The Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease

This is our review of the 10 best cat food for kidney disease in 2021.

As a cat owner, a diagnosis of kidney disease for your beloved feline can be a huge worry. Your veterinarian may advise that you feed a special diet, but how do you know which one to choose?

Chronic kidney disease is the most common metabolic disease of domesticated cats, so many cat owners will find themselve caring for a cat with this life-long illness at some stage [1]. Studies have shown that cats with kidney disease that are fed the right diet will live longer and healthier lives. [2]

I have researched the best cat food for kidney disease, so you don’t have to. And I found that Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food is the best cat food for kidney disease.

Feeding the right diet is the most important aspect of managing a cat with kidney disease. The right cat food for kidney disease will help to maintain good kidney function and improve your cat’s health and wellbeing.

The perfect food for cats with kidney disease should have low levels of high-quality protein. It should also have less sodium and phosphorus than normal foods, and increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This is why I think that Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food is the best food for cats with kidney disease, as it is a high-quality complete diet which meets all of these requirements.

Every cat with kidney disease has unique dietary needs, so I’ve also reviewed the top cat food for kidney disease in every category.

Keep reading to find out which is the best food for your cat with kidney disease.

Contents

10 Best Cat Foods for Kidney Disease Reviewed

All cat foods included on this list meet the standard AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for cats. [3] Always consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your cat’s diet.

1. Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food – Best Overall Kidney Food for Cats

  • First 5 Ingredients: Brown Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken, Pork Fat, Whole Grain Wheat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber
  • Caloric Content: 541 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Clinically proven high quality complete diet for cats with kidney disease
  • Type of Product: Dry Food, Prescription-Only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Best Overall Kidney Food for Cats

Hills Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food tops our list of the best kidney diets for cats, as it meets all the nutritional requirements of cats with kidney disease.

Clinical trials have shown that this diet improves and lengthens the quality of life of cats with kidney disease – I don’t think you can get much better than that! [4]

This formula is low in protein, using high quality sources such as chicken to produce a diet with 26% protein. Low levels of high-quality protein are recommended for cats with kidney disease, as protein breakdown causes high levels of toxins to build up in the blood. 26% dry matter protein is the optimum amount for cats, as recommended by Association of American Feed Control Officials. [5]

Feeding Hills Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care helps to stimulate your cat’s appetite and increase calorie intake with the use of Enhanced Appetite Trigger (E.A.T.) technology.

This product is made with controlled phosphorus and low sodium. It also includes therapeutic levels of l-carnitine and omega-3 fatty acids, and high levels of essential amino acids – it really does tick all the boxes for a complete food for cats with kidney disease!

Veterinary prescription required.

2. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food – Best for Cats with Kidney Disease and Grain Allergies

  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Peas, Pea Starch, Potato Starch, Dried Egg Product
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 9% Moisture
  • ●     Caloric Content: 425 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: A grain-free diet for cats with kidney disease
  • Type of Product: Grain-free, Prescription-only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Cats with kidney disease and grain allergies

Blue Buffalo Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is a wholesome, natural diet which is grain-free – perfect for cats with kidney disease who have sensitive tummies.

This food meets all the criteria of a good-quality cat food for kidney disease. It contains controlled levels of high-quality protein derived from chicken and is low in phosphorus and sodium.

Blue Buffalo Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food does not contain any grains, so is suitable for cats with intolerances or allergies to foods such as wheat, barley, and corn. [6]

The added bonus of this food it that it also maintains mobility, with added nutrients such as DHA, glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joint function and overall mobility. This makes it a great choice for older cats.

Veterinary prescription required.

3. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Early Care Feline Formula Wet Cat Food – Best for Cats with Early Stage Kidney Disease

  • First 5 Ingredients: Meat By-Products, Liver, Rice, Chicken By-Products, Powdered Cellulose,
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 6.5% Crude Protein, 3% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 77% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 162 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: Formulated to help support kidney function in cats with early stage kidney disease
  • Type of Product: Wet Food, Prescription-only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Cats with Early Stage Kidney Disease

Purina Pro Plan Kidney Function Early Care Wet Cat Food is a highly palatable cat food, perfect for cats which are in the early stages of kidney disease.

