The Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease: Complete Review and Buying Guide

Kidney disease is, unfortunately, one of the more common ailments that cats fall victim to as they age. When your beloved feline friend receives a diagnosis of this illness, it’s common to wonder what’s next. What do you do? How can you help?

Well, the first and easiest step is starting your cat on the best cat food for kidney disease. To help you make a good choice for your cat, here are a few of the best kidney friendly cat foods.

In A Hurry? Here Are Our Favorite Picks…

 

Overall Best Cat Food For Kidney Disease

Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care

Hill’s cat food is our favorite overall pick. It is packed with nutrients and helps your cat maintain his or her diet that can be lost with kidney disease.

hill's kidney care

Infused with a plethora of wholesome ingredients, the Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care cat food is a smart choice. Your cat will love meal times, as this food combines brown rice, barley, and chicken to create an enticing kibble.

United States veterinarians who have knowledge of feline kidney disease came up with this popular food. It promotes kidney health and function. Its vitamin content, low sodium, and included amino acids are everything that your cat’s body needs to heal.

One of the most unique features of this dry food is that it features E.A.T technology. This innovative technology works to stimulate your cat’s appetite. It also increases the number of calories that your cat consumes. This is essential when battling kidney problems that reduce the appetite and decrease energy.

Even though this food increases your cat’s appetite, it doesn’t lead to weight gain. Hill’s does this by causing your cat to want to eat more and making their food diet, so it contains less overall calories.

Things we like:

  • E.A.T technology that increases appetite and caloric intake to boost energy levels and help your cat maintain a healthy weight
  • Made with beneficial ingredients that support total body and kidney health
  • Veterinarian approved as safe for consumption for both your comfort and the comfort of your cat

Things we don’t:

  • A little pricey

Hill’s food is a good overall pick for your cat. It ensures that your cat is eating like he or she should and getting all the nutrition needed during this difficult time.

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Best Cat Food For Elderly Cats With Kidney Disease

Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care + Mobility Care

Hill’s cat food is our favorite pick for older cats since it comes with extra nutrients to help your cat’s joints. This is a big help for cats who have got a few years on them and can’t move around like they used to. This extra range of motion will help your cat to be happier and healthier while battling kidney disease.

hill's prescription diet renal care

This cat food is ideal for cats who suffer from kidney disease and/or brittle and stiff joints. Stiff joints often come, unfortunately, with the progression of kidney disease. Since chronic kidney disease is common in older cats, this dry food combats the unfortunate ailment.

It features amino acids that can have your immobile cat ready to run a marathon after a few meals of this. Thanks to its low sodium and controlled phosphorus levels, this tasty chicken flavored food is a feline favorite. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (these are better than they sound) and antioxidants support the health of the kidneys and joints.

This food boasts a design that stimulates your cat’s appetite in order to promote the full function of the kidneys. It also aids in the healing of the internal organs. In addition, each bag of Kidney Care + Mobility Care is carefully crafted in the United States and veterinarian approved.

Things we like:

  • Crafted with wholesome, nutritious ingredients that support your cat’s overall health
  • High amounts of essential amino acids that strengthen and mobilize the joints to have your pet up and moving within under one month
  • Supports both the health of the kidney and the joints to combat two ailments for the price of one

Things we don’t:

  • Some owners report that their cats do not like the taste

Hill’s Prescription Diet for kidney and mobility is our favorite pick if your cat is having kidney and mobility problems. This could be due to age or an advanced kidney disease. Either way, this food helps your cat be active, happy, and healthy in the days to come.

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Best Cat Food For Kidney Disease And Stomach Problems

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support

Royal Canin’s food is our favorite pick if your cat is struggling with kidney disease and stomach problems. Sometimes kidney disease causes stomach issues alongside it, so this is a good pick if your cat is battling from both ends.

royal canin kidney and stomach

Crafted by Royal Canin, a highly-trusted pet food brand, this kidney friendly cat food is a great way to support your cat’s failing and/or damaged kidneys. The adult cat food boasts a highly-beneficial blend of low phosphorus and protein.

