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High fiber cat foods are not considered necessary for every cat. Some researchers argue that, in nature, wild cats did not eat any plant fiber and, therefore, domestic cats do not need it either. The argument is that cats thrive on a high-protein diet that is packed with meat because they are true carnivores.
However, a domestic cat has a very different lifestyle to a wild cat. They are more sedentary and groom themselves more. Also, commercial cat food is very different from eating a whole mouse! When a cat eats a mouse, the bones and fur act as fiber as they pass through the intestines. Commercial cat food is smooth and does not have this type of ‘animal fiber’ so there is an argument that it needs plant fiber instead.
To help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of a high fiber cat food and to choose the best high fiber cat food for your kitty, here is our guide.
A Quick Overview of 10 Best High Fiber Cat Foods
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken Recipe
A protein-rich high fiber dry cat food based on the diet of the wild Lynx. It has a fiber content of 7.4% (max) and is completely grain-free. The protein content is provided by deboned chicken, chicken meal and fish meal. The carbohydrate content is provided by peas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
The recipe has been put together by animal nutritionists to control your cat’s weight and to combat furballs. This is achieved through a blend of naturally occurring sources of fiber including cellulose and psyllium seeds. There are plenty of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system and promote a shiny coat.
A carefully balanced kibble for cats that contains a high proportion of protein (38%) and a maximum of 5% fiber. The fiber is derived from natural sources and is designed to help with weight management for cats that have a less active, indoor lifestyle. The high-quality protein content is provided by deboned chicken, chicken meal and turkey meal.
There are no fillers or grains in the cat food and no soy, no meat by-products and no artificial additives. It contains 20% less fat than most standard commercial cat foods. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula is one of 5 cat food recipes mentioned in our Wellness Cat Food Review.
The kibble carefully balances the protein content (provided by chicken meal and chicken) with carbohydrates, fats, fiber and vitamins and minerals. The fiber content is a maximum of 3% but is provided by layering multiple fiber sources to help your cat’s digestion.
It is suitable for cats of all ages and lifestyles and contains no artificial colors or flavors. There are carefully balanced levels of calcium and phosphorous to maintain strong bones.
A scientifically blended cat food that is formulated to control hairballs. The protein content is provided by the real chicken which is the primary ingredient. There are omega 6 fatty acids and vitamin E to help the skin and coat to stay healthy.
The added antioxidants (vitamins C and E) support a healthy immune system. The natural fiber blend helps your cat’s digestive system to remove hairballs comfortably. The whole formula is easy to digest and contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
A premium high fiber wet cat food available in small (5oz) cans of wet food. Several flavors are available including duck, chicken, and salmon. In the duck recipe, the protein is provided by deboned duck and there are limited ingredients to make it easier to control what your cat is eating. This makes it ideal for cats with food sensitivities.
The recipe contains no fish, gluten or grain to make it easier to digest. It has plenty of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to promote a healthy coat.
A grain-free recipe formulated especially for cats that live indoors and need a high protein, high fiber diet. It is made with whole chicken as the protein source with no rendered meat meals. This makes it easier to digest as more of the nutrients are available to your cat’s intestines.
The recipe is grain-free and contains chickpeas and vegetables to provide fiber. It helps your indoor cat to maintain a healthy weight by reducing the calories and the fat content. There is added L-Carnitine to boost their metabolism. The focus is on natural ingredients and there is no meat derived from factory-farmed animals or animals raised with the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver is one of 5 cat food recipes mentioned in our Halo Cat Food Review.
For adult indoor cats that may have issues with weight management and fur balls, this dried cat food helps your kitty to maintain optimum health. It’s packed with protein and has turkey as the primary ingredient. Then there are added vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy digestion and coat.
There are no fillers and a natural blend of fiber which helps to control weight in cats that are not very active and helps to naturally get rid of fur balls. The crunchy kibble also helps with plaque build-up. The Omega 6 fatty acids are there to support your cat’s healthy coat which also helps with hairballs. Purina ONE Indoor Advantage Adult Dry Cat Food is one of 5 recipes included in our review of the Purina One product line.
This is a wet cat food with limited ingredients so it is suitable for cats that have food sensitivities. It has only one source of protein which is a farm-raised duck but rabbit and turkey flavors are also available. This is an easily digestible protein source. There is one vegetable (peas) and no grain, dairy products or eggs.
