5 Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food for Sensitive Cats
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It may or may not have the words “limited ingredient” in its name, but the best limited ingredient cat food is free of nameless mystery meats, animal by-products, and long lists of fruits and vegetables. It sticks to a single protein source and is ideally free of the most common allergens, including chicken, beef, pork, fish, and eggs.
On top of that, the best limited ingredient food has to meet the same standards you’d set for any cat food. That means it has plenty of protein, low carbohydrate content, and doesn’t contain any dangerous dyes, artificial flavors, or inflammatory additives.
Based on these criteria, I’ve chosen Vital Essentials Rabbit Mini Patties as the best limited ingredient cat food on the market.
At a Glance: Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food for Sensitive Cats 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.
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Top 5 Best Limited Ingredient Cat Foods
The following limited ingredient cat foods have uber-slim ingredient lists with just two to three primary ingredients and are free of anything that might harm your cat.
Though they’re popular in so-called limited ingredient recipes, you won’t find a lot of peas, lentils, or sweet potatoes in the foods listed here. Cats don’t need these vegetable ingredients and their inclusion in a limited ingredient food is insulting if not injurious.
Whenever possible, I’ve selected foods that are supplemented with anti-inflammatories and other ingredients that soothe cats with food sensitivities and allergies. In other words, this is cat food for sensitive stomachs and suitable for most kitties, whatever their age.
While most Vital Essentials foods contain egg in addition to their primary protein sources, this freeze-dried rabbit recipe is a true limited-ingredient product. It contains a mix of rabbit muscle meat, organs, and blood. Raw goat’s milk and herring oil round out the recipe.
Let’s talk a little more about those additives. Raw goat’s milk isn’t a traditional ingredient in cat food and it’s not a normal part of the feline diet.
Cats don’t need milk after weaning and most are quite lactose-intolerant, so a splash of milk isn’t an essential part of any cat’s diet. So why does Vital Essentials include goat’s milk in this food?
I did some research on raw goat’s milk for cats and it appears that it does a lot more good than harm. Raw goat’s milk contains an enzyme that helps to digest lactose, so lactose-intolerant cats can eat it without getting sick.
It’s rich in caprylic acid, which may reduce yeast overgrowth associated with allergies. It’s also an anti-inflammatory ingredient, which helps allergic cats feel better.
Finally, the food contains herring oil. Fats aren’t allergenic, so this ingredient is appropriate for most cats, including those who are allergic to fish. Herring oil is more than just safe for cats with food sensitivities—it’s highly beneficial.
Like salmon oil and other fish oils, which are found in many popular cat food brands, herring oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and support skin and coat health. These benefits are huge for cats with allergies and food intolerances.
All said, if you can afford this food, it’s worth a try. With a single—and non-traditional—source of protein, super-slim ingredient list, and the inclusion of anti-inflammatory ingredients, this food is a great limited-ingredient option.
Not all limited ingredient cat foods are labeled as such – this is the case with Smalls Other Fresh Ground Bird. Though they may not put the “LID” label on this recipe, it fits the bill. This formula contains just six main ingredients, starting with a premium source of animal protein.
Smalls Other Fresh Ground Bird starts with turkey thigh and is followed by chicken liver. The only other main ingredients are green beans, peas, kale, and vegetable oil. The rest of the list consists of Smalls Supplement Mix to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.
If you’re looking for a simple, high-quality diet for your cat, Smalls is a good choice. Better yet, they send the food right to your door and customize your cat’s meal plan according to his calorie needs.
If your cat loves the taste of fish but you’re tired of feeding him vaguely-named slurries of “fish meal”, “ocean whitefish”, and “fish”, consider this limited-ingredient canned food from KASIKS. Ninety-seven percent of the food’s protein content comes from wild-caught salmon.
Compared to the other foods on this list, this product has a busier, more plant-heavy ingredient list, with pea starch as a thickener and a blend of kale, berries, and coconut taking up the tail end of the recipe. These plant ingredients increase the food’s carbohydrate content, too.
One thing that’s interesting about this food is that it doesn’t contain any thickening gums. No carrageenan, no guar gum, no agar-agar. This gives the paté an applesauce consistency.
If you’re okay with a little bit more starch and a slightly fluffier ingredient list, this food is a good limited-ingredient option for fish fans.
Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried dinner morsels are similar to our top-rated recipe from Vital Essentials but with a few key differences.
What’s the difference that kept Stella & Chewy’s from earning the top spot on the list?
The difference is bone. Stella & Chewy’s food is full of ground bone. This means that it might not be a great choice for cats who have kidney disease or are prone to urinary tract problems.
These morsels don’t contain the wide array of organs and blood you might find in a Vital Essentials recipe, but they do contain turkey muscle meat, bone, liver, and gizzard for well-rounded animal-sourced nutrition.
Stella & Chewy’s foods contain probiotics, which may support digestive health, along with other aspects of your cat’s wellbeing. Compared to Vital Essentials food—especially their rabbit recipe—this food is a little bit more accessible to shoppers on a budget.
So far, the recipes listed here have been either freeze-dried or paté foods. What if your cat prefers a stew-style product? You might consider this recipe from Lotus.
With venison at the heart of its recipe, salmon oil for skin and coat health, and a relatively minimal ingredient list, this food is a good option for cats who are sensitive to mainstream cat food ingredients and prefer a little juiciness in their bowl.
It has a couple of flaws—the inclusion of carrots and potato starch drive its carbohydrate content out of the ideal range and the food is definitely on the expensive side—but all in all, it’s a top-of-the-line food and ideal for cats with food intolerances.
Does Your Cat Need A Limited Ingredient Diet?
Limited ingredient cat food isn’t necessary unless your cat’s sensitive to something in his diet.
Signs your cat might benefit from a limited ingredient cat food:
- Your cat has chronic diarrhea, gassiness, or vomiting
- Your cat has itchy, troubled skin
- Your cat has recurrent ear infections or yeast buildup
The primary purpose of limited ingredient cat food is to help you identify allergens and irritants as part of an elimination diet.
By switching your cat to a stripped-down diet, you can pinpoint exactly what he’s sensitive to. After the food trial, a limited ingredient diet will help you make sure he doesn’t have to eat anything he shouldn’t.