Last Updated on: November 16, 2020
Dry cat foods commonly have hidden carbohydrates in them, including grains, that are used as fillers to bulk the food up. Because cats are carnivores, they only require a small amount of carbs in their diet, and too much can quickly cause obesity and diabetes.
A cat’s diet will benefit greatly from a low-carb and high-protein intake, as this matches their natural diet. Some cats require low-carb food if they have diabetes or other health issues, and in those cases, it is actually essential.
It can be difficult to find the right low-carb cat food for your furry friend. We’ve done all the hard work for you, however, and put together this list of in-depth reviews to help you make the right choice to suit your unique needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Tiki Cat Puka Luau Grain-Free||
|Best Value||Dave’s Pet Food Grain-Free Pate||
|Premium Choice||Hill’s Prescription Diet m/d||
|Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM||
|Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free||
The 9 Best Low-Carb Cat Foods — Reviews 2020
1. Tiki Cat Puka Luau Grain-Free Canned Cat Food — Best Overall
This grain-free succulent chicken cat food from Tiki Cat is our top choice overall for the best low-carb cat food. It is made with succulent hormone and antibiotic-free shredded chicken breast that is slowly simmered in chicken broth, giving your cat the real meat that they need as carnivores. The broth formula provides your cat with added moisture to keep them hydrated and helps support digestive health. The food is also packed with essential vitamins, omegas, minerals, and taurine, which will provide your cat with everything they need for a healthy balanced diet. This food is completely free from grains, gluten, carbohydrates and starch, so you can rest assured your cat is getting the best possible source of nutrition without nasty fillers.
Several users report that the recipe for this Tiki food has changed several times and that their cats would not eat it. That said, cats can be picky eaters at times.
2. Dave’s Pet Food Grain-Free Pate Canned Cat Food — Best Value
Our top pick for the best low-carb cat food for the money goes to the grain-free cat food from Dave’s cat food. This food is made up of 95% premium meat, just the way it should be for your carnivorous cat. It contains chicken and chicken liver pâté, which will provide the essential protein for your cat without filling it up with grains and fillers. It is loaded with essential omegas-3 and -6 fatty acids to give your cat a shiny and healthy coat, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and taurine that are essential to keep your feline friend in top shape. This food is free of grains and artificial ingredients, so it is ideal for cats with allergies and weight issues.
Several users report that their cats would not eat it, and the high protein content makes it not ideal for kittens. These two small issues keep this food from the top position.
3. Hill’s Prescription Diet m/d Dry Cat Food — Premium Choice
The GlucoSupport dry food from Hill’s is a premium cat food formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians to help overweight cats lose weight and maintain optimum glucose levels. Although it is expensive, it is an ideal choice for your furry friend with weight problems, which can cause serious health issues, including diabetes and impacted mobility. The unique recipe is specially formulated to help reduce body fat, maintain lean muscle mass, and support your cat’s immune system. Your cat won’t be able to resist the delicious chicken flavor, and the therapeutic L-carnitine levels in the food will help maintain normal liver functioning and fat metabolism.
This food does require veterinary authorization to purchase, so you’ll need to have that before buying. Some cats can gain weight from dry food if not carefully monitored, and as there is no moisture content in this food, they need to drink plenty of additional water to prevent urinary tract infections. The veterinary requirement and issues with dry cat food keep this product from the top two positions.
4. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dry Cat Food
Pro Plan DM from Purina is optimized with all the ingredients needed to meet the special dietary needs of cats. The specially formulated food is nutritionally balanced and high in protein and low in fat and contains antioxidants, all of which are ideal for cats with diabetes or weight issues. The food is also ideal for cats with issues like enteritis, hypoglycemia, or chronic loose stools, and it is made in the U.S.A. Pro Plan is specially formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians, so you can rest assured that your feline friend is getting all their nutritional requirements.
This food needs special authorization by veterinarians, as it is specially formulated for cats with diabetes. The food is also expensive and contains artificial ingredients and by-products, including soy and corn.
5. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food
This dry food formula from Nulo is completely grain-free and is formulated with 83% animal-based proteins and low-glycemic-index ingredients. It is ideal for kittens and adult cats, with specially made disc-shaped kibble that have a taste and texture your cat won’t be able to resist. It contains deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, and deboned cod, and this poultry and fish blend will provide essential protein for your cat. It also includes dried chicory root, dried kelp, and vitamins C and E to promote overall health and vitality. Vitamin A and taurine are added to support your cat’s vision and heart function.
Some users report that adult cats won’t eat it. This may be due to the small kibble size, which is more suited to kittens.
6. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Savory Selects Canned Cat Food
Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Savory Selects from Purina is specially formulated dietetic canned cat food designed to meet the special dietary needs of your cat. The nutritionally balanced food is high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates, and is loaded with essential antioxidants. These antioxidants will promote an environment that is unfavorable for the development of struvite and calcium crystals in your cat. Not only that, it is also ideal for cats with diabetes, enteritis, hyperglycemia, and chronic loose stools.
This food is specially formulated for cats with diabetes and weight issues, so you’ll need veterinary authorization in order to purchase it. The included protein is mostly vegetable-based, but cats will benefit far more from meat-based protein. It also contains artificial flavorings and is expensive.
7. Ketogenic Pet Foods
This cat food from Ketogenic Pet Foods contains chunks of beef heart and liver, which will give your cat natural meat-based protein and fat. It contains micronutrients and nutritious oils to help restore metabolic balance and is low in carbohydrates and free from grains, starch, and artificial fillers. The food is freeze-dried and contains no non-carnivorous ingredients.
Although this food contains no artificial ingredients, it is fairly high in fat and is not ideal for cats with weight issues. It also contains no added vitamins or minerals, although these are present in the organ meats.
8. Wysong Uretic Canned Cat Food
This Uretic cat food from Wysong is designed by veterinarians, so you can rest assured that it contains all the essential nutrients your feline friend needs. It contains high levels of protein and low levels of carbohydrates, with added micronutrients and nutraceuticals for optimum immune and urinary tract health. The included chicken and barley grass powder are organic, and the canned food contains taurine for healthy heart function and vitamins C, A, and E.
This food is strong-smelling and dark in color, and many users report that their cats wouldn’t touch it. It is also comparatively expensive, and the cans it comes in contain traces of BPAs, which can be harmful to your felines.
9. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Canned Cat Food
This Pro Plan Gastroenteric formula canned food from Purina is specially formulated to support feline digestive health. The food contains highly digestible nutrients, with low-carbohydrate and high-protein content, and has essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to give your cat a healthy and shiny coat. It contains prebiotics and low fiber to support intestinal health, with tasty palatability and moderate fat levels to provide your cat with optimal nutrition. It is ideally suited for cats with gastritis, enteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis.
Purina Pro Plan requires veterinary authorization to purchase, so you’ll need to have this before buying. Several users report that their cats wouldn’t eat it after the recent recipe change, and this food contains artificial flavoring. It is also expensive and can only be purchased by the case (24 units).
Cats are obligate carnivores, and this is the main reason that their carbohydrate intake should be kept to an absolute minimum. That said, some carbohydrates are beneficial to your cat’s diet, provided that they are the right kind, as they can provide an energy source for your cat. What your cat really needs to thrive, though, is protein, which should be of a significantly higher percentage in your cat’s food. When buying a low-carb food for your feline friend, there are several factors to take into consideration.
Most low-carb cat foods on the market are advertised as grain-free, but this does not necessarily mean they are carbohydrate free. Grains that are often put into commercial cat foods as fillers include wheat, soya, and oats, and these are all considered carbohydrates. Any food using these fillers is likely to have a high carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. However, other forms of carbohydrates are regularly included in commercial cat food, and they come in two different varieties: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in their simple form are easily digested by the body as simple sugars, including sucrose and fructose. Complex carbohydrates include vegetables like potatoes and beans.
So, while grain-free foods are free of carbohydrates like wheat and soy, they can still contain a surprisingly high amount of carbohydrates from included fruits and vegetables.
When is cat food considered low-carb?
Considering that cats are carnivorous, an ideal ratio would be around at least 50-60% protein, 15-30% fat, and 5-15% carbohydrates. A low-carb food would ideally need to have a lower concentration of carbs, a maximum of 10%.
There are many arguments for and against carbohydrates in cat food, and the debate still rages on. Still, a cat’s natural carnivorous instincts mean they should at least get a high protein-to-carbohydrate ration their food. They are natural predators, and a high protein diet is essential for them to live happy and healthy lives. Protein will help your cat’s gut health, build muscle and organs, and help them grow healthy fur.
Other than protein being your cat’s main dietary need, another reason to feed them a low-carb diet is diabetes. Carbohydrate-rich foods will cause sugar spikes in your diabetic cat, and this can be highly dangerous. Overweight or obese cats will also greatly benefit from eating a low-carb diet, as it will reduce their sugar and grain intake significantly.
Dry vs. Wet Foods
This is another aspect in which the debate still rages on, but there are several significant benefits of feeding your cat wet low-carb foods over dry. It is difficult to make dry kibble without the use of some form of carbohydrates, due to the starch present in carbs that will prevent the kibble from crumbling. This means that most dry foods on the market will have more than 10% carbohydrates. If your cat has no health issues, the occasional bowl of dry food will not hurt, but if they need to avoid carbs as much as possible, then dry kibble should be avoided.
Wet food is made with high moisture content and thus doesn’t require the binding of ingredients. The added moisture from wet foods to your cat’s diet is highly beneficial, as your cat gets a large percentage of their hydration from their food.
Our top choice overall for the best low-carb cat food goes to the succulent chicken cat food from Tiki Cat. It is packed with essential vitamins, omegas, minerals, and taurine, which will provide your cat with everything they need for a healthy balanced diet, and is completely free from grains, gluten, carbohydrates, and starch.
The best low-carb cat food for the money is the grain-free pâté cat food from Dave’s Cat Food. It is made up of 95% premium chicken and chicken liver pâté, and it is grain and artificial ingredient free, so it is ideal for cats with allergies and weight issues.
It can be stressful to find the right low-carb cat food for your feline friend. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have made the job easier and will help you find the right product to suit your unique needs.
Featured image credit: DarkWorkX, Pixabay
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 9 Best Low-Carb Cat Foods — Reviews 2020
- 1. Tiki Cat Puka Luau Grain-Free Canned Cat Food — Best Overall
- 2. Dave’s Pet Food Grain-Free Pate Canned Cat Food — Best Value
- 3. Hill’s Prescription Diet m/d Dry Cat Food — Premium Choice
- 4. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dry Cat Food
- 5. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food
- 6. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Savory Selects Canned Cat Food
- 7. Ketogenic Pet Foods
- 8. Wysong Uretic Canned Cat Food
- 9. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Canned Cat Food
- Buyers Guide