It is no secret that cats are very fussy eaters. One day a particular food item can be their all-time favorite; the following day is an entirely different story. But more than the occasional fussiness, any sign of change in your cat’s usual feeding habits should already alert you to the possibility of a sensitive stomach especially if your kitty is regurgitating, vomiting, or passing loose stools more frequently than usual.
The point is that you should be ready to start feeding your kitty with gentler and tummy-friendlier yet equally nutritious cat food. And you can start with our selection of the best cat food for sensitive stomach.
Our Top Picks for the Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach:
Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach Buying Guide
It is understandable why some folks can get really upset if they see their pets showing signs of sensitive stomachs that the first natural reaction is to change their cat food. However, even before you pick the next available product in the store shelf, you might want to read our cat food for sensitive stomach buying guide first to give you a heads-up on what to expect in the market.
How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has a Sensitive Stomach?
The term ‘sensitive stomach’ is a rather vague description of what is actually occurring in an organism’s tummy. We had to use the word ‘organism’ loosely here to mean every living organism that has a digestive system. Defining ‘sensitive’ requires an appreciation of what can be considered normal. One can only identify the presence of a certain ‘sensitivity’ if there is a deviation from what can be rightfully considered as ‘normal.
As such let us try to follow the journey of a feline dry kibble. From the mouth the kibble is broken down into smaller bits so that it can be passed through the narrow tube known as esophagus. From here, the smaller bits of kibble enter the stomach where they undergo further breakdown into even smaller, finer bits. This is made possible by the gastric acids in the cat’s stomach. From there, the now-finely broken down kibble is moved towards the duodenum, the first part of the small intestines. Here, secretions from the pancreas, gall bladder, and liver all mix with intestinal enzymes to further process these very fine molecules of kibbles releasing glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids from the kibble. These macronutrients are what are absorbed by the blood vessels that line the small intestines. Other substances are also absorbed by the blood. This absorption continues well into the large intestines or the colon where eventually stool is formed. Stool collects and gets ready to be ejected from the rectum and anus.
When we talk about cats having sensitive stomachs, we know that the main problem is in the stomach itself. However, the manifestations or signs and symptoms can actually occur anywhere along this tract that we have just discussed. For example, a classic sign of sensitive stomach is vomiting. This occurs because of the forceful expulsion of the contents of the stomach, but the manifestation is in the mouth.
The same is true with regurgitation, another common sign of stomach sensitivity. This occurs because of the improper closure of the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. Even before the food reaches the stomach, forceful contractions in the esophagus already pushes the food outward through the mouth.
So how can you tell if your cat has sensitive stomach? Let us just put it this way. If you notice something different in its feeding habits, then there’s a chance that it may be experiencing some form of stomach sensitivity.
But to give you a clearer picture, here are some of the more common signs that will indicate stomach sensitivity.
- Changes in appetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Vomiting or regurgitation
- Increased or decreased thirst
What Causes a Sensitive Stomach for a Cat?
There are many reasons why a cat’s tummy can suddenly work out of sync with the rest of the digestive tract. As we already mentioned, the main culprit can be found in the stomach, yet the manifestation can be somewhere else. Regardless, here are some of the more common causes of feline sensitive stomachs.
- Food allergies
Certain cats have dysfunctional or hype-reactive immune systems that even normal food molecules can be considered as allergen. This is especially true for highly proteinaceous foods like beef, chicken, and pork. If this is the case, you should also understand that other manifestations of allergies may accompany the signs and symptoms of stomach sensitivity.
- Food intolerances
This should not be confused with food allergies. In food allergies, the stomach sensitivity is brought about by the activation of the immune system in the perceived presence of a protein allergen. In food intolerance, the food molecule is not digested properly such that it is not absorbed into the bloodstream. This leads to its passing through the gut and out of the anus in almost-unchanged form.
- Organic disease and intestinal parasitism
Diseases of the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder can lead to the improper digestion of food molecules resulting in stomach upsets. It is also possible that intestinal parasites can block the efficient absorption of nutrients and water from the gut resulting in the rapid ejection of watery stools.
- Feline hairball
Cats are known for their meticulous grooming behavior. Sadly, if the kitty happens to shed a lot, then the risk of hairball development is also increased. This hairball can change the way the stomach digests the food that is passed down from the esophagus. To reestablish normal functioning, the cat’s stomach will attempt to either pass the hairball down through the gut or upwards through the mouth. In most cases, regurgitation is easier.
- Feline feeding behavior
Feline pets have the tendency to eat almost anything that ‘moves’ outdoors owing to their predatory instincts. This can also cause stomach sensitivity.
- Change in diet
A sudden shift in a cat’s diet can also lead to stomach sensitivity. This is especially true among kittens since their stomachs are still pretty much adjusting to the kind of diet that they were born to. Suddenly replacing this with a new one is like shocking their tummies into making the adjustment right away.
Worst Foods for Cats with Sensitive Stomachs
If you analyze carefully what we have been talking about in the preceding section, it is quite easy to pinpoint the kinds of foods that you should never give to a kitty that has sensitive stomach. Here are some of the worst foods you can ever give to a cat that has issues taming its tummy.
- Dairy products
The lactose found in dairy products such as pasteurized cow’s milk, cream, and even cheese cannot be digested properly by cats. While it is true that kittens require milk, this can only be provided by their respective mommy cats since these have the right kind of lactose that is easily digested by the kitten’s tummy. The same is true with milk replacements. Their formulation closely mimics mommy cat’s natural milk.
It is generally not known why some cats’ tummies are not really keen on beef, but the observation is that there are certain cats that experience diarrhea after consuming beef.
- Fat trimmings
Too much fat in a cat’s diet can also lead to stomach sensitivity because of the unusually large quantities of bile needed to emulsify the fat in preparation for digestion. If there is not enough bile, then undigested fat can be easily passed down as diarrhea. In other cases, these can be vomited out.
Remember what we said about cats being obligate carnivores? The answer is right there. Their digestive tract is simply not designed to munch and absorb grains for the simple fact that these take a significantly longer length of time to process.
- Cat food with too many additives
The problem with some commercially-prepared cat food is that there are way too many additives that it becomes very difficult to pinpoint which is causing sensitivity in your cat’s tummy. Remember, many of these additives are synthetic and as such may not sit well with your kitty’s tummy.
Cats deserve the best nutrition for them to grow and live healthy. While having sensitive stomachs can be a great concern, giving them the right cat food for sensitive stomachs can help you reestablish normalcy in your feline friend’s tummy until such time that your vet has identified the culprit and designed a much safer diet for your kitty.