The best diet for cats with kidney disease includes only wet food. But what if that isn’t in your budget? Or your cat simply refuses to say goodbye to kibble?
We compared over a dozen dry cat foods on the market today and have selected the top 5 best dry foods for cats with kidney disease.
A Quick Look At Our Favorites
|Product||Rating||Why We Like It|
|1||Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M||Vet Approved||Buy on Amazon|
|2||Hill's Pet Science Diet Indoor Adult 7+||Healthy Weight Management||Buy on Amazon|
|3||IAMS Proactive Health UTH||Against Urinary Crystals||Buy on Amazon|
|4||Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Adult||For Sensitive Stomachs||Buy on Amazon|
|5||I And Love And You Naked Essentials||Healthy Skin & Coat||Buy on Amazon|
|Moisture||Protein* (min.)||Fat* (min.)||Fiber* (max.)||Carbs* (approx.)||Ash* (approx.)||Calories (approx.)||Allergens|
|1||9%||29%||20%||7%||43%||2%||382 / 100g||seafood|
|2||9.4%||35%||21%||9%||33%||2%||373 / 100g||seafood|
|3||10%||36%||17%||2%||44%||2%||378 / 100g||eggs, seafood|
|4||9%||35%||18%||4%||43%||0%||386 / 100g||eggs, seafood|
|5||12%||39%||16%||4%||41%||0%||364 / 100g||seafood|
|* on a dry matter basis|
|What We Like||What We Don't Like|
|1|| Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M|
|2|| Hill's Pet Science Diet Indoor Adult 7+|
Healthy Weight Management
|3|| IAMS Proactive Health UTH|
Against Urinary Crystals
|4|| Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Adult|
For Sensitive Stomachs
|5|| I And Love And You Naked Essentials|
Healthy Skin & Coat
Best Dry Food For Cats With Kidney Disease
We have carefully compared all popular brands of dry cat food available and judged them on their suitability for cats with kidney disease. Out of these, we have picked our top 5 dry cat foods for cats with kidney disease, each of which tackles a specific symptom of the disease.
Please use this guide to choose the best food, or combination of foods, for your cat. If you want additional information or more options to choose from, please check out our Cat Food Database, where we provide a full nutritional analysis of 1000+ popular cat foods.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Always be careful when introducing your cat to a new food. The change in nutritional composition can cause digestive upset or allergic reactions, so it is best to take it slowly. Give her only a bit of the food at first, combined with her old food, and monitor how well your cat does on it. If you see any signs of an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, rashes, elevated heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting) switch back to her old food and contact your vet immediately.
Best Veterinary Dry Food For Cats With Kidney Disease: Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M
The K+M in Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M stands for Kidney + Mobility. It is a low protein dry food that is especially designed to meet the needs of aging cats with kidney disease. It is high in fiber to support digestion and keep up your cat’s energy levels. It is low in phosphates and sodium, which help to increase appetite and manage blood pressure, as well as anemia.
Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M is a vet approved cat food with all natural ingredients. It is supplemented with nutrients for healthy joints, such as chondroitin and glucosamine. So together with combating kidney disease, you’ll also be giving your cat a leg up on arthritis. Pun intended.
The most appealing thing about Blue Buffalo K+M cat food is that cats with kidney disease absolutely love it! Given that it can be quite a struggle to get a cat in renal failure to eat at all, that feels like a small miracle. The kibble is a bit on the small side, but if your cat doesn’t mind that, she will probably munch down until her bowl is completely empty.
All good things aside, I do want to caution you, again, about the risks involved with feeding your cat a low protein diet. When her kidney disease starts to worsen, her ability to retain nutrients will decrease significantly. If your cat is on a low protein diet, check her body weight regularly. As soon as you start noticing her losing weight, take her off the low protein diet and consult with your vet about better weight management options.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Best Dry Cat Food For Weight Management: Hill’s Pet Science Diet Indoor Adult 7+
Hill’s Pet Science Diet Indoor Adult 7+ is a bit larger in size than your average cat kibble. This can be an advantage, or a disadvantage, depending on your cat’s eating habits. Some cats just want tiny kibble, while others tend to swallow their food whole when the pieces are too small.
