Limited Ingredient Cat Food

Limited ingredient cat foods are also known as hypoallergenic cat foods. If you are noticing that your kitty is having an allergic reaction to his or her food, there are a few measures you can take to assist with their dietary needs.

If your cat is experiencing allergies, there is a good chance your kitty could benefit hugely from a different food. Food allergies can come in lots of different forms – excessive scratching, hair loss and dermatitis to name a few – and they can make your kitty’s life miserable.

Skin allergies are the most common response to a cat with a food intolerance, but they can also cause vomiting and diarrhea which are far more serious. See our article called My Cat Has Diarrhea But Seems Fine for more information on this issue. A food allergy is an immune response to certain ingredients, so it is very important that you find the best food choice for your cat.

Limited Ingredient Cat Food Comparison Table

NameMain IngredientsProteinFatFiberPricing
Go! Sensitivity + Shine Limited Ingredient - Duck RecipeDe-boned duck, duck meal, whole dried egg, peas, pea flour, tapioca, lentils31%15%3.5%Click Here
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat FoodRabbit, Water, Rabbit Liver, Pea Protein, Peas, Montmorillonite Clay, Dicalcium Phosphate12.5%4.5%3%Click Here
BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Wet Cat FoodFish, Fish Broth, Potatoes, Peas, Carrots, Sunflower Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor8%2.5%1.5%Click Here
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat FoodGreen Peas, Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Natural Flavor29.5%11.5%5%Click Here
Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Cat FoodDeboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Potato Protein, Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Pea Fiber32%13%4%Click Here
BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Indoor Grain Free Duck & Potato Dry Cat FoodDeboned Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Peas, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Pea Fiber,30%14%6%Click Here
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food by Nature's VarietyRabbit Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Rabbit, Natural Flavor35%19%5.5%Click Here

Go! Sensitivity + Shine Limited Ingredient Duck Recipe dry food is made by Petcurian, a family-owned and operated company. This is a bonus, because it means that they have more control over the quality of their ingredients and manufacturing process – good news for you as a kitty owner!

This limited ingredient duck dry food formula is made with a limited number of ingredients. Premium quality duck is the primary ingredient and the single source of protein in this food. It also contains no gluten or grains and is supplemented with pre and probiotics to support a cat’s overall regular and digestive health.

Duck and duck meal are both highly-concentrated sources of animal protein, too; cats are obligate carnivores and require a lot of protein in their diets. In addition to duck, this recipe contains chickpeas and lentils as a source of carbohydrates.


  • Contains flaxseed and chicken fat to provide omega fatty acids.
  • Duck is a brilliant source of protein, which cats love.
  • Grain and gluten free.


  • It is a dry food.
  • It is not nutritionally balanced and requires nutritional supplements.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food is made from fresh, high-quality ingredients in formulas which are carefully made to deliver natural flavour and optimal nutrition.

The primary ingredient in this food is fresh rabbit and is the sole source of protein. In addition, rabbit is a complete source of protein in that it contains all of the essential amino acids your cat needs. It also contains rabbit liver, which provides flavour, a health fat source and additional source of protein.

Overall, this food is loaded with high-quality protein, mineral supplements which are chemically bound to protein molecules for easier digestion, healthy nutrients and lots of natural flavour. This is a brilliant limited ingredient cat food which your kitty is sure to love.


  • Seven core ingredients provide complete and balanced nutrition.
  • Rabbit is a complete protein source.
  • It is an easy to digest formula due to its molecular makeup.


  • Some cats may find paté hard to eat if they have never had it before.

BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food is a BLUE Basics’ product which means it is made with a limited number of ingredients to reduce food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. Many of these foods are made with proteins which your cat probably has not been exposed to before, so this reduces the risk of an allergic reaction.

This food has protein-rich whitefish as its primary ingredient. Whitefish, like rabbit, is a complete protein, so your cat gets all the amino acids and protein it needs from this single ingredient. In addition to whitefish, this food contains fish broth which is both a source of moisture and natural flavour which cats will go nuts for, followed by carrots and potatoes! Although these are carbohydrates, they are gluten and grain-free and are considered easily digestible.

