Best High Protein, Low Carb Cat Food – Reviews of the Top Wet and Dry Brands

If you’re looking for the best high protein, low carb cat food, you’ve come to the right place.

And if you’re looking for that specific blend of food, did you know that what you’re actually looking for is the best cat food overall?

That’s because the best foods will be high protein and low carbohydrate, because that is exactly what cats want and need to eat as obligate carnivores.

Studies on both indoor, commercially-fed cats, and feral and stray cats show that cats will self-select food sources that result in a macronutrient profile in this range (dry-matter basis used):

  • Protein: 52-63%
  • Fat: 22-36%
  • Carbohydrate: 2.8-12% (with “wild” cats on the very low end of this range)

What we believe this shows is that cats have evolved to thrive on a high protein, moderate fat, and low carb diet.

You might also be looking for this type of food if you have a diabetic cat, and believe that carbs are the enemy, so to speak.

Quick-Find Best Low Carb Cat Food Table

ImageProduct 
  • Fresh, handmade food
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  • Excellent nutrient profile
  • Fresh, handmade food
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  • Excellent nutrient profile
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  • Joint Health
  • High protein, high fat
  • Multiple organ meats
  • Zero Carbs
  • High protein, high fat
  • Multiple organ meats
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  • Zero Carb Dry Food
  • Highest protein available
  • Full of meat ingredients
  • Zero Carb Dry Food
  • Highest protein available
  • Full of meat ingredients
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  • Raw for maximum nutrients
  • Convenient
  • Ideal feline diet
  • Raw for maximum nutrients
  • Convenient
  • Ideal feline diet
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Why Feed High Protein, Low Carb Food To Your Cat

As I just touched on, it’s literally the best food combination you can feed your cat.

As obligate carnivores, cats need animal meat to survive and thrive.

Never in their history did cats evolve to consume carbohydrate-rich foods. The most carbohydrates eaten by a cat in the wild will be the stomach contents of the prey it eats…usually just a couple percent of a cat’s overall diet.

Because studies continually show that cats want to eat this sort of food, we believe that it is not controversial to assume that this is the ideal feline diet.

Benefits of a High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Cat Food Diet

Other than giving your cat exactly what his body wants and needs to thrive, a lot of good can come from this sort of diet, for both diabetic cats and non diabetic cats alike.

  • Reduced gastrointestinal distress
  • More energy
  • Healthier overall
  • Lower chance of diabetes and reduced cat’s blood sugar levels
  • Less risk of inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, FLUTD, and a variety of other illnesses
  • Cats can’t digest carbs as well as protein, and the carbohydrates take room out of the diet that otherwise could be protein
  • Potentially longer life

Now, many of these things might also be attributed to a diet that does NOT include dry food.

Because most dry foods require carbs to bind into a kibble form, they’re typically quite high in carbohydrates, and dry food is often the cause of many of the issues mentioned above.

You’ll find that almost all of our top picks below are wet foods (though we provided one dry food in case you really are dead set on feeding dry).

Should You Feed Low Carb Or No Carb (Zero Carb)?

The lower the carbohydrates, the better, typically.

As seen in the studies, cats can get away with a small amount of carbs, but we typically like to keep it under 10-12%.

Many of our suggestions are zero carb, though.

How We Chose The Best High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Foods

Our database of cat foods contains over 2000 individual foods.

We collected all the relevant information on each product, including:

  • AAFCO Rating
  • Ingredient list
  • Macronutrient profiles (Guaranteed Analysis, Dry-Matter Basis, and Caloric Basis)
  • Price and price per pound
  • Calories per 100 grams
  • Whether meat is the first ingredient
  • How each food compares to the average of all foods on a macronutrient basis
  • Whether the recipe uses more than 4 controversial ingredients

Each of these data points works together to form a star rating on a 1-5 star scale (including half points).

