The Best Diabetic Cat Foods of 2023
- Our Top List
- 1. Purina Veterinary Diets Feline Dietetic Management
- 2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Diabetic Food
- 3. Crave Grain-Free High-Protein Wet Cat Food
- 4. Wellness Signature Selects Natural Wet Cat Food
- 5. Ziwi Peak Canned Venison Food for Diabetic Cats
- 6. Instinct Raw Boost Natural Food
- Final Verdict & Review
- Purina Veterinary Diets
- What is diabetes?
Cats with conditions like diabetes need specialized food to help manage their well being. Many cat foods, whether wet or dry, can easily upset a diabetic system.
What makes a good diet in this case? How important is it to maintain a balanced digestive system?
Among our group of friends, we have three cats that have live with this condition. So on this page, we have collected the best options on the market this year!
Our Top List
Price / Value
Purina Veterinary Diets Feline Dietetic Management
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Diabetic Food
Crave Grain-Free High-Protein Wet Cat Food
Wellness Signature Selects Natural Wet Cat Food
Ziwi Peak Canned Venison Food for Diabetic Cats
Instinct Raw Boost Natural Diabetic Cat Food
Purina has worked with veterinarians and researchers to create this specially formulated diet. Its dietetic management formula is designed for cats who have been diagnosed with diabetes and other dietary issues.
This wet food variety features high protein and low carbohydrates to give your cat the specialized nutrition he needs without a lot of empty calories. Carbs are hard for a cat to process efficiently and can put stress on a diabetic cat’s already sensitive digestive system.
Choose between Savory Selects, a meatier style, or “loaf,” which is paté. The flavor is presumably chicken and salmon, which are the two main types of meat listed in the ingredients. The first ingredient, however, is liver. Organ meat is an excellent source of protein and nutrients and is more easily digested than other meat sources.
Although the dietetic management formula doesn’t explicitly say it’s grain-free, there are no grains in the ingredients, which keeps the carb content lower. It is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins E and B-12.
- Scientifically designed for cats with diabetes
- High-protein liver is the first ingredient
- Grain-free formula supports a low-carb diet
While this dry food isn’t explicitly marketed as a diabetic food, it has all the traits one wants to see for a cat with diabetes or is on a high-protein diet. With duck as the first ingredient, it helps support the high levels of protein needed to build and maintain lean muscle.
Blue’s grain-free dry food formula is packed with easily digestible carbs like sweet potato and peas. Carbs like these are less likely to spike your cat’s insulin levels. It also contains a lot of natural sources of vitamins and minerals like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are vital to a shiny coat and healthy skin.
Blue also includes a lot of green veggies and fruits for supporting immune system function and urinary tract health. Their special LifeSource Bits are packed with nutrients recommended by holistic vets and nutritionists. They fortify every bite with the good stuff your cat needs for a healthy body.
- High-protein duck meat
- Naturally sourced vitamins and minerals
- Easily digestible carbs
Crave brings in another great diabetic wet food with their grain-free high-protein formula. Crave markets their food around the ancestral diet of a big wild cat but specially formulated for your little one. And with high-quality high-protein meats as their top ingredients, it’s no wonder it works for them.
This food comes in two styles: paté and cuts in gravy. Not only does Crave leave out the heavy grains like corn, soy, and wheat, their paté variety doesn’t appear to have any major sources of carbs at all. It’s chock full of meats like salmon and chicken, with sources of vital organ meat like heart and liver. And they’re from whole food sources, not by-products, which can come from who knows what part of the animal.
Its flavor varieties have the standards like chicken and beef, but also fan favorites like salmon and trout or turkey and duck. It is packaged in convenient break-apart twin packs in a 2.6-ounce size, so you don’t have to deal with cans and leftovers if that’s not your thing.
- High-quality protein sources
- No added carbohydrates
- Convenient no-mess packaging
Signature Selects provides another grain-free whole meat option for your diabetic cat. Another food that is not specifically formulated for diabetic diets, it is, however, high-protein and grain-free. Both are essential for diabetic kitties. Their skipjack tuna and wild salmon variety is a hearty blend of flaked fish and a broth sauce.
This saucier food encourages water intake, which is essential to flush out kidneys and other parts of the digestive system that may be heavily affected by diabetes. Although some consumers find that there is too much liquid per can, it seems like Wellness knows this and has designed this food to have high water content.
Signature Selects wet food includes all the usual suspects like vitamins and minerals essential to proper feeding, and it leaves out the grains, gluten, and artificial preservatives and flavors.
- High-quality proteins
- Grain-free formula
- Higher water content
Ziwi is a New Zealand-based company that specializes in simple, high-quality ingredients 100% ethically and sustainably sourced in New Zealand. They only use meats that are free-range with no added hormones or antibiotics. Ziwi intends its pet foods to be healthy for your pet and for the planet.
The first seven ingredients in this food are from venison, and from all parts of the animal. Venison liver, venison lung, venison heart—and the list goes on. It is clearly formulated as food that mimics caught prey and gives your cat the proper nutrition from all the essential sources. It also includes New Zealand Green Mussel, known to promote joint health. This is great for diabetic cats who are also getting on in years, as joints deteriorate as they age.
The texture is a chunky-style loaf, which is like a hearty paté, great for a variety of picky palettes. Venison is much rarer as a meat source and can add variety to your cat’s flavor options. Ziwi can be a little pricier due to its meat sources and production practices. Still, we feel it’s worth the cost to support proper nutrition and ethics if you can swing it.
- Whole meat, grain-free formula
- Ethically sourced and produced
- Promotes joint health
Instinct brings us a grain-free dry food option that works well in a diabetic diet, featuring their unique Raw Boost formula in their dry foods. Raw Boost bits are freeze-dried meat chunks added to regular dry food. What a clever way to add in raw meat, especially for cats who are set in their dry-food ways and refuse to eat when you try to change their diet. Beware, though—if your cats are really picky, they may eat around the bits they don’t like. I’ve seen it myself.
Many veterinarians and pet health experts feel that feeding raw is the way to go for cats, as this is what most closely mimics their natural hunter’s diet. However, companies like Instinct know that feeding raw food is not for every cat household. They’ve taken steps to help add raw food to your pet’s diet without so much time, effort, and hassle.
Instinct focuses on minimal processing and a high-meat, low-carb recipe for their dry food, using veggies, pumpkin seeds, and fruits as highly digestible carbs. They also use high-antioxidant fruits that promote good urinary health, typical of this standard of cat food.
- Grain-free formula
- Boosted with freeze-dried raw meat
- Easily digestible carbs
All the foods we’ve looked at are grain-free and high in protein, two of the most essential factors in a diabetic diet. Otherwise, each has its own pros and cons regarding other options, like meat source, flavors, and texture styles.
After our careful review, we’ve chosen the food by Purina Veterinary Diets as our top pick. Primarily, it’s specifically designed—by scientists and researchers—for diabetic cats. These cats’ systems are so sensitive, it is heartening to know that the product is developed specifically for those delicate imbalances. None of the other foods we’ve looked at are so well-targeted to diabetic management.
Plus, Purina is a well-known and trusted brand, and their DM line is recommended and prescribed by veterinarians. And it has a reasonable price point, which is a significant factor for those of us on a budget with diabetic cats. Specialized diets can be costly to maintain, and Purina does what it can to keep costs manageable for many cat households.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar on its own. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for helping the body regulate sugars. When sugars are not controlled, carbohydrates cannot be adequately metabolized, and higher levels of glucose are found in the blood.
Insulin production needs to be tightly controlled. When the insulin is not functioning normally, sugars are not cleared from the blood into cells, causing elevated blood sugar levels over time.
Constantly elevated levels of blood sugar can result in inflammation, higher risk of infections, and nerve damage. These issues can then, in turn, lead to even more significant problems to the health and happiness of the individual with diabetes.
It’s estimated that close to 10% of the population of adults in the United States has diabetes. But humans aren’t the only members of the household that can get it. Pets are affected by it as well and it can cause significant health problems for your furry friend.
Does my cat have diabetes?
It is estimated that around 2% of domestic cats have diabetes but many veterinarians and pet specialists believe that it is more common. Many cats go undiagnosed because some symptoms can go unnoticed and cause even more problems down the line. Not that even kittens (1 year old or younger) can in rare cases develop this illness. So if you notice symptoms in your kitten, don’t disregard the possibility of it being diabetic.
Some of the major warning signs of diabetes in cats are constant hunger and thirst, and frequent urination. These are the most common and earliest warning signs. Others include dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and difficult motor function, and lowered skin and fur quality.
If you see any of these signs or activities in your kitty, take him to the vet right away! It is crucial to address these issues quickly. Diabetes is only one reason that your cat could be exhibiting these behaviors, and none of them are good.
Can I help control diabetes with diet?
Diet is one of the best ways to control this disease in cats or in humans. Reducing the number of carbohydrates, especially empty calories, is one of the best ways to mitigate insufficient or excess sugar in the blood.
In addition to the right nutritional balance, your kitty may benefit from exercise, weight management, and possibly some medications your veterinarian may prescribe.
A feline-friendly diet
One of the most significant contributors to feline diabetes is a diet that is high in difficult-to-process carbohydrates. Carbs are broken down in the body, releasing their sugars to be used as energy.
But a cat is a carnivore. The feline body evolved to get its nutrition and energy from high-protein sources, not carbohydrates. Carbs tend to translate into empty calories for a cat, and over time they build up in the system, which throws it out of whack.
A lot of foods today are packed with grains—a major source of carbs. Since carbs are difficult for a feline body to digest, over time, a carb-heavy diet can lead to significant health problems. Cats with diabetes do well on a high-protein, low-carb diet. Switching to a grain-free formula can therefore be beneficial.
Some owners find that lower levels of fish can have a significant impact on their diabetic kitty’s overall health. Some types of fish can increase histamine levels in the body, which can lead to heightened levels of inflammation.
Best feeding practices
If your veterinarian does confirm that your cat has diabetes, there are many things you can do to help him live a long and healthy life. Just like there are foods for cats with sensitive stomachs and allergies, there are foods for other conditions as well.
Your vet may prescribe a medication, but again, controlling the diet is one of the best things you can do for your diabetic cat. Providing food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates is essential.
The source of the carbs is important. Foods that are laden with heavy starches like wheat, soy, and corn are guaranteed to spike your kitty’s insulin. Instead, look for foods that have carbs that are easier to process, like sweet potatoes.
You may even switch to an all-wet food diet since it is much easier to make lower-carb food that isn’t dehydrated. Be wary of this, however. A quality dry food can be an important aid in dental health, as crunchy food helps clean the teeth.
Regular feeding times can also be a great way to help control diabetes. When feeding times are sporadic, the body has an even harder time regulating the blood sugar. Making sure to keep meals consistent is a simple way to help keep insulin levels managed.
As always, the best thing to do is to talk to your veterinarian. If you think your cat may have this disease, simple blood tests can indicate whether your cat has the illness or not. It’s best to talk to your vet before changing your kitty’s diet in almost all circumstances, anyway. Symptoms that appear to be diabetes could be something more or less severe, and changing your kitty’s diet could complicate these issues further.
We are the Pet Cat Friends, a dedicated group of pet loving bloggers and product testers for all your meowy needs. We research, test, and review cat related products with the help of our collective 21 cats. Feel free to leave us feedback and treats!