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Best Low Protein Cat Food

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Medically reviewed by  JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
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The best low-protein cat food addresses your cat’s health needs while providing controlled levels of high-quality, highly-digestible protein. It has plenty of moisture, low phosphorus content, keeps carbohydrates to a minimum, and doesn’t contain any additives that might harm your cat.

We’ve chosen Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites as the best low-protein cat food on the market because it has controlled levels of high-quality protein, is low in carbohydrates, and contains minimal phosphorus.

At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Low Protein Cat Food To Buy

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Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Overall Best
Picked by 31 people today!

Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Grain-Free Canned Food

  • Contains highly digestible protein
  • Relatively low carbohydrate content
  • Free from potentially harmful additives
Picked by 31 people today!

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food

  • Cats like the flavor and texture
  • Primarily made with animal protein
  • Controlled phosphorus levels for kidney disease
Best Prescription Wet Food
Picked by 25 people today!

Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

  • Formulated for cats with kidney disease
  • Cats like the flavor and texture
  • Fish oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s
Best Prescription Dry Food
Picked by 21 people today!

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

  • High-quality animal protein as the first ingredient
  • Free from potentially harmful additives
  • Controlled phosphorus and protein levels
Best Non-Prescription Dry Food
Picked by 21 people today!

Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Kidney Renal Support Diet Dry Cat Food

  • Restricted protein, phosphorus, and sodium content
  • Limited number of highly digestible ingredients
  • Supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids
Best Non-Prescription Wet Food
Picked by 21 people today!

Wellness Healthy Indulgence Shreds with Chicken & Turkey in Light Sauce Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pouches

  • Primarily made from digestible animal ingredients
  • Low carb content compared to many low-protein foods
  • Free from potentially harmful additives
Best Raw Food
Picked by 21 people today!

Darwin’s Intelligent Design KS Kidney Support Formula for Felines

  • Formulated for cats with kidney disease
  • Rich in biologically valuable animal protein
  • Raw formula rich in moisture

Low-Protein Diets Are Not for Every Cat

A low-protein diet is recommended only for cats with health conditions like liver and kidney disease. Even then, that recommendation is disputed. Modern research suggests that highly digestible, low-residue food may be a more carnivore-appropriate alternative.

In this article, we’ll talk about the role of dietary protein for cats, which cats need a low-protein diet, and, finally, we’ll review the best low-protein cat foods on the market.

Why Is Protein So Important for Cats?

Cats are obligate carnivores. In nature, a cat must eat animal protein for survival. A cat might go her entire life without tasting anything that’s not an animal or part of one—and that cat wouldn’t have any nutritional deficiencies. A cat is an animal that eats other animals. Every aspect of her being is fitted to that purpose.

For cats, protein is life-giving. It supports lean muscle mass and gives them the energy they need to function. From the strength to pounce to the energy to purr, protein is vital to every process in your cat’s body.

How Much Protein Does a Cat Need?

Cats need at least 2.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.

A 2013 study found that while cats in the study appeared healthy on about a quarter of that amount, they didn’t maintain lean muscle mass until they consumed at least 2.36 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. That translates to about 24 grams of protein per day for a 10-lb cat.

To give you an idea of what that means in terms of real food, Vital Essentials freeze-dried rabbit food provides about 27 grams of protein per day—slightly more than what cats would choose. Purina Cat Chow Complete offers 18.5 grams each day. Slightly less.

Speaking of what cats would choose, a 2011 study showed that when given the option to choose their own diet, over 100 cats consistently selected the food with 2.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.

Remember though—cat food labels don’t give you the nutrient content in grams. They give you percentages. You can convert percentages to grams if you want, but if you’d prefer to keep it simple, look for food that’s roughly 50% protein, 38% fat, and 2% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis.

A Word About Protein Bioavailability

The guaranteed analysis on a cat food label tells you how much crude protein the product contains – it doesn’t mention how much of that protein actually fuels your cat’s body. It all comes down to digestibility and bioavailability.

