senior cat eating low protein cat food

Are you searching for the best low-protein cat food for cats with kidney disease or liver problems?

As you’ll find out, protein content matters, especially when you’ve got a senior pet or a cat with kidney problems.

But we’re here to help you narrow down your choice with these 11 low-protein cat food brands. 

Let’s start with a quick look at our top picks, then keep reading for all the glorious details.

Low-Protein Cat Foods Top Picks at a Glance

If you see the value in these products and choose to purchase via my referral links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Don’t have time? Here is a quick comparison of our favorites!

Preview
Winner!
ROYAL CANIN low protein cat food
Best for Senior Cats
hill's low protein cat food for senior cats
Best Low Phosphorous
royal canin wet food
Best Grain-Free
blue buffalo cat food
Best for Early Stages for Kidney Disease
purina low protein cat food
Top Benefit
Royal Canin Renal Support S boasts a restricted high-quality protein (22.5% minimum), low-phosphorus content, and antioxidants.
It's great for seniors cats with walking/running difficulties and joint problems since it contains glucosamine and chondroitin. 
Full of antioxidants, essential amino acids, and vitamins to support the whole organism and reduce inflammation. 
A special formula with restricted protein intake and low phosphorus levels to support cats with renal failure
Controlled levels of key minerals for early kidney care and to delay the progression of kidney disease
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Winner!
Preview
ROYAL CANIN low protein cat food
Top Benefit
Royal Canin Renal Support S boasts a restricted high-quality protein (22.5% minimum), low-phosphorus content, and antioxidants.
Check Latest Price
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Best for Senior Cats
Preview
hill's low protein cat food for senior cats
Top Benefit
It's great for seniors cats with walking/running difficulties and joint problems since it contains glucosamine and chondroitin. 
Check Latest Price
” class=
Best Low Phosphorous
Preview
royal canin wet food
Top Benefit
Full of antioxidants, essential amino acids, and vitamins to support the whole organism and reduce inflammation. 
Check Latest Price
” class=
Best Grain-Free
Preview
blue buffalo cat food
Top Benefit
A special formula with restricted protein intake and low phosphorus levels to support cats with renal failure
Check Latest Price
” class=
Best for Early Stages for Kidney Disease
Preview
purina low protein cat food
Top Benefit
Controlled levels of key minerals for early kidney care and to delay the progression of kidney disease
Check Latest Price
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11 Best Low Protein Cat Food Brands with Reviews  

However, senior pets and cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or liver problems benefit from low-protein and low phosphorous food. 

That’s because the kidneys’ main function is to break down protein and excrete it. Less protein in the diet decreases the kidney’s workload. 

But, as a specialist explains, “Protein still makes up a fairly reasonable portion of the diet.”

You can’t remove it at all because your cat will lose muscle and weight.   

So, you need food with lower than normal levels of protein but high-quality one to improve your cat’s quality of life.

And that’s why we’re here with our top 11 choices of best dry and wet low protein cat food.

But, please remember that they’re best for cats with renal problems, not healthy animals! 

#1 Winner: Royal Canin Renal Support S 

ROYAL CANIN low protein cat food

Royal Canin is one of the most popular cat food brands, and they’ve got the best low-protein dry cat food for cats with CKD.  

Physical Attributes

  • Square-shaped kibbles 
  • Chicken/poultry flavor

Measurements

  • 26.5% max protein content
  • 0.575 phosphorus
  • Available in a bag of a 3-lb or 6.6-lb bag
BenefitsDrawbacks
Royal Canin Renal Support S boasts a restricted high-quality protein (22.5% minimum), low-phosphorus content, and antioxidants. Not the cheapest option
The “S” formula is designed to stimulate a cat’s appetite and encourage eating. That’s great because sick cats often go off their food, which makes their condition worse.  Requires veterinary prescription to purchase
The square-shaped kibbles are energy-dense, so cats don’t have to eat too much to sate their hunger. So, it’s perfect for picky felines or older pets with a decreased appetite. High in carbohydrates
Royal Canin Renal Support S is also full of antioxidants and fatty acids to promote proper kidney function and reduce damage from free radicals.
Royal Canin’s “S” comes in a bag with a zipper so that you can seal the bag and don’t worry about it going bad. 

