Most cat owners choose dry food for their cat’s daily diet, because it is easy to feed and generally not that expensive. But dry cat foods are generally low in protein and high in grains and sugars, which are bad for cats with kidney disease.
Luckily, there are cat food brands that recognize the value in feeding cats a biologically appropriate diet. We have reviewed their top products to find the best dry food for cats with kidney disease. We’ve steered clear of traditional kidney foods and renal prescription diets, as these are generally low in protein.
It was previously thought that low protein diets were the best way to sustain kidney disease cats, but more recent studies have shown that the opposite is true. A diet high in lean proteins helps cats to maintain their overall health and muscle mass, which gives them a better chance at living a long life, even with kidney disease.
A Quick Look At Our Favorites
|Product||Rating||Why We Like It|
|1||Orijen Fit & Trim||Full Of Lean Proteins||Buy On Amazon|
|2||Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe||Allergen Free||Buy On Amazon|
|3||Acana Grasslands||Most Affordable||Buy On Amazon|
|4||Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Egg||100% Non-GMO||Buy On Amazon|
|5||Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe||Biologically Appropriate||Buy On Amazon|
|Moisture||Protein* (min.)||Fat* (min.)||Fiber* (max.)||Carbs* (approx.)||Ash* (approx.)||Calories (approx.)||Allergens|
|1||9%||48.4%||16.5%||6.6%||18.5%||10%||375 / 100g||egg, fish|
|2||10%||42.2%||20%||6.7%||21.1%||10%||387 / 100g|
|3||10%||41.1%||20%||3.3%||25.6%||10%||393 / 100g||egg, whitefish, peas|
|4||10%||47.8%||21.1%||3.9%||14.4%||12.8%||380 / 100g||egg, peas, brewers dried yeast, salmon oil|
|5||14%||44.2%||34.9%||2.3%||4.7%||14%||550 / 100g||mussel|
|* on a dry matter basis|
|What We Like||What We Don't Like|
|1|| Orijen Fit & Trim|
Full Of Lean Proteins
|Buy On Amazon|
|2|| Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe|
|Buy On Amazon|
|3|| Acana Grasslands|
|Buy On Amazon|
|4|| Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Egg|
|Buy On Amazon|
|5|| Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe|
|Buy On Amazon|
Best Dry Food For Cats With Kidney Disease – Our Top 5
Generally speaking, the best dry cat food for kidney disease cats is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. On top of that, it should contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support kidney function, and vitamin B12 and folic acid to reduce the risk of anemia.
These are the basic criteria we used when reviewing different options of dry food for cats with kidney disease. All of the cat foods in our top 5 meet these criteria and are also completely grain-free. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, this makes these dry cat foods equally suitable for cats with diabetes.
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.
Overall Best Dry Cat Food For Kidney Disease: Orijen Fit & Trim
Orijen Fit & Trim is a great dry food for cats with kidney disease, or other ailments that leave them in need of a high protein, grain- and gluten-free diet, like diabetes or hyperthyroidism. It is designed to be as biologically appropriate as possible for cats as obligate carnivores, while still being affordable for the average cat owner.
Orijen Fit & Trim is made with 85% raw and freeze-dried whole prey ingredients, which means it includes all parts of the animal (muscle, organs, cartilage and edible bone), just like your cat would eat in the wild. Only lean sources of animal protein are used, resulting in a dry cat food that is both high in protein and low in carbs, compared to most commercial cat foods.
Orijen Fit & Trim has the perfect composition to help your cat maintain a healthy weight. Cats with CKD have a notoriously hard time keeping on the weight as the disease progresses. This dry cat food for kidney disease is dense enough in nutrients and healthy vitamins and minerals for your cat to stay fit, without putting any unnecessary strain on the kidneys.
Another benefit cat owners report about Orijen Fit & Trim, and one that I can attest to myself, is the improvements they see in the condition of their cat’s skin and coat after switching to this food. My cat was suffering from constipation due to hairballs. I decided to switch her prescription kidney diet with Orijen’s freeze-dried coated kibble. Not only did she scarf down on her dry food for the first time in her life, her hairballs and constipation disappeared like a ghost!
One thing I especially love about Orijen is that they source their ingredients locally. This greatly reduces the strain of their production process on the environment, plus it allows them to sell their products at competitive prices.
The only thing to watch out for with Orijen’s dry cat foods is the size of the kibble. The pieces are relatively small, which can be problematic for cats that eat very fast and for cats with dental issues. If your cat tends to inhale their food rather than chew and enjoy it, a larger kibble will force them to slow down and reduces the risk of them choking on their food. Similarly, cats with dental disease also need a dry food they can chew on to remove plaque and tartar from their teeth. I have recently switched my cat to ACANA Grasslands for this exact reason.
