The Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food (Review) in 2021

Last Updated February 3, 2021

When it comes to looking after your kitty’s health, limited ingredient cat foods are a great way to limit the possibility of an allergic reaction. By watching what your cat is eating, you can save them the trouble of digestive issues or skin problems, or at the very least greatly narrow down the possible causes and potentially figure out what could be triggering the problem. We have compiled a list of the 10 best limited ingredient cat food available on the market right now.

The Top 10 Limited Ingredient Cat Food


Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Cat Food

A wheat-free recipe rich in omega fatty acids formulated to be the perfect support for any cat. And with no artificial flavors or preservatives, it only gives your cat what they need to stay fit and healthy. This is a cat food without chicken, made specifically for cats that need a simple recipe with a single source of protein. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Salmon Formula is one of 5 recipes included in our review of the Natural Balance Cat Food product line.

Calorie content: 3540 kcal/kg, 410 kcal/cup

Minimum crude protein: 30%

Minimum crude fat: 12%

Maximum crude fiber: 4%

Maximum moisture: 10%

First three ingredients: Green Peas, Salmon Meal, Salmon (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: Natural Balance
  • Model: 52512
  • Weight: 10 Pounds


Instinct Grain Free Wet Cat Food Pate

With limited ingredient wet cat food it can be hard to find one that contains the right novel protein for your cat’s diet. Instinct canned cat food contains venison and pork, none of the typical proteins that can cause allergies in cats. And they have made a point of creating a recipe free from grain, wheat, soy, corn, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, and by-product meal, so your cat will only be getting the best.

For more information on the brand, check out our Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food Review.

Calorie content: 1,278 kcal/kg, 199 kcal/5.5 oz can, 109 kcal/3 oz can

Minimum crude protein: 11%

Minimum crude fat: 7%

Maximum crude fiber: 3%

Maximum moisture: 78%

First three ingredients: Venison, Pork Liver, Pork Broth (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: Instinct
  • Model: 769949717560
  • Weight: 4.5 Pounds


Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Cat Food

Created your help your cat shake off their allergies and ditch their itchy skin, Blue Buffalo is a grain-free food rich in omega 3 fatty acids and all-natural high-quality ingredients, designed to help cats with food intolerances. Containing duck as the only source of animal protein, and free from corn, wheat, or soy, as well as eggs, dairy, and beef.

You may also like our Blue Buffalo Cat Food Review.

Calorie content: 3,594 kcal/kg, 402 kcal/cup

Minimum crude protein: 30%

Minimum crude fat: 14%

Maximum crude fiber: 6%

Maximum moisture: 9%

First three ingredients: Deboned Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 800109
  • Weight: 11 Pounds


Taste of the Wild High Protein Limited Ingredient Cat Food

With limited protein in a high concentration, this food is ideal for a cat on the move. Their natural balance of nutrients and omega fatty acids will take care of your cats’ skin, whilst the vitamins, minerals, and probiotics take care of everything else. Free from corn, wheat, and soy, it’s great for cats with allergies.

Check out our review of Taste of the Wild Cat Food.

Calorie content: 3,689 kcal/kg (345 kcal/cup)

Minimum crude protein: 33%

Minimum crude fat: 15%

Maximum crude fiber: 3%

Maximum moisture: 10%

First three ingredients: Turkey, Lentils, Sunflower Oil (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: Taste of the Wild
  • Model: 9360
  • Weight: 5.95 Pounds


Halo Natural Dry Cat Food

This seafood medley is ideal for cats that may struggle with any non-fish protein source. Made to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction by using a simple holistic recipe and completely natural vitamins and minerals, any cat would be lucky to eat it. Halo Holistic Seafood Medley Sensitive Stomach Dry Cat Food is one of 5 cat food recipes mentioned in our Halo Cat Food Review.

Calorie content: 3,688 kcal/kg, 353 kcal/cup

Minimum crude protein: 26%

Minimum crude fat: 12%

Maximum crude fiber: 4.5%

Maximum moisture: 12%

First three ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Whole Grain Wheat (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: Halo Holistic
  • Model: 38100132536
  • Weight: 6 Pounds


CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Dry Cat Food

Canidea do not use any corn, wheat, corn, or gluten in their recipe. This food contains only high-quality protein to help soothe cats with food allergies, with a natural balance of probiotics, vitamins, and minerals to promote a healthy body and easy digestion.