Digestibility describes how much of a particular food gets absorbed in the digestive tract and enters the bloodstream. Bioavailability is a measure of how much a given nutrient can be used by the body for use and storage.

For example, if your cat’s food uses a type of protein that’s only 67% digestible, those 24 grams per day could be closer to 16 grams of usable protein. The rest is waste – waste your cat’s organs will have to work to filter out.

Protein bioavailability is a crucial part of feeding your cat well, but it’s unclear which protein sources are the most bioavailable for cats. Without a complete understanding of how cats utilize protein, it’s impossible to say which protein sources burn the cleanest.

What Happens if You Give Your Cat Too Little or Too Much Protein?

In the same 2013 study mentioned earlier, adult cats given less than 0.68 grams of protein per pound of body weight entered a negative nitrogen balance. This meant that they were losing more nitrogen than they were taking in.

While the effects of inadequate protein intake vary based on the amino acid profile of the deficient protein, you can expect to see symptoms of malnutrition and, potentially, death. Protein malnutrition may lead to hepatic lipidosis, also referred to as fatty liver disease. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

Most cat foods marketed for their low-protein content are around 25% to 30% protein and provide roughly 11 to 18 grams of protein each day. Depending on your individual cat’s protein requirements, this amount may lead to loss of lean muscle mass.

Does Your Cat Need Low-Protein Cat Food?

Some cats, usually those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and other health problems, may benefit from protein restriction. Protein produces nitrogenous waste, which could place a burden on the kidneys or other organs.

It’s important to talk to your veterinarian before changing your cat’s diet, especially if he’s dealing with some kind of health problem. Dietary changes could help or make matters worse.

Cats With Kidney Disease

The jury’s still out on whether protein restriction helps or hurts cats with kidney issues, but here’s what we know.

The kidneys play a crucial role in the processing of nitrogenous wastes produced by protein digestion. Because cats with kidney disease have a reduced ability to process this waste, it builds up in their bloodstream. High blood urea nitrogen levels are a primary characteristic of kidney disease and a major part of why cats with CKD feel unwell.

To control the amount of waste in the bloodstream and ease the burden on the kidneys, cats with renal disease are traditionally given low-protein food.

This approach can help, but it can also hurt. A cat with kidney disease needs protein as much as any other cat. By restricting her protein intake, you might make your feline friend feel better than she did on her old diet, but you might also be helping the disease make her frail and skinny.

Some veterinarians suggest that instead of focusing on protein quantity alone, you need to think about protein quality. Highly-digestible protein, they say, is easier on the kidneys, tastes better, and it helps sick cats stay strong.

Lyn Thompson, BVSc says that “Clinically, we find that renal cats eating a raw food diet do well on highly digestible proteins like rabbit, chicken, hare, and possum. Too little protein in the diet can lead to excessive weight loss that can be extremely detrimental to a cat’s general health.”

Learn More About the Best Cat Food for Kidney Disease

Cats With Liver Disease

Because of the liver’s role in removing the toxic by-products of protein digestion, a diet loaded with low-quality protein can strain the dysfunctional liver. It’s recommended that cats with any type of liver disease eat food that’s rich in readily-digestible, highly bioavailable protein.

In some cases of liver disease, particularly if your cat develops hepatic encephalopathy (a brain disorder caused by liver disease), your veterinarian may recommend a low-protein diet. Traditionally, this has been considered a reliable way to reduce the amount of ammonia—a by-product of protein digestion— that the sick liver lets remain in the body.

More recent research, however, reveals that excessive ammonia is a major problem only if the cat is eating a diet with a lot of poorly-digestible protein. Feeding a low-protein diet may help cats feel better if they were previously on a bad diet, but protein restriction ultimately leads to muscle wasting and even worse health.

Even in cases when a low-protein diet is traditionally prescribed, the quality—not the quantity—of the protein appears to be the key to feeding a cat with liver disease.

