Hypoallergenic Cat Food

The Best 7 Hypoallergenic Cat Food: Benefits, Reviews, and Ingredient Analysis

Charles Grisham
By Charles Grisham
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What is the Best Hypoallergenic Cat Food?

Smalls Cat Food
  • Smalls Human-Grade Fresh is protein-rich and picky cat-friendly. 
  • Our ingredients are USDA-certified, humanely-harvested, and sustainably-sourced—no BPAs, preservatives, fillers, or mystery-ingredients, ever.Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw retains the nutritional benefits of a raw, high-protein diet.

What is Hypoallergenic Cat Food?

Hypoallergenic cat food is a pet food formulated for cats with food and skin allergies. It is advised for cats with food sensitivities or food intolerances.

It is made with ingredients that are less likely to cause allergic reactions and that are not associated with certain preservatives and additives in pet food.

Hypoallergenic cat food is usually made with hydrolyzed proteins – proteins that are broken down into tiny particles (too small for the immune system to recognize and flag as allergens). Hydrolyzed soy protein is among the most common ingredients in hypoallergenic cat foods.

Why Would a Cat Need Hypoallergenic Food?

Hypoallergenic foods are necessary for cats with food allergies. The hypoallergenic cat food can be used in two situations:

  • Diagnosing Food Allergies. Hypoallergenic diets are offered during the trial and elimination phase of diagnosing food sensitivities in cats.
  • Managing Food Allergies. Once a food allergy or sensitivity is established, the veterinary diet can be used to manage the condition and avoid irritations to the cat’s digestive system.

The Best Hypoallergenic Cat Food Reviewed

There are dozens of different hypoallergenic cat food formulas on the market. Some cat foods use hydrolyzed proteins and other proteins from alternative sources like green peas and legumes.

To help owners find the right diet for their pets, we have reviewed the best hypoallergenic cat food formulas on the market.

Smalls Cat Food

Smalls Cat Food

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Summary: Smalls Cat Food offers human-grade recipes for cats. They are made with all-natural and nutrient-dense ingredients that check the AAFCO standards. The recipes are easily digestible, enable easy litter box cleaning, and support healthy skin and coat. The brand offers three protein options (Bird, Other Bird & Cow) and three textures (smooth, ground, and pulled).

Type: Fresh & Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $1.25-1.93/meal

Pros

  • Made with high-quality, all-natural ingredients
  • Suitable for cats with food allergies
  • Easily digestible and high-protein
  • Promote healthy skin and shiny coats
  • Three flavors and three texture options

Cons

  • No significant cons

Ingredient Analysis: The Chicken Recipe contains chicken, chicken liver, green beans, peas, chicken hearts, and kale. The Other Birds Recipe contains turkey thigh, turkey liver, green beans, peas, and kale. The Cow Recipe contains beef, beef liver, green beans, and spinach. All recipes are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and taurine.  

Review: Pet parents are delighted with this cat food. They say their cats are showing improvements in both physical health and emotional wellbeing after switching to this human-grade brand.

Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food

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Summary: This 8.5-pound bag of dry kibble is prescription food for cats needing a hypoallergenic diet. It uses hydrolyzed chicken liver and rice protein concentrate and soybean oil, and coconut oil for its fats. It is rich in fiber for hypoallergenic food and supplemented with the necessary vitamins and minerals to provide complete and balanced nutrition.

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $7.71/lb

Pros

  • Hydrolyzed source of protein
  • With a single carbohydrate source
  • Formulated by nutritionists and vets
  • Promotes a healthy skin barrier
  • Natural prebiotics to help normalize stool

Cons

  • Contains added flavor

Ingredient Analysis: Brewer’s rice, hydrolyzed chicken liver, and rice protein concentrate are the first three ingredients, which are good for cats with sensitive stomachs. The powdered cellulose is a good source of natural prebiotics, and the vitamin and mineral supplements round the formula.

