Does your cat have a sensitive stomach? Is there something you can do to help? We help you identify whether you cat is sensitive, what might cause the sensitivity, what measures you might be able to take to alleviate their problem and, when all else fails, we look at the best food on the market to help relieve the symptoms of sensitive stomach.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sensitive Stomach?
Specially formulated food for cats tends to be more expensive than plain, straightforward cat food. If possible you want to avoid the extra expense so identifying if your cat has a sensitive stomach or just a passing problem is critical to keeping costs down as well as being a good owner and keeping kitty in the best shape possible. Here are the symptoms you should look out for :
The most obvious sign of a sensitive stomach is vomiting. Clearly if your cat is vomiting something is off. You should monitor the situation and take note of the timing when your cat vomits, consistency of the vomit and the food you think your cat has most likely ate that day.
If your cat is sick once in a blue moon then you can probably rest easy. If vomiting becomes regular or a pattern emerges or occurs in combination with some of the next symptoms you are likely going to have act and work out whether your cat has a sensitive stomach or a more serious health issue.
Not Eating/Off Food
If you cat isn’t eating then in isolation this could really amount to anything – they might be getting fed elsewhere, they might not like the food you are offering or the weather might reduce their appetite.
If they are vomiting and off their food or are suffering from gas and diarrhea then these are the tell tale signs of stomach issues. The severity and duration will underline whether they are simply sensitive or genuinely suffering from a severe health issue. Become alert and suspicious if kitty is off their food..most cats can’t afford to lose too much weight!
If your cat has a bout of diarrhea then they may have a sensitive stomach or an underlying condition. Often if they get diarrhea after eating certain foods then you can identify what the sensitivity is – a good reason to keep a note of what is happening.
If the diarrhea is persistent for more than a day or two then the problem may be more serious, may be just a passing bug or an underlying health issue.
Gas is normal – just a byproduct of digestion. If a gas issue goes beyond normal or occurs in combination with other symptoms then your cat may have a sensitivity.
If you have kept a note and have identified certain food groups as the culprit you can quickly alleviate the situation by a diet change.
What Might Cause A Sensitive Stomach
So you have identified some symptoms and now want to get to the bottom of the issue. What might be the everyday causes? These are the most likely causes and your first port of call :
Your cat, like some humans, may suffer from a food intolerance. A food intolerance can start at any time and a cat that has never suffered an intolerance can develop issues in later life. Some of the most common intolerances include artificial colourings, seafood, corn products, meat byproducts, dairy products and preservatives.
An intolerance to certain foods can cause poor digestion, vomiting and gas but might also give rise to runny noses and eyes, sneezing, coughing and wheezing, excessive scratching and ear issues.
One of the main reasons that cats vomit is hairballs. Often passing a hairball may take a number of goes and this can lead you to think your cat has an ongoing issue, is sensitive or has an intolerance. In the end it is just naturally, albeit disgustingly, getting rid of excess fur that has accumulated from grooming.
If the only symptom is vomiting then your cat is probably in the process of getting rid of hairballs. If your cat sheds a lot of fur or is a long haired variety this is most likely the reason for vomiting without further symptoms.
Not literally eating rubbish but eating weird stuff like string, wool, feathers and other bizzaro stuff. It is not unusual for cats to develop digestion problems after eating everyday foreign bodies like strands of wool that they have been attracted to play and kill in the course of their day. Needless to say eating such items can lead to development of sensitive stomach.
Some Types Of Food
Not a food intolerance like a reaction to colourings or additives but plain flat out eating food that maybe tastes good but is toxic to cats – excessive tuna, liver or dairy.
Loads of cats are lactose intolerant so eating cheese, yoghurt or milk can result in a mess. Tuna in excess may give rise to heavy metal poisoning and excess liver might cause vitamin a toxicity. Identifying whether a certain food is leading to sensitivity could help you get to the bottom of the sensitivity.
Eating too Fast
Happens to the best of us! Your cat might not be sensitivity – they might just be wolfing it back too quick.
It can take a few minutes for the brain to realise hunger is satiated but by then they might be overfull. Whereas we might burp and feel uncomfortable a quadruped is more likely to lose the extra load just because the positioning of the throat is more horizontal and a burp is likely to result in spillage so to speak..Sensitivity might actually be caused by eating too fast!
Overeating on Portion Size
Maybe your portions are to big or the food tastes so good your cat eats the lot in one sitting either way this might result in overfilling the stomach resulting in a rebalancing expulsion.
If your cat eats dry food the food may actually be expanding in the stomach once moistened leading to an overfull situation that results in an evacuation.
Infection, Disease, & Illness
Your cat might not be sensitive – they might be seriously sick. Don’t panic but if symptoms are severe it could be something more serious. Sensitivity is usually a low key, minor, intermittent situation. Sudden, or severe symptoms that might appear ongoing need a check up from a vet – they can take temperatures and carry out examinations that us lay people can’t.