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Energy-dense formula with highly digestible protein and low phosphorus
  • No artificial ingredients or coloring
  • Natural preserves, antioxidants, and fatty acids 

How the Product Evolved

Royal Canin’s renal diet is available in three formulas to suit a wide range of cats’ preferences. “S” is for savory, “A” for aromatic, and “F” for Flavorful.

Each formula also has differently shaped kibbles to make it easy for cats to consume them. 

Tips

  • If you’ve got a picky eater, you can mix the dry food with Royal Canin Renal Support wet food. 
  • Try the other two formulas if your cat turns their nose at “S.”
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If you want to know if can cats eat baby food, watch this video!

#2 Best Wet Food: Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

Hills is another company with a great reputation when it comes to producing low-protein diets for cats. And you won’t be disappointed by their wet prescription food. 

Physical Attributes

  • Stew texture
  • E.A.T technology 

Measurements

  • 4% minimum of crude protein (30% on a dry matter)
  • 0.49% phosphorus
  • 2.9-oz cans (a pack of 24)
BenefitsDrawbacks
High-quality, highly-digestible protein to support renal functionsNo variety pack 
Restricted phosphorus levels and low sodium content Requires prescription 
Highly palatable bite-sized chunks with enticing aromas and Enhanced Appetite Trigger (E.A.T) technology to stimulate your cat’s appetite 
Made from real chicken with no artificial ingredients or dyes 
70% to 80% water content, so it helps your cat stay hydrated 
Improves your cat’s energy levels and supports the heart 

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Clinically tested and vet-approved 
  • Special technology to deal with decreased appetite in cats with CKD
  • Calorie dense, which is great for underweight cats 

How the Product Evolved

  • Available in different textures and tastes to suit a wide range of cats 

Tips

  • You can store an open can in the fridge.
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#3 Best for Senior Cats: Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care + Mobility Care with Chicken Dry Cat Food

hill's low protein cat food for senior cats

If you have a senior cat with kidney problems, you should consider Hill’s Prescription Diet and their Mobility Care chicken dry food. 

Physical Attributes

  • Round kibbles
  • Rice and chicken

Measurements

  • 25% minimum of crude protein
  • 0.30% minimum to 0.75 maximum phosphorus
  • Available in a bag of 6.4 pounds 
BenefitsDrawbacks
This Hill’s Prescription Diet dry cat food contains high amounts of essential amino acids to support muscle functions and improve mobility in 28 days. Relatively high in carbohydrates
It’s great for senior cats with walking/running difficulties and joint problems since it contains glucosamine and chondroitin. Some owners complain the cats don’t like the food 
The formula is rich in antioxidants and omega-3-fatty acids to support the immune system and increase alertness.
The low levels of sodium and phosphorus support the kidneys and improve the quality of life. 
It has a great texture and taste to stimulate a cat’s appetite, so it’s an excellent choice for picky eaters. 
The bag is easy to open and reseal. 

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • It contains higher amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin than other brands for increased mobility and vitality in older cats. 
  • Made in the USA with high-quality ingredients

How the Product Evolved

  • Improved formula for mobility care with extra ingredients 

Tips

  • It can take time for this low-protein diet for cats to work and stimulate your cat’s appetite, so be patient. 
  • Combine with Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Canned Food if your cat doesn’t like dry kibbles. 
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#4 Best Low Phosphorous: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D

royal canin wet food

Royal Canin has a great low-protein canned cat food, perfect for cats with CKD, thanks to its low phosphorus content.

Physical Attributes

  • Thin slices of pork and chicken
  • Gravy 

Measurements

  • 6.5% minimum of crude protein 
  • 0.14% minimal phosphorus (0.44% on a dry matter basis)
  • Available in 3-oz cans (a pack of 24)
BenefitsDrawbacks
As specialists explain, low levels of phosphorus “help delay the progression of CKD,” with the recommended amount of 0.3% to 0.6%. As such, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet’s wet food is one of the best low-phosphorus ones you can find on the market. Not available in larger cans or variety packs 
It also features a special formula to increase the cat’s appetite and compensate for lack of appetite by providing an energy-dense meal to prevent weight loss. No samples available
It’s full of antioxidants, essential amino acids, and vitamins to support the whole organism and reduce inflammation. 

