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12 Best Cat Foods for Allergies: Hypoallergenic Reviews 2021

Oliver Jones

white and orange cat eating

Cats can suffer from allergies just as we do! Mild allergies and general intolerances are surprisingly common. Intolerances may go unnoticed with poor coat condition, itchy skin, and stomach upset, all often misdiagnosed as other health problems. Thankfully, severe allergies that will cause your cat to be very sick are rare.

Suppose you suspect your cat isn’t in tip-top condition. In that case, you should first contact your vet for advice to rule out any more severe causes for poor health before exploring the possibility of a food allergy or intolerance. Going down this path can take time and patience to identify the cause and find the right food for your sensitive feline.

To help out, we have compiled a list of the top twelve best cat foods for allergies! Each product is backed by positive reviews of cat owners who have successfully eased their own cats’ reactions to common allergens in their diet.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed
  • Single protein source
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Grain, wheat, corn, dairy, and soy-free
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food
  • High protein
  • Veterinarian recommended
  • No fillers, artificial additives, or preservatives
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Cat Food Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Cat Food
  • Hydrolyzed soy
  • Chicken-free
  • Designed to support skin health
  • Best for Kittens
    Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey
  • No chicken, dairy, eggs, grain, gluten, grains, soy, beef, artificial flavors
  • Contains real fruit and vegetables
  • Single animal protein source
  • American Journey Duck Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food American Journey Duck Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Duck as the main ingredient
  • Real fruit and vegetables added
  • Grain-free
  • The 12 Best Cat Foods for Allergies – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed – Best Overall

    Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 430/cup
    Fat: 14%
    Protein: 30%
    Main Ingredients: Hydrolyzed salmon, pea products

    This vet-prescribed diet is our best overall cat food for allergies. It contains just a single animal protein source, making it a limited ingredient diet to reduce the risk of exposing your cat to allergens. The protein source, salmon, is hydrolyzed to make it more digestible and less likely to cause an adverse allergic reaction.

    This product is also free from grains, wheat, corn, dairy, and soy, all very common allergens for cats. By avoiding many of the top allergens amongst cats, this cat food has gathered many glowing reviews for being an excellent choice for many sensitive cats.

    The downside is it does require a vet prescription to purchase. When discussing a diet for your sensitive cat with your vet, keep this product in mind and discuss how it may suit your cat’s needs. In addition to needing a prescription, this product is also on the higher end of the cost scale compared to other similar products.

    Pros
    • Single protein source
    • Hydrolyzed protein
    • Grain, wheat, corn, dairy, and soy-free
    • Naturally derived fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
    • Low magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus reduces the risk of kidney stones
    • Supports feline immune system

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Requires a veterinary prescription


    2. Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food – Best Value

    Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 430/cup
    Fat: 13%
    Protein: 34%
    Main Ingredients: Turkey, chicken by-products, meal (corn, soy, oats)

    This product is specifically designed for cats with sensitive skin and stomachs. We have chosen it as our best cat food for allergies for the money due to its great value. Not only is it affordable, but it has also proven to be a great choice of a balanced and supporting diet for sensitive cats.

    All ingredients in this food are added for a purpose. This includes extra antioxidants and vitamins designed to strengthen the immune system to create resilience against mild allergies. Due to having no extra fillers, additives, colors, or artificial preservatives, this food is great for those cats whose allergies come from these additional unnatural ingredients.

    This food features turkey as the primary protein ingredient but does also contain chicken by-products for extra protein. This means this food is not suitable for cats with chicken allergies.

    It also contains other common allergens, such as soy, corn, and grains. While this product is highly reviewed to help cats with mild allergies, it will likely not be suitable for more severe allergies and reactions to these common ingredients.

    Pros
    • High protein
    • No fillers, artificial additives, or preservatives
    • Veterinarian recommended
    • Added antioxidants to support the immune system

    Cons

    • Contains chicken by-products
    • Contains soy, corn, and grains


    3. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Cat Food – Premium Choice

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 334/cup
    Fat: 11%
    Protein: 30%
    Main Ingredients: Rabbit, pea products, hydrolyzed soy

    Royal Canin Selected Protein is considered one of our top picks for best cat food for cats with skin allergies, as it is highly reviewed to be very effective. It does require a vet prescription and is on the more expensive side, but it is supported by many happy cat owners who found their “holy grail” product in this food.

    Added vitamins and minerals support cats’ skin in creating a barrier to reduce irritation from allergic reactions. As a bonus, despite being marketed as an adult cat food, its ingredients are also adequate to support a developing kitten.