Cats with sensitivities to grain, dairy products, and eggs will have no problems with this formula and it also has no chicken, beef, fish, corn, wheat or soy. It provides a complete and balanced meal for cats of all ages. If you want to find out more about their company, product lines, and recall history, read our overview of Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food.
Designed specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs, this formulation has everything your cat needs to have a healthy digestive system. The fiber content is carefully blended and there are added prebiotics and beet pulp to aid digestion.
This sensitive stomach cat food is suitable for all adult cats and chicken is the primary ingredient, it provides most of the protein and is easy for cats to digest. It is enriched with antioxidants to support the immune system and omega oils to keep the coat healthy. Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion & Skin Turkey is one of 5 recipes included in our review of the Iams Cat Food.
This is not a complete cat food, it is a therapeutic cat fiber supplement that is used to help cats that have diarrhea or constipation. It provides both soluble fiber and antioxidants to boost the immune system. Together they promote the healthy formation of the stool (poop) and regular bowel movements.
It consists of nothing but powdered pumpkin and is 100 % organic. All you have to do is sprinkle it over your cat’s usual food.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate and is an important part of your cat’s diet. In nature, they would get fiber from the prey that they eat but your domestic kitty needs to get it from cat food. Fiber does not get broken down by the body in the way that protein and fats do. They pass through the body and come out as poop.
For a cat, fiber is essential to keep food moving through the intestines at the right rate. It helps your cat’s intestine to form a poop that is not too hard and not too soft. In this way, it helps to prevent both constipation and diarrhea. You can use a high fiber cat food for constipation and for diarrhea.
Intestinal and weight management issues can arise in domestic cats because they have a very different lifestyle to wild cats. They are not so active, they sleep for longer periods and they groom themselves more. So, whilst your kitty’s wild cousins may not need plant fiber in their diet, your domestic kitty will.
Why You Should Feed Your Cat a High Fiber Food
Domestic cats could benefit from a high fiber diet and from foods with fiber in them. You may read that some commercial cat food is formulated just for indoor cats. It is designed to tackle some of the health problems that they face. Here are some of the specific conditions that it can help with:
Domestic cats groom themselves more than wild cats, perhaps because they have more time on their hands! As they lick their fur, the tiny hooks on their tongue get caught in loose hairs and pull them off. They end up in your cat’s mouth and they swallow them. Most of the hair will pass through the intestines just like food does. However, some of it will stay in the stomach and eventually it clump together to form a hairball.
Getting rid of a hairball is a pretty unpleasant business. Your cat will heave and eventually vomit the hairball up. They land on the floor looking quite long and tubular because they have been forced up the narrow tube connecting the stomach and the mouth. Hairballs are more common in cat breeds with long hair and in adult cats compared to kittens.
If your cat successfully vomits up the hairball, all is well. However, problems can arise if they don’t manage to do this. The following symptoms could mean that your cat has a hairball lodged in their intestines:
Continual or repeated vomiting and gagging without producing a hairball
If this happens, you need to get your kitty to a vet quickly.
Hairballs can be prevented by high fiber diets. Some commercial cat food is actually advertised as ‘hairball formula’ or as ‘hairball reduction’. The diets work in two ways. Firstly, they contain vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that promote a very healthy coat. This should cut down on shedding and reduces the number of hairs that enter the intestine. Secondly, they help food to move efficiently through the intestine and to take the hairball with it so that it passes out with the poop. The different types of fiber in the food are carefully blended to achieve this.
Unfortunately, humans are not the only ones to be in the midst of an obesity epidemic. A study by APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) conducted in 2011 found that over half of domestic cats were either obese or overweight. There is no such thing as an obese wildcat so clearly, something is going wrong.
The simple explanation is that domestic cats are taking in more calories than they are burning off. In the wild, a cat could go for days without finding any prey. They get a lot of exercise walking around looking for their next meal and chasing it when they find it. Now compare that to a domestic cat. They spend a lot of time sleeping and lounging around. When they are hungry, all they have to do is wander over to the food bowl and perhaps meow at you to produce some food. Commercially produced cat food is convenient but will have more sugars and other fattening ingredients in it than a cat’s natural diet of raw prey. All of these factors put together has resulted in an obesity problem in the US domestic cat population.
A high fiber diet can help and many foods containing carefully blended fiber are advertised as suitable for weight management. The fiber content helps your cat to feel satisfied after a meal but does not contribute to their calorie intake because it passes through the gut without being absorbed.
Constipation and diarrhea
Cats can suffer from either constipation or diarrhea. When a cat is constipated, it can be because the food is passing too slowly through the intestines and it is too dry. This makes the poop hard and difficult to pass. In diarrhea, the opposite happens. The food passes too quickly through the intestines, has too much water in it and comes out too runny. Neither are desirable. When a cat’s gut is working well, they will pass regular, well-formed poops.
Fiber has an important role to play in controlling both conditions. For a cat that is constipated, it can help to draw water into the large intestine and make the poop softer and easier to pass. Where diarrhea is the problem, the correct fiber will help to slow down the passage of the stool so that more water can be absorbed out of it and the poop is firmer. Ingredients such as beet pulp contain both types of fiber as does pumpkin.
The Different Types Of Fiber In Cat Food
All mammals need some sort of fiber in their diet. Fiber is the part of food that is impossible to digest. It travels through the intestine and comes out the other end as poop.
Fiber can be plant-based or animal-based. The natural diet of your kitty is small rodents (rats and mice) and cats eat the entire thing. This means that they would eat the fur, bone, and cartilage as well which are pretty tough. The cat’s digestive system cannot break these down and so they pass through and function like an animal-based fiber.
Wildcats consume very little plant-based fiber. When they eat their prey, the last thing they eat from the carcass is the intestines which would contain some partially digested plant material. Their prey’s last meal!
Plant-based fiber can be categorized as soluble fiber which is rapidly fermentable and insoluble fiber which is slowly fermentable. Here’s how they work.
Soluble fiber: You will see these written on ingredients lists as things like pectin and gum. When they reach the large intestine (colon) they draw water out of the bloodstream and into the food that is passing through. The bacteria that are found in the colon are able to ferment them and when they do this, they produce short-chain fatty acids. These are very useful for the cells of the colon. The overall effect is that they can relieve constipation by drawing water into the poop and making it softer. This also has the effect of making it travel through the gut faster.
Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber is included in cat food formulations as cellulose or peanut hulls. They have the effect of making the food more bulky as it travels through the intestine and it travels more slowly. This type of fiber can help with diarrhea.
Moderately fermentable fiber: Often the fiber sources in cat foods have some soluble and some insoluble properties. Typical examples are bran and beet pulp.
Problems With High Fiber Cat Food
A high fiber diet for cats is not without its risks and drawbacks. For that reason, it is important that you always speak to your vet before switching your cat onto one. In some circumstances, the extra fiber will get stored as fat and that makes weight management more difficult. Also, the high proportion of carbohydrates can lead to less protein being absorbed. Cats need a lot of protein to make lean muscle mass which speeds up the metabolism. A slow metabolism equals weight gain and that is not good news. Some animal nutritionists argue that there is no need for carbohydrate fiber in a cat’s diet. Others maintain that they need a replacement for the animal ‘fiber’ that they would eat in the wild.
To avoid the potential problems with a high fiber diet for cats, here are a few of the things that you should look out for in commercial cat food.
High protein: The fiber content should not be increased at the expense of protein so always look for a high protein cat food. Cats are natural carnivores and must have a lot of meat in their diet. Sources of fiber are cheaper and so it is tempting for cat food manufacturers to remove some of the meat and replace it with carbohydrates and that is not good for your cat.
Allergens: Bear in mind that your cat’s intestinal problems could be caused by a food allergy or sensitivity. Speak to your vet about this before you just assume that your cat needs a high fiber diet. Many of the best commercial cat foods do not include common allergens such as grains and artificial additives.
Type of fiber: Remember that you need soluble and non-soluble fiber. The higher quality insoluble sources of fiber include flax seeds and whole grain.
Moderately fermentable fiber: This can be very beneficial because it does the job of both types of fiber. It is found in ingredients such as peas, oat bran, pumpkins and beet pulp.
Protein to carbohydrate ratio: Ideally, you should be looking for a high protein and low carbohydrate diet for weight loss.
Nutrients for a healthy coat: It is ideal if the food contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which will help to keep your cat’s coat in the best condition. This will reduce shedding and cut down on the number of hairballs that are produced.
The ideal high fiber, high protein dry cat food based on the diet of the wild cats. The main ingredient is a protein which is provided by deboned chicken, chicken meal and fish meal. Then there are carbohydrates in the form of peas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
This is a food that has been carefully balanced to help hairballs pass through the intestines easily. It can also be a useful food for weight management. It contains a blend of different types of fiber including cellulose and psyllium seeds. To help to prevent hair loss there are plenty of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy coat.
Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!