Which low-protein cat food is best?

Switching your cat to a low-protein diet isn’t a matter of preference — it’s a matter of health. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they can’t get the nutrients they need to live healthy lives anywhere else but from meat. As such, reducing your cat’s protein intake should only be done if strictly necessary and under your veterinarian’s supervision.

The best low-protein cat food is the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Renal Support Dry Cat Food. It requires a prescription and is perfect for kidney-related issues.

What to know before you buy a low-protein cat food

Prescription

You should always consult your veterinarian before changing your cat to a low-protein diet, but that doesn’t mean that low-protein cat foods require a prescription.

However, the best ones do. These prescription-only foods have been carefully formulated by veterinarians rather than cat food companies, so you can trust that they contain the nutrients your ailing cat needs to recover. The only downside is they cost more than non-prescription foods.

Low-protein cat food types

Low-protein cat food comes in three types.

  • Dry foods are the most common as they tend to be the most affordable. They also have a much longer shelf life than other food types. The downsides to dry foods are the low moisture and high carb contents. Cats don’t always drink enough water, and dry foods can exacerbate this. Meanwhile, carbs are mostly unnecessary for cats and can cause additional health issues.
  • Wet foods have two major downsides. They cost more and don’t last. However, the high moisture content is good for weakened kidneys, and cats tend to reject wet food less often than dry food.
  • Raw foods are another lesser-used option. Most options you find in stores are freeze-dried, so they won’t spoil, so some turn to making their own. Your veterinarian can even help you create a raw food meal plan that, ahem, meats your cat’s low-protein needs.

Quantity

No matter what form your prospective low-protein cat food takes, you need to consider how much you buy. Dry foods typically come in multi-pound bags. Common weights are 3 and 8 pounds. Wet foods come by the can, and you can often purchase cans in bulk sizes of six or 12.

What to look for in a quality low-protein cat food

Flavor

Cats have taste buds just like us. If the time has come for your cat to swap to a low-protein diet, chances are you’ve already worked out what kinds of food it likes and dislikes. Use that as your guide when shopping. If your cat likes poultry or fish, pick a low-protein food with that flavor.

Don’t be discouraged if your cat doesn’t like the first few foods you try. You’ll find one. You can also see if your veterinarian has samples of prescription options to try before you buy.

Your cat’s age

Your cat’s age affects its overall dietary needs. For example, senior cats need fewer calories. Most low-protein cat foods are intended for adult cats, but some are made with seniors in mind. If you have a kitten or your cat hasn’t quite reached adulthood and needs a low-protein diet, consult with your veterinarian on the proper course of action.

How much you can expect to spend on a low-protein cat food

They can cost as little as $15 or as much as $80-plus. Small packages typically cost no more than $25, while the average package costs $30-$40. The largest packages can easily eclipse $50.

Low-protein cat food FAQ

How much protein does a cat need?

A. According to PetMD, a healthy adult cat’s diet needs roughly 25% protein, while a healthy 12-year-old-plus cat’s diet needs to be closer to 50% protein. Lowering these percentages further than necessary can lead to malnutrition, so always consult with your veterinarian before starting a low-protein diet.

Why are cats put on a low-protein diet?

A. The two most common issues that can potentially be helped by a low-protein diet are kidney- and liver-related issues.

What’s the best low-protein cat food to buy?

Top low-protein cat food

Best Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Renal Support A Dry Cat Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Renal Support a Dry Cat Food

What you need to know: This prescription-only food is aimed at improving kidney health.

What you’ll love: Its formula is energy-dense, so your cat can get everything they need from a smaller meal volume. This A-type food (for aromatic) is scented to help get picky cats interested in eating. Extra benefits include fatty acids and antioxidants, plus it’s also low-phosphorus.

What you should consider: It’s among the priciest available.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and PetSmart

Top low-protein cat food for the money

Best Evanger’s Dog And Cat Food Super Premium Low-Fat Vegetarian Dinner For Dogs And Cats

Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Super Premium Low-Fat Vegetarian Dinner for Dogs and Cats

What you need to know: This formula focuses on fruits and veggies to get your cat their nutrients.

What you’ll love: It has a minimum 7% concentration of protein which it gets from using eggs. It’s packed with moisture, making it helpful for cats that don’t drink enough. It doesn’t require a prescription, and it’s among the most affordable cat foods.

What you should consider: It spoils quickly once opened, so if your cat has a small appetite, you may be unable to use the whole can.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Worth checking out

Best Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Early Care Feline Formula Adult Dry Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Early Care Feline Formula Adult Dry Cat Food

What you need to know: This is another great prescription-only dry food, but for less money.

What you’ll love: On top of the reduced protein levels, it’s also phosphorus-restricted and full of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also packed with antioxidants and has a 12% moisture level. There’s also a dry and wet version of this food with even lower protein levels.

What you should consider: Some purchasers had issues with their cats initially liking it, but later stopped eating it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and PetSmart

 

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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