It also features antioxidants, DHA, and EPA, all of which work together to give your cat’s kidneys the support they need to maintain function. It has an aromatic scent and unique, bite sized kibble that improves nutrient absorption and increases appetite. It also makes the food appealing.

The low protein levels included not only make digestion easier, but also aid in the decrease of the creation of nitrogenous waste. Each bag of food includes a variety of vitamins and minerals that keep the rest of the body strong while targeting the kidneys.

Things we like:

  • Includes a plethora of beneficial ingredients including vitamins, minerals, and DHA.
  • Composed of bite sized kibble that tastes great and has a shape that promotes a healthy eating pattern
  • Smells great to appeal to even the most picky of cats

Things we don’t:

  • Protein is only 25%, which is lower than other options

Royal Canin’s food is our favorite pick if your cat is having trouble with kidney and stomach issues. This could be diarrhea, constipation, or a loss of appetite. Royal Canin helps get your furry pal back on track.

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Best Cat Food For Kidney Disease For Picky Eaters

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney + Mobility Support

Blue Buffalo’s formula is our favorite for your kitty if he or she is a bit of a picky eater. I’ve never had to feed this to my cat, but tons of buyers on both Amazon and Chewy rave over this food. Cats seem to love it, even if they’re super picky eaters.

blue buffalo kidney and mobility

When you feed your cat this Blue Buffalo food, you can guarantee his or her whole body health. This highly appealing, all-natural food is ideal for cats who suffer from renal disease and mobility issues.

Reducing chicken protein, phosphorus, and sodium takes the strain off of your cat’s kidneys during meal times. It also includes healthy doses of critical nutrients such as DHA and glucosamine and chondroitin. Vitamin E and unprocessed vegetables are beneficial to cats and are also included in the formula.

The food is also grain free with no traces of rice or wheat, making it easier to digest and ideal for the full absorption of other essential nutrients. This also makes the food good for picky eaters who tend to avoid grain-filled foods. It’s also good for those who have sensitive stomachs in combination with kidney disease.

Things we like:

  • Food contains low (and controlled) sodium, protein, and phosphorus levels to be gentle on the kidneys and internal systems
  • Each bag is grain free and packed full of wholesome, natural ingredients that keep your pet full and appeal to his or her appetite
  • Boasts not only incredible kidney-health capabilities but also benefits for the joints and bones

Things we don’t:

  • Not a budget-loving option

Blue Buffalo’s cat food for kidney disease is our favorite if your cat is a picky eater.

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Best Budget Cat Food For Kidney Disease

Purina Pro Plan NF Kidney Function

Purina’s food is our favorite option if you’re on a budget. It gives your cat all that he or she needs to be happy and healthy, but sells at a lot lower price per pound than other foods on the market.

purina pro plan n&f

The Purina Pro specialized cat food aims to support the functions and health of your cat’s kidneys, should they be failing and/or damaged. The food, made up of tasty but wholesome ingredients including tuna and rice, is both tasty and beneficial.

It has controlled sodium phosphorus, and protein levels that makes it easy for your cat to properly digest. In addition, it features B vitamins to protect your pet’s body and break down and absorb nutrients. It also contains vitamin E and fish oil that not only add to kidney health, but a healthy coat, too.

Although not a cure, NF Kidney Function will slow the progression of renal disease. It will ease some of your pet’s symptoms to keep him or her comfortable and happy. Veterinarians everywhere approve of this kibble.

Things we like:

  • Controlled levels of nutrients that place strain on the kidneys to make digestion easier for your pet
  • Slows the progression of chronic renal disease through its high vitamin content
  • Uses wholesome foods with strong aromas to entice cats with small appetites
  • Great budget buy

Things we don’t:

  • Not all cats are in love with the taste (but most are fine with it)

Purina’s food is our favorite pick if your cat needs some help but you’re on a budget. There’s no shame in that. Do what you can to help your kitty. This budget food is one of the least expensive yet most powerful on the market.

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Things To Know Before You Buy…

Why Are Protein, Phosphorus, and Sodium Monitored and Restricted?

