Is your indoor cat overweight, or does he have some specific health issues?
Or maybe you’ve been noticing your cat straining when she uses the litter box.
It may be time for a high fiber diet.
Now, you’ve likely heard about how cats thrive on high protein diets so you’re wondering why a high fiber diet may be a better choice.
There’s a lot to know about why and how to feed your cat a high fiber diet so I’m going to answer all the questions. And then I’m going to tell you about the very best high fiber cat foods you can buy.
Our Top Picks For The Best High Fiber Cat Foods
What Is Fiber?
Fiber works in cats the same way it does in humans.
Fiber is a carbohydrate which can not be properly digested. So, it forces its way through the digestion system – sweeping it clean along the way.
Adding extra fiber to your cat’s diet increases bulk and water in the intestines to control the amount of time it takes for food to travel through their digestive system.
And because it controls digestion time, it helps to keep bacteria flushed out of the digestive system, and aids in cleaning the intestines all the way down. This decreases any chance of infection or other issues.
So, if there is not enough fiber in your cat’s diet constipation and other health concerns can set in.
And it doesn’t just help your cat with their digestion. Fiber also helps your cat feel fuller and more satisfied after eating. And it can greatly help to reduce and regulate how much sugar gets into their bloodstream.
What Else Do I Need To Know About Fiber For Cats?
I know I said fiber works the same way in cats as it does in humans, and it does, but there’s so much more detail to how and when cats started needing extra fiber in their diet!
Cats are obligate carnivores. Which means that they must eat meat to thrive and be at their optimum health. All animals who are total carnivores have a shorter intestinal system than those who aren’t. So, the intestinal systems of cats are significantly shorter than a dog’s – because a dog’s diet consists of both meat and plants.
Since plant-based diets take longer to break down in the intestinal system than a meat-based diet – a cat’s digestive system has adapted to not require fiber. So, in general, there is no minimum daily requirement for fiber in a cat’s diet.
Cats in the wild eat prey. Which includes fur, bones, cartilage, and other indigestible which actually acts in the same way fiber would keep their digestive systems healthy. When these “indigestible” items go through your cat’s digestive system they scrape everything out – just as fiber would. In fact, fur, bones, and other indigestible parts of prey are often referred to as “animal fiber”.
Generally, the only true plant-derived fiber a cat would eat would potentially be from the stomach of any prey they were eating – which not only will likely have already been partially or completely digested, but some cats leave the stomach behind.
So, in other words, traditionally cat’s have received, and needed, very little to no fiber in their diet.
Here’s where the trouble has come in, however:
In North America, it’s now highly recommended by veterinarians and mandatory in many neighborhoods that cats be kept mostly to completely indoors – or at least contained to their own yard. This helps keep your cat safe against being hurt by cars, predators and disease, but it also helps maintain the bee, bird, rodent, and other animal population. Plus, it keeps your cat out of the neighbor’s garden and from getting into other places they shouldn’t.
However, when a cat mostly lives indoors this means their lifestyle – and potential dietary needs – differs from cats who go outside – and of their feline ancestors who came before them. Therefore, cats aren’t eating prey they would normally catch outdoors – and not fulfilling all their traditional nutrient needs. Nor are they getting the benefits of digesting the fur, bones, and cartilage which flushes out their system like fiber.
But you don’t necessarily have to have an indoor cat to benefit from feeding your cat a high fiber cat food. I’ll go over some other reasons why you may want to switch later on.
What Should I Look For In High Fiber Cat Foods?
One big thing you need to know about fiber for your cat is its fermentability rate. The fermentability rate measures how long the type of fiber eaten takes to be broken down by bacteria in the intestines and how quickly it guides through your cat’s digestive system. Short-chain fatty acids are then produced, which provides the intestines with the energy needed to process food properly.
Here’s a quick guide on fermentability rates:
Soluble fibers, like oatmeal, lentils, and psyllium, are rapidly fermentable and help to increase digestion. This would be what you’ll typically find in a specialized high fiber cat food for constipation.
Insoluble fibers, like whole grains, legumes, brown rice, and dark vegetables, are what bulks up the stool to help slow down digestion. This is what you’ll typically find in a formula to help with diarrhea.
