Cats

The 5 Best Vet Recommended Cat Foods

Dec 18, 2019

The 5 Best Vet Recommended Cat Foods

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After talking with veterinarians and scouring the web for vets’ opinions on cat food, we’ve identified the nutritional rules that most vets agree on. Based on that nutritional philosophy, we’ve selected five of the best vet-recommended foods on the market.

We recommend Purina Pro Plan True Nature Natural Chicken & Liver Entrée as the best vet-recommended cat food you can buy. The formula meets AAFCO nutritional guidelines. It delivers the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates while providing plenty of moisture. And as a Purina food, it’s made by a well-established company that employs a large staff of nutritionists, veterinarians, behaviorists, and other scientists.

But no single food is right for every cat. Keep reading for a list of foods for weight loss, urinary health, sensitive stomachs, and more. 

At a Glance: Best Vet Recommended Cat Foods 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.

Compare Best Vet-recommended Cat Food

Overall Best
Purina Pro Plan Classic Adult True Nature Natural Turkey & Chicken Entree Cat Food

1. Purina Pro Plan Classic Adult True Nature Natural Turkey & Chicken Entree Cat Food

Best For Weight Loss
Royal Canin Calorie Control Paté

2. Royal Canin Calorie Control Paté

Best For Urinary Health
Hill's Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

3. Hill's Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

Best For Weight Gain
Hill's Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food

4. Hill's Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food

Best For Sensitive Stomach
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie Canned Cat Food

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

Protein
11% Min
Protein
7.0% Min
Protein
8.5% Min 
Protein
8.5% Min
Protein
6.0% Min
Fat
5.5% Min
Fat
1.5% Min
Fat
3.5% Min
Fat
5.2% Min
Fat
1.5% Min
Fiber
1.5% Max
Fiber
2.0% Max
Fiber
1.0% Max
Fiber
0.5% Max
Fiber
2.0% Max
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Type
Wet
Type
Wet
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Wet/Canned
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States

Before getting into the best vet-recommended cat food, let’s think about what vet-recommended cat food is.

A few concepts rise to the surface while talking to veterinarians and reading about their thoughts on nutrition. Here’s a short summary of the nutritional rules vets repeat most often:

Reading The Nutritional Adequacy Statement Is Key To Choosing Safe Food.

In an article published in New York Magazine’s Strategist column, veterinarian Martha G. Cline says that “Probably the most important part when you’re buying [food] for your pet is looking for the nutritional-adequacy statement and making sure it’s for the appropriate life stage for your pet.”

Most vets seem to agree. In fact, veterinarian and blogger “skeptvet” says that any other on-label measure of superiority is all but useless. 

“The differences between brands are almost entirely marketing and not based on real evidence, so it is impossible to effectively evaluate most claims. Any food that meets AAFCO requirements and is produced by a company with board-certified veterinary nutritionists on staff and with an established track record is likely to be adequate,” he writes in a comment on the SkeptVet blog.

Almost All Vets Agree That As Obligate Carnivores, Cats Require A Meat-based Diet.

Specifically, cats require a high-protein diet rich in the amino acids and fatty acids present in fresh meat. Additionally, most vets agree that cats do best on high-moisture diets. Like a cat’s juicy prey, high-moisture or canned foods keep the body hydrated and help to promote urinary tract health. 

What About Brands?

Most vets—or at least the ones who write online—seem to prefer nuance over hard-and-fast rules and recommendations, but the majority mention a few brands more often than others.

Those brands are:

  • Hill’s Prescription Diet
  • Hill’s Science Diet
  • Royal Canin
  • Iams or Eukanuba
  • Purina Pro Plan

They’re monoliths in this industry—mature, well-established giants that have earned the trust of multiple generations of veterinarians. They’ve put years of strategic effort into getting veterinarians’ endorsement and approval. 

Between producing nutrition guides for vet students, making products that you can only buy with a vet’s approval, and pouring their resources into scientific research, these companies have done all they can to position themselves as leaders in animal nutrition, thereby earning veterinarians’ trust. 

Additionally, most of the top vet-recommended brands produce foods that are made and marketed for health conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract disease, and more. This makes them go-tos for veterinarians who want to give their patients specially-formulated food.

Our Top Picks For The Best Vet-recommended Cat Food

The following foods are veterinarian favorites with real benefits for the cats who eat them, whether they’re prescription foods for sick cats or formulated for general health. 

Every one of them meets the nutritional requirements set by the AAFCO. They’re all high-moisture diets that feature meat as primary ingredients. And, if they’re therapeutic foods, all of them have a history of helping cats with the conditions they claim to address.

Overall Best
1.

Purina Pro Plan Classic Adult True Nature Natural Turkey & Chicken Entree Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 11% Min
  • Fat: 5.5% Min
  • Fiber: 1.5% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States
Pros
  • A moisture-rich food that helps to keep your cat healthy and hydrated
  • Primarily made from nourishing animal-sourced protein
  • Low carbohydrate content
Cons
  • Animal by-products may be less digestible than other grades of meat
Most veterinarians agree that cats are healthiest on meat-based, low-carbohydrate, water-rich diets. And if the food is formulated by a veterinary nutritionist and sold by a well-established, trusted company, vets like it even more.

