The Best Commercial Cat Food for Kidney DiseaseLast updated: by Jessi Larson Affiliate Disclosure: We hope you love the products we've recommended! As an Amazon Associate we earn a small share from qualifying purchases.
You love your cat and want the best for them, especially when they’re suffering from a serious ailment like issues with their kidneys. That’s why you’re looking for the best commercial cat food for kidney disease.
But with all the options on the market, how do you pick the best one?
This guide will share the top 7 picks for best commercial cat food for kidney disease. To help you further, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each brand, so you can make a more informed decision.
Taking these steps will help ensure the health and well being of your precious pet.
Best Commercial Cat Food for Kidney Disease: Our Top 7 Picks
#1) Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Dry Cat Food
Est. Price: $6.35/lb
Formulated by Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians to support cat kidney function
- Protects vital kidney and heart function
- Helps stimulate the appetite
- Includes high levels of essential amino acid
- More expensive than regular cat foods
Focused on improving cat kidney health, Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d cat food is clinically tested to enhance the quality and length of a cat’s life.
The food is made with controlled phosphorus and low sodium along with therapeutic levels of l-carnitine and omega-3 fatty acids. It also includes high levels of essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
Kidney disease often decreases a cat’s appetite, leading to a loss of muscle. To combat this, the Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d cat food features Enhanced Appetite Trigger (E.A.T.) technology to stimulate a cat’s appetite and increase their caloric intake.
#2) Forza10 Nutraceutic Actiwet Renal Support Wet Cat Food
Est. Price: $15/lb
Made with natural, therapeutic ingredients to support renal health
- Formulated for renal and cardiac health
- High moisture and low protein
- Minimally processed ingredients
- Shorter shelf life than other cat foods
Grain free and minimally processed, the Forza10 Nutraceutic Actiwet Renal Support Wet Cat Food is formulated specifically for cats with kidney issues. It’s made of pasture-raised New Zealand lamb and a mix of natural, therapeutic plants and fruits that nourish the cat’s body and help improve their health.
The special renal support formula includes lower protein levels recommended for kidney disease plus reduced phosphorous and sodium for cats with cardiac issues. A high-moisture wet canned food, it also helps cats with reduced kidney function get the extra water they need, making it one of our top picks for best commercial cat food for kidney disease.
#3) Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Kidney Function Dry Cat Food – Early Care
Est. Price: $7.04/lb
Specially crafted dry cat food for early stage kidney care
- Energy-dense in needed calories
- Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
- Moderate protein and restricted phosphorous
- Focuses on early stages of kidney function versus more advanced cases
This commercial cat food for kidney disease is formulated specifically for cats with early stages of the ailment. If your cat is just starting to exhibit kidney issues, this is the food for you.
Nutrient-rich and packed with the extra calories your cat needs, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Early Care Kidney Function Food includes controlled sodium, added B-complex vitamins and potassium, Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and moderate amounts of protein for optimal intake.
#4) Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Kidney Function Dry Cat Food – Advanced Care
Est. Price: $6.90
A cat food formulated for felines with more advanced cases of kidney disease
- High protein-to-calorie ratio
- Low in fat and packed with natural fiber
- Added B-complex vitamins and potassium
- Focuses on advanced kidney disease versus earlier stages
Unfortunately, kidney disease is often detected at later stages. In this case, it’s best to go with the Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Advanced Care Kidney Function Food.
Developed by nutritionists, researchers and veterinarians, this dry food contains a reduced amount of high-quality protein and restricted phosphorous. It features omega-3 fatty acids with EPA and DHA as well as healthy antioxidants.
#5) Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support Canned Cat Food
Est. Price: XXX
Helps promote kidney function and stimulates appetite in cats
- Soft texture that’s easy to eat
- Precise antioxidant levels
- Energy-dense formula
- Wet foods are more expensive
- Cans (as all wet food) should be checked against spoilage
Cats with kidney disease often experience a decreased appetite, so the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support Canned Cat Food focuses on packing in as many nutrients as possible and enhancing the flavor of the food.
Formulated to help support kidney health in adult cats, the food includes a precise antioxidant complex, fatty acids from fish oil, low phosphorus and targeted protein levels.
This is the best commercial cat food for kidney disease if your furry friend doesn’t want to eat but needs the calories and nutrition.
#6) Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney + Mobility Dry Cat Food
Est. Price: $6.14/lb
A wholesome, natural food that supports kidney function as well as mobility and joint health
- Grain-free formula
- Controlled levels of protein and sodium
- Also supports mobility
- Not the best option for picky eaters
The Blue Buffalo brand offers a cat food that focuses specifically on kidney health while also promoting joint function and mobility.