  1. If the food’s first ingredient is meat, it gets 1 point.
  2. If the food does not use unnamed meat ingredients (“meat by-products”), it gets 1 point.
  3. If the food has an above average protein level on a dry-matter basis, compared to all other foods in the database, it gets 1 point. If it has an average amount, it gets .5 points.
  4. If the recipe contains fewer than 4 controversial ingredients (not necessarily bad ingredients), it gets 1 point. If it contains exactly 4 it gets .5 points.
  5. The final available point is a discretionary point that we award based on things like carbohydrate content, inclusion of probiotics and vitamins, and other points, and is our judgement call on a food’s quality and biological appropriateness for your cat.

We think that this system provides a fair, transparent system by which we can compare all foods on an equal footing, and give you the easiest possible time when choosing the best of the best.

Reviews Of The Best Low Carb, High Protein Cat Foods

#1. Nom Nom Fresh Wet Cat Food (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

nomnomnow chicken

Catological Rating: 5/5 stars

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 66.7%
Fat: 14.81%
Carbs: 8.15%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liver, carrot

Nom Nom is basically our number one choice across all cat foods, and it is a perfect fit as the top choice in this list.

It is incredibly high in protein, featuring a variety of cuts of chicken, including organ meat.

The added chicken liver is vital to your cat’s health, giving far more vitamins and minerals than muscle meat.

The ingredient list is short, and there’s nothing in there you don’t want to see.

Nom Nom actually makes all of their own food in their own kitchen, and then sends it to you as a delivery service.

Think of it this way: you get all the benefits of a veterinary-formulated, homemade diet, with NONE of the hassle.

Is there anything better?

Plus, it’s about the same price as other premium cat foods.

While it does contain a few carbohydrate ingredients, they’re all whole-food and they’re added to mimic the stomach contents of a cat’s prey.

This is as natural, as ideal, as convenient, and as good as you can possibly get in a cat food.

Oh, and they’re offering our readers 50% off your first order.

Highly, highly recommended.

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#2. Crave Grain-Free Food Tray Chicken Cuts in Gravy Wet Cat Food

crave grain free

Catological Rating: 5/5 stars

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 50%
Fat: 19.44%
Carbs: 5.6%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Pork Plasma

While the packaging is a bit strange (it comes in individual serving pouches), take a look at the ingredient list and the macronutrient profile.

Super low carb, huge protein, and the protein even includes a number of organ meats, which as we’ve noted, is incredibly important to your cat’s health.

There’s a bit of tapioca starch and a bit of tomato in here, but if those are your only “secondary” ingredients, you’re in real good company.

This received a perfect rating in our database, and is one of only a few foods to do so.

You’ll also notice that it lacks ingredients like carrageenan, which some people prefer to avoid because of it’s reputation as a carcinogen.

It’s a clean, simple food, with an innovative package design, and it ticks all the boxes.

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#3. Feline Natural Grain-Free New Zealand Chicken & Venison Canned Cat Food

feline natural grain free

Catological Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 51.4%
Fat: 28.6%
Carbs: 7.4%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Heart, Venison Kidney, Venison Liver

This is an interesting food that uses novelty protein sources, including venison.

This can be helpful when your cat has food allergies and can’t eat other, more common proteins.

Of course the venison here is in the form of very high quality organ meats (you’ll notice a theme that all high quality cat foods tend to include organs).

Feline Naturals has one of the shortest ingredient lists for a Complete and Balanced cat food. That’s because the whole food ingredients they use are so packed with vitamins and minerals, they don’t need to add any artificial ones at the end.

Because of that this could be the cleanest canned food you can offer your cat (and comes in only slightly behind Nom Nom for fresh, real food).

Part of this is because it includes blood.

Gross to you and me, sure, but for your cat it’s like steak and lobster.

You’ll also find green-lipped mussels, which, as we said above, are fantastic for joint health as your cat ages.

We may rate it #4, but honestly this is one of my personal favorite foods, and at least one of the flavors they offer will be a crowd pleaser for your feline friends.