Take a look at our latest review of Canidae Cat Food.

Calorie content: 3,770 kcal/kg, 3.77 kcal/g, 1,710 kcal/lb, 482 kcal/cup

Minimum crude protein: 35%

Minimum crude fat: 18%

Maximum crude fiber: 3%

Maximum moisture: 9%

First three ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: CANIDAE
  • Model: 3517
  • Weight: 10 Pounds



Vet recommended, with clinical nutrition, Hill’s prescription food provides your cat with high levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to looks after their skin whilst they adjust to their new food and is ideal for cats that have difficulty with food intolerances. This all-natural food is a great place to start a new LID diet.

For more information on the brand, check out our Hill’s Cat Food Review.

Calorie content: 468 kcal/cup

Minimum crude protein: 27%

Minimum crude fat: 17%

Maximum crude fiber: 6%

Maximum moisture: 8%

First three ingredients: Yellow Peas, Pea Protein, Duck (dependant on the flavor)

  • Model: 5355
  • Weight: 8.5 Pounds


Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food

This totally natural, limited ingredient wet pet food with a single protein source is available in dry and wet form, to cater to any cat. Their densely packed recipe contains plenty of omega fatty acids to take care of your cats’ skin whilst avoiding the use of chicken, beef, gluten, soy, wheat, by-products, or any artificial preservatives or additives. All-natural, all the way.

Calorie content: 1,190 kcal/kg, 101 kcal/3 oz can, 185 kcal/5.5 oz can

Minimum crude protein: 8%

Minimum crude fat: 6%

Maximum crude fiber: 1.5%

Maximum moisture: 78%

First three ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 800454
  • Weight: 4.5 Pounds


Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Cat Food

With only one protein source coming from the salmon, this delicious food will be a treat for any cat. Their single protein recipe is perfect for a limited ingredient diet to help you figure out your cat’s allergies in a clear and concise manner. The natural balance of omega fatty acids and vitamins will also help your cat to ditch that itch with their food transformation.

For a full list of our favorite options, see our round-up of Merrick Cat Food.

Calorie content: 3,538 kcal/kg, 354 kcal/cup

Minimum crude protein: 32%

Minimum crude fat: 13%

Maximum crude fiber: 4%

Maximum moisture: 11%

First three ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes (dependant on the flavor)

  • Brand: Merrick
  • Model: 39030
  • Weight: 12 Pounds


I AND LOVE AND YOU Grain Free Canned Cat Food

A rich protein source, with a simplified, recipe, this brand has been loved by cat owners all around for its gentle, easy to digest food, and fantastic array of flavors, nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals, and this food is no different. This tasty tinned food is great for a limited ingredient diet, with its simple formula and clear recipe.

Take a look at our I and Love and You Cat Food Review.

Calorie content: 1,037 kcal/kg, 88 kcal/can

Minimum crude protein: 10%

Minimum crude fat: 4%

Maximum crude fiber: 0.75%

Maximum moisture: 78%

First three ingredients: Cod, Chicken, Chicken Liver (dependant on the flavor)

  • Model: F11060
  • Weight: 5 Pounds

Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Look for in Limited Ingredient Cat Food

Limited ingredient cat food and hypoallergenic cat food is very commonly used as an aid in figuring out the source of a possible food allergy. Recommended by vets to help cats with allergies to start feeling themselves again. A very common cause of a pet food allergy is often in the protein source; this can be from milk products, or from a particular meat source, such as beef, chicken, or fish.

What Does a Food Allergy Look Like?

Cat food allergic reactions tend to exhibit themselves either in gastric distress, such as vomiting, or loose stools; or dermal distress, this is often severely itchy skin, usually around the head and neck. Constant itching may cause bald spots or small cuts to the skin, but can usually be soothed with anti-scratch spray or cream until you’re able to eliminate the allergen causing the problem.

