You’ve probably heard of a range of cat calming aids from feline pheromone diffusers to cat calming beds. But how about cat calming foods? These products are a great way to manage cat anxiety because they are designed to reduce skin irritation, gastrointestinal upset, and urinary tract issues, which are all symptoms of anxiety in cats.
A friend of mine recently had great success with calming cat food to treat her cat’s sudden onset of anxiety. Her normally relaxed and totally chill cat started urinating on furniture when they began some major house renovations. She was taken to the vet who recommended urinary stress calming cat food and the situation completely resolved itself within a week. So I’m a big fan of using calming cat food when necessary.
If your cat suffers from clinically diagnosed anxiety, you can discuss prescription cat calming food options with your vet. However, there are also some non-prescription cat foods that contain calming ingredients to help your kitty relax during periods of stress.
Which option you go with will be entirely dependent on the needs of your kitty. You will also need to take into consideration your cat’s age, breed, energy levels, and whether they have any underlying health issues.
How We Choose
If we recommend a product it’s because we have done the research on it and we believe it has the ability to help you and your cat. In our research, some products have been tested directly by us, while others have been researched using other methods, including reviewing comments from users online to ensure we have provided good coverage of what is working well for cats. As a team of qualified veterinarians, animal welfare experts, and cat parents, you can be assured we only choose the best products.
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Types of anxiety and stress in cats
Cats are creatures of habit, so any change to their ‘perceived territory’ can be stressful. Even moving their cat post to another spot in the house can be a little traumatic! However, it’s important to remember that stress in cats can be both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term):
Acute stress: This is your cat’s immediate reaction to a threat. This could be the hoover, a stranger entering the home, or a trip to the vet. It can manifest as running and hiding, or urinating outside of the litter box (for more information, read here). These reactions are fairly normal because they stem from the basic survival instinct.
Chronic stress: This is usually harder to spot because it can build up over time. Cats may start with a fear of a certain stimulus but this can build up to a general fear of everything. Symptoms of chronic stress include litter box issues, social withdrawal, and defense aggression.
Cat anxiety and feline stress are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, anxiety is defined as a fear of a perceived danger (even if nothing is happening). Stress can be a symptom of anxiety or it can appear on its own in reaction to a present stimulus.
Cat anxiety can develop in many forms depending on the original cause or trigger. However, generally they can be split into two categories; situational anxiety and generalized anxiety:
Situational anxiety: This can include separation anxiety and travel anxiety. In these cases, the fear is induced during certain circumstances such as their owner leaving the house or the sudden appearance of the dreaded cat carrier.
Generalized anxiety: Cats with this form of anxiety are in a constant state of intense stress. It can be caused by a variety of factors including:
- Past trauma, such as isolation, abuse, or an injury
- Deterioration of the brain due to old age
- A lack of socialization during kittenhood
- An underlying health condition
Cat calming foods can be a great relaxation aid to reduce stress and anxiety levels. However, if the anxiety is severe, you may also want to speak to your vet about alternative or additional calming options.
What to look for in cat calming foods
Calming cat foods often contain specific ingredients that have been proven to induce relaxation in cats. When it comes to picking out a suitable calming cat food, it’s essential that you do your research to ensure you get the very best product for your kitty’s needs. The best stress-reducing ingredients to look out for are:
- L. Tryptophan: A natural amino acid similar to serotonin, which acts as a mood stabilizer
- Alpha-Casozepine: A milk-derived (lactose-free) protein that has been proven to reduce symptoms of fear in felines
Also, some cat food brands also contain traces of relaxing herbs which can include:
- Lemon Balm
In addition, look for cat calming foods that contain high levels of natural protein and minimal grains. Cats are obligate carnivores so too many ‘filler’ ingredients, such as wheat, can exacerbate tummy upsets caused by anxiety.
Should you go with wet or dry cat food?
When it comes to deciding whether to go with dry cat food or wet cat food, the jury is still out! So, choose the best option for your feline companion.
Dry cat foods are often more filling for cats and are generally less expensive than wet food options. However, they also tend to contain more carbohydrates.
On the other hand, wet cat food diets tend to be more protein based and contain a higher moisture level (great for cats that refuse to drink plain water!). However, they are generally quite expensive and the nutritional value can vary widely between different brands.
If you’re unsure which cat calming food to purchase for your feline companion, you should seek advice from your vet. They will be able to guide you on the best products depending on your cat’s unique needs.
Let’s now look at the best cat calming foods on the market:
1. Best Overall: Royal Dry Canin Calm Cat Food
The Royal Dry Canin Calm Cat Food is a veterinary-designed formula to help cats through short-term periods of anxiety, such as moving house or the addition of a new pet in the home. Specific ingredients such as L. tryptophan promote calm during stressful situations, whereas vitamin B and amino acids work to reduce the physical symptoms of feline stress. These can include:
- Digestive upset
- Skin irritations
- Urinary issues
This cat calming food is highly palatable with a mixture of chicken fat and fish oil. It also contains a special blend of dietary fibers to control hairball formulation which often occurs due to stress-induced overgrooming.
The Royal Dry Canin Calm Cat Food is available in both 4.4lb bags and 8.8lb bags and is suitable for all adult cats. The calming effects usually take around a week to kick in
- Veterinary formula
- Contains ingredients to effectively reduce cat anxiety and related symptoms
- Highly palatable for cats
- Contains some low-quality ingredients
2. Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Urinary Stress + Metabolic Cat Food
Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Urinary Stress + Metabolic Cat Food is a complete vet-approved pet food for adult cats. This product is scientifically formulated to alleviate stress and associated urinary issues, as well as control weight.