    The ingredients are limited, with only one novel protein source (rabbit) and no chicken products meaning the risk of protein-related allergies occurring is very low. It does contain soy which may be a worry to some, but the soy ingredients are hydrolyzed to increase digestibility and reduce the risk of becoming an allergen.

    Pros
    • Single protein source
    • Novel protein to reduce allergies
    • Suitable for kittens as well as adult cats
    • Hydrolyzed soy
    • Chicken-free
    • Designed to support skin health

    Cons

    • Requires vet prescription
    • Expensive 


    4. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato – Best for Kittens

    Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Indoor Kitten Turkey & Potato Entree Canned Cat Food

    Calories: 109/cup
    Fat: 7%
    Protein: 9%
    Main Ingredients: Turkey (meat, broth, and liver), fish oil, pea flour

    While a wide range of diets is created to cater to adult cats with allergens, it seems to be harder to find hypoallergenic products that will support the growth and development of healthy kittens.

    This product is a true “limited ingredient diet” and lacks most cats’ most common allergens. In place of these filler allergens, this food is packed full of real fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. These natural sources of vitamins and minerals will support sensitive kittens to promote excellent general health.

    While this kitten food is widely highly reviewed, poor reviews include that some pickier cats would not eat it. In addition, owners report that it has made their kitten’s poops very pungent! It’s best to order this product in sample size before a full purchase to avoid wasting it with a picky kitten.

    Pros
    • No chicken, dairy, eggs, grain, gluten, grains, soy, beef, artificial flavors
    • Contains real fruit and vegetables
    • Single animal protein source

    Cons

    • Not suitable for picky eaters
    • Creates smelly poop


    5. American Journey Duck Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    American Journey Duck Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 410/cup
    Fat: 15%
    Protein: 40%
    Main Ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, pea products

    Duck is used as the primary source of protein in this cat food. It is highly reviewed to be one of the best hypoallergenic cat foods, with negative reviews mostly revolving around their cat’s personal preference for taste.

    While the main ingredient is a novel protein, the next ingredient is chicken meal, so this product is not suitable for cats with allergies to chicken. It is, however, grain-free, so it is great for cats with grain-related allergies. It also lacks artificial colors or preservatives, which are often the culprit in food-related allergies.

    This product includes a wide range of real fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins and minerals for good health instead of grain fillers. This includes apples, carrots, blueberries, cranberries, spinach, and pumpkin. Sounds better than some of our own diets!

    Pros
    • Duck as the main ingredient
    • Real fruit and vegetables added
    • Grain-free
    • Made in the USA
    • Suitable for cats of all ages

    Cons

    • Contains chicken
    • Some cats won’t eat it


    6. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Dry Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 350/cup
    Fat: 9%
    Protein: 30%
    Main Ingredients: Hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed chicken liver, rice starch

    This is another product that requires a vet prescription, but it is a great choice for many cats. It is specifically designed to assist digestion and gut harmony in cats with sensitivities. It is also suitable for other gut-related diseases, including an inflamed bowel and pancreatitis.

    With a single protein source that has been hydrolyzed for efficient digestion, the digestive system’s risk of an allergic reaction is very low. It is veterinary-approved and recommended, and many reviewers say it is one of the best cat foods for allergies.

    In addition to the easily digestible protein source, the primary carbohydrate source is also designed to be easy on sensitive stomachs. Rice starch is low allergen compared to other common carbohydrate sources in cat foods. It is also pea-free, which is rare for many cat foods, even hypoallergenic recipes. This makes this a great choice for cats who suffer pea sensitivities.

    Pros
    • Single hydrolyzed protein source
    • Single low-allergen carbohydrate source
    • Suitable for cats of all ages
    • Suitable for food intolerances, food allergies, and inflamed bowels
    • Pea-free

    Cons

    • Require vet prescription
    • Expensive


    7. Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 464/cup
    Fat: 15%
    Protein: 31%
    Main Ingredients: Duck, egg, lentils, chickpeas

    The main ingredient of this cat food is the novel protein, duck. This protein is unlikely to cause allergic reactions, and in this food, it is the only animal protein source. This limited ingredient recipe is also grain-free and instead contains lentils and chickpeas for vitamin boosts.

    Some negative reviews of this product are that it contains chicken fat, which seems like it goes against the single protein marketing. While at first, this may seem like some time to avoid if your cat has chicken sensitivities, chicken fat is not actually a protein allergen.

    Chicken fat does not contain the chicken proteins that are common allergens, so it will not elicit an allergic reaction. Instead, it is an excellent source of vital fats your cat needs.