When you have a cat who suffers from renal disease, his or her diet needs modification. This is because the kidneys are not able to filter the blood they way they should, meaning that many pet food ingredients need reductions.

Phosphorus is the first ingredient that should be reduced. Without the reduction of phosphorus, a cat with renal disease has a high chance of falling victim to phosphorus retention. Phosphorus retention is when the phosphorus levels in the blood build up to a high level; the name for this is hyperphosphatemia.

Elevated phosphorus levels can result in many unfortunate consequences. These can include vitamin D deficiency and problems with metabolism. It can also cause the body’s muscle tissues to calcify.

Second, protein in high concentrations is present in many commercial adult cat foods. Generally, it’s only in specialized foods that protein exists in small amounts that are suitable for a renal diet. Monitoring your cat’s protein intake is essential for treatment. Without monitoring, protein consumption can get out of hand, worsening symptoms.

Cats only need to eat enough protein to maintain bodily functions. A cat who eats more protein than necessary is going to pass more protein through their kidneys and out into their urine. This alone means that the kidney has to work much harder, further straining the body.

Your cat’s diet should also include a reduced amount of sodium. Sodium, as noted by professionals, can lead to dehydration, which your cat is also at risk because he or she has a kidney problem.

A study in 2000 found that cats who have a diagnosis of chronic renal failure and who made the transition to a renal diet lived longer. On average, they lived 364 days longer on a protein and phosphorus restricted diet than those who stuck to their regular diet.

Tips To Switch Your Cat To A Kidney Friendly Diet

Cats, after years of eating the same food, are prone to developing particular preferences. Some cats will not take kindly to a new food that is lower in protein, since, generally, it will not taste quite as good. However, there are a few ways you can encourage your cat’s fading appetite to make a return.

Make the switch gradually.

As to not “culture shock” your cat with this new food, make the transition gradual. Take the minimum of a few days, slowly introducing the food alongside the usual. Start at a ratio of around 75% normal food and 25% new food, gradually increasing and decreasing the portions accordingly. Many owners take a week to transition their pet, but 7-10 days is normal.

Warm the food.

Sometimes, food becomes more appetizing when warm. This is much like the way certain human foods are better warm than cold, many of us avoiding said foods if they are straight out of the fridge. If your can’t won’t eat his new food, try warming it up slightly. Do this in the microwave or with warm water, but be sure not to make it too hot when using either method.

Try the canned variety.

Most veterinarian prescribed and approved cat foods come in not only a dry option but as a wet food, as well. If your cat is hesitant to dig into his or her new, protein-limited dry food, try offering the wet version. Combine this idea with the previous tip and consider warming up the wet food.

Or, you can try to offer the same food but in a different flavor if one is available. The problem may not be a case of the new food itself but the flavor of it. Again, you can try this with the dry food, as well.

Offer the new food at meal times.

Many cats spend the day freely grazing at their food. However, cats with specialized diets are often limited to a few set meals a day. If this isn’t the case for your cat, maybe it should be – at least until your cat adjusts to his new food, anyways.

Consider offering your cat the new food when he is most likely to be hungry. The morning is a good time, as your cat will have gone most of the night without a meal, making his food reservations go out the window.

Complimentary Supplements for Cats On A CKD Diet

Fluids

Supplementing your cat’s diet with fluids is a must. Be sure that the cat has access to clean water at all times. If your cat loses fluids too rapidly, he is most likely not drinking enough to replenish them; you may have to administer fluids under your cat’s skin.

Should your veterinarian find this necessary, he or she will teach you how to do it so that neither you nor your cat are uncomfortable. Once you know how to do this, your cat will reap the benefits of adequate hydration, despite the drastic measures.

Phosphate binders

Although kidney friendly cat foods have minute levels of phosphorus, they might not be enough to correct the high levels in your cat’s blood. If this is the case, your veterinarian might recommend you to invest in a phosphate binder.

Phosphate binders work by binding to the phosphorus found in your cat’s food, keeping it in the bowel and reducing the amount that the body absorbs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my cat doesn’t like the brand of kidney friendly food?

