We all experience occasional irregularity and typically don’t think much of it. You might attribute it to something you ate, or something you didn’t. Increasing the fiber content of your diet usually helps get things moving and may resolve some of your other symptoms as well.
- Rich in real animal protein
- Blend of omega-3
- Natural sources of taurine
- High in protein
Unfortunately, things aren’t always so simple for your cat. Digestive upset can be a symptom of numerous conditions, though occasional diarrhea or constipation is not uncommon in cats. Before you go switching your cat to a high fiber diet to fix the problem, however, take a moment to learn about the role fiber plays in your cat’s diet and how much of it he actually needs.
In this article, we’ll cover the subject of fiber and how important it actually is in your cat’s food. We’ll teach you what to look for in high fiber cat food and what situations where it might be recommended. You’ll also see our top picks for the best high fiber cat foods.
What Is The Best High Fiber Cat Food?
- Nature’s Logic Feline Chicken Meal Feast
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball & Weight
- Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe
- Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Recipe
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice
- Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet with Healthy Grains
- Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Pate
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe
- Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free
- Solid Gold Let’s Stay In Salmon, Lentil & Apple
Do Cats Really Need Dietary Fiber?
It’s no secret that fiber is essential for healthy human digestion, but your cat is anything but human. Whereas you get fiber from the plant foods you eat, cats in the wild get it from an entirely different source – in a way. As you may know, cats are obligate carnivores which means they rely exclusively on animal products in their diet. Any plant matter they consume in the wild likely comes from the stomach contents of their prey.
So, how do they meet their needs for dietary fiber?
The truth is cats don’t actually require dietary fiber. Any plant matter a wild cat consumes as part of its prey has already been partially, if not completely digested. In addition to consuming the stomach contents of prey, cats also consume the fur, tendons, bone, collagen, and cartilage. Many of these parts are incompletely digested or undigested, so they function in much the same way as fiber.
Undigested materials help move matter through the digestive system. The question is whether plant-derived fiber is an adequate substitute for what a cat would naturally consume in the wild.
The Two Types of Dietary Fiber
If you pay attention to your own diet and make an effort to keep things balanced, you probably already understand the importance of fiber. You may also know that there are technically two types of fiber common in the typical human diet:
- Soluble Fiber – This type of fiber attracts water, turning into a gel which slows digestion. It is found in oat bran, barley, seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes.
- Insoluble Fiber – This type of fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food pass more quickly through the digestive tract. It can be found in whole grains and vegetables.
In addition to helping move food through the digestive tract, fiber plays a role in supporting gut health through the process of fermentation. Fermentable fibers stimulate the production of healthy bacteria in the colon and the production of short chain fatty acids. In humans, it has been linked to a number of other health benefits as well.
The Role of Fiber in Cat Food
You would be pretty shocked to find a commercial cat food that listed fur as an ingredient, wouldn’t you? So, it shouldn’t be surprising that most commercial pet food manufacturers use plant-based fibers in their recipes instead.
The thing to remember is that dietary fiber comes from carbohydrates. Your cat is an obligate carnivore and his digestive system simply isn’t designed to process plant foods – he actually lacks the enzyme amylase which helps herbivores break down plant cells. That being the case, too many carbohydrates (even fiber) in your cat’s diet can certainly be a bad thing. When it comes to fiber in cat food, fermentability is the key.
According to IAMS Company research, the optimal level of crude fiber in a commercial diet for cats ranges from 1.4% to 3.5%. This level supports optimal nutrient breakdown in the digestive tract.
If you do a little shopping, you’ll find that many cat foods contain more than the higher 3.5% crude fiber content – some as high as 10%. In certain situations (such as hairballs), higher fiber levels may be beneficial but too much fiber can actually contribute to digestive issues. As a carnivore, your cat has a short digestive tract and plant materials take much longer to digest than meat.
Another common reason for increasing a cat’s dietary fiber intake is to treat constipation or diarrhea. It is also used in cat food designed to support weight loss.
What Should You Look for in a High Fiber Cat Food?
If you’re considering a high fiber cat food, it’s important to know what benefit you hope to achieve. For constipation or diarrhea, talk to your veterinarian first to rule out underlying causes for the issue before making significant changes to your cat’s diet. High fiber cat food for weight loss may not be the best solution. It might be better to simply switch to a lower calorie recipe and encourage your cat to get more exercise on a daily basis.
When it comes to high fiber cat food for constipation and diarrhea, there are different types of fiber to look for. Soluble fiber from oats, rye, barley, root vegetables, and some legumes are helpful for diarrhea while whole grains may be better for constipation. If you’re choosing a high fiber cat food for diarrhea or constipation, make sure the fiber content is still reasonable – you don’t need something as high as 10%.
Aside from the fiber content of your cat’s food, are some general things to look for in a good cat food:
- Real animal protein as the first ingredient. Make sure real animal protein is the first ingredient – even better if it’s listed as two of the first three ingredients.
