If your cat is suffering from bloating, diarrhea or vomiting (and isn't on new medication, stressed, or gulping their food down too quickly), it could be time to take a closer look at their diet.
While some of the more complex (not to mention costly!) conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are a result of genetics or other factors, the food you give them has a huge impact on their digestive health and overall wellbeing.
Below you’ll find everything you need to know about sensitive stomach cat food and steps you can take to get your feline friend’s digestive health back on track.
Did you know your cat is a ‘true carnivore’?
Cats have unique needs when it comes to nutrition, which many pet guardians aren't aware of.
Did you know that cats aren't equipped to digest plants and vegetables?
Dogs can process a small amount of plant matter, whereas cats are obligate carnivores (or ‘true carnivores’) that rely on animal-derived raw materials to meet their nutritional requirements.
Did you also know that cats (in the wild) get 70-75% of their daily water intake from their prey?
Raw meat provides the moisture cats need to support their digestive tract.
Although your pet doesn't have to hunt prey like they would in the wild, they still have a naturally lower thirst drive (you don’t often see cats lapping up a big bowl of water like their canine counterparts, right?). Chronic dehydration, combined with a poor diet, wreaks havoc on your cat’s urinary tract and is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.
If you’re feeding your cat a sole diet of dry foods (which are typically 5-10% water) and no meat, there’s a good chance they’re dehydrated. Dry foods are often highly processed and in addition contain grains, starches, rice, potatoes and other fillers that cats struggle to digest, which can lead to other health issues including itchy skin, yeast infections, allergies, obesity and IBD/IBS.
IBS and IBD - what’s the difference?
Unfortunately, cats of all breeds and life stages are susceptible to a range of digestive issues such as IBS and IBD.
If your cat suffers from IBS, uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting will come and go. If left untreated, however, IBS can develop into IBD, which is chronic inflammation of the stomach or intestines.
Symptoms of IBD are similar to IBS (with the addition of a dull coat, fatigue and even depression) but are often more painful and consistent. IBD is also the number one cause of gastrointestinal (GI) issues in cats, which affect your cat’s ability to absorb nutrients from their food.
While there’s no single cause of IBD, sensitivity to additives such as artificial colors, flavors and preservatives often plays a major role.
What can you do if your cat has a sensitive stomach?
Cats are usually quite private when it comes to bathroom matters, but if you notice any signs such as vomiting, bloating or diarrhea, we suggest you:
- Take them to your trusted vet for a checkup
- Remove your cat from a diet full of ‘filler products’ mentioned earlier (dry foods that have been processed under high temperatures or contain added grains, flavours or preservatives).
- Replace their processed diet with one that’s moist, high in animal protein, and low in carbohydrates (this is the ideal diet your cat needs to not only survive, but thrive!).
- Make sure your cat has access to clean, fresh drinking water at all times.
What does the ‘ideal diet’ look like?
The best cat food for sensitive stomachs is simple: go back to basics. If you can mimic the diet Mother Nature intended for your kitty to eat (a moist, high-meat, low-carbohydrate diet), they will have a solid foundation for a happy and healthy life.
Start by learning to read food labels. The food you buy should have a short, simple and recognizable ingredient list - not a long list of chemicals!
If you take a look at any ZIWI Peak air-dried or canned recipe, you’ll see it mirrors the whole prey diet of meat, organs, bone, and seafood (ingredients that are all ethically and sustainably sourced from New Zealand). The bonus of ZIWI Peak is that your pet gets all the benefits of a raw diet with the safety and convenience of a dry one. Our canned food also contains 77.5% moisture, so you can be confident your furry friend is getting adequate hydration.
If your cat already has digestive issues, you’ll be pleased to know all ZIWI recipes (except chicken) also contain 7% species-appropriate cold-washed green tripe, which may help to alleviate IBS symptoms.
When transitioning from a highly processed to a (much healthier!) raw or raw alternative diet, we also recommend a ‘single protein’ approach. This means starting with a single protein that your cat is familiar with. Once your cat becomes comfortable eating a single recipe, you can slowly start to add another.
Transitioning your furry feline to a better diet takes time and effort, but it’s well worth the investment. You can access our transitioning guide here for more information.
The ZIWI Peak range has been tried and tested by some of the world’s pickiest cats! Here are some final words from their pet guardians…
“My kitty has IBD and this is the cleanest cat food I can find. She's allergic to most commercial cat foods, but she loves this and it stays down.” - Ginnyin Michiagan
“Finally a food I can trust! Finally a food that is made clean and simple! No toxic ingredients. I have an orange tabby Pretzel who has a very sensitive stomach and would throw up with just about every dry food. Finally he is without issue!” - Amazon reviewer
“Had done lots of research. My cat is VERY allergic. He LOVES it and has no problems.” - Nancy, Amazon reviewer