the food is nutritionally flawed—cornstarch and corn flour appear on the ingredient list and its carbohydrate content is higher than we’d prefer—it has a great reputation among cats with pancreatitis and other inflammatory conditions.

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:

  • Contains highly-bioavailable animal protein
  • Contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients
  • Lower in carbohydrates than most dry foods

Cons:

  • Doesn’t provide the moisture cats need

While most dry foods are high-carbohydrate products with a tendency to fan up inflammation while bogging down digestion, this product from Dr. Elsey’s is a rare exception.

Though it doesn’t have the moisture cats need, it follows all the rules for cats with pancreatitis.

The food is rich in animal ingredients with an emphasis on digestibility, featuring chicken, dried egg product, and pork protein isolate. Instead of the potentially-inflammatory, high-carbohydrate potatoes, corn, and other ingredients most often used as kibble binders, Dr. Elsey’s employs gelatin to hold the pieces together.

In addition to skipping ingredients that could increase inflammation, the food contains salmon oil. This ingredient is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation and may help your cat to feel better.

Best for Seniors: Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Protein: 9.0% Min
  • Fat: 5.0% Min
  • Fiber: 0.2% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: New Zealand

Pros:

  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Contains green-lipped mussel as a source of ETA—this fatty acid may help cats with arthritis
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Free of inflammatory ingredients

Cons:

  • Expensive

Pancreatitis affects cats of all ages, but it’s most common among middle-aged and senior cats. Seniors—usually those aged 12 and over—have unique dietary needs.

This food from Feline Natural checks all of our pancreatitis-specific boxes while satisfying senior cats’ unique needs. The food is a canned product made primarily from ultra-digestible chicken and venison muscle meat and organs. From liver to heart to blood, this food is loaded with animal-based nutrition.

The food contains New Zealand green mussels, an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce pancreatic inflammation and ease arthritis.

Like all Feline Natural foods, it’s expensive, but given its apparent ingredient quality, robust nutrition, and digestibility, it could be worth it for cats with pancreatitis.

Want to learn more about the best cat food for seniors? Check out our article on the top 5 best foods for senior cats.

Ultimately, the best cat food for pancreatitis is the one that works for your unique cat.

Before anything else, your primary concern is getting your cat to eat. Cats with pancreatitis may require a feeding tube or special high-calorie supplements. Others may need to eat a highly appetizing—but not nutritionally complete or ideal—diet. These are all healthy options in the face of malnutrition and hepatic lipidosis.

How you feed your cat with pancreatitis is almost as important as what you feed him.

Cats with pancreatitis do best when they’re fed several small meals throughout the day rather than a couple of large ones.

Supplementing those meals with digestive enzymes can help to ease the burden on the pancreas. Digestive enzyme supplementation isn’t an exact science, but you can try any one of the digestive enzyme supplements sold for cats or mixing green tripe into your cat’s diet as a natural source of these enzymes.

Furthermore, consider probiotic supplementation. Probiotics are living microorganisms that populate the gut, where they aid digestion and may help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.

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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