3 Best Cat Food For a Diabetic Cat [Non-Prescription]

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Quick answer: A diet of less than 6% carbs controls blood sugar in cats. Aim for that.

Best products we’ve tested:

Best WET
Tiki Cat After Dark cat food.
1. Tiki Cat After Dark
0% carbohydrate
78% protein
No grain protein
Human grade quality
Suits all life stages
4.5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.
Fancy Feast classic cat food.
2. Fancy Feast Classic
5% carbohydrate
48% protein
No grain protein
Gravy or pate
Lots of variety
5/5 star rating.
4/5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.
Ziwi Peak air-dried cat food
4. Ziwi Peak
5% carbohydrate
41% protein
Grass-fed meat
90%+ meat
4/5 star rating.
5/5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.

More below in this guide to the best cat food for a diabetic cat.

I have a background in nutrition and research and test most of the products recommended.

This article isn’t a replacement for medical advice.

See more about us here.

What to Look For in the Best Cat Food for a Diabetic Cat?

Quick answers:

  • Carbs: Go for less than 6% carbs (dry basis). Research suggests this leads to high remission (over 80% of cases).
  • Wet vs. Dry: Wet food typically has fewer carbs. Use a nutrition calculator for accuracy.
  • Ingredients to Avoid: Steer clear of high-carb ingredients like oats, potato, wheat, and rice.
  • Protein: At least 40% on a dry matter basis to maintain muscle.
  • Calories: Keep them low, especially in overweight cats. Wet food helps control portions (it’s also 4 times less calorie dense than dry food).
  • Complete Nutrition: Ensure the food meets AAFCO guidelines. Grass-fed meats are a plus as they contain chromium which helps with blood sugar control.

Long answers:

Why Choose Low Carb for Diabetic Cats?

It helps control diabetes and improves the chance of remission.

How to Calculate Carbs

To check cat food for carbs, use a dry basis calculator. Punch in the guaranteed analysis to get the carbs.

Remember, less than 6% or forget about it.

Ingredients to Avoid

If you see any of these high on the label, it’s probably a high carb food.

This includes:

  • Oats
  • Potato
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Tapioca starch
  • Sweet potato
  • Corn
  • Cranberries
  • Rice

Rice has a high glycemic index (GI), and causes wild insulin swings. I’d avoid it.


Cats eat mice, not rice.

Why Choose High Protein?

Cats with diabetes tend to lose muscle.

Diabetes is a problem where fuel (glucose) isn’t being used by the body, which starves muscle.

Aiming for at least 40% protein on a dry matter basis helps prevent losses.

Many diabetic cats are obese (yes, even with muscle loss).

The body condition score (BCS) helps you find out if your cat is at a healthy weight.

Aim for BCS of 5. Here’s a link to the chart.

If your cat is above a BCS of 5, consider low fat wet food.

3 Best Cat Food for a Diabetic Cat

How I chose these options?

I filtered out products that didn’t meet the criteria above that I’ve tested.

Then I picked out stuff that scored the best based on my testing methodology.

Here you go:


Best Wet: Tiki Cat After Dark

Tiki Cat After Dark
4.5/5 star rating.
5/5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.
Brand Trust
4.5/5 star rating.
2.5/5 star rating
4.5/5 star rating.
Why this cat food?

Tiki After Dark is completely carb free which is what diabetic cats need.

It’s also low calorie and high protein. Pretty much the optimal diabetic food.

No real issues with taste here. With it’s human-grade shreds my cats were happy to munch it up.

If price isn’t an issue, get this one.


Low carb

High protein for muscle

Low calorie



Very pricey

Could use more flavors

Made in Thailand?

Key Features

0% carbs

78% protein

16% fat

751 kcal/kg

12 x 3 oz. packs available

$0.62 cost per oz.

Made in Thailand

Shredded texture

View on Amazon View on Chewy

Check out our full review of Tiki Cat After Dark for more.


Affordable Pick: Fancy Feast Classic

Fancy Feast classic.
5/5 star rating.
4/5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.
Brand Trust
4.5/5 star rating.
4/5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.
Why this cat food?