What Ingredients to Avoid in Cat Food

When it comes to planning a diet for your cat, it helps to know what to avoid, to begin with, and avoiding the common allergens can save you some hassle later down the road. The following ingredients are some that you are best off avoiding where possible:

  • By-products: By-products and are often used in lower-end cat food, usually used as a recipe filler that contains no nutritional value or maybe along the lines of offal such as liver, kidney, or intestines. By product can also refer to milled grains and would not suit a cat with a grain allergy.
  • “Flavor”: This refers to non-artificial flavors also. When a food advertises that it does not contain artificial flavor but is “chicken flavored” for example, this flavoring may be achieved by the use of my-product or meat meal in the recipe, rather than the meat itself.
  • Gluten: If a food states that it is “grain-free”, be sure to check for gluten in the recipe; gluten is derived from grains, and grain and gluten allergic reactions have been recognized in both human and animals in recent years and are often the first things that owners look to eliminate from their pet’s food.
  • Artificial Preservatives: BHA, ethoxyquin, and BHT are commonly used artificial preservatives, when looking for the right food for your cat you are better looking for high-quality foods that use Vitamin E & C, as this would be much easier for your cat’s body to digest.

Check out our review of the Best Grain Free Dog Food.

Benefits of Limited Ingredient Cat Food

If you have already started on a different type of food and your cat does not seem to have any problems with it, then there is no reason to move a perfectly healthy cat on to limited diet cat food, as there is nothing that they need to avoid. However if your cat struggles with a sensitive stomach and you are finding it hard to settle them into any particular food, then limited ingredient cat food will certainly be worth looking at.

A balanced diet for every cat is absolutely essential to their health and wellbeing. If you find yourself buying limited ingredient cat food, be sure to keep your cat on it for at least 8 weeks to monitor its progress. Limited ingredient cat food and hypoallergenic cat food can remove the potential allergen from their diet and have a wide range of benefits as a result:

  • Improved energy levels due to receiving proper nutrition as a result of being able to retain and absorb the nutrient from their food.
  • Potential for lower carbohydrate content, dependent on the recipe and formula.
  • Relief from digestive stress and reduced stomach sensitivity problems.
  • Relief from or potential complete irradiation of skin problems such as itching, hot spots, and flaking.
  • Much more regular digestion, with reduced frequency and firmer stools.
  • Fewer ingredients mean fewer needless additives.

How to Start With Limited Ingredient Diet

Speak to your vet: The best way to start any course of treatment or any big changes that may affect your cat’s health is always to approach a professional first. Adult cats that have suffered prolonged problems with their food are likely to require quite an unusual limited ingredient cat food; with a detailed consultation and good observation, your veterinarian can help you to determine what is the best limited ingredient cat food for your feline friend.

To be sure that you are providing your vet with the best information possible, here is what they will need to know to begin with:

  • Proteins: What proteins has your cat already tried? This is every protein that you can think of that they have already eaten between the time that you got them and the time that you are seeking the consultation.
  • Reactions: What reactions have you noticed your cat having that have lead you to believe that it may be a food allergy?

What Is a Food Trial?

A food trial is the first step to figuring out why your cat is having a hard time with its food. By trialing your cat with limited ingredient cat foods, such as single protein cat food, you can begin to break down what may be causing the problem. A food trial will take place over a number of weeks, in which you will slowly introduce the new food and then closely observe them for any allergic reactions they may exhibit.

If your cat starts to show signs of improvement, you will need to keep to the same diet until you are sure that any allergy problems have been eradicated. You would then follow this up by slowly reintroducing previous proteins back into their diet and watching for changes.

If you do not see any changes in their allergic reactions whilst on the new food, then it is likely to be something else that is causing the problem, in which case you will no longer need to keep them on the limited ingredient cat foods, and your vet will need to tests for alternative allergies.

Food Trial Dos and Donts

DON’T give them treats with the new food: Possibly the most important point when it comes to doing a food trial, do no give your cat any cat treats alongside their new limited ingredient cat food, otherwise, it will undermine the entire point of the trial. The aim is to simplify their food and remove possible allergens, this also includes removing supplements, flavored medication (unless there is no other alternative), and table scraps.

DO gradually introduce them to their new food: When it comes to cats with sensitive stomachs, you must bear in mind that they will also be sensitive to sudden changes in their diet, even if the changes are simpler. Start by adding a small amount of the new food to their old food and then take at least a week to slowly integrate the new food and phase out the old to protect their sensitive stomachs.

DON’T ignore any reactions they may appear to have: If after the trial period on their new pet food your cat is still exhibiting symptoms of any allergies, call your vet for advice on either an alternative hypoallergenic cat food to try, or whether they would suggest a different course of action.

