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Best Cat Food For a Diabetic Cat

Disclaimer

We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for yourself. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As a Chewy affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

TOP 5 BEST CAT FOOD FOR A DIABETIC CAT: TOP PICKS

BEST OVERALL

Feline Natural Chicken & Lamb Feast Grain-Free Wet Cat Food, 3-oz pouch, case of 12
FELINE NATURAL
Feline Natural Grain-Free Canned (3 oz x 12)
99% Animal Protein

Feline Natural contains real animal ingredients in a soft pate texture for easy digestion. The tin is filler-free with no carrageenan. This is a good low-carb choice for diabetic cats.

  • 99% grass-fed animal foods
  • Easy to chew pate
  • Low in carbs
  • No grains or carrageenan
  • Pricey
  • Strong smell
NUTRITION ANALYSIS
  • Protein: 54.8%
  • Fat: 28.6%
  • Carbs: 6.3%
  • Fiber: 1.7%
  • Ash: 8.6%
  • Water: 82.5%
  • Energy: 1,313 kcal/kg

BEST DRY

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food, 2.0-lb bag
DR. ELSEY’S
Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat (2 lb)
Grain Free Dry Food

Dr. Elsey’s clean protein range is an ultra low carb choice for diabetic cats. There are also no legumes or unfamiliar ingredients for easy digestion.

  • High in protein
  • Zero carb
  • Whole animal sources
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • Shape won’t suit some cats
  • Recent formula changes
NUTRITION ANALYSIS
  • Protein: 67.1%
  • Fat: 20.5%
  • Carbs: 0.0%
  • Fiber: 4.5%
  • Ash: 7.6%
  • Water: 12%
  • Energy: 4,030 kcal/kg

BEST PREMIUM

Tiki Cat After Dark Variety Pack Grain-Free Wet Cat Food, 5.5-oz, case of 8
TIKI CAT
After Dark Variety Pack (5.5 oz x 8)
Highest Quality Food

Tiki Cat After Dark variety pack is a non-nonsense food high in animal meats and organs. This food is also very low in carbohydrates to help diabetic cats.

  • 95%+ animal foods
  • Low carb
  • Soy-free
  • Carrageenan-free
  • Pricey
  • Hit or miss flavors
NUTRITION ANALYSIS
  • Protein: 70.1%
  • Fat: 12.5%
  • Carbs: 4.6%
  • Fiber: 3.7%
  • Ash: 9.2%
  • Water: 82%
  • Energy: 829 kcal/kg

BEST MID-RANGE

Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Cat Food, 3-oz, case of 24
INSTINCT ORIGINAL
Original Grain-Free Pate (3 x 24)
Grain Free Eating

Instinct Original is another great low carbohydrate choice for diabetic cats. This is a solid choice that’s easier on the budget than many diabetic foods.

  • High in protein
  • Grain-free
  • Soy-free
  • Affordable
  • Recent price changes
  • Hit or miss flavors
NUTRITION ANALYSIS
  • Protein: 45.5%
  • Fat: 34.1%
  • Carbs: ~0.0%
  • Fiber: 13.6%
  • Ash: 6.8%
  • Water: 78%
  • Energy: 1,239 kcal/kg

BEST BUDGET

Purina ONE Turkey Recipe Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food, 3-oz, case of 24
PURINA ONE
Turkey Recipe Pate (3 oz x 24)
Low Carb Budget

Purina One Turkey is a high-protein option that’s easier on the budget. This is low in carbohydrate and grain-free to help diabetic cats with their needs.

  • High in protein
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Variety for boredom
  • Complete nutrition
  • Mixed taste reviews
  • Inconsistent flavor
NUTRITION ANALYSIS
  • Protein: 50.0%
  • Fat: 22.7%
  • Carbs: 6.8%
  • Fiber: 6.8%
  • Ash: 13.6%
  • Water: 78.0%
  • Energy: 1,238 kcal/kg

INTRODUCTION

Not sure what to feed a diabetic cat.