Chewing is actually a beneficial and necessary part of eating. It trains the muscles in the mouth and jaw, and helps to mitigate dental issues by cleaning plaque and bacteria off the teeth. So if your cat tends to skip this part of her dining experience, consider switching to a larger kibble like Hill’s Pet Science Diet Indoor.
Besides a larger bite, Hill’s Pet Science Diet Indoor also comes packed with quality protein from chicken, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from fish oil, loads of vitamins and less carbohydrates than the average dry cat food. Your cat can safely eat this kibble every day.
As far as allergens go, you shouldn’t give Hill’s Pet Science Diet Indoor Adult 7+ to cats with kidney disease that also suffer from seafood allergies. Though there is only a small amount of fish oil in the food, it could still cause vomiting or diarrhea if your cat has sensitivities. Check with your vet for alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids for your feline.
Check out our Cat Food Database for a full nutritional analysis of Hill’s Pet Science Diet Indoor Adult 7+. It is also available with formulas adjusted for kittens, for cats from 1 to 6 years old, and for senior cats older than 11 years of age.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Best Dry Cat Food For Urinary Crystals: IAMS Proactive Health Urinary Tract Health
IAMS Proactive Health Urinary Tract Health (UTH) is designed to limit the chance of urinary crystals forming by lowering the pH of your cat’s urine. Urinary crystals increase the risk of bladder and kidney infections, so crystal prevention is high on the list for cats with kidney disease. The kibble has slightly more moisture than the average dry cat food and a dose of healthy vitamins and minerals that prevent shedding and improve the immune system.
Some cat owners report their cats getting diarrhea or gas after eating IAMS Proactive Health UTH. This is likely a response to the fish oil due to an undiagnosed seafood allergy. If your cat experiences gastric upset after eating this product, switch them back to their old food and contact your vet to be safe. That said, most cats have no problems with IAMS Proactive Health UTH and are actually quite happy eating it.
IAMS Proactive Health UTH is higher in potassium, and also calcium, than most dry cat foods. You should only feed it to cats with kidney disease who are known to have a deficiency in both. If you overdose your cat on either potassium or calcium, the effects could be detrimental and actually worsen her kidney disease. Always talk to your vet about the exact dietary requirements for your cat.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Best Dry Cat Food For Sensitive Stomach: Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Adult
Cats with kidney disease have trouble retaining good nutrients and getting rid of waste products. Over time this imbalance can cause digestive problems, like irritable bowel disease, pancreatitis or hyperthyroidism. A cat food specifically formulated for sensitive stomachs, like Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Adult can therefore make a real difference for cats with kidney disease.
Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach dry cat food contains a healthy amount of protein from chicken. It is easy to digest, so it doesn’t put any unnecessary strain on your cat’s digestive system. It is supplemented with a special blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that facilitate the absorption of good nutrients into the blood.
Unfortunately, Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Adult is not suitable for all cats. If your feline is allergic to either seafood or eggs, she can’t have this food. Even though the healthy fatty acids from the fish oil are a great support for a cat’s kidneys, it only leads to smelly litter box visits if she can’t tolerate it.
If you are sure that your cat is not allergic, then Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach is a great food to consider for cats with kidney disease. By supporting both the kidneys and the intestines, it helps your cat to maintain a healthy weight in the two areas where it matters most.
Want more suggestions for your digestively challenged cat? Check out our full guide on the Best Cat Food For Sensitive Stomach.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Best Dry Cat Food For Healthy Skin And Coat: I And Love And You Naked Essentials
I And Love And You Naked Essentials (try saying that five times in a row) is a dry cat food with a slightly higher protein content than its competitors. It is made from sustainably sourced, whole-food ingredients like chicken, turkey, duck, salmon and trout.
When it comes to taste, it is either hit or miss for I And Love And You Naked Essentials. Some cats love it, while others won’t come near it. There isn’t much of an in between. Luckily, it comes in 4 different flavors, so you can try to see if your cat will take to at least one of them.
