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6 Best Cat Foods For Pancreatitis

Jun 5, 2021

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6 Best Cat Foods For Pancreatitis

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The best cat food for pancreatitis is easy to digest, tastes great, and helps reduce inflammation. That’s why we’ve chosen Hill’s Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome canned food as the best food for cats with pancreatitis. This highly digestible food nourishes your cat without stirring up inflammation.

What Are The Qualities Of The Best Cat Food For Pancreatitis?

Before you can understand the qualities that define the best cat food for pancreatitis, you need to know the basics about what pancreatitis is and how it affects your cat.

The pancreas is a small organ that 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 which help break down the protein, fat, fiber, and sugar that enters the body. The term pancreatitis refers to inflammation of this organ.

While many cats appear to develop pancreatitis spontaneously (known as acute pancreatitis), the inflammation often stems from other ongoing 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.

For cats suffering from acute pancreatitis, the best dietary option is fasting – at least until vomiting subsides – or a bland, easily digestible diet.

A steady influx of nutrition is vital for your cat’s health and wellness but reintroducing too much food too soon can make him feel even worse. Cats who are vomiting and having diarrhea can safely fast for 12-24 hours. If symptoms resolve after fasting, you may switch your cat to a bland diet of plain boiled chicken breast, tuna in water, or cooked lean ground turkey. If symptoms persist longer, you should take your cat to see your veterinarian.

If your cat suffers from chronic pancreatitis, you should focus on lessening the pancreas’ workload and 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, which helps reduce the workload on the pancreas. It’s delicious and easy to eat, which helps encourage sick cats to get the calories they need. Finally, it incorporates anti-inflammatory ingredients while avoiding ingredients that could worsen inflammation.

Inflammatory ingredients include things like lactose, carrageenan, added sweeteners, colors, and artificial preservatives.

Before moving on to our top picks, it’s worth noting that we 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 be beneficial for dogs and people with pancreatitis, low-fat foods don’t show any ability to help cats with pancreatic inflammation. That being said, you should still avoid a high fat diet for cats with, or prone to pancreatitis. Choose a moderate fat diet instead.

At A Glance: Best Cat Food For Pancreatitis You Can 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.

Compare Best Cat Food For Pancreatitis

Overall Best
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Canned Cat Food

1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Canned Cat Food

Runner Up
Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

2. Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

Best Non-Prescription
Smalls Other Fresh Ground Bird

3. Smalls Other Fresh Ground Bird

Best for Cats With IBD
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Cat Food

4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Cat Food

Best Dry
Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

5. Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Best For Seniors
Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

6. Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Protein
6.5% Min
Protein
5.5% min
Protein
23.4% Min
Protein
24% Min
Protein
59% Min
Protein
9.0% Min
Fat
1.6% Min
Fat
2% min
Fat
6.6% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
5.0% Min
Fiber
1.7% Max
Fiber
3.0% max
Fiber
0.3% Max
Fiber
5.7% Max
Fiber
4.0% Max
Fiber
0.2% Max
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Fresh
Type
Freeze-Dried
Type
Dry
Type
Wet/Canned
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
New Zealand

Our Top Picks For The Best Cat Food For Pancreatitis

Now that you have a better understanding of how we came to our top picks, you’re probably eager to see them!

Here are our top 6 picks for best cat food for pancreatitis:

Overall Best
1.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 6.5% Min
  • Fat: 1.6% Min
  • Fiber: 1.7% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 6.5%
Crude Fat: 1.6%
Crude Fiber: 1.7%
Moisture: 83.7%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 39.88%
Fat: 9.82%
Fiber: 10.43%
Carbs: 39.88%
Pros
  • Formulated for cats with GI inflammation, including pancreatitis
  • Customer reviews suggest it helps 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
This recipe from Royal Canin 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.

In addition to being rich in moisture and protein, this formula is supplemented with prebiotics to support healthy and regular digestion. It also contains Royal Canin’s exclusive S/O index which protects urinary health by preventing crystal formation in the bladder.
Runner-Up
2.

Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 5.5% min
  • Fat: 2% min
  • Fiber: 3.0% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 5.5%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 85%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 36.67%
Fat: 13.33%
Fiber: 20%
Carbs: 30%
Pros
  • Two animal proteins within top three ingredients
  • Rich in moisture and appealing flavor
  • Contains a blend of digestive supplements
  • Promotes regular digestion and supports GI health
Cons
  • Contains some added flavor
  • Some low-value ingredients like wheat and soy
  • Available by prescription only
This Hill’s Prescription Diet recipe is uniquely formulated to boost digestion and help ease irregularity. Using Hill’s ActivBiome Technology, a mixture of active fibers, this formula helps move food through the digestive tract by encouraging the release of beneficial bacteria.

