If your cat has diabetes or is at serious risk of developing the disease, dietary interventions will be part of your treatment plan. It's important to discuss diet with your veterinarian first before choosing a brand of food. Your vet may recommend removing dry food entirely from your cat's diet as dry food is generally higher in carbs.
Diets for felines with diabetes are primarily high-protein and low in carbohydrates. This means cat food made with quality proteins such as chicken, fish, and beef. Ingredients to avoid include sugar and grains. Supplements such as taurine have also been shown to have a beneficial effect. When looking at food labels for off-the-shelf brands, a guide for the best caloric percentages from VetStreet is:
- 50 percent or more from proteins such as poultry, fish, and beef
- Between 20 and 45 percent from fats
- No more than 2 percent from carbohydrates
- High water content of at least 70 percent of total food weight, which means most off-the-shelf dry foods are not an option
Diabetic Cat Food Options
Your vet will prefer a prescription diet in most cases, but off-the-shelf brands may be an acceptable option depending on your cat's diabetes diagnosis and condition. Discuss your options with your vet to find a food choice you both are comfortable with.
Royal Canin Feline Glycobalance
This dry prescription diet is designed to help your cat's glucose levels. The dry version has 44 percent protein, 10 percent fat, 6.8 percent fiber, and 10 percent moisture. The food gets 4.4 out of 5 stars from cat owners on Royal Canin's website, many of which note its higher level of palatability compared to other prescription foods that finicky cats will not eat. The food also comes in a wet version with 9 percent protein, 1.5 percent fat, 2 percent fiber, and 83 percent moisture. It receives a higher review score of 4.8 out of 5. A 4.4 pound bag of the dry food is about $25 and a case of 24 3-ounce cans of the wet food is about $31.
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Dietetic Management Feline Formula
Purina's website claims this diet is the number one prescribed formula by veterinarians for feline diabetes. The wet formulation contains 12 percent protein, 4.5 percent fat, 2 percent fiber, and 78 percent moisture, and the dry has 51 percent protein, 15 percent fat, 3 percent fiber, and 12 percent moisture. There is also a "Savory Selects" canned version that has 12.5 percent protein, 2.5 percent fat, 1 percent fiber, and 78 percent moisture. The average customer rating for the food was 4.5 out of 5 stars. The 6-pound bag of dry food is about $33, and the 10-pound bag is around $68. A case of 24 5.5-ounce cans of the regular DM canned food is about $50 and the Savory Selects is about $57.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Recipe Grain Free Cat Food
This food is recommended as one of the top four off-the-shelf diabetic cat foods by cat product consumer review site Kitty Catter. It has 10 percent protein, 9 percent fat, 1.5 percent fiber, and 78 percent moisture, and its primary protein source is duck. There are no grains, corn, wheat, or soy and no animal by-products. A case of 24 3-ounce cans is about $27.
Dave's Pet Food
This canned food comes in several flavors and their 95% line are all high in protein and grain-free with additional supplements added in. The line's ingredients are 95 percent premium meat, and the breakdown is 10 percent protein, 8 percent fat, 1.5 percent fiber, 78 percent moisture and 2.5 percent ash. Award-winning cat information site calls it a "great cat food" Reviewers on Chewy.com give the food 4.5 out of 5 stars, and it's listed as one of their top high-protein cat foods. A case of 24 5.5 ounce cans is about $34 for the beef and salmon flavors, around $27 for the tuna, and about $31 for the turkey.
If your cat needs to have insulin injections as part of the treatment plan, it's important to know that you will need to coordinate feeding times with the injections. Injections are generally given after a meal, which keeps your cat from developing hypoglycemia.
Feeding a Diabetic Cat
Remember when caring for your diabetic or at-risk cat that their nutrition plays an important role in fighting the disease. Many cats may not find all these brands palatable so you may have to experiment to find the one your cat enjoys the most.