Early nutritional intervention has been shown to slow the progression of the disease and help cats to sustain a good quality of life for many years. [7]

During these early stages, it is not always necessary to feed highly restricted levels of protein. This food is developed to contain moderate amounts of high-quality protein from a range of sources. Feeding too little protein can be as detrimental your cat’s overall health as feeding too much. [8]

This cat food also includes omega-3 fatty acids with EPA and DHA as well as healthy antioxidants. As with all veterinary kidney diets for cats, it is low in phosphorous.

There is also a kibble version of this diet, making it a good choice for cat owners who prefer to feed both wet and dry food.

Veterinary prescription required.

4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food – Best for Cats with Kidney Disease with a Poor Appetite

  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Chicken, Wheat Flour,
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 6.5% Crude Protein, 6.5% Crude Fat, 1.7% Crude Fiber, 78.5% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 98 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: A kidney diet with delectable thin slices of food in gravy, to tempt cats with a poor appetite
  • Type of Product: Wet Food, Prescription-only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Cats with Kidney Disease who are Fussy Eaters or with a Poor Appetite

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food is a great choice for cats who are feeling under the weather. It has been specially formulated to be highly palatable, with thin slices of food in a delicious gravy. Believe me, it really does look good enough to eat!

One of the big problems in caring for a cat with kidney disease is their reduced appetite, and it can be difficult to get them to eat enough calories to maintain their weight. This food meets all the nutritional requirements of a veterinary kidney diet and is also energy dense, so your cat only needs to eat small amounts. [9]

This product is part of a range of appetite-stimulating foods for cats with kidney disease made by Royal Canin, giving you a range of different delicious meals for your cat to try.

Veterinary prescription required.

5. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Formula Canned Cat Food – Best for Cats with Advanced Kidney Disease

  • First 5 Ingredients: Meat By-products, Chicken Hearts, Rice, Liver, Poultry By-Products
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 6% Crude Protein, 4% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 77% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 165 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: Formulated to help support kidney function in cats with advanced kidney disease
  • Type of Product: Wet Food, Prescription-only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Cats with Advanced Kidney Disease

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Advanced Care Feline Formula Wet Cat Food is specially formulated to help support kidney function in cats in advanced stages of kidney disease.

Sadly, kidney disease is incurable, and at some stage your cat may progress to advanced kidney disease. Research suggests that at this stage the levels of protein should be restricted even further to reduce levels of waste products from protein metabolism in the bloodstream. [10]

This formula contains a reduced amount of high-quality protein from a range of sources, and restricted phosphorous. This wet cat food also features omega-3 fatty acids with EPA and DHA as well as healthy antioxidants to support your cat’s overall health and wellbeing.

Veterinary prescription required.

6. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support E Canned Cat Food – Best for Cats with Kidney Disease and Weight Loss

  • First 5 Ingredients: Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Brewers Rice Flour
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 6% Crude Protein, 5.1% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 79.5% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 151 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: An energy dense food to help weight gain in cats with kidney disease
  • Type of Product: Wet Food, Prescription-only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Cats with Kidney Disease and Weight Loss

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support E Canned Cat Food is a highly palatable and energy-dense cat food, perfect for cats with kidney disease who have lost weight.

Weight loss in cats with kidney disease is linked to a lower survival rate. It is vital that your cat with kidney disease eats the right diet to maintain his weight in order to give him a longer and happier life. [11]

This formula is highly palatable and energy-dense, making it easier for your cat to maintain his weight even if his appetite is low. If your cat enjoys this food, he will quickly start to gain weight and body condition.

As this food is so calorific, it is important to ensure that your cat does not become obese! This is not a suitable diet for greedy cats or those prone to weight gain.

Veterinary prescription required.

7. Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food – Best for Cats with Kidney Disease and Joint and Mobility Problems

  • First 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Pork Fat, Soy Protein Isolate, Chicken Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 19% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber
  • Caloric Content: 484 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Kidney diet for cats with enhanced joint and mobility support
  • Type of Product: Dry Food, Prescription-only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Cats with Kidney Disease and Joint and Mobility Problems

Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food has all the benefits of a high-quality cat food for kidney disease, with the added benefit of mobility support for elderly cats.

This formula will provide your cat with all the nutritional benefits required to support his kidney function – controlled levels of phosphorus, low sodium and 25% protein.

