Feeding a diabetic cat can be a challenge, but in this article we’ll be showing you the best dry food for diabetic cats. As a pet parent who has recently found out that your fur baby is diabetic, you’ve likely realized exactly how much junk is in commercial pet foods that is bad for pets. Unfortunately, manufacturers want to save money, so they pack their foods full of low value carbohydrates that aren’t great for cats. Your cat needs to eat meat, and having a diet comprised almost entirely of corn is not very good for them.
Don’t worry though, because Beanietoes is here to help. We’re going to do our best to help you find a cat that is both nutritionally balanced and healthy for cats with diabetes. We’ll clue you in on which products to weed out of your cats diet, and how not to get tricked by common deceptive tactics that some pet food manufacturers use to mislead pet parents into buying unhealthy food for their cats. First though, let’s discuss what the ultimate goal of a diabetic friendly diet is.
What is the goal of a diabetic diet?
Diabetes is a disorder that effects the body’s means of processing glucose. While most dogs are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which must be treated with insulin, cats are often diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is often related to diet, and it can be treated as such. You should however keep in mind that this rule does not apply to all cats. While some cats may be able to manage their diabetes without insulin, others will require it. You should speak to your vet about your options before just deciding to take your cat off of his insulin as this can be very dangerous.
However. even if your cat does need to take insulin for the rest of his life, you still need to make some diet changes. The goal of a diabetic diet is to choose foods which are low on the glycemic index and will not spike your cat’s blood sugar. This is most commonly refereed to as a low carbohydrate diet.
When choosing a food for your cat it’s important to weed out any ingredients which are likely to have a negative impact on their health. This includes grains like corn or wheat, but also some other items which could have a high glycemic load like rice.
How do you choose a good low glycemic cat food?
The best way to manage a cat’s diabetes is to ditch as many carbohydrates as possible. Cats are obligate carnivores who need meat to survive. They don’t really need any of the other junk that manufacturers put into their foods. Remember, manufacturers add things like corn for their benefit, not your cats. When choosing a new food for your cat you should strive to find a recipe that is as low in carbs as possible and with a good ratio of meat proteins and fats. Here’s a few things to look out for when looking for the best dry food for diabetic cats.
Check the order of the ingredients
Many pet food manufactures will put images and language on the bag that will lead you to believe that a food is mostly comprised of meat. Common deceptions could be made with real chicken, featuring an attractive picture of chicken pieces and healthy veggies. However, if you look at the ingredients you may find a different story. Manufacturers are required to list their ingredients in order of prominence. Any food that does not have meat as the first ingredient is a garbage product, but ideally at least the first few ingredients should be meat proteins.
Grain free does not mean carb free
While grain free is of course a very good thing, that does not mean there are no carbohydrates in the food. Many pet foods exclude grains like corn or wheat, but they might also have a large percentage of potatoes in them. While these are fine for healthy pets, potatoes are typically high on the glycemic index, and these are bad for diabetic pets. Sweet potatoes can be okay, but this should be an ingredient lower down on the list if present.
Where is the protein coming from?
Previously we talked about the order of ingredients. There are some items which are perfectly fine for a diabetic cat to eat, like peas. These items however should not be too far up the list of ingredients. Cats need meat protein, and if a large percentage of the protein in your cat’s food is coming from vegetables, then you may want to try something else.
Our picks for the best dry food for diabetic cats
When choosing foods for diabetic pets we’ve taken several factors into consideration. The first issue of course is that these foods should be grain free and as low in carbohydrates as possible. This is a little more challenging with a dry kibble based foods, and there will always be some carbs in these. If you want a truly low or no carb food for your cat then you should invest in a freeze dried or wet food. However, we understand that pet parents on a budget may have to go with a dry food, so these are our top picks for foods that can provide your cat adequate nutrition without breaking the bank.
#1 – Orijen Cat Food
This award winning pet food brand makes diets for both cats and dogs that are biologically appropriate. The Orijen fit and trim variety offers pet parents a healthy balance of foods which they can give to their cats which is lacking in foods that are high on the glycemic index. Orijen does not use grains or starches like corn or potatoes, and instead replaces them with healthier options like lentils and pumpkin, which is both beneficial for regulating blood sugar and very helpful for pets who have troubles with nausea, constipation or diarrhea. Orijen features high quality proteins like chicken, turkey, flounder, and eggs which cats need.
If you’re interested in feeding your cat this diet, then you’ll be glad to know that the company does not use any heavily processed or rendered meats. They only utilize whole “prey” animal recipes which include not only the whole meats but also healthy organ cuts. The recipes feature a combination of fresh and dehydrated raw meats which gives this brand added flavor to entice picky felines to eat their new diet. You can learn more about this excellent foods here.
#2 – Wysong Epigen
Coming in at number 2 is Wysong’s Epigen formula, which is actually acceptable for both cats and dogs to eat. Wysong has a lot of great products, but this one comes in at number 2, because their kibble formulas are not quite as good as their dehydrated food products (which are excellent). However, this is a solid second choice that provides a more limited ingredient profile if your cat has issues with digesting too many proteins, as Orijen tends to use many different meats at once which some cats can be sensitive too.
Wysong however has ingredients that are a slight down grade. The first ingredient here is chicken meal, and while there’s nothing wrong with this particular ingredient, whole meats will always be better nutritionally since meat meals are often heavily processed. Meat protein isolate can also be questionable since the source is not always known, however Wysong is a high quality producer, which limits the need to worry about it so much. This recipe does however feature over 60% meat, which is one of the best you can find for a dry kibble formula.
The best part about this particular food is that it is almost entirely comprised of meat proteins, and that means there’s nothing in here that can illicit a blood sugar spike in your cat. Pet parents should take note that there are two recipes here. If you’re interested in getting this food for your cat, then make sure to purchase Epigen 90 and not Epigen chicken. The first one is potato free, while the later includes potato protein which may be bad for a diabetic cat. You can see the ingredients break down and order this product here. Wysong makes amazing products, and they’re one of the best dry food for diabetic cats.
#3 – Health Extension Cat Food
This excellent dry cat food brand offers prime nutrition to your feline friend while being sensitive to his need for a diet lacking in high glycemic foods. This recipe contains no grains, starches, by-products, soy or anything artificial. The first four ingredients are high quality proteins like turkey and chicken, quickly followed by low glycemic veggies like chickpeas and lentils. This particular food makes number three on the list, because it does feature a large portion of vegetable matter. While none of these would pose any risks to your cat’s health, we feel more protein is better for felines.
However, other pet parents have reported that this particular recipe is very attractive to cats. If you have a very picky kitty who is trying to avoid eating their new diet, then this could be a very good solution. Likewise, if you find that your cat needs additional fiber in their diet or they are experiencing issues with constipation, then the added pumpkin and veggies in this recipe may be helpful to them.
This diet is likely a little bit lower in protein, but for some cats that may be necessary. Please remember that your cat is an individual. Diet is never a one size fits all battle, and you may need to do a little detective work to find the best food for them. If you think that this food might be for you then you can read more about it and make a purchase here.
Why you should consider feeding your cat a canned food
Dry kibble foods are often a great way to save on food costs for both manufactures and pet parents. Unfortunately, this is not always the ideal option for your cat. Not only is it much easier to find lower carb cat food options when you buy wet or dehydrated food, but not eating wet foods could be detrimental to your cat’s health.
Cats tend to get most of their liquids through eating rather than drinking. This means that if you only feed your cat a dry kibble diet that he could actually be dehydrated. A lack of fluids could lead to many medical issues for your cat, including struvite crystals. These are crystals that begin to form in your cat’s urine, and they can actually cause a blockage that can prevent your cat from urinating! Male cats are at a higher risk than females, because it’s easier for them to become blocked due to the exit point being smaller.
For this reason, it’s recommended that you feed your cat a wet food diet, but if you can’t do that due to cost, then you should at least do a partial one. You can try either mixing a wet and dry food together or even splitting their feedings. For example, you can feed your cat a portion of canned food in the morning, and then dry food in the evening. This makes it more cost effective while still upping the amount of liquids that your cat takes in everyday. Ziwi makes an excellent canned cat food diet which you could use to supplement your dry foods.