Fancy Feast is budget option that suits diabetic cats.

With a wide variety of flavors and bulk packs to save, you can’t go wrong.

All their wet foods are meat rich and grain-free.

Whilst the food quality doesn’t look incredible out the tin and has that typical ‘cat food smell’ – it still gets the meow of approval.


Low carb

Great variety

Plenty of textures on offer

Grain free


Can smell a bit

Uses meat by-products

Doesn’t look great

Key Features

5% carbs

48% protein

27% fat

1,184 kcal/kg

24 x 3 oz. packs available

$0.28 cost per oz.

Made in USA

Mince, pate and gravy

View on Chewy View on Amazon

Check out our full review of Fancy Feast for more.


Best Dry : Ziwi Peak Air-Dried

Ziwi Peak air-dried cat food
4/5 star rating.
5/5 star rating.
4.5/5 star rating.
Brand Trust
4.5/5 star rating.
Star rating graphic 1/5.
4.5/5 star rating.
Why this cat food?

Ziwi Peak is really the only dry cat food I like to be honest.

Everything else sucks for the most part – due to being WELL OVER 6% carbs on a dry basis.

So there you go.

It’s pricey but is your cats health important?


Low carb

High protein


Grain free


It’s expensive

Could use more flavors

A bit hard to chew

Key Features

5% carbs

48% protein

27% fat

5,600 kcal/kg

1 lb. packs available

$1.60 cost per oz.

Made in New Zealand

Air-dried cat food

View on Chewy View on Amazon

Check out our full review of Ziwi Peak for more.


Quick answers:

  • What’s Best for Diabetic Cats? Wet food with less than 6% carbs.
  • Life Expectancy? Proper management can lead to a normal life expectancy.
  • Purina for Diabetic Cats? Most wet options are low carb. Fancy Feast Classic is recommended.
  • High-Protein Good? Yes, aim for over 40% protein.
  • Wet or Dry Food? Wet food is preferable due to lower carb content.
  • Feeding Frequency? Depends on insulin dose. Consult your vet.
  • Can They Eat Grain-Free? Yes, but check for non-grain high-carb ingredients (e.g. potato).
  • Missed Insulin Shot? Leads to hyperglycemia. Follow vet instructions.
  • Remission Rate? Up to 84% with early treatment and proper diet.
  • Lowering Blood Sugar? Weight loss and low carb food.
  • Is Homemade Food Advisable? Not recommended due to potential nutrient imbalances.

Long answers:

What Food is Best for a Diabetic Cat?

Cat food with less than 6% carbs.

Wet cat food is the best choice, with more options under this.

Keeping carbs low helps manage blood sugar. Use an online calculator to check.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a Diabetic Cat?

About 3 years.

Cats can enjoy a normal life expectancy if their diabetes is managed.

Factors affecting lifespan:

  • Age of diagnosis
  • Overall health
  • Breed
  • Weight
  • Other health conditions

Sadly, about 30% of owners euthanize their diabetic cat within a year due to financial and emotional hardship.

Is Purina Good for Cats With Diabetes?


Purina has many brand including:

  • Fancy Feast
  • Purina ONE
  • Purina Pro Plan
  • Friskies

Most of their wet cat foods are low carb in our experience.

This includes Fancy Feast Classic, our recommended choice in this art

Is High-Protein Cat Food Good for Diabetic Cats?


Aim for >40% protein dry matter basis to prevent muscle loss.

Diabetic and senior cats are at risk of muscle loss.

Is Wet or Dry Food Better for a Diabetic Cat?

Wet food is best.

Most dry food contains too much carbohydrate for diabetic cats.

Wet cat food improves hydration. Diabetic cats are at higher risk of urinary tract infection, a problem water helps with.

Speaking of water, remember the golden rule:

Make the walk to water, shorter.

Add more bowls of water to give your cat easy access at all times. Consider different shapes and size bowls to best suit your cats preference.

How Often Should a Diabetic Cat Be Fed?


This depends on the insulin dose. Most recommend 2 meals as this is easier to manage with insulin doses.

