Looking for the best high fiber cat food? We recommend Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food
Do you think your cat needs a high fiber cat food? If so you have come to the right place! In this article we will look at what fiber is and how it works in diet, we will look at why this might be useful for your cat, check out any dangers that might arise from a high fiber diet, look at other options that might reduce the need for a high fiber cat food, and then, if you really need a high fiber cat food we will review the best choices on the market right now.
Our Top Picks Of The Best High Fiber Cat Food
- Best High Fiber Cat Food For Senior Cats: Hills Science Diet Dry Cat Food 11+ For Senior Cats
- Best High Fiber Wet Cat Food: Merrick Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
- Best High Fiber Dry Cat Food: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food
- Best Budget High Fiber Cat Food: Purina One Indoor Advantage Adult Cat Food
- Best Grain Free High Fiber Cat Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Dry Indoor Cat Food
What Is Fiber And How Does It Work?
Foods are made up of one, some, or all of three major components: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Fiber is a carbohydrate. Specifically, fiber is a carbohydrate that is indigestible. Essentially, it passes right through the digestive system without being absorbed. Examples of this material include cellulose, pectins, wheat bran and oat fiber amongst others. Generally, fiber is the fibrous/woody/structural elements of plants.
Fiber can be divided into two broad groups: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is a fiber that dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. For example, oat bran is a soluble fiber – it turns to a gloopy mess in water. Peanut hulls and wheat bran are examples of insoluble fiber – they just float around in water rather than breaking down to a gel-type appearance.
You might wonder if this stuff is not absorbed, but some breaks down and some stays solid what use is it to the digestive system of mammals such as us or cats?
Good question. Both types of fiber are useful for different reasons.
Soluble fiber is introduced to the gut by us eating it, it then absorbs moisture. In our gut, it actually draws water out of our circulatory system and intestines and into the fiber and digestive tract. When this happens your digestive tract gets lubricated by the water inflow and so helps with constipation and potentially sticky blockages. Additionally, some of the fiber is broken down by gut bacteria to form short-chain fatty acids that are absorbed by the gut lining and feed it which helps with improved motility. In these ways, soluble fiber helps keep digestion moving and healthy even though the fiber is not absorbed into our system.
Insoluble fiber is the fiber that does not break down or absorb water. This fiber bulks up matter in the digestive system. This stimulates the gut which then increases fecal output and transit time. This fiber that bulks up has a positive influence by moving things along – sweeping matter through so to speak.
Does My Cat Need Fiber?
Now you understand the role of fiber in the digestive system you might be able to imagine why fiber might be good for your cat!
Do you have a long-haired cat, or any cat, that suffers from a regular problem with hairballs?
Hairballs tend to form when the digestive system can’t move excess hair through the system – if it can’t come out one way it must come out by the other!
Many of the best cat food for hairballs have a higher than normal amount of fiber in their formulation. This fiber will be both soluble to lubricate the digestive system, and insoluble to sweep hair through and along the digestive system in an efficient manner.
There is some conjecture as to whether fiber really does contribute to weight loss in cats. The thinking goes that foods higher in fiber make you feel fuller for longer and therefore reduce appetite. The reduction in appetite can contribute to reduced eating and result in weight loss. In your cat, extra fiber may actually be helping them to moderate their eating.
Cat food high in fiber can also be recommended for diabetic cats. And the reason it works for diabetic cats may also contribute to the mechanism of weight loss – read on…
If you have an overweight cat that is diabetic you might find that your vet prescribes food that is high in fiber. As well as helping to lose weight, which can greatly improve the condition of diabetes, a diet high in soluble fiber is thought to contribute to the management of glucose in the digestive process.
Firstly, it is thought that the fiber acts to soak up glucose before the body can absorb it thereby cutting down excess glucose. Secondly, it is thought that the fiber speeds up the transit time through the gut, reducing the time available for glucose and calories to be absorbed in the gut.
Many cats suffer from constipation, often but not exclusively, from eating dry food combined with an inadequate level of water intake. These conditions often result in a cat straining away at the litter tray only to produce hard dry pellets if anything at all.
High fiber food is a useful weapon in the armory for tackling such situations, but in some cats, it can help and in others, it can hinder. The idea with such foods is that the fiber will draw moisture into the gut and lubricate the gut to allow a smooth easy passage. Where it might not work is if your cat isn’t getting enough water to draw on to help the process.
Cats with diarrhea can be treated with a diet higher in fiber where the insoluble fiber bulks up and absorbs material on its passage through the gut. Of course, if your cat is suffering from diarrhea, make sure to visit the vet if the diarrhea is a prolonged issue. Dehydration and other issues can arise if your cat has problems for too long.
Spotting Fiber In Cat Food Ingredients
I am sure I am not the first or last cat owner to check out the ingredients on a cat food packet and think corn, soy wtf?!? My cat is a miniature tiger – they don’t eat beet pulp!
In the past, I would assume such ingredients were cheap fillers to bulk out the food and improve the profit margins of the food producer. But you live and learn. It is now clear to me that these ingredients have a genuine, reasonable and beneficial reason to be included in my cat’s diet. (not that it is not possible they might develop food intolerances from such material down the line)
So what are we talking about here? In terms of soluble fiber that might aid constipation and gut mobility, reduce glucose intake and the like, you are looking out for ingredients in cat food like guar gum, pectins and oat bran amongst others. This stuff is going to go gooey once on the inside
Insoluble fiber that could be useful for treating hairballs, helping cats with diarrhea by bulking material, or helping with weight loss through increased transit time and feelings of fullness might show up in cat food in the form of cellulose, peanut hulls, wheat bran or oat fiber
What you are more likely to find is cat food with mixed fiber that gives a dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber and is, therefore, more multi-purpose. Look out for ingredients like psyllium, bran, soy, beet pulp and pea fiber. These ingredients will help cats with any of the common problems discussed previously.
Would My Cat Eat Fiber In The Wild?
Generally speaking, in the wild, cats don’t go for a meat and two veg option… Having said that, I have seen my cat eating grass, presumably for the cellulose content to aid with digestion and force a regurgitation reflex.
You will read some people discuss how cats might get vegetable fiber from the stomach contents of their last kill. Honestly, I don’t buy it.
When my cat catches mice she always goes for the head end and leaves the rest…nasty…
What is closer to the truth, is that in the wild, indigestible fragments of their last victim like bones, ligaments, and fur acts as a meat-based fiber replacement. This stuff has a lot of the qualities of added fiber as it travels down the digestive tract and is probably why you don’t see lions tucking into a good juicy bit of bush like an elephant…
So why don’t we see cat food with added fur or cat food with extra bone nibbles? The truth is that in the domesticated setting plant fiber is a cheaper bulking agent so it is used in pet foods in preference to lumps of fur and bones. That doesn’t, however, mean that plant fiber is bad for our cats.
Any Dangers Of A High Fiber Diet For Cats?
Before you go ahead and buy up a year’s supply of high fiber cat food you might be interested to know that it isn’t all good healthy fun and risk-free.
High fiber diets are known to decrease the secretion of pancreatic enzymes that are critical for protein and nutrient absorption. In cats these enzymes are present in smaller quantities than in other mammals – a high fiber diet may impair your cat’s ability to absorb nutrients and protein.
The main symptoms of this reduction in pancreatic enzymes in your cat include poor overall condition and oversized stools.
You should not put your cat on a long term high fiber diet without vet approval because of these risks.
A short term change of food formula to reduce hairballs in malting season is one thing, but in most other cases you should either look at using other means to get your cat moving/settled or consult with a vet prior to using high fiber solutions.
Can I Try Something Else For A Cat With Constipation, Diarrhea, Hairballs Or Weight Issues?
A high fiber diet might be useful for combating constipation, diarrhea, hairball or weight issues but you could try other tactics for each problem before resorting to such a diet change.
Do you have a cat with constipation or prone to the problem? Our advice would be to address their hydration. You can take a few fairly straightforward steps to try to get your cat taking on more water. First off, don’t put the water source near food. In the wild cats won’t feed near water for fear of contaminating the water source. Your cat will have instincts to avoid drinking near food bowls.
Secondly, is the water you provide running? Still water is instinctively avoided as it tends to be stagnant and harbor bacteria in the real world. A cat likes moving water and might tap the water with a paw initially just to satisfy the movement criteria. A cat drinking fountain is a good way to provide moving water that will encourage your cat to drink more.
Thirdly, you can try putting water out in more locations – this eliminates problems with ambush fields that your cat might sense but you overlook. Lastly, consider moving to a wet diet to get your cat absorbing more water or wetting up dry food if your cat is settled on dry food. If all these fail then maybe a high fiber diet might be the next step to reducing constipation problems in your cat.
Does your cat suffer from diarrhea? Check out our page on sensitive stomachs. On-off diarrhea might be caused by an intolerance to some food that you think is your cat’s favorite and they have been eating for a long time. Intolerance can build up over time. A simple change of diet might be all that is required.
If your cat suffers from hairballs there are a host of other options you can utilize before you hit on a high fiber diet. Simple options like brushing out the fur on a regular schedule, providing cat grass to aid the passing of hairballs, supplementing the diet with oils (a dab of olive oil or coconut oil on the nose) to lubricate the gut and its contents can help before reaching for the high fiber option. Check out our cat food for hairballs page for more tips and foods that can help if your cat suffers from this issue.
An overweight cat might not need a high fiber diet. Sometimes a bit of exercise and some careful calorie counting is the difference between an expensive diet and a svelte feline! Check out our page on the best cat food for weight loss if you need tips to get your kitty’s weight down rather than hitting the high fiber option!
Best High Fiber Cat Food Reviews
Best High fiber cat food for senior cats: Hills Science Diet Dry Cat Food 11+ For Senior Cats
If your cat is a senior cat (over 11 years old) we think this Hills Science Diet is a good choice if you want your cat to get some extra fiber. It is a dry cat food so naturally has a higher fiber content than wet food. In this case, the total crude fiber content comes in at 10%.
The fiber comes from whole wheat grain, corn gluten meal, powdered cellulose, dried beet pulp, peas, apples, cranberries, and carrots. Basically you have a good mix of soluble and insoluble fiber that is going to beneficial from the standpoint of alleviating hairballs, constipation, diarrhea and helping with weight loss.
Indeed, this is promoted as food for an indoor cat. Indoor cats are generally understood to have lower calorie requirements and the high fiber in this food will help your cat feel fuller for longer and hopefully help with weight loss and maintenance issues.
The food has all the essential nutrients balanced to suit the fiber intake in this food so you should be able to feed your friend this food all year round.
You don’t require a prescription for this food and the food is made in the US.
Lots of owners have good things to say about this food. Lots of cats enjoy the flavor and seem to benefit from the balanced ingredients. A word of warning though – the kibble is quite large and hard so older cats with dental issues might need the food watering down.
- Good mix of fiber – soluble, insoluble
- No prescription required
- Balanced nutrients for the older cat to eat all year round
- Made in the USA
- Lots of cats take to it well
- Large, hard kibble might not be easy for older cats with dental issues.
Best High Fiber Wet Cat Food: Merrick Limited Ingredient Grain Free Canned Cat Food
If you have a cat that suffers from constipation and just won’t drink enough water then we think you should try them on this Merrick Limited Ingredient wet cat food.
The fiber runs to 1.4% in this food (to put that into context 78% of the food is moisture) and comes in the form of guar gum (soluble fiber) and organic alfalfa.
Guar gum is good for easing constipation by drawing moisture into the digestive tract and alfalfa is a source of insoluble fiber to help with gut motility and bulking up.
You might be wondering what the limited element of the diet is? That refers to the ingredients that are eliminated from this food to reduce sensitivities (vomiting and diarrhea). This wet cat food does not include corn, wheat, soy, dairy, egg, grains or glutens in its formulations so if your cat has sensitivities this food should help.
One word of warning – alfalfa does contribute to sensitivities in some cats so if you decide to use this food keep your eye’s peeled for any unusually toilet issues or vomiting.
It comes in four different flavor options : chicken, duck, salmon and turkey and has a pate consistency. Good for cats with dental issues and picky on flavors.
Any problems? The duck flavor is reported to be very rich and can cause problems if your cat is not used to such a rich diet. Also some reports of quality inconsistency.
- 4 flavor options
- Limited ingredients for cats with sensitivities
- Guar gum and alfalfa for fiber
- No grain
- High moisture content – good for constipated cats
- Made in the USA by Purina
- Inconsistent quality
- Duck flavor is very rich
- Alfalfa may cause sensitivity in some cats
Best High fiber dry cat food: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food
We think this is the best, bar none, high fiber cat food out there! Unfortunately, you need a vet prescription to get this food – but that indicates how effective it is at managing some serious bowel issues! It is considered to be a tool in a vets arsenal.
Owners have reported that pet cats with severe symptoms like ongoing diarrhea and constipation that leads to appetite loss and weight loss have achieved huge turnarounds in a very short space of time after starting on this food. And cats find the food very palatable.
From a nutritional perspective this food only contains 4.7% crude fiber which seems low given the need for a prescription and the results achieved. The fiber is a soluble and insoluble blend to keep everything moving and unlike other high fiber foods, this food is directly marketed as high fiber food for gut issues.
- Very effective at dealing with serious constipation and diarrhea issues
- Cats like the flavor
- Recommended by vets for cats with big problems
- Prescription food
- Premium price
- Contains grain
Best budget high fiber cat food: Purina One Indoor Advantage Adult Cat Food
If you are looking for an effective, everyday dry cat food that doesn’t need a prescription, that suits a cat that doesn’t have ongoing health issues, that is straightforward, this is as good as it gets.
This food contains 4.6% fiber. The fiber includes soybean hulls, whole grain corn, and powdered cellulose – all of which is insoluble fiber. This means this food is going to be good at bulking up gut contents, great at getting the gut motility up for hairballs but probably not as good for cats with constipation.
Of course, for a food that is intended for everyday use, it is balanced with all the essential nutrients your cat needs so despite the increased fiber they won’t go short of essential minerals, vitamins and proteins.
The added fiber helps keep your cat feel fuller for longer and helps with weight maintenance.
Cats and owners really like this food and take to it pretty well – may not be suitable for more active cats.
- Great at stopping hairballs
- Fiber content helps weight maintenance for indoor cats
- Made in the USA
- Cats like the flavor
- No prescription required
- Contains grains
- Not so much soluble fiber content – not great for constipation
Best Grain Free High Fiber Cat Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Dry Indoor Cat Food
Maybe your cat has sensitivities to grain but needs a high fiber diet to help reduce hairballs? Perhaps they live indoors and need extra fiber to help control their weight? Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball and weight control is probably the best cat food on the market for your cat.
The fiber in this cat food comes from pea fiber, powdered cellulose, psyllium seed husks, alfalfa meal, pumpkin, apples, and dried kelp so you get a good blend of mixed fiber that will keep your cat’s digestive system ticking along effectively.
Blue Buffalo is made in the USA and prides itself on providing cats with an evolutionary diet that is free of grains and loaded with real meat (no by-products). This should help your cat if it has sensitivities but also ensures your cat lives as it should and maintains great condition due to the quality of the ingredients.
At this point, you are possibly thinking you need a prescription or a deep wallet? You don’t need a prescription but the food isn’t the cheapest – but then nor are the ingredients.
This food is highly recommended by owners online. The cats take to it very well and it seems very effective for cats with hairballs. The only gripe is cost – this is a premium, high-quality cat food, and that comes at a cost.
- No grains
- Real meat cuts only
- High fiber – effective at hairball control
- Great for cats with sensitivities
- Cats take to flavor really well
- Made in the USA
- Premium price