If you just want to check out the best high protein low carb cat food we recommend Purina Pro Natural Chicken And Turkey Entree.
There is a massive choice of cat food available on the market. Many purport to be good for hairball, good for sensitivities or some other condition. Some are said to be suited to kittens some to senior cats and then some to adult cats. Then there are dry foods and wet foods. The choice can be overwhelming. As cat owners, we need to cut through all the marketing bullshit and identify the most wholesome natural food for our cats that are going to provide the correct nutrition as nature intended.
What Diet Should My Cat Be Eating?
If we want to know what sort of diet is good for our cat we should look to identify what they might naturally eat in the wild. I am not suggesting we feed them mice or cute, small birds – we should look at the nutrients they would naturally eat as a result of a natural lifestyle.
In the case of our domestic cats, the natural cat diet would have a macro breakdown that consisted of proteins, fats, carbs, and moisture. Specifically, the natural cat diet would consist of over 50% animal-derived protein, a moderate amount of animal fat in the range of 20-40%, 2-4% carbohydrates – probably from prey and a moisture content of 70%.
Clearly, this nutrient breakdown that a cat has evolved to eat could be considered a high protein, low carb and wet. If the food you are giving your cat does not match this then you are not feeding your cat the optimal diet and by extension, if you feed your cat food that does match then you are probably giving them the best cat food available.
So, I Guess That Is How They Make The Commercial Cat Food Then?
You would have thought that with all those ads telling you how good their cat food was for your cat that commercial cat food would be made with a similar nutritional macro breakdown? I mean, cat food that is good for kitties condition, good for an active cat, ideal for an indoor cat must be just like the food that has seen them evolve successfully through over 10000 years? Maybe just with fewer feathers and fur included, right?
Wrong, turns out those rascals that make cat food are really all in it for the dollar. This means that they try to do the minimum for the maximum return. In terms of cat food, the aim is to reduce expensive animal proteins and fats and bulk things out with cheap carbs. Or maybe bulk things out with cheap carbs and cheap plant-based fats and proteins. Or maybe even pack as much moisture in as possible so you are buying expensive tap water!
If you are buying dry cat food for convenience it is even worse! Obviously there is no moisture (and having your cat drink water from a bowl just doesn’t make up for the loss of moisture from food) but the food is generally made from carbs with added protein and fats. It is the carbs that bind this stuff and create shape and texture.
What Is The Problem With Carbs In Cat Food?
Ok, so modern cat food has loads of carbs in to make it cheaper and easier to use (dry food). It doesn’t fit the natural ideal. But cats do eat some carbs and mine seems fine on it – so what is the big deal?
The big deal is obesity and diabetes leading to a reduced and uncomfortable lifespan at the worst end of the scale, including all the side issues relating to obesity like worn-out joints and heart disease. At the less severe end of the scale, you have allergies and sensitivities that occur as your cat rejects non-species appropriate foods – cereal, fruits, vegetables – in other words, carbs.
Here is how the carbohydrates in cat food cause obesity in cats :
Your cat is an obligate carnivore. This means they get energy and nutrients from animal-based proteins and fats. Even if you add carbs to their diet they utilize protein for energy first and foremost. In fact, they have issues mobilizing energy from carbs as they are missing critical enzymes that allow the transaction to occur. What happens is that the carbs, which can’t be efficiently utilized for energy are instead laid down as fat deposits. This gradually creates an obesity problem that leads to diabetes.
How Do I Identify These Carbs?
Simple, look out for anything on the ingredient label that sounds like either a cereal, vegetable or fruit. The usual suspects are wheat, corn, soy, potatoes, peas, apples, cranberries and more – you get the picture.
You also get indigestible carbs called fiber. This stuff is plant-based and passes straight through the digestive system. This stuff turns up on the food labels as beet pulp, cellulose, pectin, guar gum, alfalfa, pea fiber, etc.
If you see any of these items on the ingredients labels then you know the food has carbs in it – and it is likely to be a substantial percentage of the food particularly if it is dry food.
Which Cat Foods Should I Avoid?
I am going to show you some of the best choices – and they are not all expensive options. But if you wanted to do something right now I would eliminate dry cat food from your cats’ diet. Feed your cat only wet food. Simply put, wet food just doesn’t have all the binders and fillers, which are carb-based that dry food has plus your cat gets the added benefit of getting the correct water intake – as nature intended – from its food.
“But dry food is convenient, I can leave it out all day. My cat is indoor and gets loads of hairball. My cat is overweight and needs a weight maintenance control diet. My cat has urinary tract issues a needs a specialist diet – and that is usually dry. My cat has sensitivities and throws up/gets gas/suffers diarrhea”. Yada yada yada..
Your cat’s problem is too many carbs, lack of moisture and you wanting convenience! Your cat gets hairball because they don’t have the moisture in their diet to keep their GI tract lubricated and moving optimally, your cat is overweight because they are eating carbs that get laid down as fat because they can’t efficiently liberate the energy from the carbs, your cat has urinary issues because they don’t have enough moisture in their system to flush their bladder out (and drinking water can’t make up for moisture missing from dietary sources), your cat has sensitivities because it is eating peas, corn and apples just like a tiger?!?!! Doh!
So first things first ditch the dry food. Next up ditch wet food with gravy or sauce – gravy and sauce are thickened by carbs in the form of flour.
A special word on “grain-free” dry food – it is a marketing gimmick. The carbs from grains are just replaced with carbs from potato, peas, soy, etc. “Oh but my cat suffers allergies due to grains” fine, now the carbs from potato and soy are going to condemn them to obesity – have it your way…
As a rule of thumb, aim to avoid dry foods, avoid all cat foods with more than 15% carbs aim for foods with 10% or less and preferably 2-4% as nature intended.
What Are The Benefits Of High Protein, Low Carb Wet Food?
This is easy – you get a normal cat as nature intended specifically you will see a cat with :
- More energy
- At a normal weight.
- Less risk of diabetes
- Less risk of sensitivity/allergies to foods
- Better condition
- Less kidney disease – more water intake is shown to reduce the prevalence of kidney disease.
- Less Urinary tract issues – loads of moisture washing out their system
- Altogether fewer vet bills and a longer, carefree, lifespan.
Best High Protein Low Carb Cat Food
If you read the labels on cat food you will realize just how hard they make it to identify cat food with low carbs. They usually give you a list that tells you how much fat, how much protein and how much moisture by percentage is in the food. You could work out, roughly, the percentage of carbs in the dry mass from this general information and then work out the percentage of calories those carbs represent – but even that might not be wholly accurate given that the labeling of food batch by batch might not be accurate.
The only true way to know the carb content is to directly ask the manufacturer. Luckily someone has already gone to the trouble and created this list from the responses given by the manufacturers: Carb content in cat food – list.
To save you the time of going through the list in detail, although you are welcome to, we have found five of the best foods that naturally mimic the nutrient profile a cat should eat. We have obviously avoided high carb foods and those over 10% but also avoided high fat or low protein options. In no particular order, here are five of the best high protein low carb cat foods that will be great for your cat :
Evangers Against The Grain Caribbean Club With Chicken And Cheese Cat Food
This stuff sounds like human food and some people even swear it smells like human food. However, it is not human food and that is not the point. The point is that this food has a nutrient profile that comes close to resembling what a cat should actually be eating. It is formulated to contain 77% protein, 23% fat, 0% carbs and 82% moisture.
Now, granted, it is not bang on the profile – but animal protein is high and carbs are low. Additionally, there is enough fat to fit the profile but probably a little too much water to be perfect. It seems to me that the manufacturer has probably got too much protein, too much water and not enough fat – but honestly, that doesn’t sound like a bad way to go.
In terms of texture, this is a shredded style chicken with a very thin gravy/broth/sauce to keep it from going dry. As with any cat foods some cats love it, others won’t touch it – seems to depend on what your cat is used to and if they even identify the texture as food.
From a price perspective, this food is often 20 – 25% more expensive than a bog-standard, no-frills wet cat food (that probably contains 20% carbs, 50% fat and 30% protein). Available in 2.8oz cans.
- High protein – 77% dry weight
- Low carb – 0%
- Decent fat content – 23%
- Grain free – good for cats with sensitivities
- Not every cat likes the flavor or texture.
- Slightly too much water to be perfect.
Purina Fancy Feast Purely Natural Chicken Entree In Broth
This Purina fancy feast formula is a great choice if you are looking at hitting high protein and low carb numbers. The chicken in broth version comes in at 75% animal protein, 25% fat and 0% carbs with moisture running at 82%.
The moisture is a little higher than we would like but then high moisture is good for kidney health, urinary issues and keeping your cat’s digestive system moving efficiently so we probably shouldn’t complain too much!
In fact all the fancy feast purely in broth flavor options, and there are at least 7 of them, are a safe bet if you are looking for cat food that closely mimics the natural macro breakdown of the cat’s diet in the wild! However, gravy and pate versions see carbs rise to over 15% and protein drop below 50% so makes sure you pick up the correct formulation – think “broth”.
This food gets loads of good reviews from owners who find their cat really gets on with the tastes. If you have a picky eater you are sure to find a flavor that suits.
A lot of Purina pet foods are made in the USA but I think this one might be a product of Thailand – so if that bothers you now know!
This is not the cheapest option on the high protein, low carb list (Purina actually does a better value option if your budget won’t stretch to this – see below), but not the most expensive option either. The great thing about this range is the diversity of flavors meaning a picky cat will probably like at least one of the flavor options. Other selections/ranges don’t have as many flavor choices.
- High protein – 75%
- Low carb – 0%
- Good fat levels – 25%
- Range of flavor choices – 7
- Grain free
- Not made in the USA – Air miles!!
- Slightly high water content – positive for health, negative for wallet value.
- Some of the fats are plant based – sunflower oils…
Fussie Cat Premium Cat Food Tuna Formula
If your cat is a Tuna lover, then the Fussie Cat Premium Cat Food Tuna formula 2.82oz is well worth a look. Although it sounds expensive, it is not as expensive as some of the other high protein low carb options.
The range includes 12 tuna based options like tuna with chicken, tuna with shrimp, tuna with clams and the like. So enough variation to keep kitty interested.
All but two flavors are low low carb (0-4%) with the Tuna c/w breadfin (8%) and Tuna c/w chicken liver(5%) coming in a little higher but still below the 10% threshold. Each flavor option comes in at roughly 25% fat and 70% protein. Moisture runs at 84% which makes it expensive water but from a health perspective great for your cat.
The texture of this food is a gel so if your cat doesn’t like shredded food this might be a good option to try.
Loads of owners report great results with this food with reports of picky eaters tucking in like hungry lions – whether this is due to the tuna taste effect we will never know.
It strikes me that not many owners have come across this food – it doesn’t really push itself out there as low carb or high protein – which is surprising considering how many cats enjoy tuna.
Either way, it is a food with a natural macronutrient balance for your cat – although Tuna might not be a good long term bet (heavy metals and all)
- Protein 70%
- Fat 25%
- Carbs 0-8% depending on flavor option
- Grain free
- Tuna – too much might be a problem…
- A little more water than we would like from a cost perspective
- Some fat from sunflower oil rather than animal fat
Purina Pro Plan Natural Chicken And Turkey Entree
Got a gravy lover in the house? This might be the best choice for you! Purina Pro Plan Natural Chicken And turkey Entree is a high protein, low carb food that represents decent value for money. The protein levels come in at 57%, carbs are 6%, fats are 37% and moisture is 82%. Not a bad balance – maybe slightly more carbs than ideal but easily under the 10% you are doing well marker. Moisture is a little higher than we might like coming in at over 80% but protein and fat still make up the right numbers.
If chicken and turkey in gravy is not a flavor your cat appreciates then the same range has four other options that meet the correct macros to replicate what your cat should be eating in the natural world, although some of the ingredients might not be species-appropriate food – most of the alternate choices have fish! (If the macros are all important and the species don’t bother you check out – chicken and salmon in sauce, ocean whitefish, and trout in sauce, beef and liver in gravy, salmon and catfish in sauce – all are high animal protein, low carb options).
The chicken and turkey offering from Purina is a pate blend, is made in the USA and comes in 3oz cans. This food comes well recommended by owners who suggest that their cats really take to the flavor and enjoy this food.
There is also a grain-free version of this food that doesn’t contain any wheat gluten if you have a cat that suffers allergies or sensitivities to grain. For most cats that are free of allergies this low carb version, even with wheat gluten, should closely resemble a natural macro spread that your cat can eat naturally.
- High protein – 57%
- Decent levels of animal fats – 37%
- Low carb – under 10%
- Price – good middle of the road value.
- A little high on water content
- Contains grains
Tiki Cat Napili Luau Chicken And Salmon Cat Food
The Tiki Cat Canned Napili Luau is another great choice if you are looking for a high protein (72%), low carb (0%) food for your cat. Fat comes in at 28%, although some of that fat is plant-based (sunflower oil) rather than animal-based. It is grain-free and compares favorably with our other selections on moisture content coming in at 79% rather than being in the 80’s.
The food is a shredded texture rather than a pate so some cats might find texture an issue initially until you convert them by gradually swapping them over form food they are used to.
This cat food is available in a 2.8oz or 6oz can so you might use 2.8oz and go with several different flavor meals in a day or opt for a regime of only this single flavor each day with a 6oz can.
This food seems to be highly rated by owners on the basis that usually finicky eaters seem to really get on with the flavor and texture of this food – a good sign if you are worried about your cat’s reaction to a change in their diet! Owners also note that it is good value for the ingredients when compared to other brands so that might influence you if you are budget conscious rather than ideologically driven to get food that is natural for your cat no matter the cost.
- High protein – 72%
- Low carb – 0%
- Fat – 28%
- Some fat from plant sources
If you are looking for high protein and low carb then all these choices are good options and it comes down to cost and what your cat will eat. We would try the Purina Pro Natural Chicken or the Tiki Cat option first up based purely on price and macros.
If you want to get the closest, species-appropriate natural food for your cat and don’t really figure the cost is important if the cat food is the correct formula then we would recommend Purina Fancy Feast Chicken Broth food. It does have sunflower oil in it making up the fat formula – but here is the thing, you can’t get commercial cat food that is entirely natural because the manufacturers are always looking to make a buck by adding water, plant material or lower-cost species non-appropriate proteins like fish. If you want entirely appropriate food for your cat you need to make it up yourself – it is not that hard, check this out.