Senior Cats

It’s sometimes recommended that cats eat less protein as they age. The logic here is that older cats are at an increased risk of kidney disease—it’s the most common disease in cats over age 10—and therefore their kidneys need a gentle touch.

In reality, however, senior cats aged ten and over need more protein and more calories than they did in middle age. More than at any other stage of life, senior and geriatric cats benefit from highly-digestible, high-quality protein.

Learn More About the Best Food for Senior Cats

Top 7 Best Low-Protein Cat Foods Reviewed

Because renal insufficiency is the number one reason a cat might need a low-protein diet, most of the following foods are prescription or non-prescription products for cats with kidney failure.

#1 Overall Best: Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy Grain-Free Cat Food

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 10% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 21
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $6.29 per day

Unlike most low-protein foods—including prescription foods for cats with kidney disease—this canned food is made from high-quality animal ingredients. Not only are these ingredients carnivore-appropriate and highly bioavailable but they’re also processed in a human food facility in Thailand.

The food is made from human-edible beef mixed with a variety of plant ingredients, including pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, and potato starch.

The food isn’t extremely low in protein—in fact, protein accounts for about 45% of its total calorie content and just over 60% of its dry matter weight—but it provides clean protein with exceptionally low phosphorus content, a quality that makes it a good option for the cats most often given a low-protein diet.

It has 118 mg phosphorus per 100 calories, or 0.57% on a dry matter basis, making it one of the lowest-phosphorus foods you can buy without a prescription. It’s also low in carbohydrates, with under 8% on a dry matter basis.


Water Sufficient for Processing, Beef, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Carrot, Potato Starch, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 1.3%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 86%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 71.43%
Fat: 9.29%
Fiber: 3.57%
Carbs: 15.71%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 65.12%
Fat: 20.56%
Carbs: 14.33%

What We Liked:

  • Contains highly-digestible protein
  • Relatively low carbohydrate content
  • Free of potentially harmful additives
  • Low phosphorus content

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive

#2 Runner Up: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support D Morsels in Gravy Canned Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 6.5% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 33
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $5.51 per day

This popular food has controlled levels of phosphorus, about 30% protein, and contains anti-inflammatory fish oil to help cats with kidney disease feel better.

It’s a stew-style food featuring meaty chunks in a starch-heavy gravy. The format and flavor of the food seem to go over well with cats, even those who have lost their appetites. Most customers have positive things to say about Renal Support D, with many of them saying it’s the only prescription kidney disease food their cat will eat. Chewy reviewer Bella says that this food is the “only wet food my cat has ever enjoyed.”

Though the food is decent as far as low-protein and prescription kidney disease foods go, it’s far from the ideal cat food. It’s high in carbohydrates and is generally a plant-based food.

This food is available only with a veterinary prescription.


Water Sufficient for Processing, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Pork Plasma, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Flour, Egg Product, Glycine, Powdered Cellulose, Fish Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavors, Taurine, Dl-Methionine, Guar Gum, Fructooligosaccharides, Vitamins [L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Salt, Citric Acid, Choline Chloride, Cysteine, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Sodium Carbonate, Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Magnesium Oxide, Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite].

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 6.5%
Crude Fiber: 1.7%
Moisture: 78.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 46.51%
Fat: 30.23%
Fiber: 7.91%
Carbs: 15.35%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 34.38%
Fat: 54.27%
Carbs: 11.35%

What We Liked:

  • Cats like the flavor and texture of this canned food
  • Primarily made from animal protein
  • Controlled phosphorus levels for cats with kidney disease
  • Contains anti-inflammatory fish oil
  • Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives that could harm your cat

What We Didn’t Like:

  • High carbohydrate content
  • Available only by prescription, making it inaccessible or impractical for some cat guardians

#3 Best Prescription Wet Food: Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 4% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 24
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.86 per oz

Like the Royal Canin food reviewed above, this is a veterinary diet available only with a veterinarian’s prescription. It addresses kidney disease in several ways. It contains reduced levels of protein—about 30% on a dry matter basis—and minimal phosphorus. It contains fish oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Hill’s claims that the food is “clinically tested to improve and lengthen the quality of life” in cats suffering from kidney disease. It achieves this by ticking all the standard kidney disease diet boxes.