Some long acting insulin forms (e.g. glargine) can allow for frequent small meals.

Speak with your vet for advice in this area.

Can Diabetic Cats Eat Grain Free Food?


Grain free can exclude insulinogenic food sources like rice.

However, many grain-free cat foods swap out grains for other high carb foods including:

  • Potato
  • Tapioca starch
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Sweet potato

Don’t rely on grain-free to be low carb. Use a calculator to check the dry matter basis of each nutrient.

Aim for fewer than 6% carbs dry matter.

What Happens if a Cat Misses an Insulin Shot?


Insulin allows sugar into the cells for energy.

Missing insulin shots = sugar can’t get into cells. This causes hyperglycemia.

Without energy from sugar getting into cells, diabetic cats get hungrier. That can also cause weight loss from muscle wasting.

Other issues:

High blood sugar also increases water loss in the kidneys (called polydipsia).

Always make sure you take the dose recommended by your cat professional.

What Percentage of Diabetic Cats Go Into Remission?

If treated early (within 6 months of diagnosis), up to 84% of cats can enter remission.

Success depends on many factors including:

  • Age
  • Breed
  • Weight
  • Dietary adherence
How Can I Lower My Cats Blood Sugar?

Weight loss and low carb cat food.

Weight loss improves the effect on insulin in the body (called insulin sensitivity).

Improving insulin sensitivity = control blood sugar. Remember, cats need insulin to get sugar into cells.

Low carb diets limit the sugar entering your cats body, making things easier.

90% of cats have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is related to diet and lifestyle.

Losing weight helps improve insulin function. Aim for a healthy weight (BCS of 5).

Use a calculator to find out how much to feed your cat.

Here’s another tip:

Play with your cat. As little as 10 minutes of exercise can help cats lose weight.

Is Blue Buffalo Good for Diabetic Cats?

Most Blue Buffalo products are grain-free but use high carb ingredients like potato.

Blue Buffalo have a wide range of dry and wet cat food including:

  • Blue Life Protection
  • Blue Wilderness
  • Blue Freedom
  • Blue Basics
  • Blue True Solutions
  • Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet
  • Blue Tastefuls
  • Baby Blue

I couldn’t find any suitable products and found inconsistency with nutrition reporting.

For example, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Kitten ingredient list includes potato (high in carbs).

On the other hand, the nutrition information adds up to ~0% carbs ME. Not possible.

One of the answers on the question tab says there are 4% carb as fed (~15% ME).

What Triggers Diabetes in Cats?

Obesity is a main cause of type 2 diabetes in cats. It increases the risk over 4 x compared to cats at a healthy weight.

Helping your cat lose weight can help a cat enter remission.

Is Turkey Good for Diabetic Cats?


Turkey is a high protein and low carb animal based food.

It isn’t a complete food by itself.

You’ll want to make sure you feed your cat food that meets AAFCO’s guidelines as a sole source of nutrition.

Are Eggs Good for a Diabetic Cat?


Eggs are a high protein food that diabetic cats can enjoy.

Make sure to factor in the calories from eggs into your cats daily intake.

You don’t need to give eggs raw. Feel free to hard boil them.

Is Yoghurt Good for Diabetic Cats?


Dairy milk and yoghurt contain sugar in the form of lactose. This bumps up a cats carb intake.

Whilst some yoghurt is lower in sugar (e.g. plain Greek yoghurt), it’s not the best choice for diabetic cats.

What Is My Diabetic Cat Always Hungry?

Insulin takes sugar from the blood into cells for energy.

In diabetes, insulin either doesn’t work as well or there isn’t enough in the body.

That means the cells don’t get the energy they need. This is why diabetes results in hunger if not well managed.

If not treated, a diabetic cat would waste muscle and fat whilst starving. Extra sugar passes out the pee into the litter tray.

Take care to give your cat insulin as directed by your care professional.

Stick to low carb cat food to help your cat avoid blood sugar fluctuations.

Can I Make Diabetic Cat Food at Home?

You can but I don’t recommend it.