To help a cat’s kidney workload, the food includes controlled levels of protein and minerals such as phosphorus and sodium. It also packs in vital nutrients such as DHA, glucosamine and chondroitin.
This is a great pick if your cat is older and you want to focus on their overall health.
#7) Forza10 Active Kidney Renal Diet Dry Cat Food
Est. Price: $7.99/lb
A complete and balanced food that aids both kidney and cardiac health
- Low in protein, phosphorous and sodium
- High in Omega-3
- Limited-ingredient formula
- Most expensive dry food option
This food from Forza10 focuses on improving both kidney and cardiac health in cats. Cats with these conditions often need diets that are low in protein, phosphorous or sodium, and this food has low levels of all three.
The food features therapeutic plant extracts and wild-caught anchovy to give cats their needed doses of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, it’s made with limited ingredients and no corn, wheat, soy, by-product meals or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. This helps avoid allergies and intolerances.
Dry vs Wet Options: Best Commercial Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Many cat owners aren’t sure if they should be feeding their furry friend dry or wet cat food. Here’s some help for choosing what’s best for your cat.
The main difference between the foods themselves is the amount of water they contain. Dry cat food is about 10% water, while wet cat food is about 70%. You can also try adding water to dry food to see if your cat prefers it. Just add 2-3 cups of water per cup of dry food.
When feeding dry cat food you’ll want to ensure your feline is drinking enough water. This can be done by making sure your cat always has water available, even in different bowls if you’re on different levels of a house. You can also flavor your cat’s water with chicken broth (no garlic or onion) or tuna ‘water’ to encourage drinking.
Dry Cat Food – Pros & Cons
- Less expensive
- Doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge
- Can be left out during the day
- Can lead to obesity, often because cats are fed too much
- Older cats can have a hard time eating
- Cat will need more water in their diet
Wet Cat Food – Pros & Cons
- Hydrates cats
- Can help with health conditions like kidney disease
- Some cats prefer wet food
- Must be stored in fridge after opening
- Has a higher risk of contamination
Kidney Disease in Cats: Everything You Need to Know
Like humans, feline kidneys serve many functions: blood is filtered, mineral levels and blood pressure are regulated, water is conserved, and urine and hormones are produced.
Because felines, also like humans, only require a third of a kidney to be functioning for survival, kidney disease is often detected late. And because of this delayed detection, damage likely occurs for months, or even years, before being formally diagnosed.
To keep your cat in the best health, always monitor them and take note of any changes to their daily life. This can be the difference between early and late detection.
Types of Kidney Failure
Kidney disease is categorized as either acute kidney failure or chronic kidney failure.
Acute failure develops rather suddenly, usually over days or weeks. If diagnosed early, it has the potential to be reversed. Kittens may fall into this category as they are sometimes born with kidney disease.
On the contrary, chronic failure is commonly found later in a feline’s life because it develops over months or years.
If a cat is 7 years old or older, special attention should be paid to them because of this.
Although stories of kidney disease are often focused on older felines, the ailment can occur at any age so it’s important to take note of any changes your cat may be showing. (About 10 percent of kidney disease cases occur in cats younger than 3 years old.)
Causes of Kidney Failure in Cats
So what exactly causes kidney failure in cats?
A feline can develop kidney disease from encountering poisons or toxins. Common culprits include household chemicals (such as antifreeze or cleaning fluids), toxic plants (like lilies or poinsettias), and human medications (such as ibuprofen).
Beyond this, feline trauma, rapid dehydration, shock from rapid blood loss, infection, blockages and/or heart failure may also trigger the renal disease.
After a cat has developed kidney disease, symptoms can take the form of three categories: appearance, behavior and internal physical issues.
Symptoms related to appearance include a brownish-colored tongue, changes in urine color, ulcers in the mouth, weight loss and a poor-quality coat.
Kidney disease also causes behavior changes in cats. Signs include frequent urination and water intake, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath with ammonia like odor, constipation, weakness and indifference.
Physical symptoms are the hardest to detect because they often occur internally. Common issues include:
- Bacterial infection in the bladder or kidney
- Urinary tract infection
- Kidney or ureteral stones
- High blood pressure
- Advanced dental disease
- Thyroid problems
Even with all these symptoms, some felines may show no issues at all so regular check-ups with your veterinarian are crucial. (Here’s how to find the best veterinarian for your cat.)
Diagnosis and Treatment
Upon detection, a customized treatment plan with multiple goals can be implemented.
At the onset symptoms, the doctor may perform blood and urine tests, X-Rays, ultrasounds, and/or biopsies may be performed to complete the diagnosis.