Nevertheless, if your CKD cat can handle the smaller kibble size, then Orijen Fit & Trim is the best dry cat food for kidney disease you can give them. It will help them to maintain their overall health, which is their best defense throughout all stages of the disease.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
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Best Dry Cat Food For Kidney Disease And Digestive Issues: Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe
Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe is another high protein dry cat food, very similar to Orijen Fit & Trim. It consists of 86% animal prey ingredients, supplemented with healthy legumes and greens. The sources of animal protein used in this dry food for cats with kidney disease are less lean when compared to Orijen Fit & Trim. This makes it more suitable for cats in later stages of the disease that need to put on some extra weight.
Essence Air & Gamefowl is the only dry cat food in our top 5 that contains absolutely no allergens. This makes it the best dry food for cats with kidney disease and digestive issues from allergies and food sensitivities. If your kidney disease cat has a sensitive stomach, with loose stools and occasional vomiting, you should definitely give this food a try.
As your cat’s gastric upset clears up, you will likely see a huge improvement in their overall health. Cats that are fed high protein diets like Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe have shinier, softer coats and appear happier and more active. They also seem to find it very tasty, which is nearly as important. Cats are emotional beings, and keeping up their morale is half the battle when you are dealing with an ultimately fatal illness like kidney disease.
Just like Orijen Fit & Trim, the kibble in Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe is smaller than regular kibble. The difference between the two is that Orijen’s kibble is flat and round, while Essence’s kibble has a more cylindrical shape. It will depend on your cat what they prefer, though Orijen’s flatter shape seems to be easier to chew.
Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe contains a relatively high amount of carbs compared to our other picks, which is why we didn’t give it our number one spot. It also seems to be less widely available than all other products on our list, with stock often running out even at large online retailers. But if you can get your hands on it, Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe is the best dry food for cats with kidney disease and digestive issues.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
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Best Dry Cat Food For Kidney Disease On A Budget: ACANA Grasslands
ACANA pet foods are made by the same manufacturer as Orijen pet foods. As such, ACANA dry foods for cats are very similar to Orijen’s dry cat foods in terms of their ingredients and production processes. The main difference between ACANA and Orijen is that ACANA’s products contain slightly fewer animal ingredients. Although this makes ACANA cat food slightly less biologically appropriate, it does make it more affordable.
Kidney disease in cats tends to progress very slowly. If your cat is diagnosed with CKD, in most cases you have years of extra care and special diets to look forward to. You need a dry cat food for kidney disease that is both healthy and not too expensive. ACANA Grasslands is precisely that.
ACANA Grasslands is made from small prey animals similar to the ones a cat would actually hunt in the wild. Just like Orijen, ACANA uses whole prey ingredients, which make up 75% of ACANA Grasslands’ recipe. The remaining ingredients are mostly fruits and vegetables. Although these are not typically found in a wild cat’s diet, the quantities in this cat food are within the acceptable range for cat diets.
I switched my CKD cat from Orijen to ACANA Grasslands recently, because ACANA’s kibble is larger in size and easier for her to chew. She took to the new food immediately, though I can tell that she is slightly less excited about it compared to Orijen’s recipes. Nevertheless, her bowl is empty every day and she seems to be doing wonderfully on it.
The added fruit and vegetables, however, do result in a higher carb content. In fact, ACANA Grasslands has the highest amount of carbohydrates out of all products in our top 5 of best dry food for cats with kidney disease. If your cat is overweight, diabetic, or suffering from food sensitivities or allergies, this is not the best food for them.
But if your cat is still in the early stages of kidney disease and generally healthy, then ACANA Grasslands is the perfect solution both for your cat and your wallet to last as long as possible. Its high protein content, fresh ingredients and lower price range make it the best dry cat food for kidney disease on a budget.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
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Best Dry Cat Food For Kidney Disease At Your Local Pet Store: Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Egg
Tiki Cat is the most well established out of the five brands in our top 5 of the best dry cat food for kidney disease and the only one that is available at most local pet stores. They are known for their desire to provide a healthier alternative to the traditional cat foods you find there. And they’ve definitely succeeded at that with their Tiki Cat Born Carnivore line of cat foods.
With 80% animal ingredients, Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Egg is high in protein and low in carbs, with moderate fat and fiber contents. It is grain-free and supplemented with healthy minerals and vitamins. At face value, this dry cat food for kidney disease has everything it needs to be the perfect cornerstone in a kidney disease diet. That’s probably why it is so popular among cat owners, even for healthy cats.
Unfortunately, Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Egg does contain some questionable ingredients. Some of these ingredients are even part of the first five ingredients, which are considered the main ingredients in cat food. Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Egg contains egg (obviously) and fish oil, which are potential allergens.