Studies have found that over 90% of geriatric cats have some form of degenerative joint condition, causing reduced mobility. [12]

Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Care has been formulated to improve mobility and increase cognitive function and vitality. It contains high levels of amino acids and is enriched with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. These help to reduce the inflammatory response of degenerative joint disease, resulting in reduced discomfort and improved mobility. [13]

Veterinary prescription required.

8. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support F Dry Cat Food – Best for Cats with Kidney Disease who are Fussy Eaters

  • First 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Corn, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Fat, Pork Digest
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 5.9% Crude Fiber, 8% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 376 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: A highly-palatable kidney diet to tempt fussy cats
  • Type of Product: Dry Food, Prescription-only Veterinary Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: Cats with Kidney Disease who are Fussy Eaters

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support F Dry Cat Food is highly palatable kibble, perfect for fussy eaters!

This formula is a highly aromatic and flavorful triangle-shaped kibble which helps to stimulate your cat’s appetite. It is also low in phosphorus and contains a precise antioxidant complex, fatty acids from fish oil and targeted protein levels to help support kidney function.

This dry cat food for kidney disease is energy-dense, providing full nutritional support in smaller portions. I’d suggest adding a splash of warm water to the kibble to really enhance out the aroma and flavor for your cat! [14]

Veterinary prescription required.

9. Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Kidney Renal Support Diet Dry Cat Food – Best Dry Non-Prescription Kidney Diet for Cats

  • First 5 Ingredients: Rice, Hydrolyzed Fish Protein, Hydrolyzed Potato Protein, Anchovy Meal, Vegetable Oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 18.5% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 8% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 461 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: A complete dry diet for cats with kidney disease, available without prescription
  • Type of Product: Dry Food
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: A Dry Food for Cats with Early Stages of Kidney Disease

Up to now, all the diets I have recommended have been prescription-only, and there is good reason for this! If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease then he should be under regular monitoring at your veterinary clinic, and they will advise and issue prescriptions for the best food for your cat.

However, sometimes it is not always practical to get a prescription. If this is the case, then Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Kidney Renal Support Diet Dry Cat Food is the best non-prescription kidney diet for cats.

This dry cat food for kidney disease is a highly nutritious and balanced formula, low in protein, phosphorus, and sodium. It contains therapeutic plant extracts and wild-caught anchovy for added omega-3 fatty acids.

Another advantage to this product is the ingredients – made with a single-source protein and no corn, wheat, soy, by-product meals or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. This makes it great for cats with sensitive tummies and owners who prefer a more natural diet for their cats.

As this is not a prescription diet, it is vital to check with your vet that this product will meet the nutritional requirements of your cat with kidney disease.

10. Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Diet Phosphorus Chicken Liver & Chicken in Juice Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food – Best Wet Non-Prescription Kidney Diet for Cats

  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Rice Flour, Pumpkin
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 5.5% Crude Protein, 3% Crude Fat, 1.5% Crude Fiber, 81% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 147 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: A complete canned diet for cats with kidney disease, available without prescription
  • Type of Product: Canned Food, Grain-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult, Senior
  • Best for: A Canned Food for Cats with Early Stages of Kidney Disease

Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Diet Phosphorus Chicken Liver & Chicken in Juice Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is great option if you are looking for a canned cat food for kidney disease available without prescription.

This tasty recipe is low in phosphorus and contains added vitamins and minerals to support your cat’s overall health. The main protein source is real chicken broth and chicken, creating a flavor your cat is bound to love.

As an added bonus, this food is grain-free, making it a good choice for cats with sensitive digestive systems.

As this is not a prescription diet, it is vital to check with your vet that this product will meet the nutritional requirements of your cat with kidney disease.

Guide To Buying Food for Cats with Kidney Disease

When selecting a balanced food for your cat with kidney disease, you’ll need to pay attention to several factors.

Nutritional Requirements

If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease then a balanced diet is critical to maintain your cat’s health and wellbeing. Your cat needs the optimum ratio of nutrients to provide sufficient levels of energy without putting additional strain on his kidneys.

Low Amounts of High Quality Protein

The ideal diet for a cat with kidney disease should have a restricted protein content. The protein should be high quality to make it easier to digest and metabolize.