These include ingredients such as beet pulp, soy fibers, brans, and soy hulls. Because these ingredients are moderately fermentable, they have the benefits of both slow and rapid – so you can totally maintain your cat’s digestive system.
It’s very unlikely you’ll actually see the fermentability rate listed on your cat food. But they will sometimes list the solubility factor – and you can look for these ingredients on the bag.
These are your rapidly fermentable foods. This type of fiber usually turns into a gel during digestion and helps to slow down the digestion of sugar and carbs. This can then lower glucose levels as well as blood cholesterol levels.
These are your slow fermentable foods. Insoluble fiber does not turn gelatinous or dissolve in water so they assist food to move through the digestive system smoothly.
These are your best bets for giving fiber to your cats – in the form of true whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
However, in less expensive cat foods you will often see fiber added to cat food in the form of soybean hull, bran, rice hull, and pectin. These forms of fiber won’t help your cat nearly as much and are mainly just fillers. Plus, they are more likely to cause allergic reactions in cats who have sensitivities.
Why Is Fiber Important For Your Cat?
One thing you need to know is that fiber is not absolutely vital for your cat. If your cat is doing fine on another type of diet, especially one your veterinarian recommended, it’s not necessary to change them over to a high fiber diet.
However, there are a few reasons why you may want to consider switching your cat over to a high fiber diet. These include:
If Your Cat Has Gastrointestinal Issues
If you’ve noticed your cat is straining when she uses her litter box, or if she is visiting it more frequently, she is likely suffering from constipation, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal discomforts.
It’s always best to take your cat to the vet to rule out any major health issues before you make any food changes. And you may want to try simply adding some more water to your cat’s diet to help flush out their system and regulate their digestive system. But if adding more water doesn’t help the issues, and your vet agrees, you may need to start your cat on a high fiber diet.
If Your Cat Has Diabetes
Generally, a high protein, high moisture diet is the typical diet recommended if your cat has diabetes. But some cats don’t thrive on this kind of diet, or they may have other health issues as well as diabetes – in this case a high fiber diet may be considered.
Diabetes in cats is unfortunately not uncommon these days. And if you suspect your cat has diabetes (symptoms include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, weakness, changes in appetite, and other unexplained changes in your cat) make sure you get him properly diagnosed by a veterinarian.
The fiber in cat food can slow down the absorption of both fat and glucose in the cat’s body to prevent any glycemic highs in the blood glucose levels. This can help prevent, and maintain, diabetes.
If Your Cat Is Overweight
There are lots of choices out there for special diet and weight loss cat food formulas to help aid in your cat’s weight loss. But if your cat’s digestive system is off (see above) that can certainly hinder any weight loss efforts.
If you are buying fiber-rich cat food specifically for weight loss, you’ll want to look for slowly fermentable fiber. This will help to bulk up your cat’s stool and get things out.
Fiber helps your cat feel full so they may eat less – which may result in weight loss. However, some cats end up storing the extra carbs found in fiber as fat – thus making their weight issue worse. Your veterinarian should be the one to help you make the best decision about which food may be best if your cat is overweight.
If Your Cat Suffers From Hairballs
You may recall from above that cat’s can usually naturally digest fur from their prey – and that fur actually acts as a replacement for fiber to keep the digestion system cleaned out.
However, when cat’s groom themselves, especially if they are losing a lot of fur, or have long hair, this hair can clump up in their digestive tract – and it can cause them to choke or vomit up fur. And occasionally untreated hairballs can lead to more serious health problems.
When you add fiber to your cat’s diet it can help sweep any fur your cat has in his digestive system out, before any hairballs occur.
And if your cat already has hairballs, fiber can act as a mild laxative to help them out.
If Your Cat Has A Health Issue Which Requires A High Fiber Diet
Cats who have anal gland disease or other diagnosed gastrointestinal health issues or conditions typically should only eat a moderate to high fiber diet.
But once again, don’t diagnose your cat yourself. Let your vet recommend the type of diet your cat should be on – especially if they have a serious health condition.
Are There Any Issues With Feeding My Cat A High Fiber Diet?
Fiber is not actually an essential part of your cat’s diet and most cats will not require a cat fiber supplement. But as you can see from the above examples, fiber can help your cat out greatly in certain circumstances.
