The 6 Best Cat Foods for Diabetic Cats
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The best cat food for diabetic cats is radically low in carbohydrates—zero net carbs is a good goal—and what it lacks in sugary stuff it makes up in animal-based nutrition. That’s why we recommend Hound & Gatos Salmon as the best cat food for diabetic cats. It’s a bare-naked meat product without a stitch of starch.
This Hound & Gatos recipe is special, but it’s not perfect for everyone. Fortunately, the best foods for diabetic cats aren’t exclusive or inaccessible. There’s a diabetes-appropriate food for everyone. Tight budgets, allergic cats, overweight kitties, seniors, and even cats who like kibble can find a low-carb food that fits their needs perfectly.
Scroll down for reviews of the top six best foods for diabetic cats or keep reading to learn more about the science of feeding a diabetic feline.
At a Glance: Best Cat Food for Diabetic Cats To Buy
We highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each product. You’ll also find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
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What’s The Best Cat Food For Diabetic Cats?
Diabetic cats thrive on a carnivore’s diet. It sounds like marketing buzz, but it’s true—your cat’s ancestral diet has lessons to teach, particularly if you’re feeding a diabetic kitty.
Here’s what the ancestral feline diet has to say about feeding a diabetic cat: “Cut the carbs.”
The natural feline diet is virtually plant-free. Nibbles of grass and fermenting mouse bellies might add up to 1-2% of a wild cat’s diet. Most of that stuff is fiber and not likely to send the blood sugar through the roof.
Having adapted to this kind of ultra-carnivorous diet, cats just don’t do well with starchy, plant-y diets. From their spines on their tongues to the enzymes in their spit to the claws on their toes, cats are meat eaters and don’t need a gram of carbohydrate matter. When they do get some starch, it instantly floods their bloodstream and, apparently, increases their risk of developing diabetes.
If carbohydrates are unnecessary and harmful for healthy cats, they’re a menace to those with diabetes. Carbohydrate-heavy foods syrup up the bloodstream, cement insulin dependence, and make it more likely that your cat’s pancreas will wear out and never work properly again.
Fortunately, a low-carbohydrate diet can help. In fact, a combination of aggressive dietary control and insulin therapy can bring most cats into remission.Want to learn more about caring for your diabetic cat? Check out this comprehensive guide.
This article covers everything you need to know about feline diabetes, including diagnosis, treatment, and remission.
Best Cat Food for Diabetes: Our Top 6 Picks
This canned paté-style food from Hound & Gatos has a diabetes-appropriate recipe that’s heavy on fish without the potatoes, peas, corn, and other types of binder, filler, and starch you might find in other foods.
Like all Hound & Gatos foods, the formula is extraordinarily low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic. Aside from synthetic supplements and agar-agar as a binder, the food is plant-free. The binder agar-agar increases the food’s fiber content but is a low-glycemic ingredient appropriate for diabetic cats.
Altogether, the food has zero carbohydrate content, plenty of protein, and a decent amount of cat-appropriate animal-sourced fat. While it’s calorie-dense and probably wouldn’t qualify as a weight loss food, it’s water-packed for maximum satisfaction and hydration.
If you’re looking for a diabetic-friendly cat food, look no further. Smalls Fresh Ground Bird is the perfect option because it is a fresh food packed with real animal protein with no added grains. It contains plenty of moisture to keep your diabetic cat hydrated while boosting his digestion, and it’s full of natural chicken flavor.
In addition to being loaded with real animal protein, this Smalls fresh food recipe relies primarily on wholesome ingredients like green beans and kale for nutritional balance. You’ll find Smalls Supplement Mix included, of course, but most of the nutrition comes from real ingredients.
Perhaps the best thing about Smalls is that you’ll receive regular shipments of fresh cat food sent right to your door. You never have to make another trip to the pet store, worrying that they might be out of your cat’s specific food. Plus, it’s made right here in the USA.
Insulin, regular vet visits, and blood testing can be expensive and time-consuming, but the best food for diabetic cats doesn’t have to be. Many of the cheapest foods on the market are low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and moisture-rich enough to keep your cat slim and satisfied.
Most Fancy Feast foods, for example, are great options for cats with diabetes. As long as you pay close attention to ingredient lists and guaranteed analyses, you can feel good about most of the recipes in the Fancy Feast Flaked or Classics lines. Those great macros sometimes involve less-than-great ingredients like artificial flavor and animal by-products, but with a little care, you can find a Fancy Feast recipe that checks almost every box, including price.
This food, for example, is primarily made from ocean fish and shrimp. The food is thickened with guar gum, but the broth doesn’t contain any starch that would drive up the carbohydrate count.
Instead, this is an exceptionally low-carbohydrate food that delivers plenty of meat-based nutrition without increasing your cat’s blood sugar.
If your cat needs to lose weight, a moisture-rich, relatively low-fat diet can keep his belly full and calorie intake low.
This Tiki Cat product is a flaky food made with tuna and chicken in a starch-free broth. Though the food contains sunflower seed and tuna fish oil, it’s a lean product that delivers a lot of protein and not a lot of calories in each meal.
And of course, it’s extremely low in carbohydrates, which is essential for keeping blood sugar under control.
Most of the best cat food for diabetic cats is wet. Wet food is less reliant on high-carbohydrate ingredients, more satisfying, less calorie-dense, and helps to keep your cat hydrated. But what if your cat refuses to eat anything but kibble?
There are a few low-carbohydrate dry foods available. This recipe from Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein is one of them. Instead of potatoes, corn, wheat, tapioca, and legumes commonly found in other dry foods, the kibble employs gelatin as its binder of choice. This yields a nice crunch without a lot of carbohydrates.
The food is primarily made from highly-digestible sources of animal protein and contains salmon oil as a source of nourishing fatty acids.
Overall, this kibble won’t keep your cat hydrated and it won’t do much to help him lose weight, but it’s low enough in carbohydrate matter to keep his blood sugar in check and rich enough in protein to support lean muscle mass.
If your diabetic cat has digestive issues, a stripped-down diet may be able to help. This recipe from Pure Vita is a limited-ingredient product that’s composed of 96% turkey. Turkey meat is one of the least common cat allergens.
In addition to a simple ingredient list, the food contains a mix of probiotics and other digestive supplements, making it an overall great option for cats with digestive issues.
In terms of diabetes-specific qualities, the food is extraordinarily low in carbohydrates and won’t raise your cat’s blood sugar.
Never make significant changes to your cat’s diet without adjusting his insulin accordingly.
Like a healthy pancreas, you should administer no more or less insulin than your cat needs—and you should respond to fluctuations in blood glucose.
The instant you change the amount of carbohydrate matter in your cat’s diet, you alter the amount of sugar in his blood and hence, his need for insulin. In fact, some cats don’t need insulin therapy at all as soon as they’ve switched to a low-carb diet. If you continue to give your cat the same amount of insulin he needed on a high-carbohydrate diet, you could make him hypoglycemic.
To ensure that his insulin dosage reflects his ever-changing needs, don’t rely on routine vet visits to tell you how much insulin your cat needs. Dietary changes should always be accompanied by tight glycemic control and careful monitoring.