The Best Food For Cats With Asthma – a Basic Guide

Cat Food Cat - The Best Food For Cats

There’s a whole lot of conflicting information out there about feline diets, but not a great deal about the best food for cats with asthma. Why is this? Well, we’re special, us asthma cat parents – only about 1% of cats are asthmatic, so in the grand scheme of things there really aren’t that many of us.

I’ve done a fair bit of research and a bit of experimentation (sorry Sparrow) into the whole asthmatic cat food situation and I’ve found a few things that I agree with, quite a lot that I disagree with and a bit that I’m changing my mind about.

Confused Sparrow - Best Food For Cats With Asthma

Cat nutrition is a huge topic and there’s no way I can get into all of it with just one article, but I will lay out a few important facts that you should consider when choosing the best diet for your asthmatic cat. And yes, I will provide some resources if you’d like to delve deeper into the subject.

Please remember though, I am not a vet. I am not an animal nutritionist. I don’t know everything there is to know, but I know enough good sense and enough about what has worked for me that I feel confident in what I’m about to say.

Enough preamble. On with the show.


What do Cats Eat?

In the wild, your cat’s diet would consist mostly of small rodents and birds – the meat and organs of other animals. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that their systems are designed to get all of the nutrients and water they need from the animals that they would kill and eat.

Cats require a high protein diet rich in nutrients such as taurine, calcium, niacin, arginine and thiamine, plus a whole range of other vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. Many of the nutrients cats need are found only in animals and if they are found in plant foods, the cat’s system is not equipped to process these into a form they can use.Cat Eating Bird - Best Cat Food For Cats

Our feline friends are not particularly thirsty creatures, but like every other animal, they require water in their diets. This low thirst drive makes it important for cats to eat a moisture-rich diet that fulfils all of their nutritional needs and keeps them well hydrated.

If you’re after more detailed and scientific-y information, check out this article on the basics of feline nutrition from the Feline Nutrition Foundation. Bottom line: cats eat other animals and that’s it.


What do Cats Not Eat?

We’ve been led to believe that cats eat a few things that they just don’t need. It’s common knowledge (I hope!) that a bowl of milk is not what your cat needs, as cats are mostly lactose intolerant. Puts a whole new spin on the old idiom of ‘the cat that got the cream’ doesn’t it?

Fish is also not a natural part of a good feline diet. While it’s ok as an occasional treat, fish is simply not something that cats need or would eat in the wild. It’s lacking in some vital nutrients that cats need, and there’s also the issue of those little bones that like to get stuck in harmful places like throats and digestive systems. More detailed information on safely feeding fish to your cat can be found here in this article fromNo Grains - Best Food For Cats With Allergies Pet-Happy.

Biggest on my personal hit-list of what cats don’t eat is grains. Why commercial cat food contains things like rice, corn and wheat is a mystery to many smart consumers, myself included. Can you imagine your kitty hoeing down on a plate of rice that they’ve cooked up for dinner? No. Cats are designed by nature to get all that they need from meat, not grains…and the same goes for vegetables. They’re just not required – a wild cat’s diet would consist of only about 5% carbohydrates, most of which would be from the contents of their prey’s stomach. It’s possible that these ‘filler’ ingredients are a large contributing factor in many common cat ailments, including obesity.


Do Cats Need Kibble?

The short answer is: no. If your cat eats nothing but dry food, it’s almost certain that kitty is not getting the nutrition he would from wet food. Many low-quality dry foods contain fillers and all are highly processed or heat treated in order to make the kibble bits into their shapes. This processing further destroys the nutrient content of the food.

Dry food is exactly that – dry. Remember, cats are designed to get the water they need from the food that they eat. Prey animals eaten in the wild can be up to 70% water, whereas dry foods average about 10% water.

The myth about kibble being good for cleaning a cat’s teeth is just that – a myth. Cats have teeth designedSparrow Teeth - Best Cat Food Indoor Cats for tearing through muscle and flesh, not for grinding kibble. Most of the time your cat will be swallowing these kibble bits whole or smashing them with their pointy teeth. Mix in a bit of saliva and you’ll find these bits of kibble getting stuck between your cat’s teeth, causing the plaque you’re trying to kill.

So how to solve this teeth cleaning dilemma? Try giving kitty a raw chicken neck to gnaw on. Chewing on natural bones is much better for a cat’s teeth than shattering fake food kibble.

If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you might remember that I reviewed Hill’s Science Diet dry food and I do feed this to my cat occasionally. Why? Because he eats it. Sparrow is tricky to feed and sometimes it’s all I can get him to eat. Will I be putting an end to this? Absolutely – but it’s going to be a very slow process to find something else that he will eat without fail. I’ve been trying. Stay tuned.


The Best Food For Cats With Asthma

Diet plays a very important part in the overall health of all cats and our asthmatic felines are even more sensitive than their easy-breathing brothers. Asthmatic cats are likely to be suffering from some immune system stress, so feeding a diet that discourages inflammation and mimics what your cat would eat in the wild is best.