Veterinarians will often use the IRIS (The International Renal Interest Society) staging system to identify the stage of the disease and how best to proceed with treatment.
Based on the shown and determined symptoms, a personalized treatment plan will be determined to combat any health concerns.
Treatment plans most likely include IV fluids, an increase in water intake, medications and supplements, and a special diet to help lower the level of waste in the bloodstream. Selecting the best commercial cat food for kidney disease is essential to their treatment and success.
With early diagnosis and a customized treatment plan, the progression of kidney disease can slow and help avoid renal failure.
Although kidney disease cannot be permanently cured, the news is that long-term management is relatively inexpensive. Feeding your cat the best commercial cat food for kidney disease is an affordable to help improve their health.
How to Care for a Cat with Kidney Disease
A diagnosis of kidney disease in your beloved cat is never easy. But now is the time to take action. For the best outcomes, you’ll need to formulate a plan to help your cat manage their condition and live their best life.
When managing kidney disease for cats, there are four principal objectives:
- Controlling the signs of accumulating waste products in the blood
- Reducing and minimizing problems associated with balancing fluids and minerals
- Assuring the cat is getting proper nutrition and selecting the best commercial cat food for kidney disease
- Changing or slowing the progression of disease
The best way to do this is by ensuring that your cat has a calm living environment, regular checkups, lots of clean, fresh water and a carefully managed diet.
We’re sure you’ve got the first three covered on your own, but you might need help planning out a proper diet for your cat with kidney disease, so let’s take a look at that in depth.
A Different Diet: The Best Commercial Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Kidney-support diets contain less protein, phosphorus and sodium than regular feline diets do. They also have an increase in omega-3 fatty acids.
Any option on this list of the the best commercial cat food for kidney disease will provide your cat with the nutrient support they need.
In addition to high-quality food, you also have to make sure your cat is getting plenty of water.
Kidney disease makes kidneys less effective at concentrating and secreting urine. To counter that, the body stimulates greater thirst to promote urination. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the cat always has clean, fresh water available.
Keeping water in multiple locations is a good idea. Another way to try to see that the cat gets additional water is to feed it moist food.
Scientists have learned that the progression of kidney disease can be slower when there is less protein in the diet. The kidneys have to work less to excrete waste products that come from protein and to excrete protein itself.
Cats with kidney disease should be getting protein in 28-35% of their diets on a dry matter basis. It’s important not to go too low because that can lead to decreased muscle mass.
Although scientists haven’t yet figured out exactly how it happens, they’ve realized that reduced phosphorus seems to slow the progression of kidney disease. The recommended new intake range is 0.3-0.6% of the diet.
Phosphorus and protein content are related, so there is no reducing one without reducing the other.
Less sodium means a lighter workload on kidneys.To that effect, a mild reduction in sodium intake is in order (less than 0.4%).
Increased Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We hear a lot about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for humans, but they benefit cats as well. Inflammatory compounds can cause oxidative stress to the tissue of diseased kidneys. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the production of those compounds.
As a result, less protein “leaks” through the kidneys, which helps slow the progression of kidney. The recommended range of dietary increase is 0.4-2.5%.
The Best Commercial Cat Food for Kidney Disease: Adjustments and Complications
Whenever you change an animal’s diet, there can be complications. The top two for cats on a kidney-support diet are constipation and not eating.
Constipation can occur because of dehydration, reduced gastrointestinal activity and medication. Providing enteral or parenteral fluids can help.
That isn’t always so easy to do with a cat, though. The best way to address constipation are stool softeners, laxatives and increased dietary fiber.
If the cat isn’t eating, first determine if there are environmental stressors. If there are any, remove or change them.
You can also try warming the food, which often makes the scent stronger and more enticing and taste a little different. In addition, adding small amounts of tuna juice, gravy or low-sodium chicken broth can help.
In cases where the loss of appetite is persistent or the cat is not maintaining its normal weight, see a vet as soon as possible. Feeding tubes or other measures may be in order.
Final Thoughts: The Best Commercial Cat Food for Kidney Disease
Finding the right diet for a cat with kidney disease can seem daunting at first. Their food needs specific percentages of protein, phosphorus, sodium and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fortunately, no one is expecting you to figure out all these percentages and mixtures all on your own! The best commercial cat food for kidney disease will automatically include the right formulations.
Kidney disease is a common ailment as cats get older, so there has been much research on dietary needs. Cat food manufacturers have responded to the demand and created products focused on kidney-support diets.
To help in your search, our guide has highlighted the very best commercial cat food for kidney disease among all the options on the market. It’s also a good idea to consult with your vet to get their input.
Kidney disease is a scary diagnosis, but with proper food and care, your cat can live their best life possible.