Want the Best Cat Food for Allergies? Here They Are

Written by Joan W.
Updated: March 11, 2023
© Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species.

Key Points

  • The #1 Best Overall cat food for allergies is Hound & Gatos Lamb & Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food.
  • Although food allergies are rare in cats, they do show up. If you happen to have a cat that is prone to food allergies, then you’re going to want to find food alternatives that work for them. This means identifying their allergens and then making sure that their food options no longer contain any traces of these allergens.
  • Using extensive research on the top-rated picks and reviews, we found the best cat food options for allergies. Thanks to our guide, you’ll be able to choose the best cat food for your cat based on their specific allergen.

Cats can be vulnerable to three types of allergies: food, fleas, and environmental substances such as pollen, fabrics, cleaning solutions, or even some types of cat litter. Some cats may have multiple allergies at the same time.

Signs of potential feline allergies include symptoms such as:

  • Itchy or runny eyes
  • Itchy, red, or inflamed ears
  • Frequent coughing or sneezing
  • Ear infections
  • Excessive itching and scratching when no fleas are present
  • Regular vomiting or diarrhea
  • Paw chewing or swollen paws

If your cat has any of these symptoms, the first step is to take him to the vet. While these are signs of potential allergies, they could also indicate your pet has a bacterial or fungal infection or another problem best handled by your veterinarian.

If your vet thinks your cat has allergies, it’s up to the two of you to uncover the source. Identifying and eliminating the source of your cat’s discomfort can be like a treasure hunt or solving a mystery. You have to find clues and follow them until you get the results you want which is a happy, healthy cat.

A common and rising source of allergic reactions is fleas and environmental chemicals. You may want to start there in your quest. Changing your cleaning products (especially if you’re using essential oils, which can be toxic to cats) or switching to natural fibers for your cat’s bed may do the trick.

If it seems to be a food allergy irritating your sweet feline friend, the best way to identify the culprit is to eliminate possible irritants for an extended period (three months is recommended) to see if your pet’s condition improves. Remember, if you’re removing wheat or chicken, for example, you have to make sure that no treats or other foods still contain the ingredient, or you are not getting a proper elimination test.

  1. Hound & Gatos Lamb & Liver Formula Grain-Free Cat Food
  2. Hound & Gatos Lamb & Liver Formula Grain-Free Cat Food
    • Simple paleolithic formula has zero added carbs
    • Comprised of 98% lamb and lamb liver
    • Ingredients include salmon oil
    • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
    • Made in the USA
    Check Chewy
  3. Fussie Cat Market Fresh Quail & Duck Meal Recipe
  4. Fussie Cat Market Fresh Quail & Duck Meal Recipe
    • Ingredients include protein from quail and duck
    • Additive-free
    • Contains antioxidants and additional nutrients
    • Gluten-free
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  6. Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
    • Single-protein formula consists of rabbit and rabbit meal
    • Gluten-free
    • Filler-free
    • Sweet potatoes and peas add texture
    • Salmon oil benefits your cat's skin
    • Includes essential vitamins and minerals
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. Feline Natural Lamb Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  8. Feline Natural Lamb Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
    • Contains free-range, grass-fed New Zealand lamb
    • Also contains New Zealand green-lipped mussels
    • Good source of taurine and omega-3 fatty acids
    • Zero grains and fillers
    • Free of additives and preservatives
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  9. Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
  10. Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
    • Made with rabbit bone and liver
    • Gluten-, grain- and filler-free
    • Added olive oil aids in your cats skin and fur health
    • Made in small batches for maximum quality control
    • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
    • Easy-to-digest
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  11. Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  12. Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
    • Simple recipe includes venison and venison broth
    • Hand-packed stew is moist and tasty
    • Free of grains, articial flavors, preservatives and other unsavory items
    • Made in the USA
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

Top Picks: The Best Cat Food for Allergies Today

#1. Best Overall: Hound & Gatos Lamb & Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

In our review, the overall best cat food for allergies is Hound & Gatos Lamb & Liver Canned Cat Food. This was decided because of its super simple Paleolithic formula with zero added carbohydrates.

Lamb, lamb broth, and lamb liver are the first three ingredients in this protein-rich cat food. There is no meat meal and no other proteins aside from lamb. There is some salmon oil, which is great for your cat’s skin and fur and is not a source of troublesome mercury. However, if you are concerned that your cat’s allergy is to salmon, this may not be the best food for you.

