10 Best Non Prescription Low Phosphorus Cat Food in 2020

Nothing is worse than when your cat gets sick. It’s even more heart-breaking if he slowly declines over time and you’re not sure what’s wrong. Kidney disease is a common condition in older cats, and it can be difficult to notice at first but, once you do, it’s important to start treatment right away.

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Taste Of The Canyon River

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American Journey Pate Chicken

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Many veterinarians recommend prescription cat food for issues like kidney disease. Though low phosphorus prescription cat food may reduce the workload on your cat’s kidneys, you have to ask yourself whether the quality of the recipe as a whole is up to par. Any commercial cat food for kidney disease still needs to meet your cat’s nutritional requirements and should be made from wholesome, natural ingredients.

In this article, we’ll cover the subject of phosphorus in cat food and how it affects the treatment of kidney disease. We’ll discuss the options for prescription versus non prescription low phosphorus cat food and provide you with our recommendations for the best food for cats with kidney disease.

Phosphorus in Cat Food


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Cats require a specific balance of nutrients in their diet for optimal health, just like we do. There are some differences in the necessary amounts for those nutrients, of course. Phosphorus is an essential mineral that helps support strong bones and teeth. It plays a role in managing the body’s energy stores as well as cell growth and tissue repair. Because your cat’s body only needs a certain amount of phosphorus, excess is filtered out through the kidneys.

The kidneys are designed to filter the blood, removing excess water and wastes to create urine which is then excreted from the body. Higher concentrations of waste products in the blood require the kidneys to work harder which can eventually lead to kidney disease. When the kidneys don’t work properly, it causes wastes to accumulate in the blood even further and can lead to a variety of health issues including hyperphosphatemia and the accelerated progression of kidney disease.

Treating Kidney Disease in Cats

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the progressive loss of kidney function over time. It is most commonly seen in cats between 10 and 14 years of age, presenting with symptoms such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination
  • Bad breath

Treatment for kidney disease in cats varies depending on the severity. In some cases, the first step is to flush out the kidneys with intravenous fluids to stimulate their function and to restart waste removal. Treatment may also involve additional medications to control symptoms as well as proper nutrition to help the cat heal and recover.

Many veterinarians recommend a low phosphorus cat food for kidney disease. The idea is to reduce the workload on the kidneys to help slow the progression of the disease. Phosphorus is one of the waste products that builds up in the kidneys, so reducing the phosphorus content of your cat’s food should help. The problem is low phosphorus cat foods aren’t always good.

Cat foods designed to be low in phosphorus are often low in protein as well since protein contains significant amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. The issue here is that a cat’s body is biologically adapted to utilizing nutrition from animal sources rather than plants – protein is their primary source of energy. On top of that, your cat’s body has a limited ability to control its own protein metabolism. If the protein content of your cat’s diet is reduced, he’ll likely end up metabolizing a similar amount of protein anyway and some of it may come from his own tissues.

At this point, you may be wondering whether what the best food for cats with kidney disease actually is. Before we get to our recommendations, let’s take a moment to talk about prescription diets.

Is Prescription Cat Food Necessary?

When it comes to specific health problems like kidney disease, many veterinarians recommend prescription-only cat foods. What you need to realize about veterinary pet foods, however, is that they don’t always contain therapeutic ingredients. They may contain different levels of certain nutrients and are marketed for specific health problems, but they aren’t a substitute for veterinary treatment.

In many cases, prescription cat foods are made with low-quality ingredients as well. If you take a look at the label for big brands like Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet, you’ll see heavy use of corn, wheat, and soy ingredients. In fact, many recipes don’t even list an animal protein as the first ingredient. Though low phosphorus prescription cat food does exist, you have to wonder whether the low quality of the ingredients cancels out the benefits of a reduced phosphorus diet.

What Should You Look for in a Good Cat Food?

If you want to support your cat’s health, a high-quality nutritious diet is the way to go. If your cat has severe kidney disease, he needs veterinary treatment – a prescription diet won’t necessarily solve the problem. Your cat may be better off with a quality cat food made from wholesome, natural ingredients that’s easy to digest and provides for his nutritional needs. The higher the quality the food, the easier it is to digest which means fewer waste products for your cat’s kidneys to filter out – that means less work they have to do. Either way, a high-quality diet will benefit your cat’s long-term health and wellness.