Although the food has some good qualities, like straightforward, clearly-named cuts of meat and the inclusion of nourishment-rich pork and chicken liver, it’s not the best product you could buy.

It contains sugar as one of the first ingredients, along with brewer’s rice and modified rice starch. It’s a high-carbohydrate food that doesn’t meet your cat’s needs as a carnivore.


Water, Pork Liver, Chicken, Egg Product, Brewers Rice, Sugar, Chicken Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Modified Rice Starch, Powdered Cellulose, Fish Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Citrate, Guar Gum, Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor, Caramel color, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K), Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, L-Arginine, L-Carnitine, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate), Choline Chloride, Beta-Carotene.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 4%
Crude Fat: 3%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 91.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 47.06%
Fat: 35.29%
Fiber: 17.65%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 35.44%
Fat: 64.56%

What We Liked:

  • Cats like the food’s pâté texture and flavor
  • Formulated for cats with kidney disease
  • Contains fish oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Extremely high carbohydrate content
  • Relatively low in fat
  • Contains caramel color
  • Available only with a veterinarian’s prescription

#4 Best Prescription Dry Food: Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 26% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Cup: 425
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.83 per day

While many prescription diets offer low-quality nutrition, this Blue Buffalo formula is different. Available in both dry and wet food formulas, this recipe is formulated for cats with kidney problems and thus has controlled levels of protein and phosphorus.

This veterinary formula starts with fresh deboned chicken as the primary ingredient. Chicken fat, flaxseed, and fish oil provide healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, while supplemental sources of glucosamine and chondroitin support your cat’s joint function and mobility.

Though this kibble formula does start with a source of animal-based protein, the next three ingredients are plant-based. We don’t love the fact that this formula includes several starchy ingredients like pea and potato starch, and we’d prefer to omit the pea protein as well.

Overall, the carbohydrate content of this formula is rather high, but it could still be an option for cats who require a low-protein and low-phosphorus diet. We do like that it is devoid of the corn, wheat, and soy products found in many prescription diets and that it is completely free from artificial additives.


Deboned Chicken, Peas, Pea Starch, Potato Starch, Dried Egg Product, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Powdered Cellulose, Fish Oil (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, DL-Methionine, L-Threonine, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potatoes, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, Turmeric, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Tryptophan, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Natural Flavor, L-Carnitine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Vegetable Juice for color, Salt, Chondroitin Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Copper Sulfate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary, Calcium Iodate.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 26%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 6%
Moisture: 9%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 28.57%
Fat: 19.78%
Fiber: 6.59%
Carbs: 45.05%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 23.48%
Fat: 39.48%
Carbs: 37.03%

What We Liked:

  • The first ingredient is a high-quality source of animal protein
  • Supplemented with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Controlled levels of protein and phosphorus
  • Free from corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly high carbohydrate content
  • Contains some concentrated plant protein
  • Fairly expensive

#5 Best Non-Prescription Dry Food: Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Kidney Renal Support Diet Dry Cat Food

  • Made In: Iceland
  • Guaranteed Protein: 26% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Pound:1740 per lb
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $1.39 per day

Prescription formulas can be pricey, and they require a veterinary prescription to purchase. Though still somewhat expensive, this dry food from Forza10 is a decent option for cats who require a low-protein diet for kidney support.

This recipe contains two sources of hydrolyzed protein, which is protein that has been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids. Hydrolyzed protein helps improve digestibility and prevent food allergies. The recipe is supplemented with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and essential nutrients to ensure nutritional balance. This recipe is free from corn, wheat, and soy as well as artificial additives, GMO ingredients, and by-product meals.