Ingredients such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus help to remove the building blocks that cause bladder stones, which are common in stressed cats. Furthermore, the addition of milk protein controls feelings of stress and anxiety.
The Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Urinary Stress + Metabolic Cat Food consists of small kibble pieces that are easy for kitties to chew and the bags come in a range of sizes. The product is also filled with palatable chicken and a range of vegetables to ensure your cat remains full between meals.
- Veterinary approved product
- Helps to control urinary issues associated with cat stress
- Proven to reduce weight gain which can contribute to stress and anxiety
- Contains gluten which can cause digestive upset in some cats
- Needs to be purchased under vet supervision
3. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
The Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is a veterinary-approved formula that’s completely grain-free. This makes it a great option for cats with sensitive stomachs, which is a common problem in stressed cats. It also contains natural ingredients such as parsley and turmeric which are known to improve digestive health, even in stressful situations.
In addition, this product contains L. tryptophan which promotes calm. As well as high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids which aid in brain and eye development.
The Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is specifically formulated by cat nutrition experts to ensure your anxious kitty gets all the nutrition they require. So, it’s a great option for cats that suffer from stress due to an underlying health issue.
- Veterinary approved and developed by cat nutrition experts
- Allergen free product
- Promotes all-round feline health
- Does not work for short-term stress
- Relatively expensive
4. Purina Pro Plan Urinary Tract Health, High Protein Wet Cat Food
Does your cat point blank refuse to eat dry kibble? Then the Purina Pro Plan Urinary Tract Health, High Protein Wet Cat Food could be a good option for you. While this product is not specifically designed to reduce anxiety, it does contain multiple Vitamin B supplements that have been proven to improve brain health and cognitive function.
This product also contains real chicken which makes it very palatable for even the pickiest eaters. Furthermore, the unique combination of ingredients works to reduce urinary PH and prevent urinary tract issues, which are common in anxious cats.
The Purina Pro Plan Urinary Tract Health, High Protein Wet Cat Food comes in meal-sized cans which reduce the likelihood of overfeeding. They can be fed on their own, or alongside dry kibble. They also come in a range of tasty flavors.
- High protein, palatable diet
- Good for picky eaters
- Prevents urinary tract issues
- Ingredients improve brain health
- Not specifically designed to reduce severe anxiety
- Not suitable for kittens
- Contains gluten
How to choose the best cat calming food for a stressed cat
Every cat is an individual with their own unique needs, so what works for one cat may not work as well for another. Calming cat foods can be a great addition to your arsenal to reduce your cat’s stress levels. However, bear in mind that most cat foods designed to reduce anxiety are only available through a veterinary prescription. So, it’s always best to speak to your vet for advice.
Short-term stress is a natural reaction for all mammals, including cats. However, if this doesn’t go away, it can cause emotional and physical health issues for your feline companion. While cat calming foods do work, you may also want to consider adding other stress-reducing products to help keep your cat calm. Especially, if you suspect your cat is suffering from severe or long-term anxiety. These include:
- Pheromone diffusers
- Cat calming collars
- Cat calming beds
- Cat calming treats or food supplements
By exploring all of these options, including cat calming foods, you’ll be able to help your cat live a long life, free from overwhelming stress or fear.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cat Calming Foods
Cat calming foods are specifically made to help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. They contain ingredients like tryptophan, B vitamins, and other nutrients that can promote relaxation, reduce stress levels and improve mood.
Cat calming foods are generally safe for most cats, but it’s always a good idea to check with your vet before introducing any new foods to your cat’s diet.
See above for our full description, but keep an eye out for ingredients like:
- L. Tryptophan
- Lemon Balm
It all depends on how anxious your cat is. Cat calming foods can be an effective supplement to prescription medications, but they can’t completely replace them. Consult your vet to find the best treatment option for your cat.
Every cat is different, but you should allow several weeks for cat calming foods to start showing results.
Yes. Just make sure to follow the recommended serving size on the product label.
Cat calming foods are generally considered safe, but some cats may experience gastrointestinal upset or other side effects. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, stop feeding your cat the calming food and contact your veterinarian.
How to Transition a Cat to New Food
Steps for introducing new food to your cat:
- Gradual change: Mix the new food in with the old food gradually over a 7 to 10-day period. We suggest starting off by including a small amount of the new food into your cat’s old food, and then just gradually increasing the amount of new food while decreasing the amount of old food.
- Consistency: Provide the same food at each meal time. Don’t combine different brands or types of food in one meal.
- Smaller portions: Instead of one large meal, serve smaller portions several times a day. If you can, aim for 3 meals a day. This will help your cat gradually adjust to the new taste and smell.
- Provide fresh food: We know it can feel wasteful if your cat isn’t cleaning up its plate each time! But don’t leave food out for too long. It will just put them off the new food.
- Be patient: Transitioning can take some time, and some cats may adjust quickly, while others may take several weeks. As always with cats, patience and consistency are key.
- Watch for any changes: Keep an eye out for any changes in your cat’s eating habits, body weight, and overall health. Check with your veterinarian if you notice any changes or problems.
While these foods can help with managing the stress in your cat, it’s also important to deal with any underlying causes of anxiety, such as changes in environment or routine. Cat calming foods, when used correctly, can be a gentle and effective way to help your feline friend feel calm and relaxed.