April 11, 2021
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The diagnosis of Chronic Disease is a hard one to swallow. I cried for days that I was going to lose my sweet baby boy. The great news for our family is that with lots of love and patience, this horrid disease can be managed. While I know envitably I will lose my cat to this horrid disease I appreciate every extra day I get with him. Just like with humans the first and foremost part to staying healthy is diet. So let’s dive into the best cat food for Kidney Disease. If you are looking for treats vs. food for kidney disease we have a whole post covering that as well.

What to Look for in Cat Food for Kidney Disease

There are two keys things that people are looking at when picking cat food for Kidney Disease. The first is moderately low high-quality protein content. Of course, cats are obligate carnivores so this makes things tricky. They need meat and protein to survive.

The next is keeping the phosphorus content as low as possible. This is because high phosphorus accelerates renal failure. So in order to counteract that we try to restricted phosphorus. A great rule of thumb is to avoid foods that contain ground bone and instead use ground egg shell.

When looking for food how do you know if you are in the guideline of where you need to be for phosphorus? First off you need to find the foods nutritional information on a dry mater basis. Then you are looking for food ideally below 0.5% phosphorus.

Unfortunately a prescription kidney diet is the only way you will achieve this since minimum cat food standard state that on a dry matter basis phosphorus must be at least 0.5%. This means you are going for as close to that 0.5% as you can. As a rule of thumb I avoid anything that has a phosphorus over 1%. Where your max lies may be different depending on your cat. I know we will need to seek out lower phosphorus percentages as his stage of kidney disease progresses.

Lastly, it’s best to stay away from fish. We unfortunately do not follow this rule. The best way to get our boy to chow down on a whole can of wet food is to have some tuna in it. It’s always a mix we don’t have him have full fish flavors but we do let him have the combo variations. So why no fish?

To quote Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM

Fish can be high in mercury, high in PBDEs (fire retardant chemicals linked to hyperthyroidism), high in phosphorus (not good for older cats’ kidneys) and can be very addicting.  It is best to feed poultry-based diets to cats.

DisclaimerThe food listed below DOES NOT mean we are recommend it for your cat. These foods are chosen mostly due to its phosphorus and
protein content. Check the ingredients of any food, and consult with your veterinarian before feeding any food, especially if you have any doubts or questions.

The food numbers on these lists are based on food data from the manufacturers and are as up to date as we know. We are not responsible for errors or unexpected changes by the manufacturers, who can change recipes without notice.

Cat Food Options for Kidney Disease

Prescription Kidney Cat Food

This is the most commonly handed out recommendation by a vet for cats that have kidney disease. A vets go to is traditionally to place a cat one of the various commercially available prescription food.

When we got to pick up our boy from hospital, we were first given a whole sampler box from Royal Canin of Renal Diets for Cats. While this can be a good option as it checks the boxes for low protein low phosphorus food it’s not the highest quality of food we find out there.

Plus some pet parents just find their cats turn their nose up at the stuff. My food hog did the same he loved their dry food but wouldn’t touch the wet… which the more water the better with Kidney Disease. So we sought out alternatives for him.

Prescription Food Options

Here is a list of options that are going to require a prescription from your vet to obtain.

Wet Food

Food NamePhosphorus (DMB%)Protein (DMB%)
Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew0.49%30%
Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Vegetable & Tuna Stew 0.49%30%
Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Early Support Chicken, Vegetable & Rice Stew  0.59%34.1%
Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Feline with Chicken, Pate0.49%30%
Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food0.44%34.21%
Renal Support E Loaf in Sauce Canned Cat Food0.46%33.59%
Renal Support T Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food0.51%31.64%
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Formula0.39%27.80%
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Early Care Formula0.43%39.49%

Commercial Cat Food for Kidney Disease

There are dozens of option you can find out there but I am going to take some time to focus on some of my favorite. The ones I feed my boy with has Chronic Kidney Disease.

Weruva OMG, STEW, and PLAY Food

I am so thankful these guys came out with such a wide variety of options that is actually okay for my cat to have. He went from eating anything to being fussy when it came to textures. For our snowshoe cat we have to stick to gravy and stews, a pate is out of the question. The more liquid, the more he loves. Just to be the high maintenance feline he is, he also makes us cut up the food bites if the chunks get too big.

Here are some non fish options from Weruva to check out. For full Weruva Nutritional Information they list on their website here.

Another bonus about this company is the food is easy to find in a pinch. We of course have our cat’s favorites on Chewy autoship to help save us some money every month but we can also find at our local pet stores. We can pick it up at Petco and a small family run shop here in Florida. They do have a store locator on the manufacture website if you are having trouble locating it.

Halo Cat Food

Unlike most pet foods, Halo uses real WHOLE meat, poultry, or fish, and no rendered “meat meal” of ANY kind. For more nutritional information you can go to Halo’s website and look up the whole breakdown.