While this formula contains several sources of digestible animal protein, it still appears to be a largely plant-based recipe. Rice is the first ingredient, and one of the main protein sources is hydrolyzed potato protein. We also don’t love the vaguely named ‘hydrolyzed fish protein.’

This formula has decent customer reviews, especially among cat owners who say their cats won’t eat prescription cat food. Overall, it could be a decent option if you have a picky cat and want to avoid prescription diets.


Rice, Hydrolyzed Fish Protein, Hydrolyzed Potato Protein, Anchovy Meal, Vegetable Oil, Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Kelp, Minerals (Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite), Dried Yeast, Fructooligosaccharide (Fos), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Dlmethionine, Dried Clover Extract, Cranberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Dandelion Root Extract, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 26%
Crude Fat: 18.5%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 8%
Ash: 6.8%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 28.26%
Fat: 20.11%
Fiber: 2.17%
Carbs: 42.07%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 23.72%
Fat: 40.98%
Carbs: 35.3%

What We Liked:

  • Restricted protein, phosphorus, and sodium content
  • Limited number of highly digestible ingredients
  • Supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids
  • Free from corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly expensive
  • Rice is the first ingredient, not animal protein
  • Contains some vaguely named ingredients

#6 Best Non-Prescription Wet Food: Wellness Healthy Indulgence Shreds with Chicken & Turkey in Light Sauce Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pouches

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 4% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 19
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $6.99 per day

This non-prescription cat food is a bit different from the others on this list. It comes in a pouch, doesn’t contain any animal by-products or vaguely-named ingredients, is free of potentially-harmful synthetic additives, and is available without a prescription.

The food is primarily made from chicken broth and water with chicken, turkey, eggs, and chicken liver as sources of highly-digestible protein.

The food is about 26% protein on a dry matter basis. Its phosphorus content is 0.81% on a dry matter basis, making it higher in phosphorus than is generally preferred for cats with kidney disease.

Ultimately, this food is still higher in carbohydrates than we’d prefer. But of the foods on this list, it appears to have the highest quality protein and is likely one of the most digestible low-protein foods you can buy.


Chicken Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Chicken, Potato Starch, Turkey, Eggs, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Natural Flavor, Salt, Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Magnesium Sulfate, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement], Cranberries, Blueberries, White Sweet Potatoes, Xanthan Gum, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 4%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 85%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 26.67%
Fat: 13.33%
Fiber: 6.67%
Carbs: 36.67%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 27.86%
Fat: 33.83%
Carbs: 38.31%

What We Liked:

  • Primarily made from highly-digestible animal ingredients
  • Low carbohydrate content compared to other low-protein foods
  • Free of potentially-harmful artificial additives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Relatively high phosphorus content

#7 Best Raw Food: Darwin’s Intelligent Design KS Kidney Support Formula for Felines

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 9.6% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.52 per oz

If you really want to increase the quality of your cat’s diet, we recommend going raw. Raw cat food that is made with muscle meat, organ meats, and ground bone is not only highly palatable for cats but also extremely nutritious and easy to digest.

This Kidney Support Formula for Felines from Darwin’s Natural Pet Products is designed for cats with kidney disease, so it has restricted phosphorus levels and is supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids. It contains fresh chicken thigh as the primary ingredient and main source of protein, with turkey hearts, chicken hearts, turkey livers, and chicken livers as supplemental protein sources.

While this formula is packed with animal-based protein, healthy fats, and moisture, it does contain a few added plant ingredients. This puts the caloric weight of carbohydrate ingredients around 20%, which is generally higher than we’d like to see.

Keep in mind that, like several of the other formulas on this list, this recipe requires a prescription to order. If you’re not interested in a prescription diet, however, Darwin’s offers several other raw formulas made with premium-quality animal proteins.

Also, be aware that raw meats can carry disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, both of which can make pets and humans very sick. Speak with your veterinarian if you would like to feed your cat a raw food diet.


