Ultimate Buyer’s Guide + Reviews of the Best Low Carb Cat Food (2020)
Excess carbohydrate intake is perceived by many as the main culprit for obesity, not to mention diabetes, among cats. This is where low carb cat foods come in handy. Finding the best low carb cat food in the market, however, is not a walk in the park.
The numerous choices available and the hard-to-understand labels make the task of finding the right one downright confusing. Add to that the opposing opinions you hear from different cat owners, and the whole experience becomes a nightmare. But don’t fret!
If you want the best of the best, our list (all of which are AAFCO approved) would surely narrow down your choices. Still clueless on what to pick? Our unbiased reviews are here to help you decide which one is the best for your feline friend.
- Best Low Carb Cat Food Comparison List
- Best Low Carb Cat Food List
- Everything You Need to Know About Low Carb Cat Food
- How many carbs are in dry cat food?
- What is a KCAL in cat food?
- What dry cat food has the lowest carbs?
- What canned cat food is highest in protein?
Best Low Carb Cat Food Comparison List
BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Dry Cat Food Chicken Recipe
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CRAVE Dry Cat Food
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Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Dry Cat Food
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Nutro Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food
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Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Wet Cat Food
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CRAVE Chicken Pate Perfect Portions
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Best Low Carb Cat Food List
- BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Dry Cat Food
- CRAVE Dry Cat Food
- Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Dry Cat Food
- Nutro Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food
- Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Wet Cat Food
- CRAVE Chicken Pate Perfect Portions
Known as obligate carnivores, these predatory four-legged creatures, regardless of how adorable they look, are hardwired to hunt and get their nutritional needs from other animals.
Holistic veterinarians, thus, recommend cats to consume a diet that resembles what their ancestors ate. Enter high protein low carb diet plans.
When talking about low carb cat food, we cannot help but mention cat foods that are also rich in protein, given the cats’ biological nature. Aside from high protein low carb cat food, you can also expect grain-free cat foods, cat foods for weight loss, and cat foods for diabetic cats to pop up in your search list when on the lookout for low carb food.
Considering the wide array of products available that offer low carbohydrate content, we made sure to keep an eye on products that are both cat owner- and cat-approved (plus vet recommended and AAFCO certified).
Each one has its love-its and could-be-betters. So, getting your veterinarians expert advice should still be at the top of your to-do list. Our guide and reviews may give you the 101 on low carb cat food, but your veterinarian will always have the final say.
Top 3 Low Carb Dry Cat Food
1. BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Dry Cat Food
If you are on a hunt for a dry cat food that is packed with protein, grain-free, and low in carbs, then BLUE Buffalo’s Wilderness Dry Cat food might be your best bet.
This kibble is made with LifeSource Bits that are cold-formed. By minimizing the exposure of the ingredients to heat during its manufacturing process, you can be assured that the potency of the ingredients is retained. Not just that, this also comes with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help strengthen your pet pals’ immune system.
- Cats, including the picky eaters, seem to love this kibble’s taste.
- Made of wholesome ingredients, your cats are in for a high-quality treat.
- Cats’ activity levels increase, thanks to this high protein cat food.
- Vomiting and food allergies are at a minimum.
- Cat fur becomes visibly shinier and softer. Less shedding can also be expected.
- Different sizes are available, including 2.5 lbs., 6 lbs., and 12 lbs.
- A few think that this cat food is somewhat pricey.
- This might cause cats to gain weight, so make sure to monitor your cat’s food intake.
2. CRAVE Dry Cat Food
Next on our list of the best low carb dry cat food is the high-protein, grain-free kibble manufactured by CRAVE. Whatever your finicky cat’s preference is when it comes to taste, he/she will surely find one in CRAVE’s selection of dry cat food.
Formulated to resemble the diets of their ancestors, this kibble is carefully crafted with high-quality meat minus grains like corn and wheat, as well as soy.
- It is great for cats with food sensitivities.
- Cats just cannot help but go crazy over its flavors which include Turkey, Chicken & Duck, Chicken, and Salmon & Ocean Fish.
- Cats’ coats look shinier, thicker, and healthier.
- Even hard-to-please cats find this cat food’s flavors irresistible.
