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Home > Cats > 11 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

11 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

grey cat eating wet food

Pancreatitis used to be a rare disease for cats to contract, but it is now more commonly seen in cats of all ages. The cause of this disease is not always obvious, but mild cases can be treated at home following proper veterinary guidance. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which can cause enzymes to be deployed prematurely and negatively affect your cat’s digestion. Because of this, one of the treatments to help your cat recover from pancreatitis is to feed them an appropriate diet.

A diagnosis of pancreatitis in your cat should be confirmed by your vet. They may recommend a specific type of cat food, some of which may even require a prescription. Here are some reviews of the best foods that your vet may recommend feeding a cat that is suffering from pancreatitis. But, as always, it is important to consult with your vet first to make sure that any food you choose is appropriate for your cat’s needs, especially if they have a disease that could affect their eating habits.

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.

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A Quick Glance At Our Favorites (2024)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls Fresh Cat Food Cow Recipe Smalls Fresh Cat Food Cow Recipe
  • Easy to digest
  • Features 90% lean beef
  • Features added vitamins and minerals
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Iams Proactive Sensitive Digestion Cat Food Iams Proactive Sensitive Digestion Cat Food
  • Made with turkey as the main ingredient
  • Made for cats with digestion issues
  • Helps prevent weight gain
  • Third place
    Hill’s Prescription Z/D Cat Food Hill’s Prescription Z/D Cat Food
  • Made with hydrolyzed proteins
  • Created by veterinarians
  • Designed to improve digestion
  • Purina Pro Plan Kitten Dry Cat Food Purina Pro Plan Kitten Dry Cat Food
  • Specially formulated for kittens
  • High in protein
  • Contains probiotics to develop healthy digestion
  • Purina Pro Hydrolyzed Cat Food Purina Pro Hydrolyzed Cat Food
  • For cats with pancreatitis and other GI diseases
  • Contains hydrolyzed proteins
  • Low in fat
  •  

    The 11 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis

    1. Smalls Human Grade Fresh Cat Food Cow Recipe– Best Overall

    cute kitten eating smalls fresh food

    Protein Source: Beef
    Protein Content: 15%
    Fat Content: 12%
    Type of Food: Fresh
    Prescription Needed: No

    For cats with pancreatitis, avoiding foods with additives and heavy seasonings is best. This is why we love the Smalls Fresh Cat Food Cow Recipe for when your feline friend is feeling down. As an obligate carnivore, your cat needs protein, even when they are sick. This recipe contains ground beef, beef liver, and beef heart. You’ll be pleased to know that ground beef accounts for over 68% of the protein content inside and all that beef is 90% lean. This fresh recipe is highly digestible and tasty. As always, however, remember to consult a veterinarian before making changes to your pet’s diet.

    Cats enjoy the taste and this recipe is especially great for kitties who may have sensitivities to chicken. The only downside is that you won’t find it in stores.

    Pros
    • Easy to digest
    • High in protein
    • Features 90% lean beef
    • Features added vitamins and minerals
    • Includes healthy veggies
    Cons
    • Unavailable in physical stores

    2. Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion & Skin – Budget Buy

    Iams Proactive Health Adult Sensitive Digestion & Skin

    Protein Source: Turkey
    Protein Content: 33%
    Fat Content: 14%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: No

    Iams has a reputation around the pet world for producing high-quality food in a wide range of formulas, and the Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion and Skin Cat Food is no different. For starters, it is made with turkey as the primary ingredient, which is a high protein but lean nutrient source that also contains vitamins B3 (niacin), B6, and B12. All of these B vitamins are essential for helping keep your cat’s blood healthy, but niacin also helps your cat’s body turn food into energy and maintain digestive health.

    Turkey is a great protein choice for cats that are overweight or prone to obesity. This is due to being lower in fat while still containing enough fatty acids to make absorption of nutrients easier. This cat food also contains prebiotics and beet pulp, which also help with digestion. The downside to this cat food is that it contains tocopherols, which are artificial preservatives that offer no nutritional benefits for your cat. But overall, this is the best cat food for pancreatitis for the money.

