Low Carb Dry Cat Food for Diabetic Cats

Dry food and kibble has been a go-to food and the preferred choice of cat owners for decades. After all, it’s convenient, and the boxes usually say something along the lines of the food being “complete and nutritious” to drive sales. Dry food is very easy to feed, and most cats love it.

Unfortunately for your cat, most commercial dry foods are the equivalent of fast food for cats; feeding high-carb dry food to cats is like feeding high sugar foods to young children. If you’ve got a kitty who just won’t touch wet food, you should look for a good low carb dry cat food for diabetic cats which, although is not the best food, is much better than most leading dry commercial food brands.

Low Carb Dry Cat Food for Diabetic Cats Comparison Table

NameMain IngredientsProteinFatFiberPricing
Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Cat FoodOrganic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Pea Protein, Organic Oatmeal, Organic Peas, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Barley32%14%3.5%Click Here
BLUE Freedom Grain Free Adult Dry Cat FoodDeboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Turkey Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Fiber32%14%7%Click Here
Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Cat FoodSalmon, Peas, Menhaden Fish Meal, Potatoes, Herring Meal, Chickpeas, Pea Fiber34%11%7%Click Here
CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Cat Dry FoodTuna, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, lentils, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, suncured alfalfa36%12%5%Click Here
ACANA Regionals Wild Atlantic Dry Cat FoodWhole mackerel, whole herring, whole redfish, silver hake, mackerel meal, herring meal, whole green peas35%20%10%Click Here
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat FoodGreen Peas, Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Natural Flavor29.5%11.5%5%Click Here
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat FoodChicken, Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Rice, Brown Rice, Poultry Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)34%14%4%Click Here

Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Cat Food is a great potential dry food if you’re passionate about only buying organically-sourced foods. Castor & Pollux are leaders in the organic and natural pet food industry and was the first company to offer a line of foods which were completely organic. Castor & Pollux’s foods are manufactured in small batches to ensure nutritional quality; all their recipes are made with real chicken, lamb or salmon as the primary ingredient.

Castor & Pollux’s recipes offer quality nutrition for un-compromised and complete benefits for your kitty. The carbohydrates used in their organic formulas are organic flaxseed which provides omega fatty acids for skin and coat health, cranberries and organic brown rice. All their formulas are supplemented with added fiber which helps support your cat’s digestion and protein for lean muscle mass.

This food contains a larger amount of carbohydrates than some of the other foods which we have covered, but if organic ingredients are important then this is a great choice.

Calorie Breakdown: 32.5% fat, 29.6% protein and 37.9% carbohydrates.

Pros

  • All ingredients are organic and natural.
  • Added fiber for digestive health.
  • Quality protein sources.

Cons

  • Contains egg which can trigger allergies.
  • Slightly higher amount of carbohydrates.

BLUE Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Adult Dry Cat Food is specially formulated for indoor cats, which means it has a low amount of carbohydrates.

BLUE Buffalo have done well here and are using deboned chicken as its primary and most plentiful ingredient. Deboned chicken is considered as a high-quality protein source, and this food also contains chicken meal and turkey meal as additional quality protein sources. The carbohydrates used in this food are primarily tapioca starch.

BLUE’s Freedom range is holistically formulated to support the needs of indoor cats. With carefully balanced carbohydrates used in the ingredients, it helps your dry-food dependant cat maintain a healthy body weight. The good news is that this food does not contain any meat by-products or corn, wheat, soy or anything artificial.

Calorie Breakdown: 33% fat, 31.1% protein, 35.9% carbohydrates.

Pros

  • Contains a good protein source.
  • A good amount of protein for dry food.
  • No allergens or meat by-products.

Cons

  • A low amount of moisture.

Wellness CORE Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Cat Food is produced by the Wellness Company, who are well known form producing high-quality pet products which follow a natural and holistic idea. Each ingredient used in Wellness foods serves a purpose and includes everything your cat could possibly need to nourish their bodies.

All of the Wellness Company’s products are grain-free and made without corn, wheat or soy and are always free from artificial ingredients, preservatives and fillers. This company are well aware that cars are obligate carnivores and have a limited ability to digest plant-based ingredients. This ‘Health Natural’ formula follows this mantra and features protein-rich fish along with digestible carbohydrates and supplements to support your kitty’s nutrition.

The primary ingredient is salmon – a high-quality protein source – along with menhaden fish meal and herring meal, which are additional quality protein sources. There are no by-products or bulk-adding fillers.

Calorie Breakdown: 40.6% fat, 35.3% protein, 24.1% carbohydrates.

Pros

  • A low amount of carbohydrates.
  • No artificial preservatives, additives or fillers.
  • Good, quality protein sources.

Cons

  • Cats can have seafood allergies.

Canidae Grain Free Pure Dry Cat Food is a company with great values. Its motto is “pet food made by pet people” and this demonstrates the company’s belief that pets are not just mere animals, they are members of families. The company also believes that quality nutrition is the secret to a healthy and long kitty life. Canidae launched in 1996 and remains family-owned which uses local and regional suppliers to produce its food.

This dry food is made with a great selection of whole foods for great digestion. Plus, it is a simple recipe which is important for fussy cats, or kitties who suffer from food intolerances. There are eight key, grain-free ingredients. Tuna and salmon meal make up the primary ingredients and are quality protein sources.  The carbohydrates in this food are made up from chickpeas, lentils and sweet potato, providing dietary fiber for your cat.

Additionally, this dry food does not contain any by-products or bulk-adding fillers within its top ingredients; your kitty is only getting all-natural food.

Calorie Breakdown: 28.3% fat, 34.9% protein and 36.8% carbohydrates.

Pros

  • Full of high-quality protein.
  • No nasty bulk-adding fillers.
  • Free from additives.

Cons

  • Some cats can suffer from seafood allergies.

Acana Regionals Wild Atlantic make their dry cat foods with regional ingredients which are fresh and formulated to satisfy your kitty’s nutritional needs in all stages of life – young to old. If you’re looking for a premium food which is loaded with proper meat ingredients and lower in carbohydrates which mimics your cat’s natural diet, this is a great solution.

Acana’s foods promote “biologically appropriate diets” which are protein-rich with lots of fresh meat – including organ meats such as chicken hearts which are rich in nutrients – and no synthetic ingredients, additives or synthetic supplements. Acana’s dry food blends are also packed with probiotics to promote healthy digestion in your furry friend.

The primary ingredient is whole mackerel, but also contains whole herring, silver hake, mackerel meal, herring meal, cod meal, pollock meal, flounder and cod liver as other sources of wholesome protein. All of these ingredients are wild-caught fish, which mirrors a cat’s evolutionary diet. These fishy ingredients are freshly delivered each day and are therefore still loaded with all of their goodness when processed into the kibble.

Calorie Breakdown: 43.1% fat, 31% protein and 25.9% carbohydrates.

Pros

  • Protein-rich and limited carbohydrates.
  • Regionally sourced ingredients.
  • Recipe mimics a cat’s natural diet.

Cons

  • These proteins may trigger food allergies.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food comes in a huge range of different flavours and protein sources; you are sure to find one which can satisfy your cat’s palate. Each flavour only uses a limited amount of ingredients which aids digestion and prevents upset stomachs – great if your kitty is particularly sensitive to certain ingredients.

The first ingredient of each formula is always a protein source such as chicken, venison, duck or salmon, and these are supplemented with green peas. All their formulas are grain-free and provide a balanced nutrition which includes both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for a shiny, healthy coat and skin. Fiber and extra protein are added for easier digestion.

Calories: 28.3% fat, 29.1% protein and 42.7% fat.

Pros

  • Wholesome protein sources.
  • Contains both Omega-3 and Omega-6.
  • Added fiber which is good for digestion.

Cons

  • Slightly higher amount of carbohydrates.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food is a high-quality choice for older cats which need a natural, wholesome meal without wheat. There are a range of formulas which include salmon, chicken and brown rice. All formulas contain real meat as the primary ingredient and do not contain any corn, wheat, soy or meat by-products. Plus, there are no artificial flavours or preservatives.

What’s great about Rachael Ray’s food blends is that your cat can get plenty of extra fiber and prebiotics which aid digestion, including taurine and beet pulp, which is an amino acid which promotes a healthy heart and improves vision. This is an all-natural cat food with added vitamins and minerals; a great all-rounder.

Calorie Breakdown: 32.3% fat, 32.3% protein and 35.4% carbohydrates.

Pros

  • Simple formulas, which cats will love.
  • Great protein sources.
  • No fillers or by-products.

Cons

  • Contains corn gluten meal.

The Problem with High-Carb Food

The major issue with most leading dry food brands is that a cat cannot get all of the nutritional support it needs from plant-based proteins alone, such as vegetables and grains. Unlike dogs and humans, cats do not have the ability to digest and process these plant-based proteins metabolically. In actual fact, cats need virtually no carbohydrates in their diet, and a kitty diet, which is high in carbohydrates, can lead to diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Due to the high amount of carbohydrates in most dry cat foods, high amounts of sugar get dumped into your kitty’s bloodstream which can disturb your cat’s natural metabolic process. This can lead to diabetes in extreme cases.

Additionally, cats who are wholly dependent on dry food are more likely to develop urinary issues. Whilst cats who only eat dry food will probably drink more water, it is still very difficult for a cat to get all of the moisture it needs to support bodily functions from dry food alone.

Although wet food is better, some cats will not touch wet food, period. The good news is that there are some great low carb dry cat foods which can be used as a cat’s sole food, without your cat being deprived of nutrients or being overloaded with carbohydrates.

Why Are Dry Foods High in Carbohydrates?

Cats really don’t need carbohydrates… not at all! They have no nutritional need for them, period. In the wild, cats would never ever come across carbohydrates as they do not naturally eat wheat, grains or corn, and very rarely eat fruits and vegetables. Cats cannot digest carbohydrates properly so, by feeding your cat high-carb dry food, they are missing out on the good stuff: protein and fats.

However, most dry foods and kibbles use corn, wheat and other grains as fillers to bulk the food up. These are all carbohydrates and they are great for forming hard kibble pieces, which causes dry food to have that crunchy bite which cats love!

Using carbohydrates has benefits for both consumers and manufacturers. They are less expensive than proteins and are essential on the formation of dry food. Plus, starch-based carbohydrates are used to add texture, structure and form to dry food, helping create a product which is easy to feed and lasts longer than wet food. In short, dry food could not exist without at least some carbohydrate content.

High-Carb Diets are an Obesity Risk

Many cat owners love dry food because it’s convenient. Primarily, dry food can be left out throughout the day for your cat to feed and graze on at will. This ‘free-choice feeding’ is one of the leading causes of kitty obesity, especially when the dry food is high in unnecessary carbohydrates.

Feeding two, at max three, small meals per day mimics their natural behaviour – to hunt. In the wild, cats would only eat twice a day because they only eat when hungry, and to eat they must hunt. Controlled portion sizes fed twice per day – rather than leaving food out – reduces calorie intake and prevents obesity; your cat won’t even notice or feel hungry.

Dry Food Myth: It Cleans Teeth

A popular myth among cat owners is that dry food cleans teeth, and it just doesn’t go away! Most cats do not chew their kibble long enough for any of the ‘scraping’ to clean the teeth. The small amount that the cat actually does chew breaks into tiny pieces that doesn’t do anything to clean teeth.

Some dry food brands offer a ‘dental formula’ which have larger chunks of kibble to encourage chewing. Although this may work in some cats, some cats will simply just swallow the kibble pieces whole, regardless of how big they are. Plus, the carbohydrate residue which is left behind can promote the growth of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Did you know you should clean your cat’s teeth? See our Best Cat Toothpaste article for more!

Kitty Carbohydrate Metabolism

It is widely known that cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they require meat in their diet; without it they could not survive. Cats are unique in that they cannot process carbohydrates in any form – raw or processed – yet most commercially-produced dry cat foods are very high in processed carbohydrates such as wheat, rice and corn.

Unlike in humans and other animals, cats do not source their energy which they need to move around and hunt from carbohydrates, they get it from proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Processed carbohydrates are usually passed out in the feces.

Cats are metabolically wired to convert gluconogenic amino acids and fat into energy, rather than starch. Over millions of years of evolution, your kitty’s liver has lost its ability to produce enzymes which convert starch into energy. Starches and amino acids from fats are not interchangeable sources of energy; cats can only get their energy from protein and fat.

Should I Switch to Wet Dry Food?

In terms of benefits for your kitty, wet foods are always a much better choice and dry foods are recommended to be used as a supplement to wet canned food. Wet foods are more aligned to your cat’s natural diet and are packed full of moisture.

Although low carb dry cat food for diabetic cats is better, it is still missing a lot of the moisture your cat would get from its natural diet or a diet which is primarily based on wet food. As mentioned earlier, cats do not naturally drink from water bowls as they are naturally programmed to get moisture from food. Cats who live on dry food are typically living with low-level dehydration constantly, which can lead to health problems in the long-term.

You should try to introduce wet food to your cat’s diet, if you can. Some cats will not eat it though, no matter what you do, so if your kitty has a diet based on dry food alone, try to supplement it with water where you can.

The Round Up

Dry foods are typically very high in carbohydrates as these are necessary to form the hard, crunchy kibble which form the basis of dry foods. Some manufacturers go overboard with the amount of carbohydrates which are not needed in a feline diet and can cause health problems.

When choosing a dry food, shop around for a low carb dry cat food for diabetic cats to ensure that your cat does not get overloaded with excess carbohydrates which can lead to health issues in the long-term.

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