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If your cat is experiencing allergies, there’s a solid chance he or she could benefit from a different food. From excessive scratching to dermatitis to extreme hair loss, food allergies can make life miserable for your feline friend. While skin allergies are the most common response to food intolerance, allergic reactions can also cause vomiting and diarrhea, so it’s important to address if your cat experiences symptoms that you simply cannot pin down.
While the causes aren’t entirely known, food allergies are thought to be a hypersensitive immune response to certain foods and ingredients, so it’s vital to find the best choice for your cat. Some vets will suggest a food elimination diet if your pet is having severe allergies, but this should be done only under the recommendation and supervision of your veterinarian.
If your vet does recommend a limited ingredient or grain-free food to help with your cat’s allergies, we’ve rounded up some of the best hypoallergenic cat foods you can buy, both for wet and dry food eaters.
01 of 07
Best Dry: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food Green Pea & Salmon
Limited ingredient foods are great for cats with allergies, as they reduce the chance for your cat to be exposed to allergens. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient is made from peas and salmon, and is grain-free. Because it has only a single protein source and a single carb source, there’s less opportunity for your cat to develop allergies to the ingredients. The best way to introduce a limited ingredient cat food to your pet is to pick one with foods he or she hasn’t had (i.e. if she’s shown intolerance to a food with chicken and rice, focus on one with salmon and peas).
Reviewers say their cats love Natural Balance, which is great because some limited ingredient foods can be unappetizing for cats (one of the most common allergens, corn and wheat gluten, is addictive to felines). Owners rave about their pet’s shiny coat, and say it helps with gastrointestinal issues as well. If you’re looking for a great, well-loved limited ingredient dry food, Natural Balance is one of the best you can buy.
02 of 07
Best Dry: Halo Spot's Stew Natural Dry Cat Food
Halo Spot’s Stew Natural is made from only whole proteins and refined whole grains including whitefish, salmon, eggs and peas. Many commercial cat foods are filled with starchy fillers such as corn and potatoes in order to reduce the amount of meat and protein. Not surprisingly, some of the most common allergens for pets are found in these fillers. Halo Spot focuses on only whole foods, not by-products or fillers, to give a cat a balanced and healthy meal. This food is great if your cat has general allergies to carbs or meat by-products. If your cat experiences indigestion, vomiting or loose stools, switching him or her to a sensitive stomach food like Natural Balance can help them digest more comfortably.
Reviews say Halo Spot has made a world of a difference in their cats, with one owner stating that since switching to the food, years of loose stools were finally resolved.
03 of 07
Best Dry: BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Cat Food Indoor Fish & Potato Recipe
Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Fish & Potato dry cat food is another limited ingredient food that is perfect for your food-sensitive cat. Its only protein source is whitefish (a great choice for cats who have shown intolerance to meats such as chicken and beef) and doesn’t contain any grains, dairy or eggs. Blue Basics Limited Ingredient foods also include pumpkin, which has been known to help aid in digestion.
Many cats are allergic to poultry, so eliminating chicken is a good place to start if you’re working to narrow down your cat’s allergies. Cat owners say Blue Basics Fish & Potato reduces vomit and hairballs, and makes their cat’s coat shine. Most importantly, owners say their harshest feline critics are big fans of Blue Basics.
04 of 07
Best Wet: Instinct Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food Salmon Flavor
There are many benefits to a wet food diet, especially for cats that don’t drink water as often as they should. Nature's Variety Instinct Grain-Free Salmon Wet Food is a great choice for cats with allergies who fare better on a wet diet. While not limited ingredient, Instinct has no corn, wheat or soy, and is devoid of all fillers and gluten. Since many cat allergies arise from corn-based foods, Instinct is an excellent choice in that respect. There are many flavors, but we recommend the salmon flavor for cats who have allergies — some cats are allergic to poultry or beef. Instinct is 95% salmon and pork liver, which we love - many foods have only 30-40% proteins, but Instinct focuses on whole foods.
Reviewers love Instinct for elderly cats who struggle with digestion, as well as corn-sensitive adult cats. One owner said their cat went through six foods until their itchy skin symptoms finally stopped. If you’re looking for a great wet food, starting with a grain-free version is a good way to reduce allergies in sensitive cats.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best Wet: "I and love and you", All Natural Canned Cat Food Oh My Cod! Pate
"I and love and you" is a small pet food brand from Boulder, Colorado with a big following. Though they’re still a new company, their products are getting rave reviews from customers and vets alike. We love Oh My Cod! Pate for cats with allergies because it’s an all-natural, no-filler, grain-free food that’s number-one ingredient is cod. Since cod is an ingredient used far less frequently than other protein sources, it’s a great fish to try if your cat has shown allergies to other meats. It also has Omega's 3 and 6, which help give your cat a shiny, full coat.
Reviewers state that their cats adore "I and love and you,” even those cats that turned their noses away from many other healthy foods. If you are the type of consumer that picks small businesses over larger corporations, "I and love and you" is a great, healthy cat food to try with your allergy-sensitive kitty.
06 of 07
Best Wet: Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Duck & Potato Pate
BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient is one of the best limited ingredient choices for wet food-inclined cats. As with all of our picks, it’s filler-free and contains no by-products. Its single protein source is duck, a healthy meat rarely used in cat food (which is a good choice if you’re trying to eliminate allergy sources). Instead of wheat, it uses potatoes and peas as its carbohydrate source. We love the added fish oil, aimed at helping treat dry or flaky coats, and the pate consistency makes it easy to digest for sensitive stomachs.
If your vet recommends a limited ingredient cat food, a wet food is often more enticing for picky eaters and helps cats increase their water intake. Reviews say Blue Basics eliminated skin and stomach issues in sensitive cats — but be prepared for your cat to beg for this food every morning.
07 of 07
Best Treats: Hill’s Prescription Diet Hypo Treats for Cats
Every cat deserves treats, and Hills Prescription Diet Hypo Treats are perfect for your cat with allergies. Developed with allergies in mind, Hill’s Prescription is formulated to help ease sensitive stomachs. It contains hydrolyzed proteins, which have been broken down into smaller parts, making it easier to digest. Once broken down, your pet’s body no longer recognizes them as the forms that once caused allergies, so they don’t have the same negative effects. Hills Prescription Diet Hypo treats contain hydrolyzed chicken liver, rice and corn, so you should make sure your cat doesn’t have a corn allergy before feeding him or her these treats.
Reviewers love Diet Hypo Treats, saying they’re the only treats that don’t cause upset stomachs or painful digestion for their sensitive cats. Once you’ve switched your cat to an allergy diet, Hill’s Prescription allows you to offer rewards and treats without the painful side effects.