However, as in humans, too much fiber isn’t a good thing. It can lead to further digestive issues. Flatulence, rumbling, growling, and diarrhea is common in cats who are receiving too much fiber. Especially if too much fiber which is given suddenly.
It’s also entirely possible that too much fiber in your cat’s diet can decrease the secretion of pancreatic enzymes. Which are vital for the digestion of protein. And cats already have a lower number of pancreatic enzymes than most other mammals, so a high fiber diet may quickly decrease this amount and cause health issues.
If your cat’s stools become quite large and their coat starts to lose its shine and becomes dry – these are signs you may need to stop a high fiber diet and consult with your vet for further instruction.
It’s very important when introducing your cat to a higher fiber diet to make sure you include lots of water and change their food over slowly (which I’ll go over below).
And while there are some cat foods more popular with cats than others, some cats will shun high fiber cat food since it doesn’t tend to be as tasty as high protein cat foods. Changing them over slowly will help to prevent this.
How Do I Feed My Cat Dry Cat Food?
Interestingly, dry foods all contain some fiber and carbohydrates, which is what makes them dry food. So, if your cat only needs minimal fiber, almost any dry cat food will do.
But, of course, if your cat needs more fiber than what they’re getting in their regular dry food – it may be time to switch to a high fiber dry cat food.
You can feed your cat all dry food, or serve it along with wet cat food. It’s best to ask your veterinarian what they recommend.
Wet cat food is a great way to get some liquid into your cat’s diet – which is extremely important for digestion and overall health. So, if you are serving only dry cat food, you’ll want to make sure your cat is offered – and is drinking – plenty of fresh water.
How Do I Switch My Cat Over To A Cat Food With Fiber?
As I mentioned before it’s a good idea to double check with your veterinarian before you change your cat over. But when you do, do it slowly.
Start by adding in a small scoop of the new high fiber cat food into their usual dry food, and continue adding a little more at each feeding until it is switched over completely.
This will go a long way to help your cat’s digestive system adapt to the new food – but also so their taste buds will as well. Cats have been known to shun new food unless it’s switched over slowly.
And always make sure your cat has plenty of access to fresh water – especially when it comes to high fiber foods.
So, What Are The Best High Fiber Cat Food Choices For My Cat?
It’s quite overwhelming to see how many choices there are on the market for cat foods high in fiber! But I’ve done the research, bought a lot of food, and have come up with the best options for you to try.
- Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Senior Cat, Indoor Cat Recipe
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Natural Dry Cat Food, Chicken With Lentils And Salmon
- IAMS Proactive Health Indoor Weight And Hairball Care Dry Cat Food
- Purina Cat Chow Gentle Adult Dry Cat Food
- WholeHearted Weight Control Chicken And Pea Recipe Dry Cat Food
- IAMS Proactive Health Kitten Dry Food
- Halo Spot’s Stew Cat Formula Grain Free, Indoor Cat
Best For Senior Cats
This food is your best choice for senior cats.
As I mentioned above, it’s often thought that indoor cats need more fiber. And occasionally senior cats need a bit more help as well.
So, this formula is a great choice.
It also contains a proven antioxidant blend, containing Vitamins C & E, to help your cat build a strong immune system.
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food contains no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. And is made in the USA with ingredients you can trust.
It will help with hairball control and assists in maintaining a healthy weight for your cat.
Best Dry Food
This is your best overall choice for high fiber dry cat food.
This formula boasts added fibers along with digestible proteins and oligosaccharides to aid in your cat’s digestion. And the added probiotics helps to restore your cat’s natural intestinal flora.
As if that wasn’t enough Royal Canin has formulated an S/O formula to support your cat’s urinary health. So, in addition to helping with any hairballs, weight issues, and digestive issues – you don’t have to worry as much about bladder stones and infections.
And most cats go crazy for the chicken flavor.
This food is your best budget choice.
It’s also your best dry cat food for constipation.
Rachael Ray isn’t just a name you’ll see cooking on TV and on your cookware anymore – she actually has a full line of pet foods.
The fiber rich lentils in this cat food help to support healthy digestion and weight loss. And the natural prebiotics from dandelion greens and pumpkin also help to aid digestion.
This formula contains real chicken as its very first ingredient, and also has real salmon added in for extra protein and flavor.
And that’s not all – an added superfood blend plus antioxidant-rich berries and other vitamins help to support your cat’s overall health.
You can feel great buying this cat food because not only is it great for your cat – but with each bag sold a portion of the price is donated to the Rachael Ray Foundation. This foundation assists a variety of animal-related charities and organizations.
Oh, and one more thing – even though this cat food is made from super high-quality ingredients and has so much going for it – it’s fairly inexpensive!
Helps With Hairballs
This is your best food for cat’s who suffer from hairballs.
This formula contains a proprietary fiber blend with beet pulp to help your cat keep a clear digestive system and prevent hairballs.
As you may remember from above, beet pulp is moderately fermentable
Although very fiber rich, this cat food has a high level of protein to keep your cat full, support strong muscles, and provide energy.
The added L-Carnitine assists in weight loss to help get – and keep – your cat to a healthy weight.
This food has a great Omega ratio to keep your cat’s coat healthy and shiny. And added essential nutrients help boost your cat’s overall health.
IAMS is proud to be veterinary recommended and contain 100% natural ingredients.
Best For Digestion Issues
This is your best cat food for sensitive stomachs.
This food is formulated with a natural prebiotic fiber to aid in digestion. This, along with a high-quality easily-digestible protein provides your cat with a well-rounded diet.
It contains no artificial colors and 25 essential vitamins and minerals ensure your cat is getting all the nutrition they need.
WholeHearted Weight Control Chicken And Pea Recipe Dry Cat Food
This is your best grain-free option.
WholeHearted Weight Control Chicken and Pea Recipe Dry Cat Food contains two times the fiber and 50% less fat than their similar formulas.
This formula uses both higher levels of fiber, along with L-Carnitine, to help metabolize fat, and boost weight loss in your cat.
High-quality lamb protein and chicken protect your cat’s muscle mass and fills them up without eating too much food. And the added vitamins and minerals help to keep your cat healthy and happy.
And this recipe doesn’t contain any grains or corn so it may be a better choice for some cats who have allergies and sensitivities.
Specifically For Kittens
This is your best choice for kittens.
IAMS Proactive Health Kitten Dry Food is formulated especially for kittens up to age one.
Since kittens often haven’t gotten used to food yet, their stomachs can be quite sensitive – so you want to invest in their digestive health.
This food contains a great blend of protein and fiber to aid in digestion. The main digestive ingredient is beet pulp, which is moderately fermentable so it will regulate their digestive system nicely.
All the added vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, Omega-3’s, and Taurine help to build up your kitten’s overall brain, immune, and eye health.
And kittens just love the yummy chicken flavor.
All this, and it’s a very inexpensive choice as well!
Good For Weight Loss
This is your best holistic option.
Halo offers a high protein, high fiber dry cat food specifically formulated for indoor cats.
It’s grain free so it’s another great option for cats who have food sensitivities or allergies.
The chickpeas and vegetables provide a lot of healthy fiber to keep your cat’s digestive health running its best.
In fact, they promise, “The proof is in the poop.”
And the added L-Carnitine boosts your cat’s metabolism, helping them shed some extra pounds.
Another great thing about this food – and the Halo company in general – is that their focus is being truly holistic and natural. Their formulas contain all-natural ingredients and no meat they use is derived from factory-farmed animals or animals who have been exposed to or fed antibiotics or hormones. And they never use any GMO-products.
OK, So, What Is The Very Best High Fiber Cat Food?
As you can see there are some great options out there for high fiber dry cat food.
You can see that each option has specific pros and cons so one may work better than the others for your cat.
But I’ve been tasked with picking my absolute favorite. So, I have decided that the one that stands out a bit above the rest as best overall high fiber dry cat food is the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food.
This food contains the best blend of fiber and protein to fill your cat up and help with her fiber needs – no matter what they are. The added vitamins and minerals only add to the health benefits.
I also love that Royal Canin looks out for your cat’s urinary health – that’s very important.
Yes, this food will cost you a bit more. But you’ll likely find your cat eats a bit less per meal because it’s so filling – so you may not go through a bag as fast. But at any rate – this excellent, quality dry cat food is totally worth the extra cost.