Cats and Carbs

We read a lot about “carbs” and how much you should have in your diet. We also see lots of fad diets promoting “low carb”, or “high carb” come and go. It’s hard to keep track of how much carbohydrates is good in your diet.
It’s even harder for our pets. But one thing that is true is that a diet high in carbohydrates can lead to feline diabetes, so keeping track of the carbs in your cat’s diet is not only important, it’s critical. Dry kibble tends to have a higher carbohydrate content than canned and cats who eat a lot of carbs may have a tenancy to become overweight, which puts them at higher risk for diabetes.
We’ve written before about cats higher protein requirements. Cats are able to metabolize carbohydrates and use it as fuel, but they are better off with low percentage of carbs compared to protein and fat. A study at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire, England “kitties have a daily calorie ‘intake target’ that is equal to 52 percent protein, 36 percent fat and 12 percent carbohydrate”.

cats and carbs

The carb content in most commercial kibble is much higher than that and while cats may do okay with a higher carb content, that is when they become at risk for diabetes and other weight related health problems.

Why does cat food contain such a high percentage of carbs – well it’s simple really, carbs are cheaper to manufacture, so cat food makers add more carbs as filler in the food. As the links between high carbs and diabetes and other diseases grow, cat food manufacturers are taking note and adding more grain free foods to their line. Eliminating the carbs found in rice, wheat, oats and other ingredients you will see in commercial kibble is a great first step.

Be sure and read your cat’s food label. It has all of the information that you need to calculate the % carbohydrates. You may also consider adding more canned food to your cat’s diet to counter-balance a carb-heavy kibble.

Additional Resources:
Largest Study EVER Confirms What Cats Really Want to Eat…
Cats and Carbs: An Update on Feline Diabetes
Carbohydrates as Energy Sources in Cat Foods


We’re joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol’s Notes:


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  1. I’m really uninformed when it comes to cat nutrition as I don’t have any of my own right now. I do remember reading an article where a woman tried to put her cat on a vegetarian diet and it became extremely ill. Thankfully proper vet care and education saved this kitty, but I’m grateful for places like this for people to learn.

  2. Great information! We do see a number of kitties with diabetes but luckily for kitties there is a chance that they can go into remission which isn’t the case for dogs.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Bad Mom No Biscuit~Gambler Blows A MoccasinMy Profile

  3. We’ve added more canned food to the cats’ diets now, but I still need to take a closer look at what we are feeding them for the dry kibble. We feed the dogs grain free, so why not the cats?
    Jan K recently posted…Beagle in the SunMy Profile

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