Written by karanf

Updated: January 30, 2024

What are the best cat foods for diabetes?

Updated: January 30, 2024

Diabetes in cats is fairly common, particularly in overweight and senior cats. However, unlike dogs, they are most likely to develop type two diabetes, with type one diabetes in cats being rare.

If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, it's important to work closely with your veterinarian to implement an appropriate treatment plan and diet.  

In general, cat foods that contain low to no carbohydrates are recommended. Wet food can be a good option as it generally contains less carbohydrates than dry kibble. 

In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend prescription diabetic cat food. These diets are specifically formulated for cats with diabetes.

Cats that are overweight and have diabetes may need to lose weight as part of the management of their condition, so diet is incredibly important.

It's crucial to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your cat's diet. Sudden changes in diet can sometimes lead to digestive upset, so it's advisable to transition your cat to a new food gradually. Always monitor your cat for any signs of improvement or adverse reactions.

  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Raw Cat Food

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    Highly Recommended

    It is one of three products in a range made by Darwin’s, one of the first pet food companies to bring raw pet food directly to pet parents. Based in Seattle, Darwins has been formulating raw pet foods for 15 years.

     Darwin’s Natural Selections Turkey for Cats derives the bulk of its protein from turkey, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids a cat requires to sustain life. 

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 53.3% protein, 40% fat and 0% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 75%.

    Darwin’s Natural Selections’ meals are minimally processed to preserve the vital nutrients a cat needs. All meat is pasture-raised and grass-fed, so your pet is receiving top-quality meat.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our full review of Darwin’s raw cat food range.

    Read our review of the full Darwin’s Natural Selections Raw Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Turkey necks (bone-in), turkey gizzards, turkey, turkey liver, turkey heart
    Texture Wet
    Type Raw
    Protein Percentage 53.3
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Cats and senior cats

    Get 10lbs of Darwin’s Raw Food for $14.95

    Sample buyer review...

    "It’s so easy and the health benefits are phenomenal. "

  • Smalls Fresh Cat Food

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    Highly Recommended

    Smalls Fresh Smooth Bird recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of seven foods in this range made by Smalls, a company founded in 2017. The food is manufactured in a human-grade commercial facility near Chicago.

    Smalls Fresh Smooth Bird derives the bulk of its protein from chicken which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids a cat requires to sustain life. 

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 55.4% protein, 30.4% fat and 6.3% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 55%.

    Using high-quality human-grade ingredients, Smalls’ recipes come in a variety of flavors and textures. They are developed in partnership with veterinarians and meet AAFCO standards. 

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Smalls Fresh cat food range.

    Read our review of the full Smalls Fresh Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken, chicken liver, green beans, peas, water (sufficient for processing)
    Texture Wet
    Type Fresh
    Protein Percentage 55.4
    AAFCO Standards All life stages
    Best For Kittens, cats and senior cats

    $35 off your first order

    Use code CATFOODADVISOR

    Sample buyer review...

    "Being happy about this product is an understatement! We have two, senior indoor cats (one of which is diabetic), and both are about to turn 17 in August. The diabetic cat was having issues with vomiting and both seemed to be disinterested in the high-protein diet we put them on last year. Once we talked to our vet and introduced Smalls to both cats last month, they begged to eat at mealtime! The diabetic cat has gained weight, has stopped vomiting, and is acting like himself again. Both cats love Smalls and especially like the Smooth Bird and Smooth Other Bird. "

  • Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food

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    Highly Recommended

    Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    This recipe is one of four in this range made by Open Farm Pet Foods. The company was founded in 2014 by Jacqueline PrehoganThe cat food arm of the operation has its headquarters in Canada, and the products are developed and formulated in Canada. However, production takes place over the U.S. border in the state of Minnesota. 

    Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw recipe derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids a cat requires to sustain life. 

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a raw recipe containing 49.5% protein, 42.1% fat and 0.4% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 85%.

    This range of food lists quality animal meat as the first ingredient which means the protein content is high across all recipes. Carbohydrates are very low and vitamins have been added to provide a well-balanced diet.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our full review of the Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw cat food range.

    Read our review of the full Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Humanely raised chicken with ground bone, chicken livers, humanely raised chicken necks, montmorillonite clay, organic dandelion greens
    Texture Kibble
    Type Freeze-dried raw
    Protein Percentage 49.5
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Kittens, cats and senior cats

    EXCLUSIVE: New customer offer

    20% off first auto-ship order with code CFA20

    Sample buyer review...

    "Open Farm's freeze-dried cat food is exactly what I was looking for! My cat loves it and the transition from kibble to this was seamless. The pellets make rehydrating easy, and the quality is exceptional. There are no off-putting smells (unlike some competitor pellets), and my cat immediately was interested in the food. Thanks! "

  • Tiki Cat Luau Wet Cat Food

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    Recommended

    Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Ahi Tuna & Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s second-highest rating 4.5 stars.

    It is one of 16 foods in this product range made by Tiki Cat, a company founded in 2005 by husband and wife, Christine and Robert Hackett. Christine had previously worked in research and development for Petco.

    Tiki Cat Hookena Luau Ahi Tuna & Chicken in Chicken Consomme Grain-Free recipe derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids a cat requires to sustain life. 

    The dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 76.2% protein, 9.5% fat and 6.3% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 13%.

    Tiki Cat Luau is known for its high-quality ingredients and tropical flavors inspired by the Hawaiian Luau. It is made with real, shredded meat or fish as the primary protein source. Common protein options include chicken, fish (such as tuna or salmon), or seafood combinations. 

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Tiki Cat Luau wet cat food range.

    Read our review of the full Tiki Cat Luau Wet Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken broth, tuna, chicken, sunflower seed oil, calcium lactate
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 76.2
    AAFCO Standards Unspecified
    Best For Adult cats

    Save up to 35%

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    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "Had to change the cat to a wet, low-carb diet to reduce blood sugar due to diabetes. This formulation is great for that and is actually what a healthy diet for all cats should be. Kitty loves the taste. "

  • Halo Holistic Wet Cat Food

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    Highly Recommended

    Halo Holistic Adult Cat – Grain Free Chicken Stew received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating: 5 stars.

    It is one of four recipes in this product range made by Halo, a company set up in 1980 and now owned by Best Choice Company Inc.

    Halo Holistic Adult Cat – Grain Free Chicken Stew derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids required by a cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 56.3% protein, 37.5% fat and 0% carbohydrates, with a fat-to-protein ratio of 67%.

    Halo Holistic range is made from fresh meats. The recipes do not contain corn, wheat, wheat gluten, or rice, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives have been added.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Halo (wet) range.

    Read our review of the full Halo Holistic Wet Cat Food range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, carrots, turkey
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 56.3
    AAFCO Standards Adult Maintenance
    Best For Cats and senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "The kitties enjoy the chicken stew. It's closer to a very soft pate than stew. Good, responsibly sourced ingredients make this a winner. "

  • Wysong Epigen (Dry)

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    Highly Recommended

    Wysong Epigen 90 received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating, 5 stars.

    It is one of two products in a range made by Wysong, a family-run business that was established in 1979 by Dr. Randy Wysong.

    Wysong Epigen 90 derives the bulk of its protein from chicken, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids a cat requires to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a dry recipe containing 70% protein, 17.8% fat and 4.2% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 25%.

    This range offers a high-protein diet, sourced from animal protein and is free from starch.  It does contain some fruit and vegetables which are not considered appropriate for cats.  However, with low carbohydrate content and fat content coming from recognizable animal sources, this food offers a well-balanced diet.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our full review of the Wysong dry cat food range.

    Read our review of the full Wysong Epigen (Dry) range here
    Main Ingredients Chicken meal, organic chicken, meat protein isolate, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 70
    AAFCO Standards Unspecified
    Best For Adult cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "As much as I try to get my cats to eat mostly canned food, they are addicted to the crunchies. However, this food has truly helped bring my diabetic cat's blood sugar under control. "

  • Forza10 Wet

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    Recommended

    Forza10 Nutraceutic ActiWet Diabetic Support Icelandic Fish Recipe received the Cat Food Advisor’s high rating, 4 stars.

    It is one of seven products in a range made by Forza10, it was founded in Italy in 1995 by Sergio Canello and Gianandrea Guidetti. 

    Forza10 Nutraceutic ActiWet Diabetic Support Icelandic Fish Recipe derives the bulk of its protein from salmon. Salmon is an oily marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega-3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every cat to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 42.5% protein, 40% fat and 9.5% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 94%.

    This range of food is therapeutic which means each recipe targets a specific ailment, although some are suitable for cats without any medical issues. The protein levels are low, as you would expect from food that caters to conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes..  

    Highly recommended.

    Read our full review of the Forza10 wet cat food range.

    Read our review of the full Forza10 Wet range here
    Main Ingredients Water sufficient for processing, salmon, chicken, chicken liver, hydrolyzed fish protein
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 42.5
    AAFCO Standards Adult Maintenance
    Best For Cats and senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "If you have a diabetic cat, my cat and I can't recommend this enough. Since he transitioned to this food fully, about a month ago, his blood sugar has come under control, the diabetic neuropathy has improved, his water intake has decreased, and he is happier and more active. It may be possible for him to come off insulin soon! "

  • Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Review

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    Highly Recommended

    Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Turkey Formula received the Cat Food Advisor’s highest rating, 5 stars.

    It is one of seven products in a range made by Primal Pet Foods Inc. Based in Fairfield, California, Primal Pet Foods was founded in 2000 by Matt Koss and acquired by Kinderhook Industries, LLC. in 2021. 

    Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Turkey Formula derives the bulk of its protein from turkey, which is naturally rich in the 11 essential amino acids a cat requires to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a dry recipe containing 62% protein, 23.9% fat and 6.1% carbohydrates . . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 39%.

    This freeze-dried cat food range is made with human-grade meat such as duck, chicken, and pork. Recipes are high in protein and free of grain and synthetic vitamins. They also contain organic vegetables.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our full review of the Primal Freeze-dried nuggets cat food range.

    Read our review of the full Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Review range here
    Main Ingredients Turkey (with ground bone), turkey liver, organic squash, organic carrots, organic kale
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 62
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Cats and senior cats

    Save up to 35%

    with Autoship
    See discount in cart

    Sample buyer review...

    "My cats love every flavor of Primal. Never anything left in their bowls! I have some spoiled furbabies "

What are the symptoms of diabetes in cats?

The main signs your cat could have diabetes are:

  • Change or increase of urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequently hungry
  • Weight loss

The below symptoms could also be signs of another underlying health condition, as well as diabetes:

  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Bladder infections
  • Enlargement of the liver
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Degradation of fur/coat quality

If your cat has one or more of these symptoms you should seek advice from a veterinarian.

How is feline diabetes diagnosed?

A veterinarian will be able to test for diabetes using urine samples and blood tests. If there is glucose in a cat’s urine that hasn’t been absorbed by the body, it is a common indicator of diabetes. Similarly, blood tests will be taken to see whether there is glucose in the blood. These tests will also rule out the possibility of other illnesses, or indicate that your cat is stressed. 

Can a special diet help my cat with diabetes?

Yes, diet can have a big impact on diabetes, alongside medication such as insulin, and weight loss. The right diet can also help an overweight cat to lose weight.

Cats with diabetes should consume less carbohydrates, so wet or canned food may be a better option than kibble. A specialized diabetic or weight loss formula could also help.

A veterinarian can advise whether your cat needs to be put on a formulated diet for diabetes or weight loss, and decide a treatment plan if necessary. 

What is the prognosis for cats with diabetes?

If feline diabetes is diagnosed and treated properly i.e. following the medication or diet plan given by a veterinarian, cats with diabetes can live long and happy lives. You will need to carefully monitor their weight and they may need regular insulin injections, but the prognosis is usually positive. 

In some more complicated cases, a cat may not respond well to treatment, and the journey may be more difficult.

Sources

Cat Food Advisor

Protect Your Cat