BLUE Basics’ whitefish formula is also full of healthy fatty acids such as sunflower oil, flaxseed and fish oil. Together, all of these ingredients support your cat’s overall health and provide a healthy skin and coat.


  • Rich in nutrients and healthy fatty acids.
  • Whitefish is a complete protein.
  • Cats will love the flavour.


Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food is made with a premium protein and carbohydrates which helps prevent negative reactions and promote normal, healthy digestion. This product is made without artificial colors, flavourings or additivies and is naturally grain-free.

This product’s primary ingredient is fresh salmon, salmon meal and green peas. Salmon is a super-high quality protein, which is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote a healthy skin and coat; this is a great option if your cat has had an allergy which has caused skin problems.

Supplemented with flaxseed oil, this food is also a great source of healthy fats and dietary fiber which complements the green peas. In addition, this food has chelated minerals (minerals bound to proteins for easier digestion) and supplementary vitamins. You can read about the benefits of vitamins for cats in our Best Cat Vitamins and Supplements guide.


  • A natural salmon flavour, which is a magnet for cats.
  • Packed with high-quality fatty acids.
  • Easy digestible.


  • It is a dry food and has lower moisture content.

Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food provides a single source of animal protein – real deboned salmon – as the primary ingredient and provides the all-essential amino acids for your kitty. Additionally, it is also jam packed with essential vitamins and minerals which your cat needs.

Merrick’s limited ingredient dry formula is made with the only the most essential simple ingredients which contain absolutely no artificial colors, preservatives or flavours. It is grain-free and has no gluten ingredients – a common allergen – for easier digestion. Plus, there are lots of omega fatty acids – we already know what these do!

Plus, salmon also aids in healthy joints and the food contains industry leading levels of glucosamine.


  • Healthy salmon recipe, which cats will love.
  • Nutritionally balanced.
  • Full of omega fatty acids.


  • Again, it is a dry food, so there is a low moisture content.

BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Adult Indoor Cat Food is a natural and holistic cat food which cats absolutely love! In fact, BLUE Buffalo foods are widely recognised as a food manufacturer which cats consistently like, and there are rarely any problems with cats turning their noses up at BLUE’s formulas.

This dry food provides all the essential amino acids and important nutrients which your kitty needs daily. BLUE’s dry food blend is healthy and easily digestible, making it a great formula to provide your kitty with the complete and balanced nutrients it needs, whilst using a limited number of ingredients.


  • Cats consistently love BLUE formulas.
  • It is grain and gluten free.
  • It is a duck recipe, which cats tend to enjoy.


  • Dry food needs to be supplemented with wet food.

Instinct Limited Ingredient Dry Rabbit Meal Formula by Nature’s Valley is formulated for kitties with special food sensitivities. Containing only one animal protein source and containing no grain or gluten, it has only the most essential and easily digestible ingredients whilst still providing everything your kitty needs for good health and wellbeing.

In addition to this, it has healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for a soft and shiny coat. Plus, the food’s unique green tea extract coating provides a great aroma and taste, so it is a brilliant food option for fussy eaters. This food excludes lots of common allergens and intolerance triggers, such as: potato, dairy, egg, chicken, beef and fish.


  • Excludes lots of common allergens and intolerable foods.
  • Contains lots of Omega-3 and Omega-6.
  • The food is coated to release an attractive aroma.


  • It is a dry food, so should be supplemented with wet food.

What Are Cat Food Allergens?

Cats can be allergic to many different ingredients in their food, such as –

  • Wheat and gluten
  • Dairy products such as milk and cream
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Proteins such as beef and lamb
  • Seafoods

Rather annoyingly, these are some of the most common ingredients in cat foods. Cats who are exposed to certain foods on multiple occasions may develop an allergic response. It is not that these ingredients are bad – in fact some are very good – but they are simply a trigger for some cats.

Symptoms of Cat Allergies

In cats, the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are quite typical. Itching, scratching, loss of hair and dermatitis can be tell-tale signs. But, it can be difficult if it is food causing your cat’s problems, or some other issue.

Other typical symptoms of a cat food allergy are fur ball problems due to your kitty swallowing fur when over-grooming and scratching, respiratory problems (although these are rare) and recurrent ear infections.