Diabetes is a serious medical condition. If left untreated, it may decrease your cat’s lifespan and increase vet bills.

Giving your diabetic cat the right food may help your diabetic cat enter remission and live a longer life.

My name is Derrick and I write for Simply Cat Care. The goal of this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats. I am not a veterinarian and the advice in this article is not intended as medical advice.

In this article, I’ll give you a buying guide to help find the best cat food for a diabetic cat and cover some frequently asked questions.

Top 5 Best Cat Food For A Diabetic Cat

BUYING GUIDE: HOW TO FIND THE BEST CAT FOOD FOR A DIABETIC CAT

Choosing the right food for a diabetic cat is challenging.

There are a lot of choices on the market, with confusing labels and claims. This makes buying a minefield of information.

In this buying guide, I’ll help keep things simple and help you with the key things to look for.

WHAT INGREDIENTS SHOULD I LOOK FOR?

PROTEIN

Diabetic cats benefit from a high protein diet.

This is because cats with diabetes tend to lose muscle. High protein diets help diabetic cats maintain strength.

Experts recommend looking for cat food with a protein of >10 g/kcal.

Animal-based foods are the best sources of protein to look for. These foods are highest in essential amino acids like taurine.

Bottom Line: Look for high-protein cat food with lots of animal-based ingredients.

FAT

Look for moderate-fat food for your diabetic cat.

Many diabetic cats are overweight and need to lose some weight. Since fat is the most calorically dense macronutrient, too much fat may make it harder to lose weight.

On the other hand, cats prefer a moderate-fat diet for taste. A low-fat food may result in food rejection.

Experts recommend a fat amount of <4 g/100 kcal in food.

Bottom Line: Look for a moderate-fat diet to help with food acceptance with a diabetic cat.

MOISTURE

A high moisture food is the best choice for a diabetic cat.

This means wet canned food is better than dry food.

Low moisture food (dry cat food) is more calorically dense. This means it’s easier for your cat to overeat and gain weight (especially if free-fed).

Moisture is also important for kidney and urinary health in cats.

Bottom Line: Wet canned foods are the best choice for a diabetic cat.

WHAT INGREDIENTS SHOULD I AVOID?

CARBOHYDRATE

Diabetic cats benefit from a low carbohydrate diet.

This helps control blood sugar and avoids hyperglycemia. Diabetic cats fed a low carbohydrate cat food have a better chance of going into remission.

Experts suggest choosing a cat food with a carbohydrate amount of <3 g/100 kcal in the cat food (or less than 25% on a dry matter basis).

Ingredients to look for and avoid are:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Tapioca starch

Wet canned foods are usually lower in carbohydrates and the best choice overall.

Bottom Line: Diabetic cats benefit from a low carbohydrate diet to maintain a low blood sugar level.

GRAVY

Wet foods with gravy tend to be higher in carbohydrates.

This is because carbohydrate foods act as thickeners in the gravy.

If choosing a gravy food, make sure to check the total carbohydrate amount to make sure it’s a good choice for your cat.

Bottom Line: Be wary of canned foods with gravy, as they tend to be higher in carbohydrates.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS FELINE DIABETES?

Feline diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving high blood sugar.

Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar enter cells for energy use. Diabetes involves a defect in insulin production and/or how insulin is working.

Bottom Line: Feline diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving high blood sugar.

HOW IS FELINE DIABETES DIAGNOSED?

A vet diagnoses feline diabetes.

Vets use diagnostic tests to find whether your cat classifies as diabetic.

Blood glucose of ≥180–288 mg/dL (10–16 mmol/L) is indicative of diabetes at any time point.

Fasting blood glucose in cats ranges from ~3.0–6.5 mmol/L (117 mg/dL). Anything above that suggests diabetes.

Bottom Line: A vet diagnoses feline diabetes using blood tests.

WHAT CATS ARE MOST AT RISK OF DIABETES?