- Healthy animal-based fats. Animal-based fats are the most biologically valuable for your cat. Look for a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Limited carbohydrate content. Even though you’re looking for a high fiber cat food, you don’t want the total carbohydrate content to be too high – your cat still needs meat for optimal health and digestion. Add up the crude protein, fat, fiber, moisture, and ash to estimate carb content.
- No artificial additives. Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives add no nutritional benefit to your cat’s food – they are simply used to make the product look, taste, or smell more appealing. Avoid any product that contains artificial additives.
- Moderate calorie content. Be sure to check the calorie content of your cat’s food in comparison to the feeding recommendations. Many high fiber cat food for weight loss recipes are low in calories but the feeding amounts are high. You want to avoid products where your cat has to eat a huge volume of food to meet his calorie needs.
Now that you know what to look for in a high-quality cat food recipe, you’re ready to start shopping on your own! Before you do, however, we want to tell you how we make our cat food recommendations so you know whether you can trust the picks we’ve reviewed in depth below.
How Do We Make Cat Food Recommendations?
We know you want to do what’s best for your cat, but sometimes it’s hard to understand what that means. Your cat is an obligate carnivore, so a meat-based diet is absolutely essential. From there, you might find yourself dealing with unique nutritional concerned or preferences. Whatever kind of cat food you end up shopping for, know that we have your back! Every recommendation we make is based on an analysis of the product’s guaranteed analysis and list of ingredients to determine quality. We wouldn’t recommend something to you unless we’d be confident feeding it to our own cats.
Here are some general requirements for a cat food recipe to receive our stamp of approval:
- A source of high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient
- At least 30% crude protein for kittens and at least 26% for adults
- A minimum of 9% crude fat for kittens and adults
- A balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, primarily from animal sources
- A rich blend of nutrients from natural sources and supplements, as needed
- Limited carbohydrate content from digestible sources (like whole grains and veggies)
- No low-quality fillers, by-products, or artificial additives (preservatives, dyes, or flavors)
The 10 Best High Fiber Cat Foods
Before you switch to a cat food with high fiber, talk to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian is the best person to determine whether a change in your cat’s diet is actually warranted. If your cat has chronic constipation or diarrhea, you should be more worried about what’s causing it than switching to a high fiber cat food. If your veterinarian recommends increasing the fiber content in your cat’s diet, however, check out some of these recipes:
|Our 2020 Picks: Best High Fiber Cat Food|
|Nature’s Logic Feline Chicken
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor
|Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free
|Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish
|Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice
|Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet
|Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original
|Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Flaked Chicken Recipe
|Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight
|Solid Gold Let’s Stay In
Our Top Overall Pick: If you want to feed your cat the best of the best, you might be considering fresh food like NomNomNow. Though we love this brand and usually include it as our top pick, we wouldn’t call it a high fiber cat food. Our top pick instead is Nature’s Logic Feline Chicken Meal Feast. This formula features chicken meal as the main ingredient, a concentrated source of lean protein with millet as a fiber-rich carbohydrate. Supplemented with a wide variety of dried fruits and vegetables, this recipe doesn’t rely on synthetic supplements at all. The crude fiber content is 5% which is higher than average but not too high.
Most Popular High Fiber Cat Food: Many cat owners looking for high fiber cat food are concerned with hairballs. Increasing the fiber content of your cat’s food may help things move more smoothly through his digestive tract, so this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball and Weight Control recipe could be a good option. It features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with chicken meal and turkey meal as the next two. This recipe includes several sources of supplemental fiber as well as fresh vegetables which provide natural sources for key nutrients. Overall, this recipe is measured at 5% crude fiber.
Most Affordable High Fiber Cat Food: When shopping for cat food, you need to be concerned with quality to make sure it meets your cat’s nutritional needs. If you’re also concerned about budget, however, you need to be even more diligent. This Whole Earth Farms recipe features real chicken as the primary ingredient with turkey meal for supplemental protein. It is grain free, made with potatoes and peas as the primary carbohydrate ingredients and supplemented with probiotics to help support healthy and regular digestion. This isn’t an extremely high fiber recipe, but it does contain 4% crude fiber which is above the average.
Best High Fiber Kitten Food: Start your kitten off right with this holistic salmon & whitefish recipe from Halo. This formula is designed specifically for the nutritional needs of growing kittens, made with premium animal proteins and plenty of energy. It contains wholesome sweet potatoes, blueberries, and carrots as natural sources for antioxidants, fiber, and essential nutrients. You’ll also find plenty of healthy fats for skin and coat as well as dried fermentation products for digestive support. This recipe contains 5% crude fiber.
Best High Fiber Senior Cat Food: As your cat starts to get older, his metabolism may slow down and so could his digestion. Additional fiber in his diet may help prevent issues like constipation and diarrhea. This Wholesome Essentials chicken and brown rice formula from Nutro is a good choice because it is nutritionally balanced specifically for senior cats. It features real chicken as the first ingredient, providing plenty of lean, high-quality protein. It also contains antioxidants and essential nutrients for healthy immunity and is completely free from by-products and additives. It contains 6% crude fiber.
