Dealing with the food struggles that parents of cats with kidney disease face? I haven’t experienced a picky eater until our cat as diagnosed with Kidney Disease. Now it’s like a revolving door of what my cat will and won’t eat that week. And over the years, the flavors, brands and type of food as completely changed! A popular cat food is Fancy Feast, it’s a relatively inexpensive food at about $0.60 a can at Walmart and many cats find it irresistible. But does that make Fancy Feast good for cats with kidney disease?
What to Look for in Food for a Cat with 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 of fish and another protein. This is back to finding what works for you and your cat. 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.Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM
Disclaimer: The food listed below DOES NOT mean we 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 or your cat has other health concerns.
For More Reading: Best Cat Food for Cats with Kidney Disease
Fancy Feast What is it?
Fancy Feast is a whole line up of savory flavors for cats. It also has several textures options for your cats as well. Every Fancy Feast entrée is made with delicious details, served daily. But most interestingly cats seem to get addicted to Fancy Feast.
Often times people have been feeding it for ages and then when their cat gets kidney disease they try to get them to eat other canned wet food that better fits phosphorous and protein guides their cats will turn their nose up to it. We do not recommend Fancy Feast for cats with CKD, but some people can’t get their cats away from it. And it’s important to remember an eating cat is always the most important.
Recommended Flavors of Fancy Feast
Just to be clear before we get into our top recommendations from the fancy Feast lineup none of these options are ideal for your cat with kidney disease. However, if your cat just can’t get away from the stuff or if your cat just won’t eat ANY of the low phosphorus foods, at some point you do have to put aside your concerns and just feed your cat whatever he or she will eat. Yes, even if it’s not great for CKD.
Above all, your cat does HAVE to eat well, even if the only food they’ll eat well is Fancy Feast. If you haven’t had success feeding anything else here a few flavors to give a try.
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.
|Fancy Feast Flavor (Percent in DMB)||Protein||Phos.|
|Medleys Wild Salmon Primavera with Garden Veggies & Greens||56.90%||0.99%|
|Purely Natural White Meat Chicken and Flaked Tuna Entrée in a Delicate Broth||72.22%||1.11%|
|Purely Natural Wild Alaskan Salmon & White Meat Chicken in a Delicate Broth||75%||1.11%|
|Purely Natural White Meat Chicken Entrée in a Delicate Broth||80.56%||1.11%|
|Purely Natural Flaked Skipjack Tuna in a Delicate Broth||77.78%||1.17%|
|Purely Natural Tender Tongol Tuna Entrée in a Delicate Broth||83.3%||1.17%|
|Purely Natural Seabass and Shrimp in a Delicate Broth||77.78%||1.22%|
How to Make Fancy Feast Better for your Kidney Cat
So we have covered the baselines that this brand of food isn’t the best option for cats with failing kidneys. But if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place what should you do?
Well, we already mentioned, don’t let your cat starve they need to eat and nourish their bodies. Part of the process of transitioning food is to mix the new food with the old. Try mixing in the fancy feast with a food choice that has less protein and phosphorus. Treat toppers like this are a great way to trick your cat into eating something they may not otherwise.
Try adding in a supplement that helps assist your cat in removing excess waste material from their body. To help our stage 4 cat we add in a powder call Kidney Restore. It’s a special probiotic blend that helps remove phosphorous and other waste from your cats body assisting the kidneys and not making them work as hard as they were before. It is thought to help stretch out the life of the kidneys by reducing their workload.
My Cat Doesn’t Have High Phosphorous Is Fancy Feast Fine Then?
Well, no it’s not that simple. You should try to feed the low phosphorus foods even if the cat’s blood phosphorus is not high. The reason is that in chronic kidney disease, the kidneys have trouble removing the excess phosphorus they used to remove easily when they were healthy. Putting the extra strain on this organ will cause the body will start compensating in other ways before you see a rise in the blood phosphorus. It’s just easier on the body and the kidneys if you can feed a low phosphorus diet.
Even More Food Recommendations for Cats with Kidney Disease
We talk about food a lot on here in relation to kidney disease it’s a tough subject and every cat is so different. I was amazed at how differently my two cats with CKD handled food. One refused kibble the other still clung to it. One only ate prescription food for months the other would eat for days and change their mind.
My point is you have to be willing to roll with the changes and let your cat lead the way. Remember cats always get the last laugh, they run the show! So don’t feel defeated if Fancy Feast is all your cat will eat. While it may not be the best food they are happy and have a full belly right? I think we all agree we want our cats days to be happy warm memories not hungry, miserable ones.
If you are looking for other food options you can always reference our ever growing list of food options for cats with kidney disease.
Wednesday 7th of December 2022
This was helpful, thank you. I've been going crazy trying different varieties of kidney food. My kitty eats them for a little while and then nibbles and walks away. Trying to get her to eat what she should is so stressful and she isn't enjoying it either. Thank you for listing options and what you have tried with your cat.
Wednesday 7th of December 2022
Hang in there! My other go to is using the kidney restore powder on top of food it's bacon flavored and our cat goes nuts plus it helps maintain her phosphorous down in a normal range so she stay eating well.