Hound & Gatos tops our list because they keep it clean and natural with 98% lamb and lamb liver. The formula is made in the USA and fortified with the vitamins and minerals that keep your cat healthy. There are no wheat, soy, corn, or grains used in the formula as well. This is a particularly great option if your cat has an allergy to grain or other types of meat. However, as we mentioned, this is not a good option if they are allergic to salmon oil.

Pros and Cons of Hound & Gators Lamb & Liver Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

ProsCons
The cat food formula follows a super simple Paleolithic diet.If your cat has a salmon allergy, this will not be a good food option.
The first three ingredients are rich in protein.
There is no soy, grain, corn, or wheat used in the formula.
Salmon oil is added to help improve your cat’s skin and fur.
Best Overall
Hound & Gatos Lamb & Liver Formula Grain-Free Cat Food
  • Simple paleolithic formula has zero added carbs
  • Comprised of 98% lamb and lamb liver
  • Ingredients include salmon oil
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Made in the USA
Check Chewy

2. Best Value: Fussie Cat Market Fresh Quail & Duck Meal Recipe

Cat owners looking for great value when purchasing cat food that is allergy-safe will love the Fussie Cat Market Fresh Quail & Duck Meal Recipe. If your cat is a fan of chicken but has allergies, you can give her the poultry she craves with Fussie Cat’s quail and duck recipe. Quail and duck meal are the first two ingredients. The recipe is also free of chicken fat and other common additives that are added to limited ingredient formulas. So if your cat has a chicken and fish allergy, then this is a great option for them. 

Fortified with taurine and antioxidants like blueberries, this limited-ingredient dry food is nutrient-rich and well-suited to cats with allergies. It’s also gluten-free. Additionally, Fussie Cat has never had any recalls occur with their products. Overall, this is a high-quality cat food for picky eaters at a great value. The only downside is that the formula tends to have a pretty short expiration date — so we wouldn’t recommend storing it for long periods of time.

Pros and Cons of the Fussie Cat Market Fresh Quail & Duck Meal Recipe

ProsCons
This is a great value for allergy-friendly cat food.The formula has a short life span before the expiration date comes up.
The recipe is free of any chicken or fish ingredients as well as unnecessary additives.
It is fortified with taurine and antioxidants.
The formula is gluten-free.
Best Value
Fussie Cat Market Fresh Quail & Duck Meal Recipe
  • Ingredients include protein from quail and duck
  • Additive-free
  • Contains antioxidants and additional nutrients
  • Gluten-free
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Dry Food: Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

If your sensitive kitty prefers dry food options, then try out the Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food. Freely Rabbit delivers a single-protein dry food made with rabbit and rabbit meal. It’s free of both gluten and other common fillers. The formula uses sweet potatoes and peas to add texture to the small-sized protein-rich bites.

There is salmon oil in the formula, which is an excellent additive for your cat’s skin and fur, but won’t be the best fit if fish is your cat’s allergy. Fish oil can be helpful to pets with environmental allergies and is only a potential allergen if it contains fish protein. This wholesome formula includes taurine, essential vitamins, and minerals. However, as a dry food formula, you’ll need to make sure that your cat gets an adequate amount of hydration outside of their food.

Pros and Cons of the Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

ProsCons
The formula features a single protein ingredient.Since the formula is dry, it doesn’t provide your cat with adequate hydration.
It doesn’t contain artificial fillers or additives.
It is gluten-free.
There is salmon oil included in the formula to help promote healthy skin and fur.
Contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
Best Dry Food
Freely Rabbit Recipe Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Single-protein formula consists of rabbit and rabbit meal
  • Gluten-free
  • Filler-free
  • Sweet potatoes and peas add texture
  • Salmon oil benefits your cat's skin
  • Includes essential vitamins and minerals
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best Organ-Rich Wet Food: Feline Natural Lamb Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Cats will allergies deserve lots of nutrients and they can get that with Feline Natural Lamb Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food. Feline Natural is formulated from free-range, grass-fed New Zealand lamb and has plenty of organ meat, which is great for your cat. It includes New Zealand green-lipped mussels that are a potent natural source of taurine and omega-3 fatty acids. 