The fifth ingredient is tapioca. Tapioca flour is used in many dry pet foods as a binding agent. In itself, tapioca is not harmful to cats, though it isn’t nutritionally beneficial to them either. A bit of tapioca is fine, but for cats with kidney disease, you want a cat food that is as nutritionally dense as possible, not one that has a filler among its main ingredients.
On top of that, Tiki Cat Born Carnivore is relatively expensive, especially if you take into account its lacking nutritional profile. If none of the other options are available to you, do give Tiki Cat a try. But if you have another choice, go with that.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Most Biologically Appropriate Dry Cat Food For Kidney Disease: Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe
Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe most closely matches the actual nutritional needs of cats out of all products we reviewed. It is made from air-dried chicken and New Zealand green mussel, which together make up 96% of its contents, with minimal added ingredients.
Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe is very dense in quality nutrients for cats, which is reflected by the high calorie count. The upside of this is that your cat won’t need to eat as much of this food to feel full. Eating less naturally puts less strain on the kidneys, making Ziwi Peak the best dry food for cats with kidney disease, nutritionally speaking. The downside is that you will have to keep a strict eye on your cat’s actual caloric intake, so that they don’t get overweight and develop heart problems.
Despite being such a healthy dry food for cats with kidney disease, Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe only made it to the fifth spot in our top 5 of the best dry cat food for kidney disease. That’s because there are a few downsides to feeding your cat this food that we can’t ignore.
Since it is made from air-dried meat, Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe looks a lot like jerky. It is cut into small squares about a quarter inch in size. That in itself is fine, except the pieces are incredibly hard. And when you break them, they splinter and the shards are quite sharp. As recommended by other cat owners, I personally tried soaking the Ziwi Peak kibble in some warm water to soften them up, but this didn’t do anything.
To make matters worse, although it is mostly chicken, Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe gives off a very strong and foul-smelling fish odor. I could not entice my cat to even come close to her bowl when this was in it, let alone get her to eat it. It can be the best food in the world, but what good does that do if your cat won’t go near it?
Luckily, not all cats seem to be as picky about it as mine. We have found reports of cat owners out there that have managed to get their cat to eat Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe and actually come back for more!
Most of them, however, choose to give it only as a treat instead of their daily meal. Because of its high quality ingredients and delicate production process, Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe is very, very expensive. Compared to our other picks for best dry cat food for kidney disease, Ziwi Peak is 3 to 4 times as expensive per pound. This exorbitantly high price basically disqualifies Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe in the race for best dry food for cats with kidney disease.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Our Top Choice For Best Dry Food For Cats With Kidney Disease: Orijen Fit & Trim
The Healthy Cat Guide trophy for best dry food for cats with kidney disease has to go to Orijen Fit & Trim. It might not be the absolute best in terms of biologically appropriate cat food, but it is still miles ahead of most brands. And as we’ve seen, the “best” is not always the best.
Kidney disease is a marathon, not a sprint. We always recommend you choose a solution that balances your cat’s needs and the resources you have available to take care of them. We would have loved to have given the top spot to Ziwi Peak Free Range Chicken Recipe, because we do support their mission as a pet food company. But the price is simply too much.
Orijen Fit & Trim, on the other hand, provides healthy and nutritious ingredients in a palatable form without compromising too much on affordability or biological appropriateness. It is the perfect solution for cats and cat owners fighting a long battle. The lean proteins ensure that your cat maintains their weight, without getting too chunky in the process. This will help them to keep up their overall health and stay physically fit.
While your cat’s daily meal is definitely the first and best way to battle the symptoms of any feline disease, there are other ways you can support them. As your cat goes through the different stages of kidney disease, their nutritional needs will change. You can track these changes by regularly taking your cat to the vet for blood tests and correct course using supplements and treats designed to tackle different symptoms of the disease directly. This will ultimately give your cat the best chance of living a long and happy life, despite having kidney disease.
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Chronic Kidney Disease In Cats
Chronic kidney disease in cats is an illness that progresses very slowly. When your cat is a young kitten, their kidneys are healthy and fully functional. But as they age, parts of the tissue will start to deteriorate and the kidneys will lose some of their functionality.
This process happens gradually and can take years to progress. It is mostly just an unavoidable 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, your cat is officially considered to be in renal 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 diet and treatment, a cat with kidney disease can still live a long and happy life.
What To Feed Cats With Kidney Disease
The best thing you can do to support your cat after they’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease, is to keep track of their health through regular vet visits and blood tests. The blood test will tell you how your cat’s kidneys are doing, if they are lacking any minerals and if they are perhaps developing anemia, which is a common side effect of kidney failure.
The right diet for your kidney disease cat depends on the exact results of their blood test. And it can vary over time. As the disease progresses, different complications can 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.
Since kidney disease can have such a wide range of symptoms and side-effects, it will likely be impossible for you to find a dry cat food for kidney disease 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.