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Pancreatitis is a relatively common condition in cats, and is more likely to affect older felines, or cats who are overweight or suffer from diabetes. The condition causes an inflammation of the pancreas and if left untreated, can cause other conditions as well as potentially fatal complications. So, identifying the early signs of pancreatitis and managing your cat’s diet is essential for the long-term health.
A cat with pancreatitis typically needs a quality protein, low carb diet that has moderate levels of good fats and high levels of moisture. We take a look at some of the best cat food for pancreatitis products to help you make the right dietary choice for your pancreatitis prone cat.
The Best Cat Food for Pancreatitis
Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Canned Cat Food
A sensitive digestive system goes hand in hand with pancreatitis and can have some unpleasant side-effects, including smelly stools. This Digest Sensitive formula from Royal Canin has a high moisture level and quality protein recipe that has been specifically created for sensitive tums. With delicious chicken, pork and salmon as the protein sources and with minimum carbs, this wet food is highly digestible while ensuring your kit gets all the essential nutrients they need. And the recipe helps to reduce odors from your kit’s litter tray too. For cats with a reduced appetite due to pancreatitis, this formula is ideal, with thin, easy to eat slices in a deliciously rich gravy. The calorie level is ideal for adult cats too. One of the best cat food for pancreatitis in our review.
Keeping it simple yet tasty, this grain free formula is made with cage free turkey for a delicious meal to tempt your cat back to their food bowl. Look at the ingredient list and you’ll see turkey is the focus, with a single raw protein source coupled with just one carb, peas. So that means no dairy, eggs, corn, wheat, soy or artificial colors or preservatives or any known sensitivity triggers that can upset your cat’s tum. But this formula is not lacking in the essentials your kit needs for good health as there are fatty acids and taurine, as well as an effective balance of vitamins and minerals. All packaged in a lipsmackingly moist pate. Available 12 can packs, Instinct canned cat food is both tasty and good value for money.
With a raw food diet considered a good option for cats who may be suffering from pancreatitis, this organic freeze-dried formula from Stella & Chewy is a tasty alternative if you want to give your kit raw protein. Made from farm-raised rabbit, including organs and bones, the amino acids are quality, while the recipe is supplemented with taurine and probiotics to soothe your kit’s sensitive digestion. Feeding your cat this dehydrated kibble is easy, you just add water to create a bowl full of delicious and healthy food your cat will devour. And to support your cat’s delicate system, carbs are kept to an absolute minimum and there are no artificial nasties that could trigger allergies or sensitivities.
Calorie content: 131 kcal/ounce
Minimum protein: 44%
Minimum fat: 30%
Maximum fiber: 5%
Maximum moisture: 5%
Freeze-dried and dehydrated – add water to create a complete, nutritious raw-style meal
Single source protein, plus added taurine and probiotics for digestive health
First five ingredients: rabbit with ground bone, rabbit liver, olive oil, pumpkin seed, potassium chloride
If you are struggling to get your cat to eat, then check out this tasty morsel from Hill’s Science Diet. Specifically formulated for sensitivities, so a good choice as a diet for cats with pancreatitis, the moist chicken and vegetable entrée recipe is also full of flavor, without any unnecessary ingredients. Easily digestible and with no grains, there’s also a managed level of good fiber which helps with stool formulation. Their skin and coat also get a healthy boost, thanks to the moderate fat level which includes those essential fatty acids. Add in an antioxidant blend of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and E for the immune system and this wet recipe will keep them calm and satisfied.
Made with real beef and grain free, this high protein recipe is a good everyday option for an adult cat pancreatitis diet. First, there is the aroma and taste, which can lure in even the fussiest of kits and the high moisture levels makes it a digestible delight to eat. Carbs are minimal, with the nutritional boost of carrot plus omega 6 fatty acids for your cat’s skin and coat health. You also get a good balance of vitamins and minerals, including taurine to support their health and immune system. Brought together in a rich, tasty gravy and you have an easy to feed and digest meal for your older cat.
Wholesome is one way to describe this limited ingredient diet from Blue Buffalo. While it is grain-free, it does contain quality whole turkey whole grains, as well as limited whole carbs to give your cat a nutritionally balanced diet. The smooth texture of this wet food is also easy to digest and with no artificial ingredients, won’t irritate their system. Added omega fatty acids from fish and flaxseed sources support healthy skin and coat and there are all the essential vitamins and minerals your sensitive adult cat needs for good health every day. However, it does contain potato, so please check with your vet if your cat could be sensitive.
Grain-free with whole turkey and carbs for amino acids and balanced nutrition
Added omega fatty acids to support skin and coat health
First five ingredients: turkey, turkey broth, turkey liver, potatoes, carrots
Brand: Blue Buffalo Basics
Weight: 5.5 ounces
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Instinct Original Real Duck Recipe Canned Cat Food
Following the raw diet principle, but in an easy to serve and eat wet cat food formula, this is a tasty option if you are looking to put your cat on a feline pancreatitis diet. Made from chicken and turkey , with just 5% vegetables, this is a high protein formula that is deliciously moist, which your fussy cat will love. There are none of the usual allergy or sensitivity triggers either, so that’s no grain, potato, corn, wheat or soy and it is artificial color and preservative free. It is also nicely balanced with limited carbs, so your kit still gets the essential vitamins and minerals they need, plus a good hit of omega fatty acids. The pate formula is also easy to serve and goes down a treat.