Once a cat gets to a not eating stage this always needs checking out as they simply can’t endure extreme fasting, they don’t usually have the body fat to cope.
Age related changes
Sometimes we just can’t do or handle the things we could when we were younger and to a degree the same goes for cats. Your cat might have a sensitive stomach just because of age related changes.
We have all seen the “senior” cat food on the market. This is because your cats needs change with age. They need better protein, higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals amd smaller chunks of food that can be absorbed easily.
It could be that you cat is struggling to absorb or keep down their usual food because age related problems are acting against them. Perhaps food is harder to chew so ends up being swallow in bigger pieces that then hangs around in the stomach for longer when they may be active resulting in a potential vomiting situation….
Swapping dry and wet foods on a daily basis.
You may not realise it but your cat is a creature of habit. Swapping out dry and wet foods irregularity or chop changing could be the culprit giving your cat a sensitive stomach.
You might be an owner who likes to treat with wet food but wants to leave out dry food in case your daily schedule isn’t always regular. This might be the problem if you are coming home to vomit or other signs of sensitivity.
Worms, specifically roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, threadworm, whipworms, stomach worms etc are all parasites that affect the gut and can give rise to the common symptoms associated with sensitive stomach.
If you have never had your cat treated for worms be suspicious. If you treat your cat bi-annually worms are probably not the cause of your cats sensitive stomach.
Are There Foods To Avoid
Some foods are just straight up dangerous for cats : chocolate, alcohol, raw dough, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic. Your cat should never get anywhere near these foods – they are essentially dangerous foods.
Other foods are not dangerous but can be upsetting or create the symptoms associated with sensitive stomach – beef, dairy products and low quality cat food. Avoid giving these foods to your cat if you think they have a sensitive stomach.
Additionally consider whether you give your cat the same food all the time – maybe you only ever feed the cat chicken or fish – usually because the cat is picky. Eating the same food all the time can lead to sensitive stomach (to many rich gravies or jellies anyone?).
What Can I Do To Alleviate A Sensitive Stomach?
Get To A Vet
If your cat hasn’t eaten for a day or two then they could have a serious issue. A cat doesn’t have reserves to go without food so if a cat isn’t eating it is usually serious. Get to a vet and rule out any genuine health issues or underlying problems. Once you have ruled out serious issues you are free to tweak and adjust food habits to get a successful outcome.
Bearing in mind what was said about cats not going without food for days, if you cat is displaying a sensitive stomach a short fast can help to even things out. Your aim is to let the stomach settle down and get back on an even keel. Consider this tactic with others below.
Your cat may need to rehydrate. Poor hydration may be adding to problems with digestion. If your cat eats dry food then swap out to wet food to help hydrate. Consider using a water fountain to entice better hydration.
Feed Bland Foods
If you cat is suffering and can’t seem to hold a meal down move to bland foods like plain boiled chicken. Avoid rich gravies, or dry food. Sometimes it is best to go to a bland base level to assess what foods may be making trouble for your cat – reintroduce and monitor as you go to identify problem foods.
Ditch Dry Food
If your cat predominantly eats dry food try moving to wet food. DRy food can take a lot of processing and also raise issues with hydration levels. Dry food may contain ingredients that you cat struggles to tolerate.
Reduce portion size
Reducing portion size is an easy way to eliminate overeating as a cause of your cat sensitive stomach. Sometimes a few small helpings through the day go down better than one large sitting.
Change out diet
Maybe you and your cat are creatures of habit and you always feed the same food. Maybe your cat is picky and won’t eat everything you put down. Sometimes changing out the diet is all you need to do to end a sensitive stomach. Eating the same thing every day can bring on intolerances and exacerbate deficiencies. Mix it up with a total change to see if that alleviates kitty’s problem.
Monitor with a food diary
Keep an eye on what you are feeding and what time and see if you can spot a pattern. Keep a food diary to isolate a brand, type or flavour of food that causes problems. Maybe your cat has a favourite and overeats too quickly, maybe certain food types like fish ingredients cause problems. Monitor to see if you can identify a pattern.
Do Controlled timed feeds
I am guilty of just putting out food and believing my cat self regulates food intake. If you also do this but your cat is sensitive then tart to control feeding more. Regulate portion size and timing to see if you can reduce sensitivity. Maybe your cat enjoys food so much they are just eating too quick in large portions – we are all guilty of that from time to time!
We are talking worms. Who knows what your cat might have picked up or eaten on their travels. Be sure to worm regularly and attend to potential parasite problems. Vomiting can be a sign of parasite problems so be sure to eliminate as a priority.
Brush out coat/fur regularly to reduce hairballs
Something as simple as furballs maybe causing symptoms of sensitivity. You can opt for a furball formula food and try brushing out your cats coate regularly to reduce furball issues.
Move to a senior diet if necessary
Sometimes it is just time to accept that our cat is ageing and has different needs to those in their youth. The wrong diet or a diet short on essential nutrients might be causing sensitivities. If your cat can’t process some foods anymore because of age try a senior diet plan.