Review: This Hill’s Science Diet has an average of 4.6 stars on Amazon, with 80% of them being five stars. Pet owners expressed pleasure in the food’s effects on alleviating their cat’s symptoms. Some even said it had “changed their life” after introducing it to their cat. The one and two-star reviews share a common thread in that their cat simply wouldn’t eat the food.

Royal Canin Feline Hypoallergenic Dry Food

Royal Canin Feline Hypoallergenic Dry Food

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Summary: This dry cat food contains mostly plant ingredients and soy as the main protein source which decreases the risk of skin reactions and allergies. It also has two animal ingredients – chicken fat and fish oil which are rich in EPA & DHA and promote better skin & coat health. The diet comes in a 7.7-pound bag and is suited for adult cats with food intolerances caused by common allergens.

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $8.00/lb

Pros

  • With simple soy proteins
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • Contains extra amino acids
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Comes in an easy-open bag

Cons

  • Requires a veterinary prescription

Ingredient Analysis: There are two animal products in this food: chicken fat and fish oil. Simple soy is the main source of protein. The protein content is compensated by the addition of amino acids. The formula is heavily supplemented with vitamins and has only one obvious preservative, although it is the second to last ingredient.

Review: 72% of reviewers rated this product with 5-stars, while 18% gave it 1 and 2-star. Five-star reviews are generally the same. They mention how great it has worked for their cat’s food allergies, and some even said this food was the last resort for them, and it worked. Critical reviews were quick to point out the absolute absence of meat proteins or hydrolyzed animal products.

Forza10 Wet Hypoallergenic Cat Food

Forza10 Wet Hypoallergenic Cat Food

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Summary: This canned food in the form of a delicious pate is made with Icelandic fish to support skin and coat health and manage allergic reactions. It is formulated by veterinarians and also helps with issues like itchiness, dandruff, hair loss, and oily skin. The diet is free from gluten, corn, wheat, soy, by-products, GMOs, and artificial preservatives.

Type: Wet cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $1.97/can

Pros

  • With high-quality Icelandic fish
  • Contains no soy, gluten, corn, or wheat
  • Supports healthy hydration
  • Excellent taste and fast results
  • Backed by 30 scientific studies

Cons

  • Not a complete formula

Ingredient Analysis: Salmon is an excellent source of protein and fatty acids. It is enriched with papaya, which stimulates the immune system and is loaded with antioxidants. Pomegranate is also high in antioxidants, and the added turmeric helps manage inflammatory processes while giving the immune system a boost. The formula has adequate levels of taurine.

Review: Reviews on this product are mixed. The 4 and 5-star reviews note that their cats liked the food, and it helped with skin and fur issues as well as reduced symptoms of urinary incontinence. Lower-rated reviews commented on the texture of the food being off-putting and said their cats would not touch the food.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Cat Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Cat Food

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Summary: This limited ingredient, grain-free recipe is made with turkey and chickpeas and is best suited for indoor cats. The food supports healthy digestion, weight management, and hairball control. It is free from artificial flavors and preservatives and comes in two main flavors (turkey and chickpeas & salmon & chickpeas).

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Adult indoor cats

Price: $9.80/lb

Pros

  • Number 1 brand for limited ingredient diets
  • With turkey/salmon & chickpeas proteins
  • Promotes healthy weight and lean muscles
  • Helps with hairball management
  • Easily digestible complete & balanced food

Cons

  • Contains canola oil

Ingredient Analysis: Turkey and turkey meal are the first sources of protein in this food. Chickpeas and potatoes are added for starchy carbohydrates and serve as prebiotic sources. Pea protein is the fourth ingredient and is added to give it a higher protein content. The formula is finished off with a rich vitamin and mineral profile.

Review: With over 1,000 reviews on Amazon, this food averages a 4.6-star rating. Happy consumers noted that their cat’s symptoms improved, with some saying they were “in disbelief” and that it was great for senior cats with itchy skin and diarrhea. Almost all of the 1-star reviews featured the same complaint – the food came moldy.

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Cat Food

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Cat Food

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Summary: This Natural Balance L.I.D. uses animal products as the first ingredients and contains natural dietary fiber for easy digestion. It has either salmon, rabbit, or turkey for its protein sources and only natural preservatives instead of opting for artificial additives. In addition to being grain-free, each kibble is coated with raw meat.

Type: Raw-coated cat kibble

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $7.11/lb

Pros

  • Delicious and raw-coated kibble
  • Made with farm-raised rabbit
  • Easily digestible cat food formula
  • No grains, fillers, eggs, and artificial additives
  • Available in three different proteins

Cons

  • Contains canola oil and tapioca

Ingredient Analysis: Rabbits meal, rabbit, and freeze-dried rabbit are all ingredients used to make this protein-rich hypoallergenic food. Peas and tapioca add to the protein content and are prebiotic sources. The coconut oil supports skin & coat health. The formula is rounded with supplements for optimal vitamin and mineral content.

Review: This food has an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with over 1,600 reviews in total. Cat owners mention things like “it cured IBD” and describe it as the “best food ever.” One and two-star reviewers were upset that their cats’ diarrhea was apparently worsened by some flavors of this product.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

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Summary: This highly rated dry cat food is available in three flavors (chicken, duck, and salmon). It is a pellet food that contains Blue’s hallmark LifeSource Bits” for added antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is a well-balanced, grain-free, and high-protein formula made to support healthy skin & coat and a robust immune system.

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $3.95/lb

Pros

  • Packed with real chicken
  • With BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits
  • Antioxidant-rich blueberries & cranberries
  • By-product and grain-free formula
  • Supports skin, coat, immunity, and digestion

Cons

  • Often out of stock due to high demand

Ingredient Analysis: The first two ingredients in this food are animal-based meaning this is a high-quality, high-protein dry food. It contains flaxseed and fish meal to boost the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid content and cranberries and blueberries for antioxidants.

Review: With over 14,000 reviews on Amazon and 85% of them being 5-stars, this is a highly rated cat food. Five-star reviews note it had improved various issues from dander to diarrhea. Cat owners say it helped their indoor cat’s digestion and urinary health and made the litter box easier to clean. Critical reviews claim it had made them sick enough to be taken to the vet.

How do You Know if Cat Food is Hypoallergenic?

Hypoallergenic cat food formulas contain no ingredients known to be common allergens. Generally speaking, hypoallergenic diets have hydrolyzed proteins or a limited number of ingredients to limit the risk of unwanted allergic reactions.

Common animal proteins triggering cat allergies are chicken, beef, and dairy products. Therefore, a good hypoallergenic formula should not contain them. It should also be free from fillers, wheat, by-products, and gluten.

On the other hand, the formula should be rich in high-quality and easily digestible proteins. Ideally, it will have a good amount of dietary fiber to ease digestion. It should contain superfoods for skin & coat health and immune system boosting.

What Should I Look for in Hypoallergenic Cat Food?

When looking for a hypoallergenic cat formula, there are several things to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at the important considerations:

  • Source of Protein. Proteins are the most likely allergen in the cat’s diet. So, the first thing you need to consider is the protein source. The formula should have a single protein source that is either derived from foods that are unlikely to be allergens or hydrolyzed.
  • “Novel” Protein. A novel protein is something less commonly used than chicken, beef, or fish. Things like shrimp, duck, and venison are considered “novel” proteins.
  • Hydrolyzed Protein. Alternatively, the proteins can be hydrolyzed – broken down into smaller particles the cat’s immune system cannot detect.
  • Limited Ingredient Recipe. Hypoallergenic cat foods have limited ingredients. This is because the smaller the number of ingredients, the lesser the risk of allergic reactions.
  • Price. The cost of the food is worth evaluating. Food intolerances and allergies are an ongoing issue, meaning the cost of the food will add up in the long run.

What Ingredients Should Not be in Hypoallergenic Cat Food?

Hypoallergenic cat foods must be free from grains (wheat, corn), fillers (potatoes), dairy products, and eggs. They should not contain animal by-products, rendered fats, and artificial ingredients like colors, flavors, and preservatives. If featuring animal proteins from common allergens, they need to be hydrolyzed or broken down.