    Pros
    • Made with turkey as the main ingredient
    • Made for cats with digestion issues
    • Helps prevent weight gain
    • Great value
    Cons
    • Contains artificial preservatives

    3. Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food

    Hills Prescription Diet ZD Cat Food

    Protein Source: Chicken Liver
    Protein Content: 29%
    Fat Content: 5%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: Yes

    This Hill’s Prescription Diet cat food is designed for cats that have skin and food sensitivities. The key feature of this food is that the main protein, chicken livers, is hydrolyzed. That means that it still provides the same nutrients but is more easily digestible, which is just what you want for cats that have pancreatitis. Being more easily digestible means that your cat’s digestive tract doesn’t have to work as hard to digest it so that the organs can heal more effectively.

    The food was developed by veterinarians and nutritionists to ensure that there are no adverse reactions to food in cats that tend to have them with other types of cat food. It does require a prescription and tends to be more expensive than other types of food for less product, which is why we have designated it as the best premium choice.

    Pros
    • Made with hydrolyzed proteins
    • Created by veterinarians
    • Designed to improve digestion
    Cons
    • Cost-prohibitive
    • Prescription required

    4. Purina Pro Plan Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Kitten Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food

    Protein Source: Chicken
    Protein Content: 42%
    Fat Content: 19%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: No

    Even kittens can get pancreatitis, and it can be more harmful to their health considering that they are smaller and aren’t as strong as adults. Purina Pro Plan Kitten Chicken and Rice dry cat food is great for kittens with digestion issues or food sensitivities and is also formulated with additional nutrients that are beneficial to helping your kitten develop and thrive. This cat food is high in protein and has chicken as the main ingredient. Proteins are essential for a kitten’s diet because it helps them develop strong muscles.

    Also included in the formula are live probiotics. Probiotics ensure that your cat develops healthy gut bacteria, which in turn helps to support healthy digestion and boosts your kitten’s immune system. The downside to this food is that it is higher in fat than other cat foods. Although it helps your kitten put on a little weight, fat is also absorbed more slowly by the body which can slow down digestion. You want to be sure to feed your cat the proper portions in order to help with pancreatitis.

    Pros
    • Specially formulated for kittens
    • High in protein
    • Contains probiotics to develop healthy digestion
    Cons
    • High in fat content

    5. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Hydrolyzed Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Hydrolyzed Formula

    Protein Source: Hydrolyzed Soy, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver
    Protein Content: 30%
    Fat Content: 9%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: Yes

    Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Hydrolyzed Formula dry cat food is made primarily with hydrolyzed proteins, so it is easy to digest for cats that have food sensitivities or digestion issues such as pancreatitis. It also has an extremely low fat content, which is also beneficial because digestion isn’t slowed down as a result of your cat’s body having to absorb a lot of fat.

    Because this cat food contains only hydrolyzed proteins, it is not recommended to feed it to your cat without proper authorization from a veterinarian. That’s why it requires a prescription in order to get this food, in addition to being pricey. Something else to consider is that meat-based proteins are not the main protein source, so your cat may find it less appetizing.

    Pros
    • Formulated for cats with pancreatitis and other GI diseases
    • Contains hydrolyzed proteins
    • Low in fat
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Main protein source is soy, not chicken

    6. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Cat Food

    Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin Cat Food

    Protein Source: Chicken
    Protein Content: 29%
    Fat Content: 17%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: No

    Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin cat food is designed for cats that may have digestive issues (such as pancreatitis) and skin allergies. This cat food contains prebiotics, which help feed your cat’s beneficial gut bacteria and encourage them to do their job of aiding in digestion and helping to prevent certain diseases.  The high protein content ensures that your cat is getting the nutrients he needs to keep his muscles lean. This food contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids that can help your cat’s body absorb nutrients more efficiently, a key aspect of helping to fight off pancreatitis.

    No prescription is needed for this cat food, but it is still pricey regardless. It is specifically made for cats with digestive issues and also contains nutrients to keep your cat’s fur healthy.

    Pros
    • Made for cats with sensitive stomachs
    • Contains prebiotics
    • Chicken is the primary ingredient
    • High in omega-3 fatty acids
    Cons
    • Expensive

    7. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Cat Food

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Cat Food

    Protein Source: Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Chicken Fat
    Protein Content: 24%
    Fat Content: 18%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: Yes

    Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein dry cat food is designed for adult cats with gastrointestinal issues and food sensitivities. As with a few of the other foods on this list, it is made with hydrolyzed proteins that are easier for cats with pancreatitis to digest because it lowers the chances of further damage due to inflammation. An assortment of B vitamins and fatty acids also ensure that your cat’s skin and fur remain healthy over the course of him consuming this diet.

    As with other veterinary diet cat foods, this food can only be obtained through a prescription and authorization by your veterinarian. It also means it is more expensive than non-prescription cat foods, but it isn’t the most expensive prescription cat food on this list. Once again, meat-based proteins aren’t the primary protein source, but it does contain chicken fat to make it more appetizing for cats. However, the chicken fat does make the overall fat content higher.

    Pros
    • Formulated for cats with food sensitivities
    • Less expensive than most prescription cat foods
    • More appetizing than other foods that contain hydrolyzed proteins
    Cons
    • Meat proteins aren’t the main protein source
    • Fat content is higher

    8. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Wet Cat Food

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal High Energy Canned Cat Food

    Protein Source: Chicken Liver
    Protein Content: 5%
    Fat Content: 6%
    Type of Food: Wet
    Prescription Needed: Yes

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal wet cat food is great for older cats or cats that have a harder time chewing dry cat food. The moderate calorie formula is also beneficial for cats that are overweight in addition to having gastrointestinal issues. Wet cat food also has a higher moisture content, so it can help prevent or lower any dehydration issues brought about by pancreatitis. It’s also extremely low in fat, so it won’t slow down digestion when your cat eats it.

    Note that this is another veterinary diet cat food, so a prescription is required, and it is also pretty costly. But it does not contain hydrolyzed proteins and is full of meat-based proteins instead, such as chicken liver, pork liver, and chicken and pork by-products. Although it does contain a lot of proteins, the overall protein content is lower, so it’s not suitable for kittens and even younger adult cats. It is also only available in one flavor, so cats that don’t like chicken and pork may not want to eat it.

    Pros
    • High moisture content helps prevent dehydration
    • Full of meat-based protein sources
    • Great for older or overweight cats
    • Low fat content
    Cons
    • Not for younger cats
    • Expensive
    • Only available in one variety

    9. Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach

    Protein Source: Chicken
    Protein Content: 32%
    Fat Content: 16%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: No

    Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe dry cat food is made from a combination of meat-based protein, vegetables, and fruit to ensure a well-balanced diet that contains all the nutrients your cat needs. Added prebiotics are ideal for cats with sensitive stomachs or GI issues to help make digestion easier and more efficient. The food also contains omega fatty acids to improve the health of your cat’s skin and fur, and the blend of vitamins and minerals was chosen by veterinarians to support cats’ immune systems.

    The downsides to this cat food are that it is higher in calories and fat than other comparable cat foods, so it may promote weight gain if you overfeed your cat. Tocopherols are also used as a preservative, which doesn’t harm your cat but also doesn’t provide nutritional benefits either.

    Pros
    • Made with real chicken
    • Contains fruits and veggies
    • Prebiotics make digestion easier
    Cons
    • High in calories
    • High in fat content
    • Can cause weight gain

    10. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach

    Protein Source: Lamb
    Protein Content: 40%
    Fat Content: 18%
    Type of Food: Dry
    Prescription Needed: No

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach dry food is made with lamb as its main source of protein, but it also contains rice and oatmeal which makes digesting the food easier for cats that have sensitive stomachs. In addition to being easy to digest, this food also contains probiotics to help improve digestive and immune system health, both of which are beneficial if your cat is fighting pancreatitis.

    The downside of this cat food is that it contains 539 calories per cup, which is very high compared to other cat foods. The fat content is also higher, so this food isn’t ideal for cats that are overweight, especially since fats take longer for the digestive system to absorb. Finally, lamb may not be the preferred protein choice for cats that are more finicky.

