When your feline has diabetes, there are several different treatment angles recommended. For one, most cats will need insulin and some sort of medication. However, many cats have underlying conditions that cause diabetes, such as obesity. If these are treated, cats may go into remission. Furthermore, diet plays a huge role in diabetes.
If given the correct diet, some cats may no longer need insulin or other medication. Therefore, choosing the best diet for your feline is vital for managing diabetes.
However, there is a lot to consider when choosing a diet for diabetes. We’ll review some of our favorite diabetic cat foods that are available in Australia, as well as give you plenty of information on what to look for when choosing a food.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Fancy Feast Whitefish & Tuna Pate||
|Best Value||Fancy Feast Chunky Chicken Feast||
|Premium Choice||Dine Perfect Portions Pate Turkey||
|Dine Perfect Portions Pate Whitefish||
|Fancy Feast Petit Cuisine Cat Food||
The 5 Best Cat Foods for Diabetes in Australia
1. Fancy Feast Whitefish & Tuna Pate Wet Cat Food – Best Overall
|Main Ingredients:||Ocean Whitefish, Liver, Fish, Meat By-Products, Fish Broth, Tuna|
For just about every diabetic cat, we highly recommend Fancy Feast Whitefish & Tuna Pate Wet Cat Food. This food isn’t designed for diabetes, but it meets all the qualifications vets recommend. It has an extremely low carbohydrate content. Therefore, it should limit the amount of insulin your cat needs or even drive it to zero.
As a wet food, this food is extremely high in water, so it can work to keep your cat full, which is especially useful if they are obese. We particularly like that this food uses broth instead of water, adding to the nutritional content.
The ingredients are solely meat-based. Ocean whitefish appears as the first ingredient, while tuna, liver, and fish appear later. However, there are some by-products, too. These aren’t the best option for cats, as they typically include less-than-stellar meats.
2. Fancy Feast Chunky Chicken Feast Cat Food – Best Value
|Main Ingredients:||Meat and fish and their by-products (pork, chicken, fish, and turkey), cereals and cereals by-products|
If you’re looking for something cheaper, we recommend looking at Fancy Feast Chunky Chicken Feast. This food is quite similar to our top pick; it is even by the same brand. Because chicken is the main ingredient, it is cheaper. The carbohydrate content is a bit higher, though, which is why it didn’t win as our top pick.
However, the carbohydrate content is still plenty low enough to work for most cats with diabetes. It comprises mostly meat and fish, including pork, chicken, fish, and turkey. With that said, by-products are included. Therefore, it doesn’t include the highest quality meat out there.
Still, when you have a diabetic cat, you can’t be too picky about the ingredients. This food is still easily the best food for diabetic cats in Australia for the money.
3. Dine Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food Pate Turkey – Premium Choice
|Main Ingredients:||Meat Selected from Chicken, Turkey & Pork; Vitamins & Minerals; Gelling Agents; Flavours; Colours; Fish Oil & Taurine|
While it does cost a bit more, the main benefit of Dine Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food Pate Turkey is that it comes in pre-portioned amounts. Therefore, the food stays fresher for longer, especially if you have a smaller cat. Diabetic cats on a diet may also benefit from this food since portion sizes are more controlled.
This food mostly includes meat from chicken, turkey, and pork. Fish oil is included for added omega fatty acids, which can contribute to coat and skin health. There are no by-products included, which is why it is a bit more expensive, too.
We love that this food is completely balanced and has very low carbohydrates. Therefore, it is a suitable choice for most diabetic cats.
4. Dine Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food Pate Whitefish
|Main Ingredients:||Meat Selected from Chicken, Whitefish, Tuna & Pork; Vitamins & Minerals, Colors, Gelling Agents, Flavors, Fish Oil & Taurine|
As you’d guess, Dine Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food Pate Whitefish is extremely similar to the previous food we reviewed. However, it is made with high amounts of fish (though chicken is also included). Therefore, it is a bit more expensive, simply because fish is more expensive than most other types of meat.
This food is portioned out, which allows you to feed less to your cat at a time. For diabetic cats, this can be extremely useful, as it allows you to potentially lower their insulin dosage. Furthermore, it may also help prevent obesity and similar issues.
Many cats do great on fish-based diets. We particularly like that this food includes mostly whitefish, which is lower in mercury than other fish. However, you are going to pay extra for it.
5. Fancy Feast Petit Cuisine Tuna, Salmon, and Cod Wet Cat Food
|Main Ingredients:||Meat from Pork, Chicken, Poultry, Poultry Meal; Wheat Gluten; Tuna|
The Fancy Feast Petit Cuisine Tuna, Salmon, and Cod Wet Cat Food is another Fancy Feast brand food that works well for many cats with diabetes. This multipack includes several recipes, allowing you to switch out the food regularly. This is great for cats that tend to get bored of their food. However, when switching a diabetic cat’s food, you’ll also need to adjust your cat’s insulin dosage as they switch foods.
Therefore, we don’t typically recommend switching foods often unless these low-carb foods send your cat into remission. You may want to speak to your vet about picky eating and switching diets if necessary. These flavors have a similar carb content so that the insulin dosage would stay similar.
We particularly like that this food is mostly made from meat. With different recipes, you can help ensure that your cat consumes a varied diet.
Buyers Guide: Finding the Best Cat Foods for Diabetes in Australia
Choosing cat food for a healthy cat can be complicated. However, choosing one for a diabetic cat has more things to consider. There are tons of different places you’ll need to make a decision when choosing food for your diabetic cat.
We’ll help you make all of these decisions below.
What is Feline Diabetes?
Diabetes in cats works very similarly to diabetes in humans. In your cat’s blood, glucose is available to cells for energy use. This glucose comes from the food your feline eats. The more carbs in the food, the higher this glucose or blood sugar will be. However, the cells must first be activated by insulin to take in this glucose.
Otherwise, it just floats around uselessly.
In type 2 diabetes, cats slowly become resistant to this insulin—usually because it is secreted in very high amounts due to high amounts of carbs in the cat’s food. To counteract this, more and more insulin has to be produced by the body. Eventually, the body simply can’t keep up.
This causes the cells to never take in the glucose from the blood. Eventually, these cells die. Often, this is called “cellular starvation.” The cat may eat, but the cells aren’t using the food. Glucose levels continue to rise, which causes issues for other systems in the body.
How is Feline Diabetes Treated?
Usually, feline diabetes is treated by giving cats synthetic insulin—just like it is in people. The amount of insulin is determined by the carbs the cat eats. Therefore, owners usually have to feed a specific amount of food and provide a specific amount of insulin with the meal.
This insulin allows the cat to use the energy it eats and prevents glucose from building up in the blood.
However, diet can play a huge role, too. After all, it’s the number of carbs that determines how much insulin the cat needs. If the carbohydrate content is lowered, the cat will need less insulin (or even none). Most cats with type 2 diabetes make enough insulin for a low number of carbs. Therefore, if their diet is lowered under this threshold, they won’t need to be given any insulin.
Let’s take a look at how to choose a food that fits this description.
Dry Food vs. Wet Food
Typically, we recommend choosing wet cat food for all diabetic cats. (In fact, most cats do better on wet food even if they aren’t diabetic.) There are several reasons for this. Firstly, dry food is almost always higher in carbohydrates than wet food. This is simply because dry food has to contain more starches to maintain its shape and stay dry.
With wet food, needing to stay dry isn’t part of the equation. Therefore, these foods have fewer carbohydrates and tend to use whole meat. Diabetic cats need a low-carb diet, and wet food offers this more often.
Secondly, wet food contains a higher amount of moisture. Cats were designed to get much of their water from their food, so they may not consume enough water when given dry food. Providing wet food prevents urinary tract infections and other issues commonly associated with dehydration.
With that said, wet food is more expensive. However, it is much cheaper to purchase commercial wet food than prescription-diet dry food.
Finally, dry foods are easily left out for cats to graze and tend to be more calorie-dense. Therefore, they are more likely to lead to obesity, which can cause diabetes.
The amount of carbs in a food is the most important factor when feeding your diabetic cat. When given a proper diet, cats may even stop needing insulin and may appear to go into remission. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they are designed to live off of meat. Unlike humans and dogs, they do not respond well to high-carbohydrate foods and cannot digest most grains.
Mostly, dry cat foods are too high in carbohydrates. However, some wet foods are as well. Therefore, it is vital to always check before purchasing food.
What About Prescription Food?
When your cat gets diagnosed with diabetes, you may believe that they need prescription food. However, this isn’t usually the case. “Prescription cat foods” aren’t regulated by a medical association, and they don’t have to be scientifically proven. These foods do not contain anything that typically requires a prescription.
However, the companies that produce prescription dog foods restrict their food by requiring a prescription. Only vets are allowed to sell this food, which gives it a boost in the perception of quality.
In many cases, your cat will do better if provided with a quality, non-prescription diet. Most diabetic-specific diets are far higher in carbohydrates than the diets we suggested above. It’s the ingredients and macronutrient content that are important, not whether or not it is a prescription diet.
Many cats who are diabetic are also overweight. However, diabetes can cause rapid weight loss. Therefore, some cats may alternatively lose weight when diabetic. Luckily, once the diabetes is treated, they do not usually need higher-calorie food to regain the weight.
However, obese cats typically get more obese once their diabetes is treated. Therefore, proper portions are vital to prevent this from occurring with your feline. In some cases, a weight-loss food may even be recommended.
With that said, helping a diabetic cat lose weight is challenging and can be dangerous. Therefore, it works best to work under a qualified vet. These cats cannot use the energy in their food without proper insulin and treatment—restricting the energy content of their food further can be very dangerous.
Vets often recommend treating diabetes and implementing more exercise before attempting to restrict the calorie content. However, severely obese cats may need to lose weight sooner rather than later.
A Quick Warning
Diabetic cat food works extremely fast and well for diabetic cats, as their disease is mostly diet-driven. However, these diets work so fast that it can be dangerous if insulin dosages are not adjusted with the new food.
When switched to a low-carb diet, a cat’s insulin needs will almost always fall significantly. Therefore, if you continue to give the dosage you gave when your cat was eating high-carb food, your feline could potentially fall into a diabetic coma or even die.
This change does not happen slowly. It happens immediately. Therefore, if you switch your cat’s food, their insulin dosage should be adjusted the very first time they eat it. Working with your vet is the best way to do this. However, some vets provide a “unit of insulin per X number of carbs” guideline. In this case, you can do the math yourself, and be sure to enact it during their first meal.
Often, it is recommended to test a cat’s blood glucose at home when switching diets. This allows you to take action if your cat’s blood sugar falls too suddenly.
There aren’t many foods that are high-quality and suitable for cats with diabetes. Therefore, you’re typically restricted to only a few options.
We recommend Fancy Feast Whitefish & Tuna Pate Wet Cat Food out of all these choices. It is low-carb and widely available in Australia, so you should have no trouble finding it. Furthermore, it isn’t extremely expensive like some diabetes-specific diets, either.
For those on a budget, we did like the Fancy Feast Chunky Chicken Feast. Because this food contains mostly chicken, it is cheaper than other options. However, it is still completely suitable for most cats with sensitivities.
We hope that your cat does great on one of our suggested diets. Just be sure to adjust their insulin dosage when you switch foods.