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#4. Wysong Epigen 90 Starch Free Dry Cat Food (Best Low Carb Dry Food)

wysong epigen 90

Catological Rating: 5/5 stars

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 70%
Fat: 17.8%
Carbs: 0%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Organic Chicken, Meat Protein Isolate, Chicken Fat

Every time I look at this food, I can still hardly believe what Wysong was able to produce.

If you looked at the macronutrient profile alone, you’d assume it was a wet food.

I mean, it has a better nutrient profile than almost anything on this list!

And yet…it’s kibble.

Whaaaaat???

It uses gelatin rather than a plant based or synthetic thickening agent, and then the only non-meat ingredients are coconut oil, chia seeds, apple pectin, yeast extract, chicory root, rosemary extract, yeast culture, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.

It still blows my mind that they figured out how to make this.

If you want/need to feed a dry food for whatever reason, there is literally no other option that could appear higher on this particular list.

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#5. Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Dry Cat Food

dr elseys cleanprotein

Catological Rating: 5/5 stars

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 67.1%
Fat: 20.4%
Carbs: 0%

First 4 Ingredients: Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin

Alright, the Wysong option above is so good it’s hard to think that any dry food could come close.

But then you look at Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein and realize it’s pretty much just as good.

I’m beginning to sense a theme here, and that is the use of gelatin as a thickening agent.

It seems that this particular animal-based ingredient helps to keep kibble solid, meaning that these companies can ditch all the usual fillers found in dry cat food.

Makes you wonder why the other companies don’t follow suit, right?

Maybe it’s because these recipes are more expensive to make, even though they’re WAY better for your cat than usual dry food.

Hmm…

Anyway, the only major non-animal ingredient in this food is flaxseed, which are a fairly typical addition to cat food, and should be a useful fiber source.

Otherwise, the ingredient label reads pretty much like any other wet food.

Of course, the reason these two foods aren’t higher in this list, is because they are still dry, which means they have a very low moisture level.

Since cats have a low thirst drive, eating only dry food can cause dehydration and kidney issues.

So if you choose to feed this to your cat, we recommend getting the best cat water fountain you can find in order to try to convince your cat to drink enough water to make up for the dry food consumption.

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#6. Vital Essentials Mini Patties Rabbit Freeze Dried Cat Food

vital essentials mini patties

Catological Rating: 5/5 stars

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

Protein: 56.5%
Fat: 16.3%
Carbs: 14.1%

First 4 Ingredients: Finely Ground Whole Rabbit, Rabbit Heart, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Lungs

Alright, if we’re honest here, other than Nom Nom and other fresh cat foods, freeze-dried is probably the absolute best way to feed your cat.

The problem is, it’s incredibly expensive.

And even though the ingredient list is super limited, there somehow manages to be higher than usual calories compared to others on this list.

Whether it’s the goat milk, the rabbit blood, or the fact that an entire whole rabbit is ground up, something gives it a slightly higher carb amount than we’d expect.

This could well be explained away due to the way that macronutrients are calculated in cat food, though.

I can almost guarantee that it’s sub 10%, and perhaps even close to zero.

Anyway, freeze dried food takes raw food, which is what cats would eat in the wild, and sucks the moisture out, leaving shelf-stable food that does not lose nutrition in the way that cooking a dry food or wet food does.

Therefore, this is almost the same to your cat as hunting and eating live prey.

It’s basically just rabbit. And more rabbit.

Did you know that rabbits are the single most common source of food in studies of wild and feral cats?

So yeah, this is pretty much a perfect food for any cat…if you’ve got the money.

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Emily Parker
 

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Velma Mills - June 8, 2019

I love the precise and easy to grasp info. I trusted the info here as it is so straight forward and easy to understand. I have 3 cats and one has had a uti problem in the past so I am very particular about his diet. one of the foods I have been feeding is being dropped and I didn’t like their replacement so am looking. This is wonderful info for my research. Thank you.

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