Chicken Thigh Meat, Turkey Hearts, Chicken Hearts, Beets, Zucchini, Turkey Livers, Chicken Livers, Celery, Fish Oil, Egg Whites, Parsley, Gelatin, Oyster Shell Powder, Cod Liver Oil, Dandelion Root Powder, lnulin, Turmeric, Potassium Chloride, Spirulina, Taurine, Tomato Pomace, Vitamin E, Cranberry Powder, Chitosan, Magnesium Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Thiamine Mononitrate, Aloe Vera, Vitamin Bl 2, Black Pepper, Selenium Proteinate, Folic Acid, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Iodine.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 9.6%
Crude Fat: 6.4%
Crude Fiber: 1.1%
Moisture: 83%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 56.47%
Fat: 37.65%
Fiber: 6.47%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 38.18%
Fat: 61.82%

What We Liked:

  • Rich in biologically valuable animal protein
  • Packed with moisture your cat needs for hydration
  • No artificial additives, fillers, by-products, or preservatives
  • Restricted phosphorus content

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly expensive
  • Darwin’s has had several product recalls

High-Protein Food Is Ideal for Almost All Cats

Before you decide to cut back on your cat’s protein intake, speak with your veterinarian and consider your alternatives.

Even in the case of kidney disease, for which a low-protein diet is almost always prescribed, results seem to be better with a species-appropriate amount of high-quality animal protein than with a low-protein diet.

Before you give your cat low-protein food, consider a diet rich in high-quality protein instead. Our article on the overall best cat food may help you decide.

Relevant Content:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is low-protein cat food healthy for cats?

Generally speaking, no. Cats are obligate carnivores that require a high-protein diet for optimal health. While veterinarians may recommend protein restriction for certain health problems like kidney and liver disease, research suggests high protein quality is more beneficial than low protein quantity.

What cats need low-protein cat food?

Cats with liver disease and kidney disease are most frequently prescribed low-protein cat food, though recent research suggests that may not be the best option to support liver and kidney function. All cats require plenty of digestible, highly bioavailable protein in their diet.

Do I need a prescription for low-protein cat food?

Not necessarily. You may be able to find non-prescription options with lower-than-average protein content but the lowest protein cat foods on the market tend to be veterinary formulas designed for kidney disease which may require a prescription.

Note: The values in our nutrient charts are automatically calculated based on the guaranteed analysis and may not represent typical nutrient values. This may lead to discrepancies between the charts and the values mentioned in the body of the review.

About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on Cats.com is accurate, clear, and engaging. When she’s not reviewing pet products or editing content, Mallory enjoys skiing, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She has two cats, Wessie and Forest.

12 thoughts on “Best Low Protein Cat Food”

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  1. Denise Pinchen

    Thank you Mallory for a very informative read on Low Protein Cat Food.
    My cat (Mason) has just been diagnosed with Kidney Complaint. Told by Vet to change his diet, easier said than done. It’s a minefield out there.
    I have thrown away so much food that he won’t touch, ie Pate, won’t touch Purina Pro. He eats ordinary Purina.
    Then found Royal Canin & Hills, got this in a Taster Pack, hooray he likes it. Am now awaiting for above to be delivered, hopefully tomorrow (Monday).
    I will try the Chicken & Turkey Shreds you recommend.
    Your article made so much sense.
    Thank you from Mason & Denise 🐾x

  2. Lori Wentz

    Hi, Mallory. Thank you for the information and helpful breakdown of your choices’ nutrition. I’ve referred back to your article(s) several times looking for a food my cat, Max, will enjoy. He was diagnosed with a liver shunt last fall, and after thousands of dollars saving his life, I’m trying to maintain it. He’s on daily meds to control the excess ammonia, and he’s always been a finicky eater. His thyroid was whacked out, too, so he ate anything not eating him for a while, including the Hill’s k/d, which he won’t touch now. He is more of a fan of Royal Canin, but he’d prefer to sneak our other cat’s dry food most of the time. He will only pate in wet; anything else he just licks off the gravy (like the Weruva above). I’ve researched until my head spins. My vet is very “he can only eat Hill’s k/d” so there are no “outside the box” ideas on that front. I’ve been toying with making him food but I’m at a loss on how to find protein with high bioavailability. Any suggestions? Thank you so much again for your article.