This Purina Pro Plan cat food satisfies all of those requirements.

Purina products are backed by over 500 scientists, including nutritionists, veterinarians, and animal behaviorists.

This recipe from Purina Pro Plan’s True Nature line meets AAFCO’s nutritional guidelines for adult cats, meaning that it delivers the amino acids, fatty acids, and micronutrients your cat needs to thrive. It features protein from turkey, chicken, liver, and meat by-products. Because it doesn’t contain any starchy thickeners or other plant ingredients, it remains low in carbohydrates and has a carnivore-appropriate nutrient distribution.

It’s a hearty food appropriate for adult cats of all ages.
Best For Weight Loss
2.

Royal Canin Calorie Control Paté

Product Info

  • Protein: 7.0% Min
  • Fat: 1.5% Min
  • Fiber: 2.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States
Pros
  • Relatively low carbohydrate content at around 11% carbs on a dry matter basis
  • Primarily made from nourishing meat ingredients
  • Made by a well-regarded company with a long history of nutritional research
  • Controlled calorie content and satisfying texture help cats lose weight
Cons
  • Only available with a veterinarian’s authorization
For cats and people alike, the key to weight loss lies in burning more calories than you consume. Foods with a lower calorie density—like wet foods—give your cat fewer calories per ounce, filling him up without filling him out. Many foods fit that description, but this Royal Canin food stands out as a vet-approved option.

A well-respected company with its roots in veterinary medicine—it was founded by a veterinarian—,Royal Canin is one of the top vet-recommended cat food brands. Royal Canin produces foods tailored for almost any cat on the planet, with varieties for specific health conditions, breeds, and other needs.

This recipe is formulated with weight loss in mind. It keeps calorie content low with a spare, meat-centric ingredient list. The recipe features pork by-products and chicken liver as primary ingredients. The food gets excellent customer feedback, with many customers saying their cats love eating the food and are losing weight as they do so.
Best For Urinary Health
3.

Hill's Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 8.5% Min 
  • Fat: 3.5% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States
Pros
  • Clinically tested to reduce the recurrence of urinary tract crystals
  • Primarily made with nourishing animal ingredients
  • Has a track record of success
Cons
  • Contains several low-value plant ingredients
  • Only available with a vet’s approval
Most veterinarians agree that a high-moisture diet is among the most important factors in preventing feline lower urinary tract disease. In addition to switching to wet food, your veterinarian may recommend a therapeutic food formulated to prevent and treat urinary health problems.

Like the other brands that vets recommend most often, HIll’s Pet Nutrition is a leading pet food company. All of their formulations are grounded in the company’s extensive research.

This Hill’s Prescription Diet recipe is formulated for cats with urinary tract disease. According to the company, it can reduce the recurrence of “most common urinary signs by 89%”. It achieves this with a combination of mineral control, pH balance, and high moisture content.
Best For Weight Gain
4.

Hill's Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care with Chicken Canned Dog & Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 8.5% Min
  • Fat: 5.2% Min
  • Fiber: 0.5% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States
Pros
  • Features easy-to-digest protein sources as the main ingredients
  • Boosted potassium and B vitamins help cats to feel better
  • A relatively calorie-dense food
Cons
  • Only available with a veterinarian’s approval
This food gives sick or underweight pets a fast, concentrated nutritional boost.

It’s a good option for cats recovering from surgery, traumatic accidents, and serious illness. The food is relatively calorie-dense, but that’s not what sets it apart from other foods. It emphasizes easy-to-digest protein and pairs it with elevated levels of energizing B vitamins and added potassium.

The food’s appetizing flavor and soft, creamy consistency make it appealing and easy to eat.
Best For Sensitive Stomach
5.

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
  • Contains the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
  • Includes prebiotic fiber, which helps to support healthy gut flora
  • Customers say the product helps their cats with IBD, pancreatitis, and other conditions
Cons
  • Contains animal by-products, which may be of lower value than other cuts of meat
  • Contains several low-value plant ingredients
  • Available with a veterinarian’s approval only
While not every cat pegged as having a sensitive stomach will need a prescription diet, those with serious digestive issues may benefit from this Royal Canin Veterinary Diet food. The formula addresses gastrointestinal inflammation and malabsorption. It’s a good option for cats with colitis, pancreatitis, IBD, and gastritis.

The food’s prebiotic fiber and anti-inflammatory omega-3s work together to support healthy digestion while reducing inflammation.

Most customers give glowing reviews and say the food helped to reduce their cats’ GI inflammation and restore their wellbeing.

Final Thoughts

With veterinarians disagreeing on fundamental ideas and no food perfect for every cat, don’t blindly follow any single vet’s dietary recommendations.

While the foods listed in this article are favorites among many vets, not every veterinarian thinks the same. Nor is every veterinarian an expert in animal nutrition. Whether your veterinarian recommends a therapeutic diet for a certain health condition or gives general advice, ask questions and consult other sources before deciding which food is right for you.

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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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