Evidence does not support the controversy regarding carbohydrates in feline diets

Dorothy P. Laflamme, Robert C. Backus, S. Dru Forrester, Margarethe Hoenig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although adult cats, as with most other mammals, do not require a dietary source of carbohydrates, they do have physiological requirements for the carbohydrate, glucose. Cats have considerable metabolic flexibility and carbohydrates can provide a protein-sparing effect, meaning that less protein is required for gluconeogenesis when dietary carbohydrates are provided. So long as dietary protein needs are met, cats are able to adapt well to either high-fat or high-carbohydrate diets. Dietary carbohydrates, within nutritionally balanced diets, do not appear to have adverse effects in healthy cats. However, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets have been identified as increasing the risk for development of obesity in cats. Depending on the specific formulation, we suggest that diets for healthy cats should not exceed 40% to 50% of calories from carbohydrates to assure all other nutrient needs are met. While higher compared to lower carbohydrate diets may lead to greater postprandial blood glucose concentrations, there is no evidence that the concentrations reported are detrimental rather than physiological. There is no evidence to conclude that high carbohydrate diets lead to diabetes mellitus in cats. However, although the evidence is very limited, it appears that low-carbohydrate diets (≤ 26% of ME) may help diabetic cats improve glucose control and achieve remission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-513
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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