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Relatively fewer carbohydrates than other similar products
  • An excellent balance between protein, fat, and carbs 

How the Product Evolved

Available in three formulas. “D” stands for delectable (pork and chicken morsels), “E” is for enticing (pork and chicken pate), and “T” is tasty (pork, chicken, and salmon morsels).

Expert Tips

  • Cats with dental problems might struggle to eat the morsels, so you might have to cut them into smaller pieces. 
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#5 Best Grain-Free: Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet

blue buffalo cat food

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet is perfect for sensitive cats with chronic kidney problems or older pets with mobility issues. 

Physical Attributes

  • Grain-free formula
  • Deboned chicken

Quantitative Measurements

  • Crude protein of minimum 26%
  • 0.4% minimum of phosphorus
  • Available in a bag of 7 pounds
BenefitsDrawbacks
A special formula with restricted protein intake and low phosphorus levels to support cats with renal failureHigh in carbohydrates 
Made from high-quality ingredients with deboned chicken as the first ingredient, which is a highly digestible proteinIt’s not available in smaller bags 
Low sodium content for optimum kidney health 
It contains essential amino acids and vitamins to support joint health 

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Named meat as the first ingredient
  • No wheat or corn 

How the Product Evolved

  • Blue Buffalo has a great line of veterinary diets that provide kidney support, improve urinary health, and manage gastrointestinal issues. 

Tips

  • Check Blue Buffalo’s Novel Protein Alligator food if your kitty is sensitive to common proteins, such as chicken and seafood. 
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#6 Best for Early Stages for Kidney Disease: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function

purina low protein cat food

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet has a great low protein cat food, making all the difference for pets in the early stages of kidney failure. 

Physical Attributes

  • Tuna flavor
  • Small, round kibbles 

Measurements

  • 33% minimum crude protein 
  • 0.55% phosphorus (max)
  • Available in a bag of 3.15 pounds or 8 pounds
BenefitsDrawbacks
Controlled levels of key minerals for early kidney care and to delay the progression of kidney diseaseRequires prescription
High-quality protein to stop weight loss and improve cat’s overall health Not the best choice for advanced kidney failure
Great customers’ reviews in terms of quality and texture 
It contains antioxidants and omega acids to combat inflammation and support organs’ functions

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Created by vets, researchers, and nutritionists to provide the best possible kidney care for sick and elderly pets 
  • Higher protein levels than other veterinary prescribed brands for kidney failure 

How the Product Evolved

  • Improved formula for optimum kidney health 
  • Advanced care formula available 

Tips

  • Consult with your vet which formula (Early Care or Advanced) is best for your cat. 
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#7 Best Non-Prescribed Wet: Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin

Truluxe protein cat food

If you’re looking for the best non-prescription low-protein cat food, Weruva is one of your possible choices. 

Physical Attributes

  • Beef and pumpkin
  • Gravy 

Measurements

  • 10% minimum of crude protein
  • 0.57% phosphorus
  • Available in cans of 3-oz or 6-oz (cases of 24)
BenefitsDrawbacks
It doesn’t require a veterinary prescriptionNot designed for cats with chronic kidney diseases
High-quality ingredients with highly digestible main protein, which can be beneficial for the kidneys Not the cheapest option
It contains plenty of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to support the whole organism. 
Relatively low phosphorus levels with high moisture, perfect for increasing your cat’s water intake
Highly palatable  

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Higher levels of protein compared to prescribed brands
  • Grain-free and gluten-free

How the Product Evolved

  • Available in different flavors and textures 

Tips

  • Since it’s not designed for kidney support, you should talk to your vet before trying this brand. 
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#8 Best Budget-Friendly: Wellness Healthy Indulgence Morsels with Chicken & Chicken Liver in Savory Sauce 

wellness indlugece low protein cat food

Low-protein wet food tends to be expensive, but we’ve got one non-prescribed brand, which doesn’t cost a fortune. 

