3 Best Cat Food For a Diabetic Cat (Non-Prescription)

Last updated:

Disclaimer: As a Chewy & Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not impact our reviews and comparisons.

Aim for less than 6% carbs (dry matter) for diabetic cats.

This helps keep blood sugar under control.

Our 3 best cat food for a diabetic cat picks:

  1. Fancy Feast Classic | Best Value
  2. Tiki Cat After Dark | Healthiest Choice
  3. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried | Best Dry

Diabetes is a serious medical condition. If untreated, it decreases your cat’s lifespan and increases vet bills.

Let’s prevent that. I’ll go through what to look for with a buying guide.

Then I’ll compare the best choices and cover frequently asked questions.

Let’s go.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as medical advice.

Buying Guide

Low carb is best for diabetes.

The highest remission (~80%) occur with diets of less than 6% carbs metabolizable energy (ME), though recommendations vary.

Some suggest diabetic cats can have up to 15% ME carbs. I recommend sticking to 6% for strictness.

Quick notes:

  • Less than <6% carbs (dry matter)
  • Highest remission (~80%)
  • Research still unclear

Dry vs Wet Cat Food

Choose wet.

Most dry cat foods are well above 6% ME carbs. The average is ~20% based on our research.

Still, there are wet cat foods high in carbs too.

To make sure, use a dry matter basis calculator to check for carb content. Check the guaranteed analysis and enter the details.

Quick notes:

A cat food guaranteed analysis
Check the guaranteed analysis and use a calculator to find the dry matter basis of each nutrient
An example of a dry matter basis calculation for cat food
Use a calculator to find the dry matter basis for carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fiber


Avoid high carb ingredients.

This includes:

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

The higher these ingredients appear on the list, the higher in weight.

Some types of carbs are problematic, including rice. Rice has a high glycemic index (GI), and causes wild insulin swings.


Cats eat mice, not rice.

Fast notes:

  • Check for high carb ingredients
  • High on the list = higher in weight
  • Avoid rice as it’s high GI

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.

Quick notes:

  • Diabetic cats lose muscle
  • 40% protein to help with muscle loss
  • Low fat to limit weight gain
A body condition score chart (BCS) for cats. Aim for a BCS of 5
Aim to keep your cat at the ideal BCS of 5

Keep Calories Low

Many cats with diabetes are overweight.

To lose weight, eat fewer calories.

Experts suggest <35% fat dry matter basis helps with weight loss.

Wet cat food is portion controlled by design, helping to control calorie intake. And it’s 4 x fewer calories than dry.

Quick notes:

  • Limit calories for weight loss
  • Wet cat food is best
  • Choose low fat (<35% dry matter)

Choose Complete Cat Food

Not all foods are equal.

Check the cat food meets AAFCO’s nutrition guidelines as a sole feeding source.

This means the food has everything your cat needs.

Supplemental feeding foods are just that, supplemental. Examples include Applaws.

A great low carb choice, but not a complete meal for cats.

Despite the name, food intended for growth (i.e. kittens) is better than maintenance. It contains higher amounts of protein.

Some micronutrients affect diabetes.

For example, a deficiency in the mineral chromium worsens glucose control. Grass-fed meats contain higher amounts of chromium.

Quick notes:

  • Choose complete cat food
  • Growth or all life stages is best
  • Grass-fed produce is best
The back of a cat food label showing the statement of nutritional adequacy
Check that your cat food meets the nutritional levels set by AAFCO (this food meets the needs for adult cats)

Learn More:

Useful Resources:

3 Best Cat Food For A Diabetic Cat

1. Fancy Feast Classic

Best Value Cat Food for Diabetes

Fancy Feast Classic

Pros and Cons

  • Low carb
  • Easy to chew pate
  • Affordable
  • Mixed quality
  • Meat by-products


Fancy Feast is great value.

There’s a lot of flavors, no added carbs, and fussy cat approval.

The classic pate is easy to chew for senior cats.