Cats with kidney disease accumulate a build-up of toxic by-products in the blood as a result of protein breakdown, so feeding a reduced protein diet will help to minimise this. Too little protein can be extremely detrimental to general health, so it is important to get the balance exactly right.  [15]

It is recommended that foods for cats with kidney disease contain between 26% and 35% protein (on a dry-matter basis). [16]

Low Phosphate

Reducing the phosphate content of the diet is beneficial in protecting the kidneys from further damage in cats with kidney disease. Studies have shown that restricting phosphate appears to prolong the life of cats with kidney disease. [17]

You may see cat foods for kidney disease labelled as ‘low phosphorus’ – this is the same nutrient as phosphate, so look for either name on the label.

Fat and Energy Requirements

When lower levels of protein are being fed, alternative sources of energy are required to maintain your cat’s bodyweight. Ensuring that cats with kidney disease consume enough calories to prevent fat and muscle loss is vital.

Higher-fat diets are often used in kidney patients as fat contains more than 2.5 times more calories than protein and carbohydrates. This means that kidney diets are more energy dense, and your cat’s daily energy requirements can be met with several small meals. Fat also increases the palatability of the food, helping to tempt cats with poor appetites to eat.

Polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids, derived from certain types of fat, have been shown to slow the decline in kidney function in cats suffering from kidney disease. [18]

Water

Good levels of water intake are vital to maintain the health of cats with kidney disease. Cats suffering from this condition can become dehydrated much more quickly than healthy cats, as a result of increased urination, vomiting and anorexia. [19]

Canned foods have a higher water content than dry kibble, and it is recommended to feed canned foods to cats prone to dehydration or in the advanced stages of kidney disease. However, if your cat prefers dry food then there are other ways to increase his water intake.

The most simple method is to add a splash of warm water to the kibble just before feeding, creating a delicious gravy which your cat will happily lap up. Water fountains can be used to encourage cats to drink, and some cats love to drink from a dripping tap. Ensure that your cat has access to multiple water bowls throughout the home.

Feeding Cat Food for Kidney Disease

Cats can be fussy eaters at the best of times, and if your cat is feeling under the weather then changing food might be the last thing he wants. Let’s take a look at how to make this transition as easy as possible.

Type of Food

As you can see, there are many different types of food available for cats with kidney disease. Cats with kidney disease often have a poor appetite and may only want to eat small amounts.

A good place to start is by finding a cat food for kidney disease which is similar to your cat’s favorite food. For example, if your cat prefers chicken in gravy then look for this type of kidney diet for cats.

Luckily, nutritionists have realised that cats with kidney disease can be fussy eaters, and they’ve made the extra effort to make kidney diets as palatable as possible! This means that even within an individual brand there are different flavors available, perfect to tempt your little feline friend to eat.

As this diet is being fed for medical reasons, it is important to always seek veterinary advice when selecting the best cat food for kidney disease.

Changing to a Kidney Diet

As with any change of diet, it is important that it is done gradually over a period of at least a week. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food in with your cat’s current diet, and gradually increase the amount at each mealtime.

If your cat has had a recent diagnosis of kidney disease he may well be feeling under the weather and not interested in food. You can tempt him to eat the new diet by gently warming it to body temperature – this will increase the smell and palatability of the food.  If you are feeding dry food, then a splash of warm water in the bowl will do the same trick.

Cats sometimes require a period of hospitalization when first diagnosed with kidney disease. If this is the case for your cat, it is best to avoid starting a new kidney diet until your cat is back home and settled in. This is because they may associate the new food with being at the vets and refuse to eat it!

Over time, most cats can be successfully transitioned onto a new kidney diet. The correct diet is one of the most important aspects of managing kidney disease in cats, so it is worth taking the time to do this properly.

Our Verdict

Feeding a good-quality complete diet for cats with kidney disease can improve their quality of life as well as potentially helping your cat to live for longer. The right kidney diet for your cat can help to slow the progression of kidney disease and reduce the symptoms and effects of this debilitating condition.

This best cat food for kidney disease is Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food. This highly palatable diet contains all the nutrients your cat needs to support kidney function, and is clinically proven to help cats with kidney disease live longer and healthier lives.

Many of the best cat foods for kidney disease are veterinary diets, and you will need a prescription from your veterinarian in order to purchase them. There are some non-prescription foods available which are suitable for cats with kidney disease, but it is still important to seek veterinary advice to decide which is the best choice for your cat.

Talk to your veterinarian today to determine which cat food for kidney disease is the best option for your furry best friend. Every cat is different, and you need to factor in their food preferences as well as medical needs. I think that Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food is a great place to start, and cats seem to love it too!