Physical Attributes

  • Chicken morsels
  • Savory sauce 

Measurements

  • 7% minimum of crude protein
  • o.55% phosphorus
  • Available in  3-oz pouches, a case of 24 
BenefitsDrawbacks
Highly digestible protein, which makes it easy for the kidneys to work Not specifically designed for cats with CKD
Made from real chicken without any fillers, artificial ingredients, chemicals, or flavorsToo much sodium
Great moisture content to improve urinary health and keep your furry friend hydrated
It contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants – cranberries and blueberries 
Customers recommend it for picky eaters 

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Rich in antioxidants to reduce inflammation and promote good digestion and a strong immune system 
  • Similar levels of phosphorus to veterinary diets, which makes it a good choice for cats with CKD 

How the Product Evolved

  • Available in different tastes and textures to appeal even to the most capricious felines 

Expert Tips

  • Consult with your vet before you feed this food to cats with kidney or liver problems. 
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#9 Best Low Fat: Evanger’s Super Premium Low Fat Vegetarian Dinner for Dogs & Cats

Low Fat Vegetarian Dinner for Dogs & Cats, 12 x 12.8 oz cans

This low-fat, low-protein cat food can be a great solution for cats with weight problems and early kidney disease. 

Physical Attributes

  • Vegetarian 
  • Limited ingredients

Measurements

  • 7% minimum of crude protein
  • 0.8% phosphorus (on a dry matter base)
  • Available in 12.8-oz cans (a pack of 12)
BenefitsDrawbacks
Made from limited ingredientsSome cats with kidney problems might have problems breaking down plant protein. 
Suitable for all breeds and sizesHigher levels of phosphorus than veterinary diets
Relatively low protein level, compared with other commercial wet food brands
Low in fat to combat weight gain  

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • Crafted to meet the nutritional levels of cats and dogs
  • Vegetarian 

How the Product Evolved

  • Improved recipe 

Expert Tips

  • Cats are obligatory carnivores, and vegetarian diets aren’t the best for them, even for overweight cats. Consult with your vet about how suitable this food is for your pet. 

#10 Best for Cats with Allergies: Forza10 Nutraceutic Actiwet Renal Support Wet Cat Food

Forza10 has your back if your feline friend has food allergies to gluten or grain with their low protein wet cat food. 

Physical Attributes

  • Lamb and chicken 
  • Pate
  • Made in Iceland with high-quality ingredients, including highly digestible proteins, so it’s great cat food for allergies.  
  • Gluten-free, GMO-free, and limited ingredients, which makes it suitable for sensitive cats

Measurements

  • 6% minimum of crude protein
  • 0.72% phosphorus (dry matter basis)
  • Available in 0.3-oz trays (a pack of 12 or 32)
BenefitsDrawbacks
Low sodium content, so it’s perfect for maintaining your cat’s normal blood pressure and heart functions.Not all cats like the texture
Designed to meet the nutritional needs of cats with chronic kidney/liver problems and provide a balanced, complete mealA bit expensive
Low in protein, carbohydrates, and phosphorus, so it’s a great choice for cats with compromised renal functions or heart problems 
Supports urinary health 

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • One of the few brands with very low carbohydrate content (22% on a dry matter basis)
  • Specially designed for cats with renal problems but doesn’t require a prescription. 

How the Product Evolved

Since its creation in 1995, Forza10 has produced targeted, high-quality diets to need the nutritional needs of cats with chronic conditions and constantly improves its formula. 

Tips

  • Forza10 also has excellent wet food for cats with gastrointestinal problems or urinary tract issues. Check with your vet to determine which is the best for your case. 
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#11 Best Non-Prescribed Dry Food: Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Kidney Renal Support Diet Dry Cat Food

premium cat food

If you’re looking for non-prescribed dry food for renal support, Forza 10’s dry cat food is an excellent choice. 