A food intolerance, however, is different. An intolerance causes problems with your cat’s gastrointestinal tract and digestive system, instead of causing allergic reactions. The primary symptom of this is vomiting and diarrhea, because something in your kitty’s food is irritating the sensitive gastrointestinal tract. Even if your cat appears to enjoy the food, it can still cause a problem during digestion as your cat will not notice anything is wrong until later.

How do Vets Test for Cat Allergies?

If your vet thinks that your kitty has an allergy to food, he or she will probably recommend an exclusionary trial diet, where you will temporarily feed your cat a bland, hypoallergenic food where the proteins and ingredients are so small, they cannot cause an allergic reaction.

This diet will last for a pre-determined time period which entirely depends on your cat and his or her symptoms. If, for example, your cat has skin problems, they may be given a diet for up to 12 weeks. But, because gastrointestinal problems show signs of improvement a lot quicker, these restricted diets will typically be a lot shorter.

 Whilst your cat is on his or her restricted diet, they must not eat anything else at all, including treats! If your cat is an outdoors cat, it is best to keep him or her inside during the trial, because your cat will still try and hunt and kill prey on his adventures.

It is difficult and takes a great deal of patience to keep your kitty on a restricted diet, but it is important to find out what the problem is and get your cat on the mend.

After your kitty has finished the restricted diet, you can work with your veterinarian and begin to add ingredients back to your kitty’s diet, one at a time. Begin by adding things that were in your cat’s food previously – such as common proteins like chicken and beef – then, when your kitty has the reaction again, you can isolate that ingredient and avoid it in future.

Your cat may still be allergic to more than one ingredient, so continue testing ingredients until you have covered all bases and have a definitive list of what your kitty cannot eat. When you have determined the ingredients your kitty is allergic to, you can then choose an appropriate limited ingredient cat food which suits your cat’s allergy or food intolerance.

What Not to Do

If your kitty is suffering from a suspected allergy or intolerance and you are following a restricted diet, there are some things you should absolutely not do under any circumstances. You should stick to your kitty’s diet and don’t feed anything which is not on the diet, as these could cause a reaction. This includes –

  • Treats
  • Plastic toys or chews with flavourings
  • Medicinal supplements which have flavourings

Any of these could cause the allergic reaction and could be recognised as a problem with food which was otherwise absolutely fine.

Allergies v Intolerances

Food allergies can manifest in the form of many different symptoms. Allergies are reactions to a particular food and are becoming more common in cats and dogs. Commonly, causes of reactions in cats are sensitivities or intolerances.

Allergies and intolerances can cause very similar symptoms, so kitty owners are often confused between the two. If your kitty is suffering from problems associated after consuming a particular food, it is probably down to a food intolerance; less than 1% of kitties suffer from a food allergy.

A food allergy is a biological reaction to a specific protein, and different foods are made from different proteins. The most important dietary factor where allergies are involved is the type and number of protein sources in the food; the more protein sources there are in food, the higher the chance of your kitty having an allergic reaction to one of them. So, it is very important to find a limited ingredient food and place your kitty on a limited ingredient diet, which includes a smaller number of proteins.

A food intolerance is different. A food intolerance is an adverse reaction to any kind of food or ingredient, not proteins. When dealing with a kitty’s food sensitivity, it does not matter how many different protein sources there are in food, but the total number of ingredients used. Again, with limited ingredient foods, there are far less ingredients so there is a smaller chance of your kitty having an intolerance.

The Round Up

If you’re noticing that your kitty is having a bad reaction to his or her food, it could be down to two things: an allergy or an intolerance. Less than 1% of the kitty population suffers from food allergies, so it is most likely an intolerance to one or more of the ingredients in the food you are currently providing.

Intolerances are easily manageable without the need of involving a vet, which can be expensive. There are plenty of limited ingredient foods out there which you can use to replace your cat’s current dietary staple. These limited ingredient foods do not include a lot of the common foods which cats can be allergic to or have an intolerance for.

Over time, you can experiment with different foods to find out what protein or other food source your kitty has problems with and avoid foods which includes it. Limited ingredient cat food does not need to break the bank and is a great way to solve your kitty’s food problems at home.

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