Has your cat been dealing with itchy skin or ongoing ear infections? Are they throwing up or having diarrhea regularly? If so, they may be struggling with a food allergy or intolerance.
Cats can randomly develop allergies to ingredients they’ve been eating their entire lives. For example, the canned chicken food they’ve been eating since they were a year old may one day suddenly turn on them and cause gastrointestinal upset or incessant itchiness. Your job is to find out if it’s the diet they’re eating that’s causing their unfortunate symptoms.
Your vet will likely recommend an elimination diet trial to determine what ingredient your cat is allergic or intolerant to. Once you have answers, you can pick a new food that will agree with your pet better.
Keep reading to find our reviews for the best cat foods for allergies in Canada.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022
The 10 Best Cat Foods for Allergies in Canada
1. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet – Best Overall
|Rabbit Meal, peas, tapioca, canola oil
Instinct’s Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet food is made with just one protein source and one vegetable. This formula has no grains, eggs, chicken, fish, corn, or artificial colors. This recipe was made with cat allergies in mind, so it features simple ingredients like a farm-raised rabbit, an easily digestible protein source. This formula contains guaranteed levels of omega fatty acids and antioxidants to boost your cat’s skin and coat health as well as kick start its immune system. The kibble is raw coated, which provides the nutrition and taste of a raw diet.
Some owners reported that their cats’ feces became much smellier than usual after their cat was switched to Instinct food.
2. Purina Beyond Natural Limited Ingredients – Best Value
|Salmon, chicken meal, whole barley, rice, pea protein
Purina’s Beyond Salmon and Brown Rice recipe is a high-protein kibble fortified with natural probiotics to boost your cat’s digestive health. It’s made without any corn, soy, wheat, artificial colors, or poultry by-product meal. The first ingredient is real salmon, giving your cat a hefty dose of omega-fatty acids to protect your kitty from skin and coat issues. The formula also contains whole foods like eggs, cranberries, and whole brown rice.
This recipe does contain chicken meal; in fact, it is the second listed ingredient. If your kitty has an allergy to chicken, you’ll want to skip this food.
3. Royal Canin Feline Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein – Premium Choice
Brewers rice, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken fat, powdered cellulose, natural flavors
Royal Canin’s Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein is a kibble formulated to support your cat’s skin and its natural protective barrier to boost overall skin health. In addition, the exclusive blend of fibers and prebiotics helps with digestion and supports a balanced digestive flora. The recipe includes simple soy proteins to reduce allergic lesions and dermatitis. It also contains extra amino acids and omega-3s to keep your cat’s skin and coat looking its best.
This food is quite expensive, so it may not be available at a price point accessible to every cat owner.
4. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets
Green peas, venison, pea protein, venison meal, brewers dried yeast
Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredient Diet food is made with as few ingredients as possible to minimize the number of potential allergens your cat is exposed to. This formula features venison as the single animal protein source, so if your cat is allergic to proteins like chicken or beef, this is a great option. In addition, it contains green peas as well as pea protein to give your cat a fantastic grain-free fiber source. This low-carb kibble still provides a source of highly digestible energy. It may be limited in ingredients, but it’s still fortified with the vitamins and minerals your kitty needs for skin and coat health.
This recipe does contain salmon oil, so if your cat is allergic to fish, this may not be the best choice.
5. Hill’s Prescription Diet Food Sensitivities – Vet’s Choice
Brewers rice, hydrolyzed chicken liver, rice protein concentrate, powdered cellulose, soybean oil
Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d wins our Vet’s Choice award. This food has been formulated to help your cat manage its dietary sensitivities and reduce the likelihood of an adverse reaction to its food. This kibble was designed to boost digestion and improve stool quality while reducing your cat’s gastrointestinal workload. It’s made with highly digestible proteins and fortified with antioxidants to help your cat maintain a healthy immune system. If your pet’s previous diet caused a lot of skin irritation, you might find that the z/d formula addresses and eliminates that.
We weren’t a fan of the high brewer’s rice content, as we typically prefer cat food to have protein as the first ingredient.
6. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care
|Deboned turkey, turkey meal, peas, potatoes, tapioca starch
This turkey and potato recipe is Blue Buffalo’s answer to a limited ingredient diet. This kibble features a single animal protein source—turkey—and is free of common protein allergens such as chicken and beef. The recipe is also void of other common problem ingredients for cats, including soy, wheat, corn, eggs, and dairy. It’s made with ingredients like pumpkin and easy-to-digest carbohydrates to help your cat better digest its food. In addition, this formula contains Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits, which gives your cat a blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to boost its immune system.
The kibble is around the size of a pea, making it relatively small, making it difficult for some cats to eat comfortably.
7. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult
|Chicken Broth, Chicken, Turkey, Carrots, Green Peas
A kibble diet doesn’t always work well for cats with certain allergies. If your cat prefers canned food and has digestive or skin issues, this chicken and vegetable entrée from Hill’s Science Diet might be a great pick. This easy-to-digest grain-free food features natural fibers to help improve your cat’s stool quality. In addition, the inclusion of omega-6 fatty acids boosts skin and fur health. This formula contains an antioxidant blend of vitamins E and C to boost your kitty’s immune system.
