Mar Vista Animal Medical Center

3850 Grand View Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066




It is now well known that optimal dietary management for the cat consists of a high protein / low carbohydrate diet, a completely different strategy than what is recommended for diabetic dogs. Appropriate foods may be either canned or dry and are probably best fed in meals as has been traditionally recommended though there are some exceptions. The following guidelines have been suggested:

  • Obese cats will require weight loss in order to achieve regulation. High protein / low carbohydrate diets are excellent for this purpose. Once an appropriate food has been selected, equal amounts should be fed approximately 12 hours apart just prior to insulin injections. Feeding in meals discourages snacking and helps with weight loss.
  • Obese cats should not lose more than 2% of their body weight per week. If they do, they are at high risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, a form of liver failure. This is a very serious complication and should be avoided. If your cat is losing weight too quickly, notify your veterinarian.
  • Skinny diabetic cats may have food left out at all times.
  • The diet in question should be relatively high in arginine. Arginine is an amino acid that is stimulatory to the pancreatic beta cells that secrete insulin. Most meat-based proteins are high in arginine.
  • The diet in question should be relatively high in L-carnitine, a biochemical which assists in transporting fats into cells to facilitate metabolism.

There are several diets designed specifically to meet these guidelines:

Purina DM

Hill's M/D

Royal Canin DS

Most canned foods for cats are made to be adequately high in protein/low in carbohydrate. Here is a list that has been put together should your cat find the prescription diets unacceptable.


Look for the listing of Hills M/d diet and compare other foods on the list for protein content at least as high and carbohydrate content at least as low.

If a canned food you are looking for is not there, it might be on their “old” page:



Dry alternatives to the prescription diets are very difficult to find as you will see from this list but there are a few.

Page posted: 1/20/10