Food NamePhosphorus (DMB%)Protein (DMB%)
Halo Grain Free Turkey and Chickpea Recipe for Senior Cats0.70%39.30%
Halo Holistic Gluten Free Turkey and Quail Recipe for Indoor Cats0.70%41.20%

Tiki Cat

This one is pretty high in phosphorus (1.01% DMB). They are a great brand since they focus on providing your cat a natural prey diet. In their line up in the a secret weapon called Velvet Mousse. When a cat is not feeling great and refusing to eat breaking out the Tiki Cat Chicken and Egg formula does wonders. Even though my cat isn’t a pate lover he can slurp down a pouch of this with little issue. Use this one sparingly as the phosphorus and protein percentages are pretty high.

Shop Tiki Cat

If you’re curious on the phosphorus in other Tiki Cat flavors read A Look at Tiki Cat Phosphorus Levels.

Wellness

If the name didn’t give it away these are sold in tiny portioned packets. It’s great if your kitty isn’t eating big meals at any given time but they are only sold in pouches and the price does add up fast for these flavors.

Wellness® Core® Signature Selects

FlavorPhos.Protein
Shredded White Meat Chicken with Chicken Liver Entrée in Sauce0.93%44.53%
Shredded White Meat Chicken & Beef Entrée in Sauce0.99%45.53%
Shredded White Meat Chicken & Turkey Entrée in Sauce0.96%43.94%
Chunky Beef & White Meat Chicken Entrée in Sauce1.01%40.63%
Chunky White Meat Chicken & Wild Salmon Entrée in Sauce1.05%34.53%
Chunky Turkey & White Meat Chicken Entrée in Sauce0.96%39.37%
Flaked Skipjack Tuna with Wild Salmon Entrée in Broth0.90%55.96%
Flaked Skipjack Tuna with Shrimp Entrée in Broth0.93%56.54%

CORE® Tiny Tasters

FlavorPhos.Protein
Chicken & Beef0.92%43.64%
Chicken & Turkey0.97%44.85%
Chicken0.91%46.08%
Tuna0.88%48.75%
Tuna & Salmon0.97%66.21%

Healthy Indulgence

FlavorPhos.Protein
Morsels Chicken & Chicken Liver0.55%37.87%
Morsels Chicken & Salmon0.56%39.86%
Morsels Chicken & Turkey0.61%37.12%
Morsels Salmon & Tuna0.60%42.70%
Morsels Tuna0.61%39.87%
Morsels Turkey & Duck0.62%38.35%
Gravies Chicken & Turkey0.93%34.21%
Shreds Chicken & Turkey0.81%32.26%

Dr. Elsey’s

Another good option that is low in phosphorus and moderate in protein is the Dr. Elsey’s food lineup. The downside to this food is it’s ONLY available online via Chewy, Amazon, Target or Walmart. If you want to avoid having to invest in a whole case of food just to try it I would reach out to the Dr. Elsey’s direct and inquire about getting a sample for your cat to taste test.

Dry Kibble
NameProteinPhos.
Chicken Recipe63.45%0.90%
With Salmon Recipe58.35%1.20%
Canned Wet Food
NameProteinPhos.Carbs
Clean Protein Chicken49.167%1.121%4.958
Clean Protein Whitefish60.633%1.179%4.908
Clean Protein Rabbit & Turkey52.738%1.242%3.108
Clean Protein Pork48.113%0.975%4.679

Fussie Cat

This is a new brand to me but they come at their food with an interesting angle that as owners of CKD I am sure we all can appreciate. They understand that cats are notoriously fussy when it comes to their food.

Each recipe always starts with meats rich in complete proteins as the main ingredient. Then they tailor the taste of our recipes based on actual feline feedback to ensure it’s equally delicious.

I would say this food is not ideal for end stage kidney failure. Be sure to look at the protein it gets extremely high in the canned food, especially in the tuna flavors.

Dry Food

FlavorPhos.Protein
Salmon & Chicken0.8%40.7%
Chicken & Turkey0.9%40.4%

Wet Canned Food

FlavorPhos.Protein
Premium Chicken with Sweet Potato0.9%47.0%
Chicken & Vegetables0.9%57.5%
Chicken in Gravy0.9%59.5%
Chicken with Duck1.0%57.6%
Chicken with Egg1.0%60.7%
Chicken & Beef in Pumpkin Soup1.1%80.7%
Chicken with Liver in Pumpkin Soup1.1%47.0%
Tuna with Chicken Liver1.0%104.3%
Tuna with Clams0.9%93.7%
Tuna with Mussels0.9%93.7%
Tuna with Smoked Tuna0.7%86.6%
Tuna with Threadfin Bream0.8%87.9%
Tuna in Aspic0.8%87.2%
Tuna with Chicken0.9%106.7%
Tuna with Oceanfish1.0%93.7%
Tuna with Prawns0.9%96.4%
Tuna with Salmon0.9%98.1%
Tuna with Shrimp1.0%97.8%
Tuna with Anchovies0.9%106.7%

Raw Cat Food for Kidney Disease

EZ Complete

Another success for us was raw food. This seems to be another one for the irresistible food column! My girl with kidney disease, after rotating through many of the options above ended up settling on the fact that all she would eat was raw food. In order to help us save money but yet not have to deal with grinding up organs we have resorted to using something called EZ Complete.