But what is that? There’s not a great deal of specific information, but what I have discovered from my own research, experience and from talking to other asthma cat parents is this: grains are out, fish is out and natural is best.

Generally speaking, the best anti-inflammatory diet for cats with asthma eliminates dry foods, grains, fish and possibly poultry. Opt for organic food made with little processing and you should be laughing.

Cat and Mouse - Best Cat Food For Cats

Many asthma cat parents have seen a dramatic improvement in their kitty’s wheeziness just by switching foods, but please remember that you should not just stop the vet’s prescribed medication because things look like they’re getting better. I’m all for diet changes and natural remedies, but these things should be complimentary to what the doctor ordered, not a replacement.

Even if this kind of diet does not help with kitty’s asthma symptoms, it’s a solid foundation for good health no matter what and will give you a better chance of stopping other health problems in their tracks.

What do you feed your wheezy kitty? Has changing diet made any difference? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

You may also like


  1. OMG I had no ideas cats could suffer from Asthma. Our Freddy has started wheezing. I had not made the connection. We will start with a mild switch of his food. We’ve always fed him nutro. I’ll check the older posts to see what you recommend. He’s scheduled for a check up soon. Hopefully its just a cold and not Asthma poor thing.

    Thank you very much

    1. Dale if that cat is wheezing I reckon you should bring his scheduled check up forward and find out what the deal is as soon as you can. You’ll have a much better chance of fixing the problem if you catch it early on. Thanks for saying hi!

  2. Love this article, AND the pics of Sparrow! Our cat Sandwich won’t eat kibble.. whenever we’ve tried to give it to him it just ends up on the floor :). We do live in the countryside as well so he does a lot of hunting.. infact it’s probably his favorite passtime!
    Really happy that I have found your site and will certainly be coming back to check for new content as its hard to find good advice these days. How many other cats to you have?

    1. Thanks Rich, I’m glad you like it! I just have the one Sparrow at the moment, he’s enough of a handful for me. Might get him a kitten sometime down the track, but I’m wary of upsetting his delicate little life. Sandwich is a great name for a cat, well done on that 🙂

  3. I enjoyed reading over your page.
    As a cat owner myself, I am concerned at to what my boys are eating.
    I found fascinating your article about what cats eat and don’t eat. I recently switched to Rachel Ray because the meat content is higher (my vet was skeptical) mostly because my boys were throwing up more than they should. I do feel this switch has helped.
    This article helped me to understand why we should be looking for food with higher meat and moisture content.
    Luckily my boys do not have asthma, but your website is a great resource for anyone that does have a kitty with this issue
    Great work

    1. Interesting, I didn’t know Rachel Ray made cat food, I might check it out. I wonder why your vet was sceptical, but I guess if your cats are doing better it’s all good. Thanks for the tip!

  4. I am with you on the grains thing. Blanche got to be a little carb queen over the years after my idiot vet told me to feed her “only” dry food. Every dry food has some kind of grain, period. And, as you point out aptly, cats in nature eat rodents and birds: ONLY. So, now, she just gets all-protein wet food. I’ve contemplated making her food or even trying to just throw in some raw stuff, but she’s so old that I think it would be tough to get her to change. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Oh wow. That seems like a really odd thing for a vet to say, but I’m discovering lately that a lot of vets don’t know or seem concerned about nutrition. I suppose sick pets is what keeps them in business (that’s a horrible thought, but I’m leaving it there anyway). It’s really amazing, the difference in Sparrow since I started feeding him a more natural, meat-based diet.
      Thanks for stopping by again Penny, it’s always nice to see you here.

  5. Yoooooo!!! Giving a cat kibble is second nature to me. I never even thought to think about it. I assumed that cat food was made to give them exactly what they are supposed to eat – I mean not 100% of it, sure, but I had no clue that it borderline doesn’t make sense to feed them that at all.

    I typically use wet food as a treat. If I were to stop using kibble (which thank you … I never use kibble, again), how much wet food does a cat get in a day? 3 cans? I mean, every cat I’ve had devours a can in one sitting. I can’t imagine that being enough.

    Also, thank you for including links to research this further.

    Aye!!! Shirley! Be sure to tell my boo Sparrow I said, “Hi,” with a two handed deep throat rub until he purrs.

    Thank you for putting me on!!!

    1. It’s not your fault Shonna, what happens is this: big business. Big-ass cat food companies get in our faces with their flashy campaigns and tell us that their stuff is good because of a bunch of big words that we hardly understand and we go “ok. Sounds like they know what they’re talking about”.

      So…the amount of wet food you feed your fluffballs depends on their weight, their activity level and the type of food. Most packaging will give you a little feeding guide so you should be right with that. Also if you’re going to change foods, do it gradually – maybe 3/4 of the old food and 1/4 of the new stuff for a week or so, then 50/50 for a week and so on until you’ve completely switched.

      Be careful with those links, my friend. They’re a bit of a rabbit hole, but well worth it if you want to go down there.

      Come back and let us know how your cats like their new food.