Best High Fiber Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach: Cats with food allergies and sensitive stomach often do well on a limited ingredient diet. The fewer the ingredients in the food, the lower the risk of triggering an allergy. This Merrick LID with Healthy Grains recipe features real salmon and brown rice as the main ingredients, made with just 9 main inclusions. It contains a single source of animal protein which helps reduce the risk for allergies and the whole grains are highly digestible. If you’re looking for a high fiber cat food, you’ll be glad to know this recipe contains 4.5% crude fiber which may be beneficial for constipation or diarrhea.
4 More Top-Rated High Fiber Cat Foods
If you’re looking for a high fiber wet cat food for constipation, this Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Pate Chicken recipe is one to consider. The crude fiber is listed at 3%, but when you calculate it according to dry matter you get something closer to 14% (maximum). This formula features fresh chicken, turkey, and chicken liver as the top three ingredients with fresh vegetables like peas and carrots. You’ll also find an assortment of other fresh fruits and veggies at the end of the list which provide small amounts of essential nutrients.
Dry food tends to be higher in fiber than wet food, but this Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Food is designed for indoor cats with a higher fiber content. Measured as dry matter, it contains about 9% fiber. This recipe features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with fresh carrots and sweet potatoes as the primary carbohydrates. Cranberries and blueberries provide antioxidants and other essential nutrients with flaxseed for healthy fat and fiber.
Give your cat a powerful boost of protein with this Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free Chicken recipe. This formula features high-protein kibble infused with freeze-dried raw pieces of chicken. It is a healthy weight formula, so the calorie content is moderate, and it has higher fiber content around 5.5% maximum. This recipe provides a rich blend of animal proteins from chicken, salmon, and menhaden fish meal with freeze dried chicken organs as an infusion of nutrients and natural meat flavor. Your cat is sure to love it.
Indoor cats often have more issues with hairballs than outdoor cats because they don’t eat whole prey. This Solid Gold Let’s Stay In Salmon, Lentil & Apple Recipe Grain-Free Indoor recipe is formulated with higher fiber content specifically for indoor cats. It features fresh salmon as the first ingredient with salmon meal, turkey meal, and ocean fish meal as supplemental sources of protein. This recipe contains lentils and peas as digestible carbohydrates with fresh blueberries and cranberries for antioxidants.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much fiber do cats need? Technically speaking, cats don’t need dietary fiber. Dietary fiber comes from plants and, as obligate carnivores, cats have no biological requirement for plants in their diet. In the wild, cats consume the stomach contents of their prey which may contain some plant material, but it has already been mostly digested. Instead, cats consume their whole prey which includes the fur, bones, and cartilage which may only be partially digested, making its function in the digestive tract similar to that of dietary fiber.
- How can I add fiber to my cat’s diet? Switching to a high fiber cat food is one option, but you can also do several things to add fiber to your cat’s existing diet as well. High fiber cat treats are one option, or you can try mixing a little canned pumpkin into your cat’s food. Wheat bran is another source of natural fiber, but it isn’t recommended for cats who have wheat allergies or sensitivities.
- Can cats have too much fiber? Dietary fiber isn’t dangerous for your cat, but it isn’t part of his natural diet, so you need to be careful how much you give him. The optimal fiber content in commercial cat food is no more than 3.5%, so ask your veterinarian if you’re considering a high fiber cat food. Increasing the fiber content of your cat’s food too much could trigger digestive issues like diarrhea. Plus, the higher the fiber content, the higher the carbohydrate content is likely to be and it may come at the cost of reducing the protein content.
- Does fiber help with weight loss? Many veterinarians recommend high fiber cat food for weight loss because the increased fiber content will help your cat feel fuller. This reduces the amount of food they consume, and therefore the number of calories. The thing to remember, however, is that cats can’t digest plant matter as well as protein, so a high fiber diet might not actually help with weight loss. A diet rich in lean protein with moderate fat and calorie content is a better option. The quality of your cat’s diet is important to consider as well.
- Is wet food better than dry food for constipation? If you’re considering a high fiber wet cat food for constipation, you may not need to go quite that far. Wet food is higher in moisture and tends to be lower in carbohydrates than dry food, making it easier for your cat to digest already. Adding moisture to your cat’s diet may help soften the stool, making it easier for your cat to pass.
You’re right to be concerned about the quality of your cat’s diet. You want what’s best for your furry friend, after all. Before you go out and buy high fiber cat food, assuming that fiber is just as important for your cat as it is for you, take the time to learn the reality of your cat’s nutritional requirements.
If you’re looking for high fiber cat food for diarrhea or constipation, check out some of the options on this list. Just remember to make dietary changes slowly to prevent further digestive upset and always consult your veterinarian for severe constipation or diarrhea lasting more than 2 or 3 days.