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.
Disclaimer: The 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.
|Food Name||Phosphorus (DMB%)||Protein (DMB%)|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew||0.49%||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, Pate||0.49%||30%|
|Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food||0.44%||34.21%|
|Renal Support E Loaf in Sauce Canned Cat Food||0.46%||33.59%|
|Renal Support T Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food||0.51%||31.64%|
|Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Formula||0.39%||27.80%|
|Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Early Care Formula||0.43%||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. Or you can read our full list of Best Weruva Low Phosphorus Cat Food. Below we have a small sample of the low phosphorous options in their gravy line of food.
Weruva Low Phosphorous Cat Food Gravy Options
*Note: we are only adding the options that are 0.85% and under in phosphorus on a dry matter basis. There are other food options from Weruva.
|Live N’ Love||0.71%||42.9%|
|Stir it Up||0.72%||42.6%|
|Charge Me Up||0.73%||43.8%|
|Start Me Up||0.75%||61.4%|
|Crazy 4 U!||0.84%||59.7%|
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 Name||Phosphorus (DMB%)||Protein (DMB%)|
|Halo Grain Free Turkey and Chickpea Recipe for Senior Cats||0.70%||39.30%|
|Halo Holistic Gluten Free Turkey and Quail Recipe for Indoor Cats||0.70%||41.20%|
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.
|Velvet Mousse Name||Phos % Dry Matter Basis|
|Chicken with Egg||1.32%|
|Chicken & Wild Salmon||1.38%|
|Tuna & Chicken||1.41%|
|Tuna & Mackerel||1.43%|
|Light Chicken, Turkey & Pumpkin||0.98%|
|Fussy With Duck Liver & Egg||0.98%|
|Skin & Coat Salmon Recipe||1.20%|
If you’re curious on the phosphorus in other Tiki Cat flavors read our full list of their entire line of cat food – A Look at Tiki Cat Phosphorus Levels.
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
|Shredded White Meat Chicken with Chicken Liver Entrée in Sauce||0.93%||44.53%|
|Shredded White Meat Chicken & Beef Entrée in Sauce||0.99%||45.53%|
|Shredded White Meat Chicken & Turkey Entrée in Sauce||0.96%||43.94%|
|Chunky Beef & White Meat Chicken Entrée in Sauce||1.01%||40.63%|
|Chunky White Meat Chicken & Wild Salmon Entrée in Sauce||1.05%||34.53%|
|Chunky Turkey & White Meat Chicken Entrée in Sauce||0.96%||39.37%|
|Flaked Skipjack Tuna with Wild Salmon Entrée in Broth||0.90%||55.96%|
|Flaked Skipjack Tuna with Shrimp Entrée in Broth||0.93%||56.54%|
CORE® Tiny Tasters
|Chicken & Beef||0.92%||43.64%|
|Chicken & Turkey||0.97%||44.85%|
|Tuna & Salmon||0.97%||66.21%|
|Morsels Chicken & Chicken Liver||0.55%||37.87%|
|Morsels Chicken & Salmon||0.56%||39.86%|
|Morsels Chicken & Turkey||0.61%||37.12%|
|Morsels Salmon & Tuna||0.60%||42.70%|
|Morsels Turkey & Duck||0.62%||38.35%|
|Gravies Chicken & Turkey||0.93%||34.21%|
|Shreds Chicken & Turkey||0.81%||32.26%|
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.
Canned Wet Food
|Clean Protein Chicken||49.167%||1.121%||4.958|
|Clean Protein Whitefish||60.633%||1.179%||4.908|
|Clean Protein Rabbit & Turkey||52.738%||1.242%||3.108|
|Clean Protein Pork||48.113%||0.975%||4.679|
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.
Wet Canned Food
|Premium Chicken with Sweet Potato||0.9%||47.0%|
|Chicken & Vegetables||0.9%||57.5%|
|Chicken in Gravy||0.9%||59.5%|
|Chicken with Duck||1.0%||57.6%|
|Chicken with Egg||1.0%||60.7%|
|Chicken & Beef in Pumpkin Soup||1.1%||80.7%|
|Chicken with Liver in Pumpkin Soup||1.1%||47.0%|
|Tuna with Chicken Liver||1.0%||104.3%|
|Tuna with Clams||0.9%||93.7%|
|Tuna with Mussels||0.9%||93.7%|
|Tuna with Smoked Tuna||0.7%||86.6%|
|Tuna with Threadfin Bream||0.8%||87.9%|
|Tuna in Aspic||0.8%||87.2%|
|Tuna with Chicken||0.9%||106.7%|
|Tuna with Oceanfish||1.0%||93.7%|
|Tuna with Prawns||0.9%||96.4%|
|Tuna with Salmon||0.9%||98.1%|
|Tuna with Shrimp||1.0%||97.8%|
|Tuna with Anchovies||0.9%||106.7%|
This company focus’ on a selection of natural, limited ingredient diet cat foods that provide all the essential nutrients your cat needs with as few ingredients as possible. Build the perfect plate for your cat with dry recipes, wet recipes, and beneficial broths.
Canned Wet Food
Important note: There has just been a new production run with very minor changes to our formula (for example, we upgraded to a higher quality sunflower oil to optimize our omega fatty acid ratios) and we are waiting to get the final nutrient values back. I do have the values for our previous production run and we hope the new values are really similar.
I’ll list the previous values below to give you an idea of where they landed. If your cat has a health issue that requires really specific values (such as kidney failure), I’d encourage you to check back for the new values to make sure they line up before feeding the food since nutrition can make such an impact. I’m hoping to have those final values back fairly soon.
Raw Cat Food for Kidney Disease
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.
Dry Cat Food for Cats with Kidney Disease
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.
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.
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.