This food’s texture is slightly different than other canned foods, so there are some reports of picky cats turning their noses up at their dish at meal time.
8. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Duck Recipe
Deboned duck, water, natural flavors, pea protein, calcium Carbonate
Merrick’s Limited Ingredient line-up is a great pick if your cat prefers to eat a canned food diet. The food features a single-source animal protein as its first and main ingredient. This particular Duck recipe is fish-free, so it’s great for cats with seafood allergies. It’s gluten-free for easy digestibility and features omegas 3 and 6 for skin and coat health. This recipe also contains probiotics, prebiotics, and carbohydrates for optimal nutrient absorption.
There are some reports of inconsistency in the texture from can to can. Some cans are wetter than others which may be problematic for picky kitties who like a lot of consistency in their diet.
9. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Chicken & Turkey
Chicken, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal
This natural food from Purina provides a high-quality kibble made with real chicken and turkey. The main ingredient is real chicken, so your cat gets a great animal protein source to support its muscles. This recipe has a natural fiber blend to provide hairball control. It contains 25 vitamins and minerals your cats need and is made without artificial flavoring or preservatives. The natural formulation of this recipe is excellent for cats with sensitive tummies or allergy problems.
There are reports of the kibble being too small for some cats.
10. Almo Nature HQS Complete Chicken With Pumpkin
|Chicken, water sufficient for cooking, pumpkin
Almo Nature’s Chicken with Pumpkin in Broth canned cat food is made with just three ingredients – chicken, water, and pumpkin. There are no synthetic vitamins but does provide antioxidants and fiber from the pumpkin. There are no additives or processing aids used in this formula. This recipe is carrageenan-free. Carrageenan is a common pet food additive extracted from seaweed and used as a thickener. Studies suggest that exposure to carrageenan can cause inflammation or even ulcerations and intestinal lesions.
The manufacturer suggests rotating through different protein options if your cat can stomach them. They also recommend feeding dry food as Almo’s line works best as a supplement, not for daily consumption.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Know When Shopping for the Best Cat Foods for Allergies
If your cat has allergies, it’s not a terrible idea to brush up on your allergen knowledge so you can know more about your cat’s condition. Of course, your vet will be the best source of information as you begin searching for the best food for your kitty, but we can provide some guidance, too.
Why You Need Special Cat Food
It might be hard to believe, but cats can have food sensitivities and allergies just like humans. You wouldn’t feed someone with gluten sensitivity foods rich in gluten, so you shouldn’t feed your pet food that contains the ingredients they’re allergic to. Your cat doesn’t understand its sensitivities or allergies and will continue eating food even if it’s hurting. Your kitty then relies on you to offer the food that will make it feel its best.
Food allergies and intolerances can last a lifetime, so your goal should be to manage your cat’s allergies and the adverse reactions it has to food.
What Are Common Symptoms of Food Allergies in Cats?
The most common food allergy symptoms or intolerance are digestive upset or skin irritation. You may also notice the following symptoms:
How Can I Find Out What My Cat Is Allergic To?
If your cat exhibits some of the above symptoms, you might wonder how you can determine what ingredient is causing them grief. Most cat allergies are caused by the protein source in the food, such as meat, chicken, eggs, or dairy. It is rare for cats to be allergic to carbohydrate sources like wheat, but it’s not entirely unheard of. The most common foods that cats are allergic to are beef, fish, and dairy.
No skin or lab test can positively identify an allergy in pets (yet), so the most practical and accurate method for diagnosing an allergy or intolerance is an elimination diet trial. This involves an eight-week testing period where you feed your cat only one thing – the food your vet recommends. Any other food, even the most petite bite of chicken from your dinner plate, can impact the results of your trial. It might be hard to resist your precious kitty when it’s begging for a taste of your meal, but you need to be 100% strict for the entire eight weeks to get the results you’re looking for.
Your vet can guide you on the best elimination diet trial for your cat. For example, they may recommend a novel ingredient diet or a hydrolyzed food diet.
Can My Cat Develop Allergies Later in Life?
Not all cats are born with their allergies. In fact, an ingredient your cat has eaten since it stopped drinking its mother’s milk can suddenly cause allergic reactions later in life.
Your cat cannot develop an allergy to food it has never eaten, however. This means if it’s never eaten a particular ingredient, it can’t be allergic to it.
The best overall cat food for allergies is Instinct’s Limited Ingredient Diet for its single animal source and easy digestibility. The best value option is Purina’s Beyond Natural as it’s very affordable and provides a dose of omega fatty acids and probiotics. Our premium pick comes from Royal Canin for its ability to balance digestive flora and omega 3s for skin health. Finally, our vet’s choice goes to Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d for its prescription formula with highly digestible proteins that can reduce skin irritation.
Cat food allergies can be bothersome to diagnose and treat. The sooner you talk to your vet about the best food options for your cat, the better. We hope our reviews have helped provide some guidance into your options in the meantime.
Featured Image Credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock