The 6 Best Cat Foods For Diabetic Cats

Cats Jun 5, 2021
Written by | Updated Oct 3, 2021
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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.

Compare Best Cat Food for Diabetes

Overall Best
Hound & Gatos 98% Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

1. Hound & Gatos 98% Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Runner Up
Small Fresh Ground Bird

2. Small Fresh Ground Bird

Best Affordable
Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Canned Cat Food

3. Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Canned Cat Food

Best For Weight Loss
Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Ahi Tuna & Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

4. Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Ahi Tuna & Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Best Dry
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula

5. Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula

Best For Sensitive Stomach
Pure Vita Grain Free 96% Real Turkey Entree Canned Cat Food

6. Pure Vita Grain Free 96% Real Turkey Entree Canned Cat Food

Protein
10.5% Min
Protein
21% Min
Protein
17.5% Min
Protein
17% Max
Protein
59% Min
Protein
11% Min
Fat
10.5% Min
Fat
8.05% Min
Fat
2.0% Min
Fat
3.0% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
8.5% Min
Fiber
1.0% Max
Fiber
0.4% Max
Fiber
1.5% Max
Fiber
0% Max
Fiber
4.0% Max
Fiber
1.0% Max
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Life Stage
Adult
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Fresh
Type
Wet
Type
Wet/Canned
Type
Dry
Type
Wet
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
Thailand
Made In
United States
Made In
United States

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.

This article covers everything you need to know about feline diabetes, including diagnosis, treatment, and remission.

Our Top Picks For The Best Cat Food for Diabetes

Now that you have a better understanding of how we came to our top picks, you’re probably eager to see them! Here are our top 6 picks for best cat food for diabetes:

Overall Best
1.

Hound & Gatos 98% Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 10.5% Min
  • Fat: 10.5% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10.5%
Crude Fat: 10.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 75.5%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 42.86%
Fat: 42.86%
Fiber: 4.08%
Pros
  • Extraordinarily low in carbohydrates
  • Primarily made from nourishing salmon meat
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health
  • Uses agar-agar, one of the safest thickening gums in cat food
Cons
  • Doesn’t get consistently positive customer reviews
  • some cats don’t like the way it tastes
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.
Runner Up
2.

Small Fresh Ground Bird

Product Info

  • Protein: 21% Min
  • Fat: 8.05% Min
  • Fiber: 0.4% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Fresh
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 21%
Crude Fat: 8.05%
Crude Fiber: 0.4%
Moisture: 66.1%
Ash: 2.25%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 61.95%
Fat: 23.75%
Fiber: 1.18%
Carbs: 6.49%
Pros
  • Fresh cat food sent directly to your door
  • Made with real animal protein (chicken thighs)
  • High in protein with low carb content
  • No added grains or fillers
Cons
  • Subscription required to order
  • Meals aren’t portioned for individual servings
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.
Best Affordable
3.

Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 17.5% Min
  • Fat: 2.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.5% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 17.5%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 76%
Ash: 3%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 72.92%
Fat: 8.33%
Fiber: 6.25%
Pros
  • Rich in animal-sourced protein
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • One of the best economy options available
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or colors common among cheap foods
Cons
  • Most fish is not the best option for long-term feeding
  • Made with vaguely-named ocean fish, this term could refer to a variety of species
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.
Best For Weight Loss
4.

Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Ahi Tuna & Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 17% Max
  • Fat: 3.0% Min
  • Fiber: 0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: Thailand

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 17%
Crude Fat: 3%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 1.7%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 77.27%
Fat: 13.64%
Carbs: 1.36%
Pros
  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • A good source of anti-inflammatory, coat-nourishing omega-3 fatty acids
  • Extremely low in carbohydrates
Cons
  • Expensive
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.
Best Dry
5.

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula

Product Info

  • Protein: 59% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 4.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Dry
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 59%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 67.05%
Fat: 20.45%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 7.95%
Pros
  • Rich in animal-sourced protein
  • Contains salmon oil as a source of nourishing EPA and DHA
  • One of the few low-carbohydrate dry foods on the market
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Dry food isn’t the ideal choice for diabetic cats
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.
Best For Sensitive Stomach
6.

Pure Vita Grain Free 96% Real Turkey Entree Canned Cat Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 11% Min
  • Fat: 8.5% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet
  • Made In: United States

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 8.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 38.64%
Fiber: 4.55%
Pros
  • ade with turkey, which is rarely allergenic
  • Simple ingredient list for minimal irritation
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Contains a blend of digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and other ingredients for gut health
Cons
  • Limited customer reviews
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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Mallory Crusta is a blogger and adventurecat enthusiast who brings you the facts about cat products, wellness, and care. She's the co-founder of Wildernesscat, a resource for savvy cat guardians who want to give their felines richer, healthier lives. Visit Wildernesscat for product reviews, radically natural nutrition tips, and lifestyle inspiration
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