- It helps cats maintain a healthy weight.
- Poops do not stink, all thanks to this kibble.
- It smells alright, even for cat owners.
- The overall health of cats visibly improved.
- Available in 2lb., 4lb., and 10lb. sizes.
- It is a bit expensive.
3. Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Dry Cat Food
Bursting with protein, Tiki Cat’s Born Carnivore baked kibble is packed with real, high-quality chicken and/or herring. Sounds good, right? Then you may have just found the best cat food to give your cats and kittens.
This protein-rich dry cat food brand also ensures to load your feline friends with wholesome ingredients that are low in carbohydrates.
Made with grain-free carbohydrate sources like chickpeas and whole peas, and nutrient-rich superfoods like pumpkin, salmon oil, and whole ground flaxseed, count on this to give both your cats and kittens a complete and balanced diet.
- Containing 44-46% protein (depending on the flavor), cats just cannot get enough of its meaty goodness.
- This cat food comes in a resealable bag, so food remains fresh for a longer period.
- It is considered as high-quality by many cat owners.
- It comes in various sizes, namely: 2.8 lb., 5.6 lb., and 11.1 lb.
- Tiki Cat Born Carnivore comes in Chicken, Chicken & Fish, and Fish flavor. All are appropriate for all life stages.
- This food keeps cats active, regardless of age.
- It effectively helps cats lose weight.
- It also helps lower down blood sugar and prevents UTI from reoccurring.
- This kibble is value for money.
- Cat owners would have to get used to its scent.
- For a few cats, it took them some time to get accustomed to its taste.
Top 3 Low Carb Wet Cat Food
1. Nutro Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food
Looking for a wet cat food product made with ingredients that are carefully sourced from trusted suppliers and farmers? Want it to be tasty and nutritious with no grains, chicken by-products, and artificial preservatives?
If you think finding that kind of canned food is near to impossible, think again.
Nutro’s Perfect Portions Wet Cat Food offers just that plus more. Their twin-pack also guarantees to give your pets a protein-rich diet that has less than 10% dry matter carbohydrate content.
- This twin pack pate comes in a wide array of recipes which include (but is not limited to) Beef, Chicken. Chicken & Liver, Chicken & Shrimp, Salmon & Tuna.
- It is easy to open with its peel-off tabs.
- Cats of all ages enthusiastically gobble down the food until the last drop. Some even ask for more.
- No leftovers since it is packed with just the right amount of portion sizes. You can also make sure that they are not overeating.
- With its high moisture content, cats are hydrated the whole day.
- Cat love its scent, and cat owners think that it smells better than regular cat food.
- It is a bit costly.
2. Tiki Cat Aloha Friends Wet Cat Food
Second on our list of the best wet cat foods is Tiki Cat’s Aloha Friends. Whether wet or dry, Tiki Cat never fails to impress both cat and cat owners with their high-quality, delicious, and nutrient-filled diet plans. If your kitty is a fish or seafood lover, then consider this your cats’ best pal.
Similar to Nutro’s Perfect Portions, this low carb canned cat food also boasts of containing less than 10% of dry matter carbohydrates. It is also high in moisture content. This canned food, however, adds in its recipe an ingredient not often found in other cat foods – PUMPKIN. Pumpkin is actually a good source of fiber and is easy to digest.
- Cats of all life stages can choose from a variety of unique flavors which include Tuna with Calamari, Tuna with Ocean Fish, Tuna, Tuna with Shrimp, and Tuna with Tilapia.
- Most cats love this food’s taste and fishy smell.
- Ingredients are of high-quality. You can even see the chunks of fish and pumpkin in it.
- This food helps cats with weight issues achieve a healthy weight.
- It improves cats’ digestion and lowers blood sugar effectively.
- It costs a bit more than other cat foods.
- While cats love its smell, some cat owners may find it a bit strong.
3. CRAVE Chicken Pate Perfect Portions
In the low carb cat food realm, aside from Tiki Cat, CRAVE seems to have figured out as well what cats really want in their food. Both their wet and dry food products are gaining tons of praises, and we can see why.
Like like Nutro’s Perfect Portions, each pack contains two single servings. This ensures that your cats get to eat a fresh meal every time.
Similar to a wild cat’s diet, this one also boasts of high animal protein. Thus, you can make sure that your cats will have the right amount of energy they require each day. This cat food also contains less than 10% carbohydrates (dry matter). So, you will not have to worry about feeding your cats any unnecessary fillers.
- Protein-rich, meat-loving felines (even the fussiest ones) go crazy over its taste.
- Weight reduction can be safely achieved while still satisfying your pet’s cravings with its portion sizes.
- Cat owners like the twin pack. It makes it convenient, especially when feeding cats a mix of wet and dry food.
- It is is easy to serve with its easy to peel off tabs.
- Also great for cats with allergies.
- Portions are a bit small for cats like the Canadian sphynx.
- It’s a bit pricey.
Everything You Need to Know About Low Carb Cat Food
Do cats need carbohydrates? If yes, how much?
These are questions that have commonly popped up when talking about carbohydrates in cat food. Sadly, many are still waiting for a definitive answer.
Cats, as we all know, are born to eat meat. With this in mind, many have chosen to believe that carbohydrates are not essential in their diet. In fact, giving cats a diet that is high in carbohydrates is often perceived as detrimental to a cat’s overall health. This ideology, though, has often been put to the test.
The truth is, there is still a lot of talk about the effects of complex carbohydrates on a cat’s health. Putting into account the studies that show the benefits that carbohydrates possibly provide to our feline friends, it is safe to assume that a reasonable amount of carbohydrate in a cat’s diet may actually be beneficial instead of harmful to our four-legged pals.
When it comes to the minimal-carb requirement for cats (which is another controversial matter), it is fair to say that the carbohydrates in cat food should be significantly lower than the amount of protein present in it. You can also be assured that the moderate carb content in it serves as a good energy source that is efficiently and readily used by cats.
Differentiating Grains from Carbohydrates
A grain is any hard, dry, small seed that is often harvested for both animal and human consumption. Examples of which include wheat, soybeans, barley, and oats, all of which are often used as fillers in commercial cat food. All of these also contain carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, comes in two forms – simple and complex. Both simple and complex carbohydrates are derived from plants.
Carbohydrates in its simple form – otherwise known as simple sugars – are the type that is easily digested and readily absorbed by the body. You can expect to see these simple sugars to be listed on labels as sucrose, maltose, fructose, dextrose, and the like.
Complex carbohydrates are often called good carbs. These include starches and dietary fibers commonly found in beans and starchy vegetables like squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.
Since grain-free products are made without grains, this does not mean that these types of diets do not contain carbs. When you check the ingredients, you would soon discover that most of it (if not all) still contains vegetables and fruits like potatoes and cranberries that contain ample amounts of carbohydrates.
When Can One Say That a Cat Food is Low in Carbohydrates?
Considering cats’ carnivore connection and their dietary macronutrient need (which includes around 50% protein, more or less 20% fat, and about 12% carbohydrates ), most state that a low carb diet plan would have a maximum of 10% carbs.
Now, here is the tricky part. Pet food manufacturers are not required to include the carb information of a particular product in their labels. So, deciphering how much carbs a particular pet food contains would need a little math. There’s no need to panic though.
You may find the process a bit complicated at first, but after a few tries, you would soon realize how simple it is. If, however, you wish there is an easier way, here is a carb calculator from ScheyderWeb Design, which will make counting carbs a whole lot easier.
Quick Guide in Counting Carb Content
Calculating the carbohydrate content of your feline’s food involves five steps. The first two steps will ask you to calculate the carbohydrates on a wet matter basis. The last three steps would require you to calculate the carbs on a dry matter basis.
Before we discuss this in detail, take note that on the labels, you would either find the words Guaranteed Analysis or Nutritional Analysis.
What is the difference? The former would show the minimum and maximum percentages of each element, while the latter will simply give the average percentages. It is best to base your calculations on the cat food’s Guaranteed Analysis to get more accurate results.
Going back to counting the carbs, when calculating it on the wet matter basis, here is what you need to do:
- Add the percent values of fiber, protein, fat, moisture, and ash or other minerals.
- Subtract the total figure from 100.
Easy-peasy right? For the last three steps, just follow these, and you are good to go.
- Subtract the moisture percentage from 100.
- Divide the answer you got from step two (carb content on wet matter basis) by the answer you got from step 3.
- Multiply the answer you got from step 4 by 100.
Reasons to Give Your Cats High Protein Low Carb Cat Food
Yes, the battle on whether carbs should be included on a cat’s diet is still ongoing. Regardless, we cannot disregard what holistic vets and users say about the benefits of high protein, low carb food on cats’ health. Here are just a few reasons why considering to give your cats this type of diet is best:
It is a Biological Necessity
Born predators, cats’ need for a substantial amount of animal protein in their diet is in their DNA.
Carbohydrates will only account for 10% (or even less) in a wild cat’s diet. Protein, on the other hand, is a requirement for them to achieve optimal gut health. A building block in cat’s tissues and organs, protein also helps repair and build lean muscle, fur, skin, and tendons in cats.
The Best Food Choice for Diabetic Cats
Talk to your vet about your diabetic cats’ condition, and he or she would more often than not recommend your cat to eat a high protein, low carb diet.
Intake of carbohydrate-rich cat food (especially those rich in simple sugars) would often lead to a sudden spike on a cat’s blood sugar levels. Low carbohydrates do a great job of dampening this response. Cat food with less than 10% carb content is usually recommended. An even better choice will be foods with less than 5% carbs.
Helps Cats with Weight Issues Attain Their Ideal Weight Safely
Studies have shown that the feeding method used, plus a cat’s age and breed, are the primary risk factors of weight issues in cats. We cannot overlook, however, the importance of cats getting the required macronutrient ratio on the food they eat.
Making sure that your cats are able to eat a complete and balanced diet is essential. A complete and balanced diet, simply put, would consist of high protein, moderate levels of fat, and low amounts of carbohydrates.
Wet or Dry Cat Food: Which One Reigns Supreme?
This is a question commonly asked by cat owners whenever they are on the hunt for the best cat food. Thankfully, when it comes to having low carbohydrate content, wet cat foods rules over dry.
The fact is that even the best low carb dry cat food (grain-free or not) will contain more than 10% carbohydrates, with some containing over 20% of carbs. You might ask, “Why?”
Carbohydrates are necessary ingredients in manufacturing kibble. Dry cat foods are able to hold their shape or form because of the binding capacity of carbohydrates. In short, the starch present in carbs binds the kibble together. It also keeps it from crumbling.
Wet cat foods, on the one hand, can be crafted with lower levels of carbs given than it is often made with higher moisture content. The amount of moisture in this type of food is also beneficial. Some may not be aware, but our feline friends generally get the majority of their liquids from what they eat.
To sum it all up, a high protein, low carb cat food is a type of diet that would best emulate a cat’s ancestral diet. Finding the best food of this kind may be tricky, considering cats’ fussy nature and differences in preferences. Worst comes to worst, you may end up trying a couple to find the best one for your kitty.
This process, though, is but normal. Just like all other kinds of cat food, this is not a “one-size-fits-all” thing. What matters most is that you value your cat’s health. Keeping in touch with your vet should also be a priority. So, just keep calm. You will, sooner or later, find the best type of food for your cat.
How many carbs are in dry cat food?
The average dry food contains 35-50 percent carbohydrate calories. Some of the cheaper dry foods contain even higher levels. This is NOT the diet that Mother Nature intended for your cat to eat. Many canned foods, on the other hand, contain approximately less than 10 percent carbohydrates.
What is a KCAL in cat food?
Unless you weigh your pet's food, kilocalories per kilogram (or kcal, which is the same as 1 Calorie just like human foods) isn't very helpful. Similarly, look for dog food that is around or under 300 kcal per large (13 oz) can or cat food under 150 kcal per medium (6 oz) can.
What dry cat food has the lowest carbs?
Grain-free canned food is the lowest in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be minimized in cats. If your cat refuses to eat canned food, the grain free dry foods are still the best option nutritionally.
What canned cat food is highest in protein?
Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau is a grain-free canned food that's high in protein, with shredded chicken as the first ingredient. It's great for helping your underweight cat build muscle, but leaves out grains, gluten, carbohydrates, starches, and flours that could set off a sensitive belly.