This all-natural formula has zero grains or fillers like wheat, rice, or soy. It is also free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, or gelling agents, keeping it simple for your most sensitive pet. Like many high-quality limited ingredient formulas, this food does include fish oil which will only be a problem if your cat has an allergy to fish. However, because it is such high-quality organ meat cat food, it is definitely on the pricier side. A six-ounce case of 12 cans is priced at roughly $51. This is something to take into account if you’re unable to justify the cost depending on your own personal expenses.

Pros and Cons of the Feline Natural Lamb Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

ProsCons
The formula is made with free-range, grass-fed lamb.This is pricier cat food for the amount you’re getting.
There is a lot of organ meat that is included in the formula. 
The formula doesn’t include artificial ingredients or preservatives.
There are no fillers, grains, rice, or soy added.
There is salmon oil added for your cat’s skin and fur health.
Best Organ-Rich Wet Food
Feline Natural Lamb Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  • Contains free-range, grass-fed New Zealand lamb
  • Also contains New Zealand green-lipped mussels
  • Good source of taurine and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Zero grains and fillers
  • Free of additives and preservatives
Check Chewy Check Amazon

5. Best Freeze-Dried Food: Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food is an excellent choice for even the pickiest of cats. This pure, simple, raw formula is made from farm-raised rabbit with both rabbit bone and rabbit liver included. There are also no grains, gluten, or fillers added to the formula. Additionally, there is also zero fish oil. Instead, they add olive oil to boost your cat’s fur and skin.

Stella & Chewy is a premium freeze-dried raw food and makes their foods in small batches to control quality. They say you don’t have to rehydrate it, but extra moisture in your cat’s food is always a good idea. Fortified with taurine and all the vitamins and minerals your cat needs, Stella & Chewy delivers simple, fortified, and easy-to-digest nutrition. However, according to some online reviewers, the formula may contain too much bone. Typically, more bone increases the the food’s mineral content, however, this may not be a good thing if your cat has kidney disease.

Pros and Cons of the Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

ProsCons
There are no grains, gluten, fillers, or artificial ingredients added.There may be too much bone in the formula, especially if your cat has kidney disease.
There is no salmon oil added and instead olive oil is used to help with your cat’s fur and skin health.
The main ingredient is farm-raised rabbit.
The formula is formulated with various vitamins and minerals.
Best Freeze-Dried
Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
  • Made with rabbit bone and liver
  • Gluten-, grain- and filler-free
  • Added olive oil aids in your cats skin and fur health
  • Made in small batches for maximum quality control
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Easy-to-digest
Check Chewy Check Amazon

6. Best Wet Food Made with Venison: Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

For a simple recipe made with venison, try out the Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food. Venison and venison broth are the first two ingredients, and the only proteins in this simple, moisture-rich hand-packed stew. The formula is free of grains, carrageenan, guar gum, xanthan gum, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Made in the USA, this food is 95% meat and fortified with vitamins and minerals. It also contain carrots, potato flour, and salmon oil.

Lotus is also a family owned and operated business, so you know that they’re putting in love and care into their cat food recipes. Since venison isn’t usually used in cat food, this is a great option if your cat has had sensitives to many other main protein sources. Overall, the only main downside to this cat food option is that it is definitely on the pricier side. This isn’t the most cost effective option, however, it is definitely worth exploring as an option if your cat has had bad reactions to other protein sources.

Pros and Cons of the Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

ProsCons
The first two listed ingredients on the recipe are venison and venison broth.This is a very pricey option.
There are no grains or artificial flavors, color, or preservatives used in the formula.
The formula is filled with great vitamins and minerals.
This is a great option for sensitive cats as there is only one protein source.
Best Wet Food Made With Venison
Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  • Simple recipe includes venison and venison broth
  • Hand-packed stew is moist and tasty
  • Free of grains, articial flavors, preservatives and other unsavory items
  • Made in the USA
Check Chewy Check Amazon

What to Look For in the Best Cat Food for Allergies

Many popular cat foods mix several types of proteins. The most common proteins that you’ll find are chicken, fish, and beef. So if you begin to notice that your cat has a food allergy, you’re going to want to determine what is causing it. Overall, you’re going to want to look for cat food that has limited ingredients that won’t trigger your cat. If you’ve been trying to figure out how to choose the best food for your pet cat with allergies and feeling overwhelmed — don’t fret. When it comes down to choosing the best cat food for allergies, there are three factors you will want to consider. 