Ditch dairy, low quality foods and cheap treats.
If you cat is showing signs of sensitivity then try to avoid those treat style foods, dairy foods that your cat likes but they may be sensitive too and the cheap ass brands that are probably stuffed with cereal proteins and other unnaturals.
Which Are The Best Cat Foods For Sensitive Stomachs?
If you have tried all the above advice without success and your vet can’t find a problem then maybe you just have to accept your cat is a little bit picky about their food and needs something specialized.
In this situation there are a number of off the shelf food formula options that you can explore. Many well known manufacturers have now devised foods that aim to help cats with stomach sensitivities.
We have reviewed these options and found a mixed picture. Some owners swear by some brands other owners have great success with competing brands. It seems to us the best option is to try a variety – see which food your cat actually eats without turning their nose up and then monitor the effectiveness at calming the stomach. See if vomiting or diarrhea frequency changes and whether their general condition improves.
Here we run through five popular options that owners swear by :
Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Cans
If you need a wet food to cover any hydration issues that your cat might suffer from then this sensitive stomach option from royal canin may be the best option on the market. Widely approved of by owners, most confirm positive results – cats that are willingly to eat the stuff and positive after effects like reduced vomiting, reduced gas and diarrhea.
Royal Canin suggest this stuff is effective as it has the perfect balance of fats and proteins for your cat closely mimicking a natural evolutionary diet but with all the essential vitamins and minerals assured.
Here are some of the major benefits and potential drawbacks :
Wet food for rehydration issues
Small chunks for quick digestion
Gravy for improved likeability
80% of users on chewy give this 5 stars
Liked by cats
Effective at reducing vomiting and diarrhea
Formula for reducing stool odor
3 oz tins (average 11 pound cat needs 3.25 cans per day)
4% carb content
1 multi flavour option – contains chicken, salmon, pork
Hill’s claim their sensitive formula includes scientifically balanced ingredients that promote better skin and fur condition, boost immune systems and contain high quality ingredients rich in vitamins and minerals that are easy to digest. Owners get to the point and suggest this stuff is very good at reducing vomiting and their cats seem to really enjoy the taste which is really what we are mostly interested in.
There are three flavour options available for fussy eaters to try – however, some recent comments confirm the formulas are being altered resulting in some cats suddenly losing interest in previously loved flavour options.
Available in multiple size bag options
Formulated for adult cats
Three flavor options
Effective at curtailing vomiting cats
Recent formula change to some flavours may be a change for the worse
Dry food for sensitive adult stomachs with one flavour choice and two bag sizes. Blue buffalo very much aim this food at owners who won’t compromise on food for their kitty. Only real meat, no meat by products included and a host of cereals banned from inclusion to reduce intolerances.
Fair on price, your cat will either love or hate this stuff – but cats that eat it stop suffering from vomiting which is what it is all about!
Two bag sizes available
Does not include corn, wheat, soy or artificial flavours or preservatives
Made from real meat not by products.
Available in different age formulations, kitten, adult, senior
High percentage of happy owners
Not as expensive as some offerings
This is a love it or hate it product – your cat will either eat it and stop vomiting or hate it and walk away.
Purina One Sensitive
Less science marketing than others. You get your protein and easily digestible formula. Vitamins, minerals, omega acids, preservatives and flavourings – who knows, who cares – unashamedly focused on being edible and not coming back up. At the right price…(It does offer all that other stuff just doesn’t heavily differentiate from competition with it – if your cat has cereal intolerance check the label because they probably won’t get on with this)
Very affordable option
Four bag size options for freshness and all budgets
Crunchy kibble to maintain teeth and reduce plaque build up
Turkey is the main meat option
Higher satisfaction rating than Hills and Blue Buffalo
Stops cats vomiting, improves condition, well liked by cats
Not many – if your cat has intolerances to chicken or cereal then this food may not help with their sensitivity.
Of all the options on the market this is the cleanest available and by clean i mean pure food without factory, contamination or unnaturally raised ingredients. Made with real fish, no by products, renders or offcuts, this food has bioavailable proteins in scientifically balanced proportions to reduce intolerances, improve condition and aid digestibility.
Most Holistic option on the market – No GM, animals raised with antibiotics, flavours, colours etc
Cats love to eat it and it works to reduce symptoms of sensitive stomachs as far as owners can tell.
Expensive, buy on sale days.
Some cats just don’t take to the flavour – not everyone likes seafood i guess…
As we hinted, all these will work if you can get your cat to take to the flavour initially.
If your cat happily eats all flavours then go for the Purina purely based on price. If price isn’t everything and you want the finest ingredients that closely relate to your cats evolutionary preference then head for Blue Buffalo. If your cat needs rehydration or is elderly and has dental problems then go for the soft food option from Royal Canin.
Bottom line these are all highly recommended for sensitive stomachs – we all know our cats are picky, that is the biggest issue to overcome…