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5 Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food for Sensitive Cats

July 17, 2019

5 Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food for Sensitive Cats

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.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Very straightforward, simple ingredient list minimizes exposure to potential allergens
  • Contains raw goat’s milk, which may help reduce inflammation
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  • Made with turkey, which is rarely allergenic
  • Simple ingredient list minimizes irritants
  • Contains digestive enzymes
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  • A good option for cats who like fish
  • Rich in easy-to-digest protein
  • Free of thickening gums
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  • Made with a single protein source
  • Simple ingredient list minimizes potential allergens
  • Contains probiotics for digestive health
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  • Primarily made from venison, a relatively uncommon cat food ingredient
  • Contains a single source of protein
  • Made with anti-inflammatory salmon oil
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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.

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

Nutritional Info:

  • Protein: 52% min
  • Fat: 15% min
  • Fiber: 3.0% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Freeze-Dried
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Very straightforward, simple ingredient list minimizes exposure to potential allergens
  • Contains raw goat’s milk, which may help reduce inflammation
  • Features herring oil as a source of nourishing omega-3 fatty acids

Cons:

  • Not all cats enjoy the rabbit taste
  • Expensive

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.

Runner-Up: Pure Vita 96% Grain-Free Turkey & Turkey Liver Entree Review

Nutritional Info:

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

Pros:

  • Made with turkey, which is rarely allergenic
  • Simple ingredient list minimizes irritants
  • Contains digestive enzymes

Cons:

  • Not a very well-known product

This recipe is 96% turkey, a nourishing source of protein that’s less commonly allergenic than chicken. Like all Pure Vita foods, it prioritizes simplicity.

The recipe features turkey, turkey broth, and liver. Turkey is combined with agar-agar as a thickener and stabilizer, dried kelp as a rich source of nutrients, and an array of synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

The food contains “natural flavor”, an ingredient usually made from hydrolyzed animal tissue. Hydrolysis breaks down amino acids, leaving them hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive cats.

In addition to these primary ingredients, the food contains a variety of enzymes and other supplements intended to support digestive health and maximize the food’s bioavailability.

Best for Fish Lovers: KASIKS Wild Coho Salmon Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

Nutritional Info:

  • Protein: 13% min
  • Fat: 3.5% min
  • Fiber: 2.0% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: Canada

Pros:

  • A good option for cats who like fish
  • Rich in easy-to-digest protein
  • Free of thickening gums

Cons:

  • Relatively high carbohydrate content

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.

Budget Pick: Stella & Chewy's Tummy Ticklin' Turkey Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Review

Nutritional Info:

  • Protein: 40% min
  • Fat: 37% min
  • Fiber: 5.0% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Freeze-Dried
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Made with a single protein source
  • Simple ingredient list minimizes potential allergens
  • Contains probiotics for digestive health

Cons:

  • High bone content

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. 

Best for Gravy Lovers: Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

Nutritional Info:

  • Protein: 13% min
  • Fat: 3.0% min
  • Fiber: 0.5% max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Primarily made from venison, a relatively uncommon cat food ingredient
  • Contains a single source of protein
  • Made with anti-inflammatory salmon oil

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Carbohydrate content is higher than ideal

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.

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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