Calorie content: 103 kcal/can
Minimum protein: 12%
Minimum fat: 6%
Maximum fiber: 1%
Maximum moisture: 78%
Raw-diet formula, with whole chicken and liver for amino acids, in a delicious pate recipe
Free from grains, wheat, potato, corn and soy
First five ingredients: chicken, turkey, chicken liver, chicken broth, ground flaxseed, montmorillonite clay
Bring New Zealand farm quality meat to your cat’s food bowl with this delicious lamb recipe from holistic pet food brand, ZIWI. All the ingredients in their New Zealand Lamb recipe are sustainable and the whole formula is grain free, so kind on the digestive system of sensitive or pancreatitis prone cats. As well as the healthy amino acid boost from the premium protein, you also get ZIWI’s ‘Z-boost’ superfood formula for a quality nutritional hit. Z-boost includes probiotic green tripe plus chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega-3 rich green mussels and organic kelp, for minerals and antioxidants. And this is all packed in a chunky wet meal to satisfy the fussiest of feline appetites.
Calorie content: 245 kcal/can
Minimum protein: 9.5%
Minimum fat: 6%
Maximum fiber: 2%
Maximum moisture: 78%
Fortified with probiotics, chondroitin, glucosamine, omega-3, antioxidants and essential minerals
Grain and hormone free, low carb and sustainably sourced ingredients
First five ingredients: lamb, lamb lung, lamb kidney, lamb liver, chickpeas
The condition pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas, which can have a range of causes. The pancreas is a small organ found in your cat’s abdomen and secretes both insulin and digestive enzymes, which help your kit to digest their food. However, a high carb, processed diet can put your cat’s pancreas under stress, potentially leading to inflammation.
Other causes of pancreatitis in cats include:
Trauma to the abdomen
Infectious diseases such as toxoplasmosis and herpesvirus
A parasitic infection
Conditions such as cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct) and hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome)
Pancreatitis can either be acute (appears suddenly with severe symptoms) or chronic, meaning it comes on over a long period of time and has periodic episodes of mild or moderate symptoms. It is also a relatively common condition in senior cats over the age of 10 and often presents with other inflammatory conditions.
If you suspect your kit has the signs of pancreatitis, the following are the main symptoms to look out for:
Your cat may also show signs of some stomach pain, and may vomit, although this is not always typical for most cats with pancreatitis.
What to Look for in a Cat Food for Pancreatitis
Little and often is the best approach when feeding your cat with pancreatitis. And what is in their diet is also essential to their health and recovery. If your cat has pancreatitis, here is what you need to look for in their food:
High quality protein: Natural, premium quality protein is the cornerstone of any feline’s diet and with a cat that has pancreatitis, it is best if their diet offers a single protein source. The protein needs to be easy to digest and not tax their system, with many experts believing a raw food diet is the best for cats with pancreatitis.
Easy to digest: Keeping your cat’s digestion calm and functioning well is a key consideration if they have pancreatitis so look for easily digestible formulas that include whole and natural ingredients.
Moderate fat levels: While dogs need a low-fat diet if they have pancreatitis, a cat’s diet doesn’t need to go that extreme but the levels of fat it includes needs to be at a moderate level. Just as important is the quality of the fats, which should ideally be animal sourced.
Limited carbs: Your cat is not a natural carbohydrate eater and doesn’t need to much in their diet as many plant ingredients are difficult for the feline system to digest. Carbs also break down into glucose, which can over-stimulate the pancreas’ production of insulin, which you want to avoid.
Moisture rich:Dehydration is one of the most common pancreatitis symptoms and so keeping your cat hydrated is key to their recovery. As cats can be fussy when it comes to drinking water, ensuring their food is moisture-rich is another good way to ensure they are getting enough liquids during the day.
Added supplements: You can also consider additional supplements in your cat’s diet which can be beneficial to their health. As well as a good balance of vitamins and minerals, also look for supplements that can boost their digestion, such as pre and probiotics as well as digestive enzymes.
Q: How do I transition my cat from her current food to pancreatitis cat food?
A: When it comes to how to get a cat with pancreatitis to eat, always follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan, which should include dietary changes to help manage the health of your cat’s pancreas. If you are transitioning your pet to a low-fat cat food for pancreatitis, it is essential that you move your cat to their new food gradually. To do this effectively, start with gradually decreasing the amount of their current cat food, supplementing it with small amounts of their new diet. Continue doing this over a period of seven days, until their new cat food becomes the only meal in their bowl. Taking it slowly not only eases their digestive system onto the new food but also increases the likelihood of your cat accepting their new diet. And getting your cat to eat regularly is essential in the management of pancreatitis, so smaller, more frequent meals is the ideal daily routine.
Q: How long does it take for a cat to recover from pancreatitis?
A: If your cat’s pancreatitis is severe enough for them to be hospitalized, they will most likely need to stay under veterinary care for up to a week, during which feeding will be gradually reintroduced. For milder cases, recovery usually takes around two or three days.
Once discharged back into your care, their recovery depends on any underlying causes for the condition. Mild cases of acute pancreatitis have a good prognosis, as long as there is early intervention and appropriate treatment, and most cats will recover without any long-term health effects. However, if your cat has chronic pancreatitis, he will need ongoing care, including diet changes and medication as the condition can return intermittently during their life.
Our Top Pick
Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Thin Slices in Gravy is our best choice for cats with pancreatitis as it is tasty, easy to digest and well-priced for everyday use. With high moisture levels and quality protein, with limited carbs, this recipe is easily digestible and provides your cat with all the essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids for energy and good health.
Eloise is the owner of a Malamute/Akita cross, a first-time mum, and an animal enthusiast from England. She comes from a family which has never gone a day without a pet (or 3!), and over the years has learned all the best tips and tricks to raising a difficult pet. A knowledge that she has put to good use, to help others navigate the limitless world of pet care.