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.
Finding the right low-carb cat food for your furry friend can be difficult. 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 Glance at Our Favorites in 2024
|Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription
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|Dave’s Pet Food Grain-Free Pate
|Hill’s Prescription Diet m/d
|Tiki Cat Puka Luau Grain-Free
|Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM
The 10 Best Low-Carb Cat Foods
1. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription – Best Overall
When it comes to a balanced feline diet, you can’t go wrong with Smalls Fresh Cow. We found it to be the best overall low-carb cat food because of its balanced nutrition and tasty recipes. About 50% of the product’s calories come from protein and about 47% come from fat, while only 3.2% of the calories come from carbs. The Fresh Cow recipe contains ground beef, beef liver, and beef heart, with some supplemental ingredients to add vitamins and minerals. Smalls operates on a subscription-based service that sends your cat food straight to your door on the timetable of your choosing.
The fresh meat model does have some drawbacks. Unlike kibble-style or canned foods, Smalls Fresh Cow isn’t shelf-stable, so it requires freezer space to store and time spent thawing in the fridge. A freeze-dried or canned option might be a better choice if you are always running low on freezer space.
Overall, we think this is the best low-carb cat food available.
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. It 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. Dave’s is free of grains and artificial ingredients, which is ideal for cats with allergies and weight issues.
Several users report that their cats would not eat it, and the protein content is not ideal for kittens. These two small issues keep this food from the top position. For the money, though, we think this is the best low-carb cat food.
Related Read: Dave’s Cat Food Review: Recalls, Pros & Cons
3. Hill’s Prescription Diet m/d Dry Cat Food
The GlucoSupport dry food from Hill’s is a high-end 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 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.
GlucoSupport requires veterinary authorization, and you must get it 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 this low-carb dry cat food keep this product from the top two positions.
4. Tiki Cat Puka Luau Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
This grain-free succulent chicken cat food from Tiki Cat is our next choice 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 gives your cat added moisture to keep them hydrated and support digestive health.
Tiki Cat is also packed with essential vitamins, omegas, minerals, and taurine, which will provide your cat with everything they need for a healthy balanced diet. It is 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. However, we still think this is the best low-carb canned cat food available this year.
5. 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, high in protein, and low in fat, and contains antioxidants, 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.
Pro Plan needs special authorization from veterinarians, as it is formulated for cats with diabetes. The food is also expensive and contains artificial ingredients.
6. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food
This dry food formula from Nulo is 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 has 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.
7. 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 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 protein is mostly vegetable-based, and cats will benefit far more from meat-based protein. It also contains artificial flavorings and is expensive.
8. Ketogenic Pet Foods
This cat food from Ketogenic Pet Foods contains chunks of beef heart and liver, which will give your cat protein and fat. It contains micronutrients and nutritious oils to help restore metabolic balance. It’s also low in carbohydrates and free from grains, starch, and artificial fillers. Ketogenic is freeze-dried and contains no non-carnivorous ingredients.
Although it contains no artificial ingredients, Ketogenic is relatively high in fat and is not ideal for cats with weight issues. It also contains no added vitamins or minerals, but they are present in the organ meats.
9. 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 chicken and barley grass powder is organic, and the canned food contains taurine for healthy heart function and vitamins C, A, and E.
Wysong’s formula 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.
10. 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. It contains highly digestible nutrients, low-carbohydrate and high-protein content, and 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 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).
Buyers Guide: Selecting the Best Low-Carb Cat Food
Cats are obligate carnivores, which is the main reason 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 is protein, which should be of a significantly higher percentage in your cat’s food. When buying 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 that does not necessarily mean they are carbohydrate-free. Grains that are often put into commercial cat foods as fillers include wheat, oats, corn, and rice, and they are all carbohydrates. Any food using these fillers is likely to have a high carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. Other forms of carbohydrates that are regularly included in commercial cat food are starches such as tapioca and potato.
So, while grain-free foods are free of carbohydrates like wheat and corn, they can still contain a surprisingly high amount of carbohydrates from 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 a maximum of 10% carbohydrates.
There are many arguments for and against carbohydrates in cat food, and the debate still rages on. Still, cats are carnivores, which means they should at least get a high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio in 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, organs and bodily functions, and overall health.
Other than protein being your cat’s main dietary need, another reason to feed them a low-carb diet is diabetes. Carbohydrate-rich foods are the reason cats and humans are suffering from the disease. Carbohydrates cause blood sugar spikes, worsening the condition in a diabetic cat, which can be 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.
Ironically, many sick cats are on “special diets” due to diseases they suffer for not receiving the carnivorous diets they needed in the first place.
Dry vs. Wet Foods
This is another aspect in which the debate still rages, but there are several significant benefits of feeding your cat wet low-carb foods over dry. It is difficult to make dry kibble without using some form of carbohydrates due to the starch 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, dry kibble should be avoided.
Wet food is made with high moisture content and thus doesn’t require ingredient binding. The added moisture from wet foods to your cat’s diet is highly beneficial since your cat gets a large percentage of their hydration from their food.
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Our top choice overall for the best low-carb cat food goes to the Smalls Fresh Cow. 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 and is grain-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 cat’s needs.
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- A Quick Glance at Our Favorites in 2024
- The 10 Best Low-Carb Cat Foods
- 1. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription – 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
- 4. Tiki Cat Puka Luau Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
- 5. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Dry Cat Food
- 6. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food
- 7. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DM Savory Selects Canned Cat Food
- 8. Ketogenic Pet Foods
- 9. Wysong Uretic Canned Cat Food
- 10. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EN Canned Cat Food
- Buyers Guide: Selecting the Best Low-Carb Cat Food