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

Other risk factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Being male
  • Staying indoors
  • Low activity
  • Breed
  • Corticosteroid usage

Burmese cats are four times more likely to get diabetes. Diabetes affects 1 in 10 Burmese cats over 8 years of age.

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

Burmese cats are at a higher risk of diabetes.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FELINE DIABETES?

Clinical symptoms include:

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

Vets diagnose diabetes using blood tests.

Bottom Line: The symptoms of feline diabetes include excess urination, thirst, and weight loss.

WHY DO CATS GET DIABETES?

There is no specific cause of diabetes.

Diabetes is a problem of insulin not working and/or less insulin produced.

If insulin doesn’t work, glucose (sugar) can’t go into the cells and the blood sugar is high. Obese cats are more likely to get diabetes. This suggests body fatness affects how well insulin works.

There’s no specific cause of diabetes though.

The prevalence of feline diabetes is increasing. In 1970, the rate of diabetes was 1 in 1,250 cats. In 1999, the prevalence went down to 1 in 81 cats. This points to lifestyle and diet changes increasing the risk of diabetes.

Bottom Line: There is no specific cause of diabetes. Obesity increases risk, suggesting this affects insulin.

WHAT SHOULD I FEED A DIABETIC CAT?

A wet canned food low in carbohydrates and high in protein.

The recommended amounts of macronutrients in the food are:

  • Fat: <4 g/100 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: <3 g/100 kcal
  • Protein: >10 g/kcal

The highest remission in diabetic cats is from a low carbohydrate diet.

High protein diets are important for diabetes, as the disease leads to muscle loss.

No matter what the food, cats need a carefully controlled calorie intake. Use an online calculator to find out how much to feed your cat.

Check out my article on how much to feed a cat to learn more.

Bottom Line: A wet canned food low in carbohydrates and high in protein is best for diabetic cats.

ARE VETERINARY DIETS GOOD FOR DIABETIC CATS?

There are prescription foods available for diabetic cats.

How good they depend on the ingredients. Sometimes these foods aren’t better than standard cat food choices.

One study compared a moderate carbohydrate-high fiber diabetic cat food (Hill’s w/d canned) with a low carbohydrate-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%).

What this means is the ingredients and macronutrients are the most important thing. Always choose a cat food low in carbohydrates and high in protein for a diabetic cat.

Bottom Line: Veterinary diets may not be better than a standard low carbohydrate food on the market.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE FELINE DIABETES?

Diet and medication help feline diabetes management.

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

The diet involves giving cats a low-calorie and carbohydrate diet. This also involves getting a cat into a healthy weight range, which helps insulin work better.

Your vet will help you with a treatment plan. Some cats may need a portable glucose meter calibrated for feline blood, to help identify high blood glucose.

Bottom Line: Diet and medication help feline diabetes management.

CAN YOU REVERSE FELINE DIABETES?

Many cats enter remission with improved diet and weight loss.

A high protein and low carbohydrate diet is the best choice for diabetic cats. Many cats enter remission with this type of food.

Bottom Line: Many cats enter remission with improved diet and weight loss.

CONCLUSION

In this article, I talked about the best cat food for a diabetic cat.

Diabetes is a disease involving high blood sugar. The risk of diabetes increases with obesity and low activity levels. It often leads to complications if not managed, including kidney disease.

The best cat food for a diabetic cat is a low carbohydrate and high protein wet food. This helps a diabetic cat maintain strength, whilst also helping to control blood sugar.

BEST CAT FOOD FOR A DIABETIC CAT: TOP PICK

Feline Natural Grain-Free Canned (3 oz x 12)

Feline Natural Chicken & Lamb Feast Grain-Free Wet Cat Food, 3-oz pouch, case of 12
  • 99% grass-fed animal foods
  • Easy to chew pate
  • No legumes for easy digestion
  • No grains or carrageenan
  • Pricey
  • Strong smell
Disclaimer

We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for yourself. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As a Chewy affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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