Diabetic Cat Food

Moonchild, diabetic cat at shelter
Photo by Taekwonweirdo

Diabetic cat food refers to cat food that is suitable for diabetic cats and which might avoid the use of insulin injections.

The food profile for diabetic cat food is:
  1. high-protein
  2. low-carbohydrate
This is because cats mainly metabolise protein for glucose rather than carbohydates thus the cat food profile mentioned is "more efficiently metabolised" and a help in controlling cat diabetes.

Cat foods matching this profile at the date of this post and in the USA are:
  • Purina DM Feline (Purina pet food is owned by NestlĂ© Purina®/Friskies who I am told conduct animal testing. This may colour your assessment in respect of buying this cat food.
  • Royal Canin Diabetic DS 44.
  • Science Diet m/d Feline.
  • {for the UK and Europe I would ask your vet but please direct your vet. The diabetic cat food should be as stated in the above profile}


Veterinarians don't generally recommend homemade cat food because of the risk of preparing it poorly and raw food contamination. But if it is prepared properly under tightly controlled hygienic conditions complying with all the rules of raw food handling it is the best cat diet in my opinion. See Homemade Cat Food.

Apparently some vets advise adding meat to purchased, commercial cat food. A1 Savannahs add raw chicken to commercially prepared cat food for their cats - Best Kitten Food.

Best Kitten Food! Photo by Michael @ PoC

But the picture above is not a recommendation that a kitten be solely feed raw chicken. That would be very wrong, please note as the diet would lack sufficient essential nutrients such as taurine and arginine.

Elizabeth M. Hodgkins DVM is one of those veterinarians who recommend that dry cat food should be off the menu even if your cat is not diabetic.

This is because the dry cat food manufacturing process demands the addition of a "carbohydrate source" to make what they call, "kibble". It is said to be unnatural for a cat to eat such large amounts of carbohydrates bearing in mind that they are carnivores (meat eaters) - Cat Food Recipe.

Obese cats are predisposed to diabetes. Obesity "reduces tissue responsiveness to insulin". Diabetes becomes difficult to control. Overweight cats should be dieted.

One of the classic diet cat foods is Hills c/d but this is dry cat food and not recommended by some vets.

I am sure a vet would help a cat caretaker create a diet for their cat. It depends on the cat and the vet!

Examples of blood glucose curves
The basic principle is to divide the cat's calorific use by the calories in the food. The figure should be more than 1. Diabetic cat food should be provided in more than one meal to avoid high blood sugar levels after eating.

Cats on insulin injections given once daily should be fed half the cat food when the injection is administered and half at "peak insulin activity" which is 8-12 hours later (based on the cat's "glucose curve" - see image).

A glucose curve is a graph that shows blood glucose concentration over a period of time (say 24 hours) after the insulin injection. Blood samples are taken from the cat and a test conducted on the blood. Bob Tucker discusses this in his article on treating a diabetic cat.

Cats on two injections per day should be fed half the daily cat food diet at the time of the injection.

Cats on oral medication should be fed small meals throughout the day.

All short quotes and all information for this article are from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated. The rationale for claiming fair use of the quotes is that they enhance the sale of this book (twice advertised here) and they are short.

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