  6. Such a great article, Shirley, as always! I love how you breakdown the processed stuff that accompanies commercial dry foods for cats and how you explain what cat’s eat in the wild and their systems and how they are not meant to eat certain things while they are meant to eat others. I can tell Sparrow is well- looked after! How do cat’s get something as rare as asthma?

    1. Thanks Manika-Nia! It’s kinda scary what they put in pet food, isn’t it?

      To answer your question, I’m pretty sure Sparrow was born faulty. I remember seeing him hacking a couple of times when he was a baby, but it was so sporadic that I didn’t think anything of it until it became a big problem. That was a nightmare, but thankfully we got to the bottom of it quickly and he’s pretty stable with his twice-daily puffers now.

  7. Body is a machine & it needs fuel. We put quality fuel into our car so it runs well – Same thing with our bodies.

    The difference with pets is that they can’t give us too much feedback – If they like something, they eat it, if they don’t, they won’t. But will this info be enough?
    Nutrition is indeed a massive topic & there’s a huge ongoing energy war on daily basis.

    Getting high-quality nutrition for our pets is #1 priority in my opinion.

    I’m very tentative about commercial foods these days – Many folks aren’t even aware that major companies are known to shamelessly use such “filler” ingredients in their products that would scare the living hell out of them if they only knew – Hair, bones, dirt, other dead animals, pets, even the ones pulled from vets surgery tables with anesthetics still in their bodies..

    Yup, & it’s not even a fiction, it’s the reality we live in.

    Pets are easy targets too – They don’t talk back or complain “it tastes funny”, the only protection would be, if they won’t eat low quality food.. OR they have a smart master who takes care of them.
    So, the fact our pets sometimes won’t accept the particular meal we offer to them, doesn’t mean they’re spoiled. They’re actually wiser than we are not to touch some “deadly” stuff.

    That fact alone have made me think twice, to choose very carefully the nutrition I get.. & very often to seek out holistic-level quality foods for my pets.

    In my opinion, diet can be everything – It can be a huge contribution towards our pets overall health. Or am I too far off?

    1. You’re absolutely spot-on, Henry, and you make a good point. We don’t think twice about using the premium fuel for our cars, but we skimp on the quality of fuel we give to our pets and even ourselves. Kinda says a bit about the state of the world, hey?

      I gripe a bit about Sparrow being a picky eater, but without his fussiness, I’d have no idea what to feed him. He won’t eat cheap crap, at all. We lived in a house with another cat owner who would feed his cat the cheapest supermarket food. Sparrow wouldn’t go near it, but the other cat would be forever trying to steal Sparrow’s quality food. This other cat was Sparrow’s mother and I sometimes wonder if her diet had something to do with him coming out all faulty with asthma.

      I’m going to be delving into this food issue a little more in the future as I try out different things, so I hope you come back again and join the conversation some more. Thanks for sharing your opinions.

  8. Thank you for the information! I’ve just been researching a lot, because I so badly want to purchase a kitten companion for my apartment. I’ve always loved cats, but there is so much I don’t know! :O Let alone, I didn’t know about asthma in cats, I feel so lacking in knowledge on their diets. I’ve always known they love “fish” things, but I didn’t even think about the nutrition. Glad you have all this info on your website… happy to keep exploring it to keep learning before I buy my cat!

    1. Thank YOU for reading, Mei. I’m sure your future kitten will also thank you for all the love and good food you’re going to give her.

  9. Another great article! I would never in a million years thought to give my cat chicken neck and definitely fell into the gimmick of dry food cleaning their teeth. Now I feel bad for my cat, he is 9 years old and I’ve been so wrong about his care!! Thanks for the read!!

    1. Thanks Rob, I’m glad I could give you some useful information. Good luck with the switch to real cat food!

  10. Hi! Thanks for such an in-depth and informative article.

    Although my cat is not asthmatic, I do want him to have the best nutrition and struggle to get him to eat “the good stuff.” I have tried and tried to get him to eat the good quality organic canned food and even raw to no avail. He likes to eat crap! He’s a junk food junkie!

    I do limit him to canned food as I figure feeding him a not so great quality canned food is better than feeding him dry food.

    Any suggestions?

    P.S. You might want to check out Susan Thixton’s website Truth About Pet Food. She is a pet food advocate and has been battling the bogus pet food companies for years.

    1. Hi Barb, thanks for coming back again!

      I agree with you – canned food is better for your cat than dry food, even if it’s not the greatest quality. The moisture content alone makes it the winner in my eyes.

      I don’t know…maybe you could try mixing the junk food with the canned food, and very gradually reducing the amount of dry food. Then when your cat is ok and settled into the canned food, upgrade to something of a higher quality in the same way. I think you might have tried that already, judging by the smart things you say I guess you’ve already tried that. You might have to just keep playing around until you find something that your cat will eat. I can’t tell you haw many different kinds of food I’ve tried with Sparrow.

      Thanks for the recommendation, I’m about to get lost on Truth About Pet Food again. I’d forgotten all about that site!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *