A diabetic cat eating wet food.

The Best Foods for Diabetic Cats with Skin Problems

All products featured in this article were independently selected by our editorial team.

When it comes to cats with diabetes, it’s important to understand that the feline diet in the wild contains less than 4% carbohydrates. Compare this to what our pampered indoor cats get in their bowls, and you’ll start to understand how they become diabetic in the first place.

According to Thomas Graves of WebMD, cats become diabetic and pre-diabetic when their diet is unbalanced, just like humans. However, unlike their human companions, cats are obligate carnivores, and have little room in their diet for carbs, sugars, and other highly indigestible fillers. Unfortunately, these ingredients are often found in cat foods these days, especially dry cat food, which vets often call “cat cereal” due to its high carb count. Kitty cereal, coupled with a lifestyle lacking in exercise, will put felines at far greater risk to develop diabetes.

Potential for Secondary Diseases with Feline Diabetes

To compound the issue, cats with diabetes, especially unchecked diabetes, often suffer from skin and coat issues. These are caused by high blood sugar and the body’s inability to properly digest anything once it is in the throes of the disease. The truth is, skin and coat problems in cats are often linked to diabetes, which is a constant battle with hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Issues such as dry coat, flaky skin and dandruff, over-shedding, and of course dry skin can all be offshoots of unchecked diabetes, especially as it worsens and begins to affect more systems of the body.

But, just as food can be the cause of diabetes in cats, it can also be the best way to fight off the illness. A balanced and cat-appropriate diet can stop the negative impact of the disease on the animal, including poor skin conditions. While there are a select few veterinary blends and dry foods made specifically to fight diabetes in cats, they often lack in other way. Many do little to help with issues that cats face as a result of diabetes or unrelated factors made worse by diet. Instead of focusing on veterinary blends made strictly for cats with diabetes or skin conditions, let’s focus on the whole animal with foods that limit carbohydrates. As we review these foods, keep in mind, the whole idea is to avoid cat cereal and move toward a more holistic diet that provides health benefits when diabetes is the core issue. We’re also considering ways to keep weight in check and offer up crucial lean protein. This is how we maintain insulin balance in cats, and that is what keeps them healthiest.

High Moisture Foods Are Best for Diabetic Cats

The title for the best type of diabetic cat food has to go to the brands in the can. That’s because, as we’ve already discussed, most dry cat foods are chock-full of unhealthy fillers that cats don’t want or need. In order for dry foods to stay dry, CatInfo.org says cat food makers fill them with carbs, including potatoes and peas, and these can make cats unwell in general.

Though some of our recommended brands may be unfamiliar or unexpected, they’re here because they are manufactured with more than the “use by” date in mind. Quality wet foods are often preserved naturally and made with the high protein content cats need to potentially end heavy reliance on insulin shots.

To be sure, these aren’t the brands of wet cat food you’re going to find on a grocery store shelf at 10 p.m. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll only be able to find these foods online and in high-end feline emporiums. The fact is, the very best food for diabetic cats will be stocked by pet stores that put a focus on diet over toys and treats. Places like feed and tack shops are going to be your best bet when trying to hunt down the best brands.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best diabetic cat foods and see what health benefits they can offer for cats.

Tiki Cat: Ahi Tuna and Chicken in Chicken Consommé

Tiki Cat is well known and loved by humans and cats alike for bringing the tastiest morsels to the cat mat while not breaking the bank. And, in the case of the Ahi Tuna and Chicken in Chicken Consommé selection, Tiki Cat has truly mastered the art of the diabetic-friendly food.

To start, the top five ingredients are chicken broth, tuna, chicken, sunflower seed oil, and tricalcium phosphate, which treats and prevents calcium deficiency. Considering that it contains less than 2% carbohydrates, this is an absolutely ideal diabetic cat food selection. On top of that, each serving of this tuna and chicken food contains less than 30 calories, making it an optimal choice for overweight cats suffering from feline diabetes.

To ensure that your cat’s coat is kept fluffy, the natural fish oils and the sunflower seed oil will work wonders for coat sheen, while fighting off dry skin and undercoat. And finally, to ensure your cat gets a well-rounded diet that caters to more than just the fight against diabetes, this Tiki Cat formulation also contains vitamins B1, B3, B6, and B12. They’ve even added taurine, vitamin E, and potassium for added health value.

Weruva Presents: Love Me Tender Chicken and Duck in Gravy Recipe

Another excellent option for diabetic cats with skin issues, Weruva’s Love Me Tender Chicken and Duck in Gravy Recipe offers up plenty of tasty morsels any cat would love. Along with an amazing flavor, your feline friend gets a premium blended moist cat food made primarily from chicken, tuna, and duck — in fact, those are the top three ingredients!

This Weruva blend proves that you can swap a high carb food for a low one and still keep your cat satisfied. But the reason cats love this blend is quite simply because it contains everything a carnivore could ever want. As a matter of fact, the only carbs you’ll find in this food are a touch of tapioca, likely added as a gravy thickener and way to hold the food together in its moisture pack.

Loaded with 9% crude protein, the Love Me Tender recipe is also very low in fat with just 1.4% crude fat found in an analysis. To address skin and coat health, this Weruva blend contains biotin, taurine, vitamin A, sunflower seed oil, and added calcium in addition to the natural fish oils found in the included tuna.

Instinct by Nature’s Variety: Original Grain-Free Real Lamb Recipe

As canned and wet cat foods go, they can help stave off diabetes, even if they don’t do much for your cat’s waistline. That’s not the case when you opt for Instinct wet cat food, which offers lighter fare, making it ideal for overweight diabetic cats, as well as those dealing with skin and coat challenges.

Made almost entirely of real lamb and lamb broth, along with a touch of turkey and turkey liver, this is an excellent, healthy food with a very low carbohydrate and high crude protein intake. Even though Instinct contains a small amount of plant matter, it still comes in under 4% carbohydrates and right at 37 calories per serving.

To address skin and coat issues, this grain-free food offers something you won’t find in most cat foods: montmorillonite clay. This type of soil material is known to help pick up impurities and fight toxins within the body. In addition to this, the Nature’s Variety Real Lamb Recipe also contains ground flaxseed, vitamin E, and a host of other minerals to help keep the digestive tract, skin, and coat in balance.

An Excellent Dry Food Option for Diabetic Cats

For those of you hoping for one dry food option for your diabetic cat, we do have an honorable mention, and that goes to Ziwi Peak Lamb Recipe Cat Food.

Ziwi Peak is a good diabetic cat food option because it’s air dried. In other words, rather than relying on fillers and carbs to do the work of keeping the food dry, this food is naturally dehydrated, maintaining its healthy low-carb edge and high crude protein amount!

Using every conceivable part of the lamb, including tripe, heart, lung, and bone, this option can also help out in the weight loss department without sacrificing flavor.

To help fend off skin and coat issues, Ziwi contains ingredients like dried kelp, green mussel, and an amino acid complex, which all work together to help maintain a healthy coat and resilient skin, free of flakes and over-shedding.

When it comes to selecting a food for your diabetic cat, always look for low carb content, high protein content, and a lack of filler. If you keep these in mind, and prioritize a limited ingredient list, you’ll have a happy, healthy cat. Of course, be sure to discuss your cat’s diet with your vet to ensure optimal health.