Most cat food recipes found online suck.

A balanced homemade cat food diet must include a range of muscles, organs, and even bone. This gives your cat the nutrients they need.

Most online recipes forget sources of zinc, iron, and copper among other nutrients. Among that, some include toxic ingredients like garlic.

Do Cats With Diabetes Suffer?

They might.

Diabetic cats have a higher risk of diabetic neuropathy. This affects walking, jumping, and other motor actions.

Diabetes can also increase hunger. Frequent vet visits can cause stress to cats.

Although your cat can’t communicate suffering, it’s fair to say diabetes isn’t a fun time.

Are Veterinary Diets Good for Diabetic Cats?

One study compared the following two foods on diabetes remission rate:

  • Moderate carb and high fiber diabetic cat food (Hill’s w/d canned)
  • Low carb and low fiber (Hill’s Science diet feline growth) kitten food

More diabetic cats in the kitten food group went into remission (68%) compared to the diabetic food (41%).

This suggests cutting carbs is a better strategy than adding fiber. Veterinary diets aren’t always best.

What is Diabetes in Cats?

Feline diabetes is a metabolic disorder leading to high blood sugar.

Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar enter cells for energy use. Diabetes is a result of defects in the way insulin is produced or how it is working.

How is Diabetes Diagnosed in Cats?

A vet uses a range of diagnostic tests to find out if your cat has diabetes.

Here are diabetic blood values in cats:

  • Blood glucose (any time): >180–288 mg/dL
  • Fasting blood glucose: 3.0–6.5 mmol/L
Which Cats Are Most at Risk of Diabetes?

Obese cats are over 4 times more likely to get diabetes.

Other risk factors include:

  • Ageing
  • Being male
  • Indoor restriction
  • Low activity
  • Breed
  • Corticosteroid usage

Burmese cats are four times more likely to get diabetes. Diabetes affects 10% of Burmese cats over 8 years.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats?

Clinical symptoms include:

  • Polyuria (excess urination)
  • Polydipsia (excess thirst)
  • Weight loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, see a vet.

How Many Cats Get Diabetes?

At least 1 in 81 cats will get diabetes (as of 1999).

The prevalence of feline diabetes is increasing. In 1970, the rate of diabetes was 1 in 1,250 cats.

How Do You Manage Diabetes in Cats?

Speak to your vet for a diabetes management plan for your cat.

The goal is of management is strict glycemic control (blood glucose <10mmol/L), whilst avoiding hypoglycemia.

Some cats may need a portable glucose meter calibrated for feline blood. This helps you know if your cat has high blood sugar.

Can You Reverse Diabetes in Cats?

Many cats go into remission with dietary therapy.

A high protein and low carb diet is best for diabetic cats. ~80% may enter remission eating a diet of less than 6% carbohydrate (dry matter) with medical care.

Is Nulo Cat Food Good for Diabetic Cats?


Nulo freestyle wet cat food is suitable for diabetic cats.

We looked at Nulo Freestyle Duck & Tuna.

This cat food is 5.8% carbs ME, meeting recommendations. It’s suitable for all life stages.

A great budget pick.

What Can I Feed My Diabetic Cat to Gain Weight?

Feed a diabetic cat a high protein diet. Aim for 40% protein ME or more.

This helps diabetic cats maintain muscle and keep the weight on.

What Is the Best Over the Counter Cat Food for Diabetic Cats?

I recommend Tiki Cat After Dark for diabetic cats needing to lose weight. It’s high in protein and contains no added carbs.

To help gain weight, Feline Natural is a great filler-free choice. It’s got more fat to boost calories.

If you’re on a budget, check out the following (all contain fewer than 6% carbs ME):

Learn More:

Useful Resources:


Choose wet cat foods with less than 6% carbs to better manage diabetes and improve remission chances.

Top pick: Fancy Feast Classic for its balance of value, protein content, and low carbs. Get Tiki Cat After Dark if you have more to spend.

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I'm qualified dietitian that's turned their attention to cat nutrition. My goal is to help tease out the science on how best to feed your cat.