EZ Complete is a powder mix, that you mix with your own ground meat, preferably tendon meat (like chicken thighs). We started out with use using our kitchen aid mixer but over time have upgraded to a full blown meat grinder. If you want a look at our full step by step process you can read it here.

Darwin’s Pet Intelligent Design™ KS Kidney Support Formula for Felines 

Intelligent Design™ Veterinary Formulas for cats are specialized meals designed to provide extra support to cats facing certain health issues. These highly palatable and nutritious meals use only hormone-free (no added hormones), antibiotic-free, and pesticide-free meats, with no grains, added fillers or chemical preservatives.

Note you will need to get a veterinary prescription to order this food. It technically breaks the rules of this listen but there are so few pre made raw options I felt like it was worth mentioning.

Order Darwin’s Pet

Dry Cat Food for Cats with Kidney Disease

Young Again Zero Mature Health

If your cat just can’t break their kitty kibble cravings there is always Young Again Zero Mature Health. It’s the lowest it can go for food at an exact 0.5% phosphorus on a dry matter basis. I gave this kibble a try because we needed a backup dry food.

I know you will hear me say go with wet or raw food. However, I appreciate that dry food can be left out if you are going to be out of the house for almost the whole day and it also provides a midnight snack so we can sleep through the night.

This brand has the right focus of providing a carnivore’s diet. Containing less than 1% starch and packing in the right maintenance levels of key nutrients. You can learn more and buy here.

Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 11+ Chicken Recipe

Hills is a readily available brand, meaning you can drive to your local pet store and pick it up unlike the brand listed above. The phosphorus isn’t as low as the Young Again offerings but not too bad at 0.69% phosphorus on a Dry Matter Basis. If chicken isn’t your cats jam this same product comes in a standard recipe as well with basically the same phosphorus content.

Shop Chewy

More Great Resources for Dealing with Cats with Kidney Disease

CKD Facebook Group

If you are the owner of a cat with chronic Kidney Disease you are going to want to join this private Facebook group. They have been my guiding light and support as we fight kidney disease in our cat, Olaf.

If you want to hear more way we have been attempting to combat Kidney Disease in cats read all about the Homeopathic Treatments I Give My Cat with Kidney Failure. As always remember to check with your vet before making any sudden changes to your cat’s treatment.

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Robin Griffin

After adopting one two... well many cats I found myself newly dubbed the "Cat Lady." Now I take it in stride and share my favorite tips, tools, and products that we use in our cat household.

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10 thoughts on “The Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease

  1. The protein level in dry food for cats with CKD should not be higher than 35%. Your recommended dry food…Young Again Zero Mature Health…has a protein level of 54%. When picking a diet for cats with CKD, protein, sodium, Omega-3 levels should also be considered…especially protein and sodium. Phosphorus shouldn’t be the only focus.

  2. Thanks for posting this! We went on prescription ckd diet for a year which resulted in inflamed intestines, weight loss/muscle wasting, and an IBD diagnosis. We’ve been doing Tiki and Weruva now and he’s gained muscle and the vet is happy with his lab values. Thanks for adding these brands! I’ve been emailing random companies for their values.

  3. Dr Lisa Pierson’s Food List states the Phosphorus should be 200 or less mg Kcals I believe that would be .5% As you stated ,the only food with that low Phos. is by prescription. I feel that’s just to let vets make more money !

    So what do we do ? I add a bit of binder to the cat food but both my cats are so fussy they won’t eat food with anything added.

    My Kitty has Diabetes & kidney disease. He does eat some Raw meat diet but lately he also wants some canned food. It drives me crazy that
    the companies don’t state the carbs & phosphorus on their web sites.

  4. HI- I recently emailed wellness about the phospuris content of little tasters. They sent me a listing from their tiny tastes , but they say “as Fed” and “dry matter.” when I read your listing, the numbers they gave do not macth what your list says. I am a bit confused . It the difference due to the dry matter stuff ? I have a cat with kidney disease and want to feed him better ingredients than the RX kidney diets contain.( cellulose, potato startch, artifical flavors….)

    Thanks, Joanie elbourn

    1. You want to look at Dry Matter basis. I will reach out and get updated information on tiny tasters. I would go off of what the company just sent you as it will be up to date with any new formula changes they may have made.

  5. they sent a sheet with phos. levels , th elowest ones in their line of food. Said to go by the fed listing as it is from lab analysis. They say they leave out bones in hteir food .. less phos that way as well.

  6. Hello once more,

    I have spent alot of time these days rading cat food ingreient listings, contacting companies etc.. It gets so soncfusing comparing things when some list stuff as “dry Matter” and some as ” As Fed.” the Dr. Elseys, above, is “as Fed” I think ? On their site the nutrient listing on those flavors is considerably higher, but it is dry matter listed.

    Thanks,

    Joanie elbourn

    1. Thank you, looks like they updated their recipe and the phosphorous just isn’t as good as it used to be. Also thank you for doing all your due diligence and research for you cat!

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