Physical Attributes

  • Fish flavor
  • Natural ingredients

Measurements

  • 26% minimum of crude protein
  • 0.8% maximum of phosphorus
  • Available in a 1-pound or 4-pound bag 
BenefitsDrawbacks
Limited, high-quality ingredients with no harmful chemicals or preservatives Not the cheapest option
A complete and balanced diet with low protein, low phosphorus, and low sodium levelsHigh in carbohydrates
It contains omega-fatty acids from wild-caught fish to reduce inflammation and improve the kidney’s functions. 
It comes in a 1-pound bag so you can test if your cat will like it. 
Small kibble size, so it’s perfect for senior cats with dental issues

How It Compares to Others and Why

  • It doesn’t require a veterinary prescription
  • Close in protein/phosphorus levels to prescription diets
  • Available in a small bag for convenience  

How the Product Evolved

  • No information about improvements, but we’d like to see a formula with fewer carbohydrates. 

Tips

  • If your cat likes this food, consider autoship&save to reduce the overall price. 
  • Forza 10 also has non-prescription renal food for dogs. 
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READ MORE: Is Cinnamon Ok for Cats?

How To Choose The Best Low Protein Food For Cats

It’s not easy to shop for low-protein cat food when you don’t know what features to look for in good cat food. But here are five pointers to help you out.

But, please, consult with your vet to ensure you’ve got the best low-protein cat food for your fur baby.  

Protein Level

cats eating dry and wet low protein cat food

As we already explained, less protein in the food can make it easy for the kidneys to function and improve your cat’s appetite and energy.

Most veterinarians recommend protein levels between 28-35%, depending on your cat’s overall health and stage of kidney disease. 

Phosphorus Levels

Getting a brand with low phosphorus levels is essential when you’ve got a cat with CKD because it delays the progression of the disease. Aim for 0.3-06% of phosphorus on a dry matter basis.  

Sodium Levels

Sodium is also important to consider when shopping for low-protein cat food.

Too much sodium can make it hard for your cat to maintain healthy blood pressure and increase the kidney’s workload. Aim for ≤0.4%. 

Fatty Acids and Antioxidants

Omega-3-fatty acids and antioxidants combat inflammation and reduce oxidative stress on the kidneys. So, they can slow down the progression of renal disease.  

As Fed vs. Dry Matter Base

The percentage you see on the dry/wet cat food labels is calculated on an as-fed matter.

But you need the dry matter base to judge how suitable a certain brand is. Use this dry matter calculator to help you. 

FAQ

Conclusion

As a study points out, chronic kidney disease is prevalent in cats older than 15 years. Even younger animals can have kidney problems if they’re exposed to toxins or infectious diseases.

These cats need a special diet, low in protein and phosphorus but still rich in animal-sourced protein to maintain proper weight and slow down the disease.

But healthy animals don’t need a low-protein diet, and it can be harmful if you restrict your cat’s protein intake. So, always consult with a vet before you switch your cat’s food. 

Final Recommendation 

From all these 11 low-protein cat food, we highly recommend Royal Canin Renal Support S (dry) and Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food.

Both brands provide a nice balance between protein, phosphorus, and sodium. They’re also veterinary designed to combat renal failure and are free of harmful additives. 

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References

  • 1. Nutrition for Cats with Chronic Kidney Disease . vca_corporate. 2021 . Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nutrition-for-cats-with-chronic-kidney-disease
  • 2. Marino CL, Lascelles BDX, Vaden SL, Gruen ME, Marks SL. Prevalence and classification of chronic kidney disease in cats randomly selected from four age groups and in cats recruited for degenerative joint disease studies. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery . 2013 ;16:465–72. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4414065/
  • 3. https://www.facebook.com/WebMD. Kidney Failure in Cats . WebMD. WebMD; 2009 . Available from: https://pets.webmd.com/cats/kidney-failure-uremia-symptoms-cats#1
ginger cat eating low-protein cat food

What do you think about these 11 best low-protein cat food brands? Which one have you used? Share your experience with cats with CKD in the comments!

Grigorina S
Grigorina S

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.

I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.

Find her on Instagram. Read her latest articles..

Learn more about Grigorina here

Last update on 2022-11-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API