The Best Diabetic Cat Food in 2023

If your cat is unfortunate enough to be suffering from diabetes, then you’ll need to make sure you’re feeding them the right food. Finding a non-prescription cat food that is suitable for your suffering feline can be a major pain, even seem impossible at points, but thankfully there are some good ones out there. So, read on, and we’ll show you the ins and outs of finding the best diabetic cat food and some steps you can take to ensure your cat is healthy long into the future.

Our Top Pick

Crave Grain Free High Protein Wet Cat Food

Crave has an excellent balance of carbohydrates and protein and comes in a ton of flavors. There’s something for every cat to love, and it checks off all the boxes when it comes to perfect food for cats with diabetes.
Crave Wet Cat Food Gravy ChickenAndBeef 1

Table of Contents

Top Diabetic Cat Foods

We took a long, hard look at the diabetic cat foods currently on the market to make sure that we brought you the best. So, sit down and dig in, there’s something here for every cat.

Best Overall

Crave Grain Free High Protein Wet Cat Food

Crave Wet Cat Food Gravy ChickenAndTurkey 1Oddly enough, Crave is our top-rated diabetic cat food. While their foods are great for weight gain in dogs, this is the best diabetic wet cat food that we’ve found. It’s got just the right blend of carbs and protein to allow your cat to thrive in spite of their condition.

When it comes down to it, Crave’s wet cat food ticks off all the boxes we think make great food for cats. It comes in smaller serving sizes than many of the foods out there as well, allowing you to get just the right amount for your cat’s weight. It’s a small plus, but it’s a big deal in some cases.

Crave Wet Cat Food Gravy Chicken 5Crave comes in a wide variety of different flavors, but it also comes in both a gravy and slivers style of food and a pate. Depending on the cat, you’ll almost always have an option they love.

The downside is that it’s rather expensive, even compared to other premium foods. Some people also don’t like that it comes in plastic containers, which are less durable than the tin cans that most people associate with wet cat food.

Our Opinion:

Still, overall Crave is optimal for those cats that suffer from diabetes. It’s low-carb, high-protein, and some of the best quality food around. Just know that you’re going to pay for it.

Runner Up

Purina Veterinary Diets DM Dietetic Management for Cats

Purina Veterinary Diets DM for Cats 1While we don’t like it nearly as much as Crave, this one from Purina is more readily available and has a good nutritional balance. It’s also a more “traditional” food in the normal-sized servings and tin cans, which are reassuring to some people.

This one has an increased level of Omega Fatty Acids, allowing for healthy skin and hair on your cat. They’re always a nice plus, but they’re generally found in most cat foods that aren’t run-of-the-mill in one way or another.

It only comes in one flavor, but most cats seem to be okay with it once they’ve switched things around a bit. That’s enough for most people, so take a closer look.

Purina ONE Adult Dry Cat Food 3.5lb 8The downside? The ingredients aren’t all that great. While the nutritional balance is there, it could be a little bit better, and the inclusion of fillers is always worrying when you’re looking at food for a cat with any sort of health problem. Grains are the biggest culprit for knocking it down to second.

Our Opinion:

If you're looking for a larger brand name that you can trust and think that you're ready to help your cat switch, then this is good stuff. It's moderately priced and has a good balance of protein to carbs, but it's not perfect.

Best Dry Food for Diabetic Cats

Dr. Elsey’s Cleanprotein Formula Dry Cat Food

Dr Elsey s Dry Cat Food Chicken 2lb 1Some cats simply don’t like wet food, and when that’s the case, you’re going to have to take different measures. While wet food is great for filling your cat up and keeping down the calories but the kibble is what most of our kitties are used to.

Dr. Elsey’s is the best diabetic-friendly dry food that we found. It’s made with high-quality ingredients and actually has an excellent balance despite being a kibble. Low carbohydrates are an important part, but the higher protein helps as well.

Frankly, even most prescribed dry cat foods are too high in carbs for a diabetic cat to truly thrive. This one is under 5% by dry weight, meaning that your cat is good to go when you make the investment.

Dr Elsey s Dry Cat Food Chicken 2lb 7
Unfortunately… well, it is an investment. This is quite a bit more expensive than many of the kibbles out there, but the payoff is in your cat’s health. It’s also not readily available locally in many cases. It’s also calorie-dense by volume, so watch how much you feed your cat at a time.

Our Opinion:

Still, if it's a well-balanced dry food for diabetic cats that you're looking for, then Dr. Elsey has your back with this low-carb, chicken-based cat food. The fact that cats love it is just a bonus.

Best High Protein Food for Diabetic Cats

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Delights

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Delights ChickenSalmon 1Blue Buffalo makes great cat food, and its protein sources are top-notch. While Crave might be a bit higher in protein by volume, Blue Buffalo will provide more per can. That’s a bonus, and you’ll find that most cats readily switch to it as well.

Like the rest of Blue Buffalo’s line, these foods are completely grain-free. They use real meat, not meat meal, to create a food that cats love to eat and will help them level out their insulin as a by-product. That said, it does have a higher carb percentage than Crave, although both are well within the proper limits.

There are a few flavors as well. That helps you find something similar to what your cat already has a taste for and makes the transition easier for both of you.

It’s expensive per can, and not all cats like it. Blue Buffalo also seems to upset some stomachs, so it’s not always the best choice.

Our Opinion:

If it’s a good fit for your feline, however, then you’re in good hands. The brand is readily available and one of the best on the market. It’s just a bit more pricey than many.

The Budget Option

Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Grain-Free, Low-Carbohydrate Wet Food

Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Multi 3oz Pouch 5If you’re looking for something that’s a bit cheaper, then you’ll be pleased to know we found it. Tiki Cat makes an excellent array of wet foods for diabetic cats that will help to level out glucose and trim on your feeding budget.

It’s also high in fiber, making it good for stomach problems. The fiber primarily comes from pumpkin, which is the big difference in this cat food when compared to many of the others on the market.

Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Multi 3oz Pouch 6

There are a ton of flavors, including things like calamari, tuna and shrimps. The only problem we found was that some cats just don’t like pumpkin. That can be a bit of wasted money if you’re not careful, so purchase a small amount before making the commitment.

Our Opinion:

Still, for a cheaper but still diabetic-friendly option, this is the way to go. The pumpkin is a nice addition for sensitive stomachs, but it's not always accepted by the cat you're trying to feed.

Why Special Cat Food for Diabetes?

Diabetes is often caused by slothful cats and an improper diet. In an unfortunate turn of events, many older cats become sedentary, and Type 2 diabetes can occur in any mammal which eats too much and doesn’t get enough exercise. It’s horrible, but it’s the truth of the matter.

cats 37Diabetes Type I, on the other hand, is quite rare in felines. It does occur on occasion, but it’s rarely a concern for the average pet owner.

Cat food, which is properly formulated, can help you reduce the amount of insulin you need to use on your cats by a substantial amount.

Unfortunately, it’s not going to cure diabetes as a general rule, but with some thought, you can help your cat’s blood sugar levels equalize and stay in a safe zone more often.

So, what do we need to look for?

How to Pick a Good Cat Food for Diabetic Cats

There are a few key things that you need to look for to make sure that your cat food is good for a diabetic cat:

  • Less than 10% of carbohydrates is a must. Lower is better in this case as carbs are the only thing that will affect your kitty’s insulin levels.
  • High protein is essential as well; if your cat isn’t getting as many calories from carbs, they still need the proper amount of energy.
  • Canned food will always win out in the end. It’s less calorie dense than kibble while remaining filling.

There are things which are just as important as the food you’re feeding, but we’ll get into them after we take a look at some of the other things that you can do for your feline friend’s diabetes.

Stop! Important Information!

cats 23Please note that when you switch to a low-carb food for your cats, you may see an immediate change in their blood sugar. Some cats will never lose their diabetes, but others may no longer have a need for insulin.

If you give your cat more insulin than their blood sugar level requires, then you risk putting them into a hypoglycemic crisis. That can mean anything from brain damage to a loss of your pet’s life, depending on the severity of the problem.

AlphaTrak2BloodGlucose MonitoringSystemKitThe best way to prevent this is to use an at-home test kit to monitor your cat’s blood sugar levels. A diabetic patient wouldn’t inject themselves with insulin without checking their glucose levels, so you really shouldn’t do it to your cat either.

It can be hard to learn how to use these kits properly, but it will pay off in the end.

Here’s the thing: your cat’s blood sugar levels may, or may not, immediately change upon the introduction of their new food. If it doesn’t, then keep on try, but if it does, then you’ll need to have the data to make the correct decisions about your cat’s insulin dosage.

Consult with your vet, as always, but investing in a test kit alongside new food is the best way to keep your cat healthy.

Helping Your Cat’s Diabetes With Diet

Diabetes in cats is almost always induced by their diet.

Just like us, they’ll need to have their diet strictly managed in order to treat the disease. Unfortunately, it’s often not enough to merely change the food, which is a chore in and of itself, but you’ll also need to start feeding them a little bit differently.

black and white bicolor cat 3318215The most important thing you can do is maintain a consistent feeding schedule. That means finding food that your cat loves, gone are the day of loading a hopper, and just letting things play out as they will.

That means you’re going to need to pick a time… and stick to it. The same holds true for any treats which you give your feline. They should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s diet. Preferably they should make up much less.

Most veterinarians recommend that you feed your cat twice daily when they’re diabetic. A morning and night routine is a great idea.

Another important factor is calories: you can have the best high protein, low carbohydrate cat food in the world, and still, feed enough of it to not make a difference compared to their normal food. Calorie control is essential, and any reputable brand will let you know how many calories are in each can, or per cup in the case of kibble.

Your veterinarian should be able to provide you with guidelines on how many calories your diabetic feline should be consuming.

cats 56

Free-grazing on kibble isn’t recommended for any cat which is overweight, but it’s extremely important for those with diabetes. Don’t allow any sort of free-gazing for a diabetic cat. It’ll just make their condition worse, and it can often be the cause in the first place.

Switching to Diabetic Cat Food

cats 11While switching cats to a new cat food can sometimes be as simple as throwing the new stuff in front of them… we don’t recommend doing this with your diabetic cat. The lower carbohydrates in good diabetic foods can cause problems, especially if you’re not testing them at home.

So, when you’re switching your foods, you’ll need to follow the usual protocol, but you may want to slow it down further. The idea is easy enough: gradually mix the foods you’re giving your cat until the new food has completely replaced the old one.

  1. Start with replacing ¼ of your cat’s food with the new stuff and mix it well. Keep doing this for a few days as your cat gets used to it.
  2. Move up to ½ of the bowl being new food, again wait 3-5 days before you continue.
  3. Increase to ¾ new food. If your cat still refuses, you may need to move it more gradually.
  4. Completely replace their food with the new food.

In doing so, you’ll help to keep level blood sugar as well as allowing your feline to adjust to the taste of their new food.

Diabetic Cat Food FAQ

cats 33We know that you’ve got a lot of questions, especially if your car has just been diagnosed. We’ve anticipated some of your questions, and we believe that we’ve done a pretty good job. Read through and let us know if we didn’t answer anything you were wondering. Please note that we’re not vets. If anything your veterinarian tells you contradicts this advice, then go with their word on it.

My cat is whining for food because he’s not allowed to graze, what can I do?

Free feeding works for most cats. Unfortunately, just like people, many cats will overeat when they have constant access to food. This is a major cause of diabetes in cats, so you’re going to have to put up with it until your cat gets over their new feeding schedule.

How much will diabetes shorten my cat’s lifespan?

Fortunately, as far as we can tell, a cat can actually live through a normal lifespan after diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes. It’s a treatable condition, but it will definitely take some more work, and you need to buckle down and do what you need to as soon as you can.

Can I use a human glucose monitor for a cat?

From what we understand, it’s perfectly possible to use a human glucose monitor. Most of them are sensitive enough to allow you to take the tests for your cat without any issues. Still, check with your veterinarian first.

How do I know if my cat has diabetes?

cats 19
High thirst and frequent peeing are the main signs of diabetes in cats. You should already bring your cat to the veterinarian anytime that you’re questioning symptoms, but those are two big ones, and any cat which is significantly overweight should be monitored for them.

How can I learn more about caring for my diabetic cat?

Fortunately, many people are also dealing with this same problem. The best place that we found is an online support group forum, check them out if you have any further questions. These people have experience and are the best source of information next to your vet.

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