DO keep them on their new food for at least 8 weeks: Even with the best limited ingredient cat food, you still need to exercise patience when waiting to see results. Limited ingredient cat food needs to be slowly introduced and then maintained for a minimum of 8 weeks. Cats with allergies like this are often slow to respond to dietary changes and so switching to a single-source protein cat food recipe can take several weeks before yielding results. Between 8 and 12 weeks is the recommended period for a trial with limited ingredient cat foods.

Limited Ingredient Cat Food FAQ:

Q: What is LID cat food?

A: The best definition for an ideal, high-quality limited ingredient cat food, would be a recipe that contains little more than the following ingredients:

  • One carbohydrate source
  • One single protein source
  • Good fats to balance out the nutritional aspect
  • Supplements

The requirements for limited ingredient cat foods do not contain the need to exclude grains. predominantly limited ingredient cat foods will have replaced the protein source with a “novel protein”, this will be an unusual single protein source that your pet is extremely unlikely to have eaten before. The types of “novel-proteins” you can expect to see in a limited ingredient diet are:

  • Venison
  • Kangaroo
  • Duck
  • Rabbit

Though you will also find that some of the best limited ingredients cat food options may contain traditional protein choices, such as chicken, beef, turkey, salmon, or tuna, and just have simplified recipes; this is because a cat is unlikely to be allergic to all common proteins, it is simply a matter of figuring out which one is the problem.

A LID recipe will also contain a carbohydrate source likely to be along the lines of peas and potatoes. Cat food without fish can be hard to find as fish oil often provides the omega fatty acids, however, this is okay because it the main source of protein you need to look out for.

The overall aim of using a limited ingredient cat food is to narrow down the ingredients to a single protein source with fewer carbohydrates, remove common allergens and reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

Q: What is food intolerance?

A: Food intolerance is often mistaken as a response from the immune system, however, it is actually a digestive system response. It is a problem that occurs when a cat’s digestive system becomes irritated by a particular food and is unable to properly digest, or break it down. By limiting your cat’s diet to single-source protein and quality ingredients, you can avoid the issue of food intolerance with your cat.

Q: Is limited ingredient cat food better?

A: Considering that when you use the best limited ingredient cat food for your cat, you can figure out what may be causing food allergies and intolerance then yet it is. However, if your cat does not have any problems with their food and does not specifically require a single source of protein or limited ingredient diet, then there is no real need to transfer to it.

It is a diet designed to help cats with allergies, and when other high-quality foods provide just as many nutrients, then moving to limited ingredient dry cat food or limited ingredient canned cat food would be a waste of your time. In fact, it can do more harm than good in the case of if your cat does develop any food allergies, as the use of a LID food previously will eliminate it from the already limited LID food options if you do need to do a trial.

Q: Should I feed my cat wet food every day?

A: Deciding between whether you feed your cat dry food or wet food, or a mix of both can be difficult, but whichever way you go, there will be upsides and downsides. In the case of feeding your pet wet cat food for every meal, here are some positives and negatives to wet food feeding.


  • High moisture content – this is especially beneficial for cats that may struggle with kidney disease or diabetes.
  • It’s tasty – canned cat food is rich and flavourful and often preferred over dry food, which makes it great for picky eaters.


  • A wet cat food diet is often quite a bit more expensive than a dry cat food diet in the long run.
  • A can of cat food has a shelf life of 24 hours and needs to remain refrigerated. If it is left out or eaten past the 24 mark it runs the risk of causing gastrointestinal upset.

You may also like our Cat Food for Kidney Disease Review.

Q. How common are food allergies and intolerances?

A: True food allergies are not very common, only affecting a very small percentage of cats. Though interestingly 90% of those allergies are caused by beef, dairy, and fish, not wheat as many would believe. Wheat is actually more of a problem for dogs.

Q: What is the healthiest cat food for indoor cats?

A: The thing to remember with cats is that naturally, they are carnivorous creatures that would hunt for meat in the wild, an instinct that is still strong even in domesticated breeds. And so when it comes to feeding an indoor cat it is imperative that you are careful to provide them with a high level of high-quality protein and fat in their food, ideally a protein level of over 35%. The following features should be included in your ideal indoor cat food:

  • Omega fatty acids (particularly 3, 6, and 9)
  • High protein for strength and energy
  • fiber for digestion

Find out more about Cat Food for Indoor Cats.


  1. Jamie Lovejoy, DVM, What Is a Limited Ingredient Cat Food?, PetMD
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