These three main factors include:

  • Protein source 
  • Hidden proteins 
  • Added fillers 

Let’s take a look at each of these factors in more detail below:

Protein Source

Although grains and other carbohydrates are not part of your cat’s natural diet and can cause digestive upset or weight gain, the most common food allergens for cats is a specific protein. Sometimes overexposure to specific protein sources can start to cause an allergic reaction. To eliminate possible allergens so you can see if their symptoms subside, you want to be very careful about what proteins are in the food you buy.

Hidden Proteins

Some foods may say they are made with lamb, but they also include poultry or fish when you look at the ingredients list. Many foods of all flavors also include chicken or chicken fat because it is cheap and tasty. Don’t assume that even the best companies give you a simple formula. Always read the ingredient list on the back. 

Added Fillers

Suppose your cat is reacting to his food, throwing up, having diarrhea, experiencing weight gain, or having other allergic reactions. In that case, the extra fillers in the food may be contributing to the problem. Although grains and some carbohydrates are not necessarily bad for cats, they are only a very small part of your pet’s natural diet. Avoid added sugars, grains, and other starches. Some cats are even sensitive to green peas, which are in many limited-ingredient formulas. However, that is relatively rare.

The 4 Different Types of Cat Foods for Allergies

Throughout our guide, we can included several different types of cat food options that are available on the market. The basic types of limited-ingredient cat food for allergies include wet food, dry food, freeze-dried, or air-dried. Each one of these has their own pros and cons. It is incredibly helpful to be aware of these in order to purchase the best cat food for your feline friend. 

Some of the most common pros and cons include:

  • Wet food — Easy to serve and store. Helps keep your cat hydrated because of the high moisture content of the food. Especially good for older cats, cats with teeth issues, or if you need to mix medicine in their food. If fed too often or when your cat is too young, wet food has been associated with teeth problems. 
  • Dry food — Can be stored for extended periods of time. Often less expensive per meal than wet food. Some say it helps remove plaque. Allows your cat can eat whenever he is hungry since it can be left out without spoiling. Low moisture. 
  • Freeze-dried — Superior, dense nutrition. Incredibly convenient way to feed your cat a raw diet. Mimics your cat’s natural diet, which is raw. There are potential pathogens in raw food and it must be made and handled carefully. As a highly concentrated food it can be easy to overfeed your cat. Can be very expensive. 
  • Air-dried — Concentrated nutrition. Scoop and serve without rehydrating as it is in between kibble and raw food. Air drying preserves raw ingredients but removes pathogens. Low moisture. Can be hard and unpalatable if it gets stale.

Hypoallergenic Cat Food Versus Limited Ingredient Cat Food

There are hypoallergenic cat foods your vet can prescribe to eliminate possible allergens, but they are expensive, and some cats simply do not like them.

Even if you use hypoallergenic food for three months and discover food was the culprit, you will have to follow up with limited-ingredient foods like the ones we’ve highlighted below to make sure you know which protein (or other ingredient) causes the problem.

Common Food Allergens in Cats

Many popular cat foods mix several types of proteins. Chicken, fish, and beef are the most common ones on the market. While it is less common for fish to be an allergen than chicken or beef, the larger types of fish, like tuna and even salmon, can be high in mercury and therefore hard on a sensitive cat’s system.

Some pet parents will try food with only chicken, then only beef, and then only fish to identify which protein is a problem. With this in mind, we made sure to list and select limited ingredient pet foods that are grain-free and only use “novel” proteins like rabbit, duck, lamb, and venison. Since your cat is unlikely to have eaten these proteins much, they have a low probability of creating an allergic response and are an easy way to eliminate possible allergens from your cat’s diet.

About the Author

Joan Weisman is an experienced freelance marketing strategist and copywriter who helps small businesses expand their audience and stay top of mind with customers. She loves animals and dotes on her cat and dog.

Want the Best Cat Food for Allergies? Here They Are FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the most common allergy in cats?

There are actually four main types of allergies that can cause allergic reactions in our cats. These four are allergies to insects, food, atopic dermatitis, and contact allergies. Each of these types of allergies has their own unique features, manifestations, and treatments. As we mentioned in this article, with food allergies in particular, it is important to take notice of what food ingredient is triggering our cat.

How can I tell what my cat is allergic to?

When it comes to cat allergies, the best step is to take your cat to the veterinarian. Once at the vet’s office, your vet can schedule a skin or blood test for allergies.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

More from A-Z Animals