    1. Mallory Crusta Post author

      Hello Lori, apologies for the late reply! This thread includes some recommendations from someone who is, I believe, in a similar position to you. Aside from the recommendations here, I think an ideal would be a diet specially formulated for your cat by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. The needs of a cat with liver shunts are different than those with kidney disease, so I can’t recommend one of our lower-protein homemade kidney diets. You may be able to get some good advice from the vet moderators in the Cats.com Community here.

    2. Emilie

      Thank you for this helpful ful article.

      My 15 year old cat has some kidney disease. Shes been on wellness pate canned food for 13 years. Turkey salmon or chicken herring. They seem to be about 10% protein. Is that considered a food digest or protein level for her to continue eating?

    3. Kate Barrington

      Hi Emilie, I’d be happy to help answer this question. Animal proteins like turkey, chicken, and fish are generally very digestible for cats. When you say 10% protein, do you mean the as-fed amount listed on the Guaranteed Analysis? Assuming a moisture content of 78%, that would make the dry matter protein content around 45% which is very good for cats. Given your cat’s kidney disease, however, it’s always a good idea to consult your vet to assess your cat’s specific protein requirements.

  3. SD

    Hello Mallory,
    My cat also has kidney disease and I have been searching for cat food that meets the requirement of low phosphorus, low protein with high quality protein. He refuses to eat Hills Rx k/d. I tried Merrill Duck recipe he ate it 1x so I bought more, but now sure if that is a low protein high quality protein. I am now asking the vet for Cerenia to control the vomiting but trying to find food is a nightmare because I don’t know what to look for on the label. I saw you recommend Weruva Steak Frites as low protein with high quality protein but I am wondering if their other brands Pretty in Pink (salmon) and Quick and Quirky (chicken and turkey), Cat on the Wok etc. would be low protein high quality.?
    look forward to our response.

    1. Mallory Crusta Post author

      Instead of any of these, I would now recommend their Wx low-phosphorus food. They recently launched this line, and I think it’s the best meaty low-phosphorus diet out there. Again, it’s not a prescription diet and doesn’t check all the kidney care boxes, but it should help.

  4. Bonnie

    I cannot get any vet to write a prescription for Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food, 7-lb bag. I was able to get it for my kidney stressed cat (cashier was new by and did not ask for prescription). I mixed it with the Royal Canin Renal and Hills Renal and they loved it. I think they needed the extra mobility factor that was in it. Now they go without it.

    1. Mallory Crusta Post author

      Hmm, that’s a difficult situation! If your cat is on a renal diet, I would consider adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to it. You don’t want to change to a non-kidney diet, but the added omegas should help to reduce inflammation and support joint health. You can add it to all of your cat’s food.

  5. Vivian

    Hi There!
    Out 16 cat had a health crisis. We were told she had a stroke and is now on Atenolol for life now. We were told to put her on a renal diet because of her high creatinine and nitrogen levels. She is a super fussy eater. And we finally found the Blue label Wilderness cat food that she loves. We bought the Royal Canines Renal cat food, and she won’t eat it. So we are mixing the renal diet 50/50 with her old food just to get her to eat right now. Can you please suggest anything for us? She is not keen on beef or turkey.

    1. Kate Barrington

      Hi Vivian! Sorry to hear about the struggles with your cat. If mixing the two foods is working, that may be the best option to make sure she gets the calories and nutrients she needs. Another option is to try adding a wet food topper or some warm broth to make the renal food more appealing. Let us know if that works!