    Pros
    • Does not contain chicken proteins
    • Single protein source
    • Grain-free
    • Flaxseed for a shiny coat

    Cons

    • Contains egg


     8. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 410/cup
    Fat: 12%
    Protein: 30%
    Main Ingredients: Duck, peas

    This limited ingredient cat food contains precisely what is marketed. The name of the flavor is green pea and duck, which are the two main ingredients in this food. This product is a great hypoallergenic choice without common allergens such as grains, soy, corn, or chicken.

    This product also contains limited carbohydrate sources. While small amounts of carbohydrates make up part of a healthy cat diet, many different carbohydrate sources can create a problematic product for sensitive cats to digest.

    On the flip side, this product has had some negative reviews since changing its formula to include salmon oil. Often duck flavored cat foods are chosen for cats with seafood intolerances, so, with this addition, this product is no longer suitable for cats with fish allergies.

    Pros
    • Single protein source
    • Grain-free
    • Limited carbohydrate sources

    Cons

    • Added salmon oil means it is not suitable for cats with fish allergies


    9. Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 422/cup
    Fat: 16%
    Protein: 32%
    Main Ingredients: Chicken, rice, oatmeal

    While this product contains both chicken and egg proteins, making it unsuitable for these particular allergies, it is highly reviewed to be helpful for many general intolerances and sensitivities. It is free from corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives that are all common causes of food allergies in cats.

    It also includes the addition of natural prebiotics to assist in healthy digestion. This can help to reduce the effects of mild intolerances by increasing absorption efficiency. Plentiful omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids also promote great skin and coat health to counteract any effects of mild allergies.

    Pros
    • Free from corn, wheat, and soy
    • Prebiotics for healthy digestion

    Cons

    • Contains chicken
    • Contains egg


    10. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Salmon

    Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Salmon Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Adult Dry Cat Food

    Calories: 517/cup
    Fat: 17%
    Protein: 5%
    Main Ingredients: Salmon, peas

    This food is a limited ingredient product and contains just one protein and one vegetable source. This limits the risk of allergic reactions in sensitive cats. Of course, with salmon as the main ingredient, it is not suitable for cats with fish intolerances.

    This product is highly concentrated in protein and fat without extra grain, soy, or wheat fillers. The high protein is beneficial for cats, but the high-fat content means a regular serving of this product is higher in calories than many other typical cat foods. If managing your cat’s weight is an ongoing issue, you will have to closely manage feeding and activity with this product.

    Pros
    • High in protein
    • Single animal protein source
    • Grain-free
    • Free from dairy, eggs, corn, gluten

    Cons

    • High in calories & fat


    11. Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Fish Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Fish Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Calories: 156/5.5 oz can
    Fat: 5%
    Protein: 5%
    Main Ingredients: Fish, chicken, carrots

    As you’ll see, many of the top-rated and reviewed hypoallergenic cat foods tend to be dry food. But there are also many offerings of wet food for cats with allergies. This product is grain-free and free from other common allergens such as wheat, corn, dairy, and soy. While its main protein source is cod and whitefish, it also contains chickens, so it is unsuitable for chicken protein allergies.

    In addition to the soft consistency being more suited for older cats who struggle to eat hard food, it also is designed to support the passing of hairballs and general urinary health. These multi-benefits will suit aging cats who are more vulnerable to these issues.

    Pros
    • Grain-free
    • No soy, wheat, or corn
    • Soft consistency for older cats
    • Natural fibers for hairball control
    • Cranberries for urinary health

    Cons

    • Contains chicken
    • Strong scent 


    12. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Pate Real Rabbit Recipe Canned Cat Food

    Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Pate Real Rabbit Recipe Canned Cat Food

    Calories: 156/5.5 oz can
    Fat: 3%
    Protein: 10%
    Main Ingredients: Rabbit, pea products

    If your cat is sensitive to animal proteins such as chicken, beef, seafood. Or, if they are intolerant to grains, wheat, soy, corn, dairy, or eggs, then this product may work for you! This limited ingredient of wet food truly is very limited in common allergens. It has rabbit as the novel protein to avoid protein allergies while offering high-protein and low-fat benefits.

    It does contain peas and other pea products. Pea can be a great ingredient for protein, binding, and extra vitamins, but it is an allergen. While less common than other allergies, it may be a cause of sensitivity in your cat.

    Pros
    • Features rabbit as the novel protein
    • Low in fat
    • Free from the majority of common allergens

    Cons

    • Contains pea products


    Buyer’s Guide

    What Causes Allergies in Cats?

    There are three leading causes of allergies in cats: fleas, environment, and food. Allergies arise when your cat’s immune system overreacts to a substance they encounter, either by ingestion or airborne contact.