Our main issue is the mixed quality from tin-to-tin. Some just don’t like as ‘nice’ served out as others.

Where to find Fancy Feast classic?

Read more:

Fancy Feast Classic dry matter nutrition analysis
Fancy Feast Classic dry matter nutrition analysis
Fancy Feast Classic cat food review score
Fancy Feast Classic cat food review score

2. Tiki Cat After Dark

Healthiest Cat Food for Diabetic Cats

Tiki Cat After Dark

Pros and Cons

  • No added carbs
  • High protein
  • Low calorie
  • All have chicken
  • Pricey


Tiki Cat After Dark is free of carbs. Perfect for diabetic cats.

It’s rich in high protein ingredients, in authentic shreds. Picky cats will enjoy it.

This will help with weight control.

The main issue is the price here.

Best for:

  • Weight control
  • Easy digestion
  • Chicken lovers

Where to find Tiki Cat After Dark?

Read more:

Tiki Cat After Dark dry matter nutrition analysis
Tiki Cat After Dark dry matter nutrition analysis
Tiki Cat After Dark cat food review score
Tiki Cat After Dark cat food review score

3. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried

Best Dry Cat Food for Diabetes

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B004W9AIRK&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=simplycatcare 20&language=en USir?t=simplycatcare 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B004W9AIRK

Pros and Cons

  • Low carb
  • Grass-fed animal produce
  • Complete meal for all ages
  • Pricey
  • Exotic flavor


Ziwi Peak is air-dried and carb free. It’s your best dry cat food choice for diabetic cats.

There’s no grains or legumes here. It’s a complete meal for all life stages.

No meat meals. Great taste, although a little exotic.

The price is a steep though.

Best for:

  • Senior cat health
  • Easy digestion
  • Complete nutrition

Where to find Ziwi Peak?

Learn More:

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried cat food dry matter nutrition
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried cat food dry matter nutrition
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried cat food review score
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried cat food review score

Full Diabetic Cat Food List

Still not sure?

Here’s a comparison of the 10 best cat foods for diabetes I’ve tested.

Here it is:

Cat FoodPriceTypeTextureLifestageProteinFatCarbKcal/kgScoreNotes
Fancy Feast Classic$WetPateAdult48%27%5%1,18488Best value
Tiki Cat After Dark$$$WetShredsAll78%16%0%75185Best quality
Instinct Original$WetPateAll59%15%3%94484Good variety
Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein$$DryKibbleAll67%20%0%4,03083Best value dry cat food
Fussie Cat Premium$$WetAspicAdult65%21%0%61283Tuna rich, so occasional only
Wellness Core Tiny Tasters$$$WetPateAdult47%39%4%1,29181Great for picky cats
Hound & Gatos Wet Cat Food$$WetPateAll45%39%0%1,22281Mixed taste reviews, but zero carb
Wellness Complete Health$$WetPateAdult48%32%3%1,11680Best Wellness cat food
Feline Natural Wet Cat Food$$$WetPateAll52%36%2%89580Great quality choice
Ziwi Peak Air Dried$$$DryKibbleAll41%38%5%5,60073Best quality dry cat food
A comparison of the best cat food for diabetic cats

Frequently Asked Questions

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.


Cats eat mice, not rice.

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 article.

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.

A cat eating wet cat food
Wet food is best for diabetic cats

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.

A cat with a vet
Make sure to stick to the insulin dosage suggested by your care professional to avoid complications

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.

Learn More:

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.

Learn More:

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.

A cat looking at a plate
Diabetic cats can get hungrier due to less sugar getting into their body

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):


Choose wet cat food with less than 6% carbohydrate.

This helps control blood sugar. It improves the chance of remission.

Our best cat food choice is Fancy Feast Classic. It’s under 6% carbs, high in protein, and great for fussy cats.

Our top picks:

  1. Fancy Feast Classic | Best Value
  2. Tiki Cat After Dark | Healthiest Choice
  3. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried | Best Dry
Photo of author


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.