After talking to your veterinarian, you may decide to switch your cat to a better food. If that’s what you want to do, here are some things to look for in a good cat food:

  • Real animal protein as the first ingredient. Animal protein should be the foundation of your cat’s diet and definitely the first ingredient in his food. Look for real meat, poultry, or fish as the first ingredient and ideally two out of the first three.
  • Healthy animal-based fats. In addition to protein, your cat needs healthy fats in his diet and they too should come from animal sources as much as possible.
  • Rich in moisture. Moisture essential to keep your cat hydrated and to keep his kidneys functioning. Wet cat food is higher in moisture than dry food and may be a better option for cats with kidney disease. It also tends to be more palatable which can help with low appetite.
  • No artificial additives. Cats with reduced kidney function may have trouble filtering wastes out of their blood, so avoid any cat food that contains artificial additives.
  • High-quality natural ingredients. The more digestible your cat’s food is, the better. Look for natural whole food ingredients instead of by-products and fillers.

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?

If your cat suffers from kidney disease, we recommend following your veterinarian’s advice for treatment. Depending on the severity of your cat’s condition and the progression of the disease, the course of treatment might vary. Whatever treatment your vet recommends, however, your cat can certainly benefit from a high-quality diet and that’s what we’re here to help with. We’ve done the research to find the highest quality cat food brands on the market and we’ve evaluated their ingredients to bring you our top picks.

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)
There’s a lot of information to consider when reading a pet food label, so we can understand if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all of it. The good news is you don’t have to be an expert to make a smart choice – you just need to know what you’re looking for. Take what you’ve learned above and consider some of our recommendations for the best high fiber cat food in the next section.

The 10 Best Non Prescription Low Phosphorus Cat Foods

Most cat food manufacturers don’t list the phosphorus content of their foods, so finding a low phosphorus recipe may be tricky – especially if you’re looking for a non prescription low phosphorus cat food. If you’re not going to feed your cat prescription cat food for kidney disease, however, you may do just as well choosing a high-quality recipe as you would looking for one low in phosphorus.

A nutritious diet is the key to supporting your cat’s health and wellness so, for that reason, we’ve assembled a collection of high-quality cat foods that will support your cat’s optimal health.

NomNomNow Fresh Cat Food Delivery

Our Top Overall Pick: If the quality of your cat’s diet is a priority, we encourage you to consider fresh food. NomNomNow is our favorite fresh pet food company because they deliver freshly prepared, small-batch cat food right to your door. All you need to do is provide some basic information about your cat’s age, weight, and activity level so they can calculate his calorie requirements and they will send you pre-portioned packages of fresh food on a regular basis. Every batch is cooked at low temperatures to preserve the nutritional value and shipped within days of cooking. You can change or customize your meal plan at any time and there are two protein options to choose from: chicken and fish.

Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Canned Food

Most Popular: Because there are so many different cat foods out there, it can be difficult to choose just one. If you’re really not sure what to buy, consider a popular brand like Taste of the Wild. This Canyon River recipe is made with premium roasted meats and other wholesome ingredients to deliver high-quality, balanced nutrition for your cat. This recipe features real trout as the first ingredient with supplemental protein from ocean fish and smoked salmon. Carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries provide rich natural sources for key nutrients and the recipe is nutritionally balanced for adult cats.

American Journey Pate Chicken Recipe Canned Food

Most Affordable: When it comes to quality in cat food, it’s often equated with price. Higher quality ingredients cost more, but you don’t necessarily need to pay a fortune for good cat food. This American Journey Pate Chicken Recipe canned food is an affordable option that delivers on quality as well. It features fresh chicken as the first ingredient with chicken broth for moisture and flavor. You’ll find fresh cranberries and blueberries as antioxidant-rich sources of natural nutrients with chelated mineral supplements as well. Plus, as a pate rather than a gravy recipe it is lower in carbohydrates – about 2% estimated carb content.

Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Diet Phosphorus Chicken Formula Canned Food

Best Non Prescription Low Phosphorus Cat Food: If you’re determined to feed your cat low phosphorus cat food but you want to avoid prescription diets, Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Diet Phosphorus Chicken Formula canned food is a good option. It features real chicken as the main ingredient with chicken broth for moisture and flavor. It rich in digestible ingredients and contains controlled levels of phosphorus to reduce the workload on our cat’s kidneys. This recipe also contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and it is completely free from grains as well as artificial additives like colors, fillers, and preservatives.

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Indoor Senior Pate Recipe Canned Food

Best Senior Cat Food: Most cats with chronic kidney disease are older, so you may want to think about a senior recipe cat food. This Merrick Purrfect Bistro Indoor Senior Pate recipe is formulated for older cats, so it contains plenty of lean protein to support lean muscle mass but contains controlled fat and calories for healthy weight maintenance. This recipe contains real chicken as the first ingredient with chicken broth and chicken liver to ensure plenty of real chicken flavor. Flaxseed oil helps provide the right balance of omega-3 fatty acids and the recipe is supplemented as needed for balanced nutrition.