    Cat food allergies are pretty uncommon, with only 0.1% of cats being affected. But those that are affected by food allergies are more prone to getting skin infections than those without allergies.

    The most common cat allergies tend to be common cat food ingredients such as animal proteins like chicken, beef, and seafood. Intolerances are slightly different from true allergies in that they stem from digestion problems rather than an immune response. Intolerances often rise from common cat food ingredients such filler type ingredients including grains, egg, dairy, wheat, corn, and soy. Many cats are also intolerant to artificial ingredients such as flavors, colors, and preservatives.

    While fundamentally different, allergies and intolerances are often used interchangeably. They tend to show the same symptoms, undergo the same diagnostic process, and use the same diet treatment plan.

    So, how do cats come to have food allergies? Well, no animal is born with allergies, not humans and not cats. Allergies develop over time as an immune response. So, your cat will only develop an intolerance to food it has been exposed to overtime. This is not to say that if you feed your cat the same type of food, it is sure to develop an allergy. The development of allergies is out of your control as a pet owner. It tends to be quite random but can be influenced by hereditary traits. They can show up at any age and tend to get worse over time.

    Identifying the Allergen

    As you probably can tell, there is a wide range of culprits for food allergies and intolerances in cats. If your cat is showing symptoms of a reaction to food, the trick is trying to figure out precisely the ingredient causing the issue. Considering most regular cat foods are made up of a whole heap of common allergens, pinpointing the problem ingredient can be challenging.

    Tests exist to test allergies from skin scrapings and saliva samples, but these tests are often unreliable, with some tests confirming allergies in pieces of fake fur! More often than not, your vet is going to recommend an elimination diet.

    An elimination diet will usually start with moving your cat to an entirely novel and limited ingredient diet. Novel means a protein they have never ingested before, so there is no chance of an allergic reaction.

    Once they are settled into this new diet, you can very slowly introduce new ingredients one at a time until the culprit causing an adverse reaction is pinpointed. It’s important to only introduce a new ingredient after a few days, as an allergic reaction can occur anywhere from immediately after ingestion to up to a few days later.

    If investigating mild food intolerances at home, you can keep trying new diets until you find one that doesn’t cause a reaction. Often you will see grain-free products being marketed intensively for cats with allergies. While grains can undoubtedly be allergens, they are not the most common cause of food allergies; animal proteins are. The best place to start is removing animal proteins and introducing novel proteins, as the most common causes of cat food allergies are chicken, beef, and fish.

    Be aware that there is no true completely hypoallergenic product, as different cats will have different allergies, so no one product can exclude all possible allergens. Finding the right diet for your cat and identifying the problem allergen takes time and patience!

    Grey British shorthair eating
    Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

    What to Look for in Hypoallergenic Cat Food

    • Novel proteins – a novel protein is simply a protein your cat’s body is not familiar with. So, if your cat has only ever eaten chicken cat food, every other animal protein would be considered novel. The most common animal proteins in pet food include chicken, beef, and seafood. Some good choices for novel proteins include rabbit, duck, venison. Novel proteins are great hypoallergenic ingredients as they still offer the nutritional value cats need as carnivores. Still, they have no risk of causing allergic reactions as your cat’s immune system will not recognize them as a threat.
    • Hydrolyzed ingredients – hydrolyzing proteins in the act of breaking down the chemical bond of the protein, making it more digestible and less likely to be recognized by your cat’s immune system as an allergen. Some cats with particular protein allergies can ingest these problem proteins if they have been hydrolyzed.
    • Limited ingredients – a LID (limited-ingredient diet) is often used to tackle allergies in cats. Many cat foods contain multiple proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamin sources, making identifying allergens very difficult. Limited ingredients can help pinpoint sources of intolerance and increase digestibility.
    • Natural additives – all pet foods will have additives of some kind. These are added to increase palatability and preserve food. Some of these are of unnatural origin and can be the source of allergies. Look for natural ingredients to act as preservatives such as vitamin C and E and rosemary products.

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    Conclusion

    Finding the right product can be a process when it comes to a diet for your cat with allergies. Our top pick is Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed for its use of hydrolyzed proteins alongside the absence of many other common allergens. We recommend Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food for the best value, affordable, and recommended by many vets. This product has many brilliant reviews and is an excellent place to start.

    Our best tip for your journey ahead is to only buy small quantities of any new foods until you find the product for you, that way, you don’t have food and money going to waste if it isn’t suited for your cat. Good luck on your journey in finding the best diet for your sensitive cat!


    Featured Image Credit: Sergey Fatin, Shutterstock

    Oliver Jones

    Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.