If she does, I And Love And You Naked Essentials is a natural dry food option with a lot of health benefits for cats with kidney disease. It supports a smooth digestion and keeps the liver clean by not introducing waste from filler ingredients.
It is low on fat, yet high in moisture. An excellent combination for cats with kidney disease. It is rich in quality animal protein, while not packing on the calories. So even if your cat is overweight, I And Love And You Naked Essentials can be a great addition to her diet.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Our Top Choice Of Dry Food For Cats With Kidney Disease: Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M
Our number 1 choice when looking for the best dry food for cats with kidney disease is Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M. Besides supporting the digestive and renal system of your cat, this kibble also works to alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Giving your kitty one less thing to worry about. Even though Blue Buffalo K+M is a low protein cat food, it contains plenty of nutrients and calories to keep your kidney disease cat well fed through the early stages of the disease.
Kidney Failure In Cats
As your kitty starts her life, her kidneys are healthy and fully functional. In fact, they don’t even use all of their capacity at this point. Instead, when part of the tissue gets damaged, another, fresh part takes over. Until the fresh parts are all used up. From then on, your cat’s kidneys slowly start to lose functionality.
This process happens gradually and can take years to progress. It is mostly just a part of aging, but can be exacerbated through the ingestion of toxic substances or an unhealthy diet.
Once your cat’s kidneys lose about 65% of their functionality, she is in kidney failure. We call this chronic kidney disease, or chronic renal failure. Chronic kidney disease is one of the top causes of death among domestic cats. But with the right care and treatment, a cat with kidney disease can still live a long and happy life.
What To Feed Cats With Kidney Disease
What is the right diet for your kidney failure cat depends on the exact results of her blood test. And it can vary over time. As kidney disease progresses, different complications arise that require different dietary solutions.
Overall, there are a few areas where cats with kidney failure tend to need a little help. Consult with your vet to see if your cat could benefit from a diet with:
- Low phosphorus to increase appetite,
- Low sodium to lower blood pressure,
- Low calcium to improve digestion,
- High potassium to maintain muscle strength,
- Omega-3 fatty acids to support kidney function.
On top of that, there is an ongoing debate surrounding the amount of protein a kidney disease cat needs. Traditionally, vets tend to prescribe a low protein diet in hopes to alleviate stress on the kidneys. However, evidence suggests that a high protein diet may be a better choice. The extra protein and calories seem to help to keep your cat’s health and physical fitness up over a longer period of time, giving her a better chance of overcoming any symptoms.
Since kidney disease can have such a wide range of symptoms and side-effects, it will likely be impossible for you to find a cat food that meets all of your cat’s nutritional requirements. Try to find one that tackles as many of your kitty’s symptoms as possible, and use nutritional supplements or cat treats to take care of the rest.
Dry vs Wet Food For Cats With Kidney Disease
The best diet for any feline, but cats with kidney disease in particular, is a diet of only wet food. Cats in the wild eat mostly animal protein. They get all the moisture they need from their prey. Most domestic cats, however, get fed dry food, or a combination of wet and dry food.
The problem with this is that dry food has no moisture and consists of mostly grains and other forms of carbohydrates. These are bad for your cat when consumed in large quantities and can actually contribute to the development of diseases like chronic kidney disease and diabetes.
That said, there are circumstances under which you might not be able to completely replace all of your cat’s meals with healthy, natural wet food. Maybe your budget doesn’t allow it, you’re away from home a lot, or your kitty has simply become too addicted to dry kibble.
My advice is to do what you can. Honestly, if your cat has been on a diet of processed meats and dry food all its life, a little change goes a long way. Get her some high quality canned wet food whenever you can and look for other ways to improve her diet.
Nutritional supplements aren’t that expensive and can be applied in a targeted manner, so you know every dollar you spend goes to where it needs to. Similarly, you can use low sodium treats with omega-3 fatty acids to give her a boost when she needs it.
Need some suggestions on which wet food to get your cat? Check out our guide on the Best Wet Food For Cats With Kidney Disease.