Ziwi Peak Lamb Recipe Canned Cat Food

Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach: If your cat has a sensitive stomach, finding the right cat food can be even tougher. It’s a good idea to limit the number of ingredients in his food and you may want to choose a novel source of protein as well. This Ziwi Peak Lamb Recipe Canned Food is a great option because it features New Zealand lamb as a single source of novel protein with a very limited list of ingredients. It contains only a single carbohydrate ingredient – chickpeas – and is a very digestible recipe overall. Plus, because it is rich in moisture it will support your cat’s hydration and kidney health.

4 More Top-Rated Cat Foods for Kidney Disease

Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Food

If you’re looking for a high-quality cat food, you can always trust an organic brand like Castor & Pollux. This Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe is a great option for any cat because it features premium organic ingredients in a protein-packed, moisture-rich recipe. This recipe contains organic chicken as the first ingredient with organic chicken liver and eggs for supplemental protein. Organic fruits and vegetables deliver natural sources for key nutrients with chelated minerals to help ensure balanced nutrition with optimal nutrient absorption.

Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Many older cats develop food allergies which can make it tricky to find a high-quality recipe your cat with kidney disease can eat. This Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast is a great option because it features rabbit as a single source of novel protein and it is packed with natural sources for key nutrients. With dried fruits and vegetables, this recipe doesn’t rely on synthetic supplements at all. It is loaded with healthy animal protein and fats, balanced with premium nutrition for your cat.

Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Canned Food

Your cat deserves a protein-packed diet formulated to meet his nutritional needs. This Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe is a great option because it is designed to be loaded with protein from real animal ingredients. It contains 95% chicken, turkey, and chicken liver with 5% fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome ingredients. As a canned food, it is rich in moisture and it is completely free from grains, fillers, by-products, and artificial additives.

Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

It’s hard to beat the nutritional quality of raw food, but it’s not always practical for pet owners. This Stella & Chewy’s Chick Chick Chicken Dinner is a great alternative because it is freeze-dried which makes it shelf-stable. This recipe is made from premium-quality raw ingredients and, because it’s freeze-dried instead of cooked at high temperatures, it retains more of its original nutritional value. The important thing is to completely rehydrate the food before offering it to your cat so it doesn’t affect his hydration.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is phosphorus good for cats? Yes, phosphorus is an essential mineral required for optimal health. It plays a role in balance with calcium to support healthy bones and teeth as well as other essential functions. It’s important to recognize, however, that excess phosphorus in the diet can be problematic, especially for cats with kidney disease who have trouble filtering the excess out of their blood.
  2. What is the best food for cats with kidney disease? Many veterinarians recommend low phosphorus cat food for kidney disease. Phosphorus doesn’t directly cause kidney disease, but many cats with kidney disease end up with high phosphorus levels because the kidneys have trouble filtering the blood. A diet high in phosphorus may exacerbate the problem. That being said, you don’t necessarily need a prescription cat food for kidney disease.
  3. Is a prescription or non prescription low phosphorus cat food better? It’s up to you and your veterinarian whether you choose a prescription or non prescription low phosphorus cat food for kidney disease. You may not even need to choose a low phosphorus cat food at all. Depending how your vet is treating your cat’s kidney disease, it may be better to simply choose a high-quality, nutritious diet that will be easy for your cat to digest. Real animal protein with limited carbohydrate content is recommended and you may want to consider a canned food recipe.
  4. Is wet food better for cats with kidney disease? Wet food is typically a better option for cats with kidney disease than dry food. For the most part, wet foods are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate content than dry food, though it depends on the recipe. Canned food is also rich in moisture which can be beneficial for cats with kidney disease. The most important thing, however, is the quality and digestibility of the food as a whole.
  5. Can cats recover from kidney disease? It depends on the severity of the disease and how quickly you catch it. In the early stages with prompt treatment, you can slow the progression of the disease and your cat may be able to live for several years. Unfortunately, once the kidneys are damaged, they may never return to normal function. Even with treatment, your cat may eventually go into kidney failure once more.

Your cat’s health and wellness is extremely important and, as a cat owner, it’s your job to do everything you can to support it. If you suspect your cat may have kidney disease, your first step is to talk to your veterinarian. Simply switching to low phosphorus cat food may not be enough. With treatment, your veterinarian may not even recommend low phosphorus cat food.

In the end, what is most important is choosing a recipe that is made with wholesome, high quality ingredients. If you need help knowing where to look, try one of our recommendations above.

 

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