    Pros
    • Meat is the primary protein source
    • Contains probiotics
    • Rice and oatmeal are easy to digest
    Cons
    • High in calories
    • Some cats may not prefer lamb

    11. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Canned Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach

    Protein Source: Duck, Liver
    Protein Content: 10%
    Fat Content: 0%
    Type of Food: Wet
    Prescription Needed: No

    Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Classic Duck wet cat food is made with duck and liver as the main protein ingredients. It is low in calories (87 per can) and fat, so it is perfect for overweight cats. And because it is wet food, it is also good for cats that are older and that can’t chew dry food easily. Wet cat foods are also higher in moisture to help your cat stay hydrated. This food also contains inulin, a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria found in your cat’s stomach and helps the food to be more easily digestible.

    Although this food does contain duck as its main protein source, it is low in protein compared to dry cat foods. And while it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t contain vegetable ingredients that can also provide some of the nutrients that your cat needs. It also doesn’t specify that it contains any fatty acids that are beneficial for your cat’s skin, although it is described as a product for sensitive skin and stomachs. But it is affordable and doesn’t require a prescription if your cat needs wet food instead of dry.

    Pros
    • Contains inulin, a prebiotic
    • Low in calories
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Lack of vegetable ingredients
    • Low in fatty acids
    • Lower in protein than other cat food

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    Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis

    If your cat has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, it is essential that you provide your cat with food that will help him overcome it and not make his symptoms worse. Your vet can provide guidance as to what nutrients your cat needs and may even prescribe a specific food for your cat to eat. But it is understandable that not everyone can afford the expense of prescription cat food, especially on a long-term basis.

    With that being said, let’s look at what nutrients and food components are beneficial for a cat that has pancreatitis. Again, you should consult with your vet first to make sure that feeding your cat a certain type of food will help your cat overcome pancreatitis at home.

    cat and vet
    Image Credit: Stock-Asso, Shutterstock

    Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

    You may have noticed that most of the cat foods above contain either prebiotics or probiotics. But what is the difference between the two? The basic difference is that prebiotics serve as a food source for good gut bacteria, while probiotics are the gut bacteria themselves.

    Essentially, prebiotics are plant fibers that are found in cat food. When your cat eats the food, the prebiotics are absorbed by the gut bacteria during the digestion process. This helps to fuel them so that they can continue the digestive process efficiently. Slow digestion is not ideal for cats that have pancreatitis because it can result in more inflammation, so the prebiotics help to speed up the digestion process.

    Probiotics are already found inside the stomach of most animals and humans, and cats that have pancreatitis don’t necessarily need replenishment of them in order to cure pancreatitis. But, if your vet finds that your cat has a low percentage of good gut bacteria, then more probiotics may be necessary for your cat’s diet in order to improve his digestive and immune health. However, in terms of helping to treat pancreatitis, prebiotics are better in food than probiotics are.

    Fat Content

    If your cat suffers from pancreatitis, then your vet will likely recommend a diet that is lower in fat. The reason for this is that fat isn’t as easily digested as carbohydrates are because fat is intended to be stored energy, not energy that is immediately usable. Therefore, your body absorbs fats more slowly. However, foods that are higher in fat are not good for treating pancreatitis because a slower rate of digestion can cause symptoms to become worse.

    That doesn’t mean that your cat shouldn’t consume any fat at all. Instead, a moderate-fat diet is better. Your vet can specify exactly how much fat your cat can consume. But when it comes to cat food, look for lean proteins as the main ingredient, such as chicken, turkey, and white-meat fish. These tend to contain less fat than meat such as beef, lamb, and pork.

    woman buying dog food
    Image Credit: Caftor, Shutterstock

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    Final Verdict

    The best overall cat food choice for pancreatitis is Smalls Fresh Cat Food Cow Recipe, which is made with chicken as the main ingredient and contains prebiotics. If you want to save a little money while still providing your cat with the nutrients he needs to help him recover, try Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion and Skin Cat Food. Hopefully, these reviews can give you some ideas to discuss with your vet so that together you can come up with a diet plan that is right for your cat.

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    Sources

    Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

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