The answer to this is simple. Since there are so many great veterinarian approved CKD cat foods on the market, the easiest thing to do would be to try a different brand. Before you do this, though, try different flavors of the current brand; this could be a problem of flavor not the entire product line.

Does specialized wet food have the same ingredients as the dry food?

For the most part, yes. A specialized dry food will have the same wholesome ingredients as the wet food of that same brand, flavor, and specialty. Ingredients might differ when it comes to the makeup of the food because wet food needs to stay a certain consistency and texture.

Can I feed this type of food to all of my cats even if only one needs it?

Yes. Any of your cats can eat this; there is nothing that makes it harmful for cats who don’t suffer from renal problems. However, the food can be more expensive and, in some cases is available only through a veterinarian prescription. This will mean frequent prescription refill trips.

In addition, it is also generally higher in calories, so you’ll need to watch the other cats for weight gain. If they begin to gain weight, you will have to figure out a different solution.

Do you always need a prescription to get veterinarian supported cat food?

It depends on your location and the practices in your area. Some stores offer specialty foods on the shelves, while others do not. Sometimes, you might be able to find one brand on the shelf but have to go through a veterinarian to get food from another brand.

But, there are places online that the general public can buy specialty foods without a prescription. There are also websites that, before going through with a sale, will need proof of veterinarian recommendation.

What does “specialized” and “prescription” pet food mean?

Both the terms “specialized” and “prescription” are a way of describing pet food that has undergone a ton of testing before approval. Foods with these labels are more often than not obtained from a veterinarian after a recommendation. This system works much the same way that getting prescriptions from doctors work for us.

Best Brands

Royal Canin

Royal Canin came about in 1968. Its development was set into motion by Jean Cathary, a horse and bull veterinarian with a passion for animal health and wellfare. The Royal Canin brand started with his creation of the “yellow soup” for dogs and became a registered brand shortly after. From here, the brand expanded, never losing its focus, pursuing knowledge, and always respecting both pets and their owners.

Blue Buffalo

When the Bishop family’s beloved dog, Blue, developed cancer, Blue Buffalo broke out into the pet food market. Convinced that their furry friend had fallen victim to an illness from the ingredients in his food, the family took matters into their own hands. They created their own wholesome pet food that they were sure Blue would have been proud of.

Purina

In 1894, George Robinson, William Andrews, and William H. Danforth joined forces to create an farm animal feed business. It started as the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company but would eventually transform into Purina. By 1986, the company had decided to focus on pet foods, closing their farm animal feed establishment. Since then, Purina has taken the pet food market by storm.

Today, Purina prides itself on providing high-quality, tasty pet foods. It also takes pride on conducting meaningful research to better the company, its products, and the pets that eat them.

Hill’s Prescription Diet

Dr. Mark Morris got the inspiration to create a new brand of pet food (Hill’s) in the 1930’s. This was after an encounter with a young blind man and his seeing eye dog who was suffering from kidney failure. Believing that the kidney failure was a result of poor nutrition, Morris and his wife got to work building a pet food empire that pet owners can rely on.

As a popular seller in today’s pet food market, Hill’s focuses on offering a host of wholesome, high-quality pet foods with a backbone in science.

Your Next Cat Food For Kidney Disease

Luckily, we’ve given you all the information you need to make an informed decision about the best cat food for kidney disease. It’s important to remember that a cat suffering from kidney disease needs a specialized diet that is low in certain ingredients and rich in others. Water needs to be readily available.

When making the switch, go slow and don’t force your cat. Between offering dry food, wet food, warmed up food, and combinations of any of these, you should be able to entice your cat to eat his or her new food.

Struggling to get your cat’s phosphorus levels back to normal? Consider talking to your veterinarian about solutions including phosphate binders. Witnessing your cat’s decline due to dehydration? Your cat may need fluid injections that you, as their owner, can learn to do from the comfort of your home.

When it comes to personal food recommendations, we recommend the Hill’s Prescription Diet, the Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care combines effectiveness with a pretty good price. If you’re on a tight budget, Purina is a more affordable option.

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