While this formula has a good reputation among cat owners for relieving digestive upset, many of the ingredients leave something to be desired.

We appreciate that chicken and pork liver are two of the top three ingredients, but we’d prefer to omit some of the high-carb, low-value ingredients like rice starch and wheat gluten. This formula also contains some added flavor as well as wheat and soy ingredients.
Best Non-Prescription
3.

Smalls Other Fresh Ground Bird

Product Info

  • Protein: 23.4% Min
  • Fat: 6.6% Min
  • Fiber: 0.3% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Fresh
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 23.4%
Crude Fat: 6.6%
Crude Fiber: 0.3%
Moisture: 65.4%
Ash: 0.9%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 67.63%
Fat: 19.08%
Fiber: 0.87%
Carbs: 9.83%
Pros
  • Short list of simple, high-quality ingredients
  • Packed with single source of premium protein
  • Made fresh to preserve nutritional value
  • Sent right to your door for convenience
Cons
  • Only available by subscription
  • Primary added fat is plant-based
Cats with pancreatitis need a high-quality, digestible diet with a limited list of ingredients. Smalls Other Fresh Smooth Bird contains a single source of premium animal protein with a short list of other high-quality ingredients, prepared fresh to preserve the nutritional content.

This recipe features fresh chicken thigh and chicken breast as the top two ingredients, supplemented with chicken liver and heart for their nutritious benefits. Green beans, peas, and kale provide essential vitamins and minerals to balance out the added supplements.

Overall, this recipe is very high in protein and moisture but low in carbohydrates. If your cat has pancreatitis and needs a simple, digestible diet this could be a good choice.
Best for Cats With IBD
4.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 24% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 5.7% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Freeze-Dried
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 24%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 5.7%
Moisture: 8%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 26.09%
Fat: 19.57%
Fiber: 6.2%
Carbs: 48.15%
Pros
  • Hydrolyzed protein reduces risk of immune reaction
  • Supplemented with probiotics and fiber
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients
Cons
  • May have too much phosphorus for some older cats
  • Available by prescription only
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common comorbidity with pancreatitis, and this prescription dry food from Royal Canin can be a good choice.

This formula is made with hydrolyzed protein which is highly digestible for cats and the protein molecules are broken down small enough that they won’t trigger an allergy. Supplemented with a blend of fibers and prebiotics, this recipe also supports your cat’s healthy digestion.

Though this dry food formula has a strong following among cat owners whose cats have IBD, the list of ingredients is a little underwhelming. Not only does it start with a plant-based ingredient (brewers rice), but the primary source of protein comes from soy.
Best Dry
5.

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Product Info

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

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 59%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 67.05%
Fat: 20.45%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 7.95%
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
  • Fairly expensive compared to typical dry food
While most dry foods are high-carbohydrate products with a tendency to increase 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.

This dry 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, this recipe contains salmon oil. This ingredient is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation and may help your cat feel better.
Best For Seniors
6.

Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-Free Canned 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

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 0.2%
Moisture: 82.5%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 51.43%
Fat: 28.57%
Fiber: 1.14%
Carbs: 18.86%
Pros
  • Rich in highly digestible animal protein
  • Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Contains green-lipped mussel as a source of ETA
  • Relatively low in carbohydrates
  • Free from pro-inflammatory ingredients
Cons
  • Fairly expensive compared to other options
  • Some cats seemed to dislike the flavor
Pancreatitis affects cats of all ages, but it’s most common among middle-aged and senior cats.

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? Check out our article on the top 6 best foods for senior cats.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the best cat food for pancreatitis is the one that works for your cat’s unique nutritional needs and dietary preferences.

Above all else, your primary concern is getting your cat to eat while controlling the other symptoms of pancreatitis. 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.

It is, of course, best to consult with your veterinarian about which food is best to feed your cat with acute or chronic pancreatitis.

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 also help by easing some of the burden on the pancreas. Digestive enzyme supplementation isn’t an exact science, but you can use any one of the digestive enzyme supplements sold for cats or try 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.

*This article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Your veterinarian can provide personalized suggestions relevant to your cat’s unique situation.

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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
One Comment
  1. Ronald Krikorian

    The BEST food for a cat with pancreatitis is hills science diet prescription canned chicken and vegetable stew 2.9oz! Also i give my 11 yr old cat Uromaxx for urinary & bladder support as well as Phytomaxx CBD oil everyday! My cats pancreatitis is in check! With the Uromaxx his E. coli & blood in the urine are completely gone!

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