Carbohydrates In Australian Cat Foods

Updated May 27, 2021

This page is a companion to our articles on homemade low carb diets for cats and the problems with commercial cat foods.

cat food analysis

Carbohydrates are the only major nutrient not to be declared on cat foods. Therefore, I’ve done three things:

  1. Created an online carbohydrate calculator for wet and dry pet foods
  2. Estimated the carbohydrate levels in a wide range of pouch or tinned foods
  3. Showed you how I worked out these figures

Pet Food Carbohydrate Calculator

Note: as you will see later, these figures are only estimates. They are hopefully close to the truth but cannot be verified without analysis.

Carb Levels In Adult Cat Foods

Please Note: I have not included:

  • The nearly 50% of can and pouch cat foods sold in Australia that aren’t complete foods. Click the link to learn more.
  • Any dry foods- these all contain carbohydrate levels between 20 and 35%
  • Foods that do not disclose either the carbohydrate level, or protein, fat, ash & fibre levels so I can work it out (e.g. Feline Natural, Fussy Cat, Whiskas, Dine)
FoodCarbs as %Dry Mass
Holistic Select Chicken Pâté tin0**
Holistic Select Turkey & Salmon Pâté tin0**
PRO PLAN Adult Salmon & Rice Entrée tin0**
PRO PLAN Adult Chicken & Liver Entrée tin2.3**
PRO PLAN Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Entrée2.3**
Holistic Select Salmon & Shrimp Pâté tin4.6
Holistic Select Chicken Liver & Lamb Pâté tin6.4
Holistic Select Turkey Pâté Recipe tin6.8
Royal Canin Instinctive Adult in Jelly8.0
Fancy Feast Chicken & Giblet Pate tin9.0
Fancy Feast Petit Cuisine (many)9.0
Holistic Select Ocean Fish & Tuna Pâté tin9.1
PRO PLAN Adult Chicken Entrée tin9.1
Fancy Feast Cod, Sole & Shrimp tin13.6
Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers tins (2)13.9
Elevate Adult Healthy Weight pouches14
Fancy Feast ‘Feast In Gravy’ (many)14.0
PRO PLAN Adult Chicken & Rice Entrée tin14.0
PRO PLAN Adult Tuna Entrée Tin14.0
Purina Fancy Feast pouches (many)14.0
Royal Canin Instinctive Adult in Loaf*15.5
Purina Fancy Feast Inspirations pouches*15.9
Purina Felix pouches (many)*16.8
PRO PLAN Adult Turkey & Giblets Entrée tin17.3
Fancy Feast Cheddar Delights tins (2)17.5
PRO PLAN Adult Beef Entrée with Carrots tin17.5
PRO PLAN Salmon Entrée with Wild Rice tin17.5
Veganpet Vegan Cat Food tins19.2
Ziwi Peak Tins (all varieties)20.5
Felix Sensation Jellies (many)21
Fancy Feast Roast Chicken/ Carved Beef21.8
Royal Canin Instinctive Adult in Gravy*22.3
Hill’s Hairball Control Savory Chicken24.9
Hill’s Salmon Tender Chunks in Gravy28.3
Hill’s Tender Tuna Dinner Tin28.9
Hill’s Savory Turkey Entrée Tin29.3
Hill’s Tender Chicken Dinner Tin29.8
Hill’s Ocean Fish Entrée Tin30.2
Hill’s Ocean Fish Tender Chunks in Gravy30.4
Hill’s Seared Tuna & Carrot Medley Tin31.1
Hill’s Chicken Tender Chunks in Gravy32.5
Purina Friskies pouches (many)*34.1
Hill’s Roasted Chicken & Rice Medley Tin34.4

I have avoided supermarket own-brands and ‘special’ diets like light, hairball, indoor, urinary, senior etc).
* Moisture not declared so given average value of 78%
** some numbers seem impossible; the first three have ingredients adding up to 100.7%, 100.5% & 100% respectively before carbs are considered (my guess is that actual moisture levels are lower than the ‘max’ figures supplied).

Carbs In Kitten Foods

FoodCarbs as %DM (est)
PRO PLAN Kitten Chicken & Liver Entree2.1
Fancy Feast Kitten Whitefish Feast tin4.6
Royal Canin Kitten Instinctive in Loaf*10.9
Hill’s Kitten Liver & Chicken Entrée tin15
Royal Canin Kitten Instinctive in Jelly*16.4
Royal Canin Kitten Instinctive in Gravy*17.7
Hill’s Kitten Tender Chicken Dinner tin19.2
Hill’s Kitten Roasted Chicken & Rice Medley28.9

Kitten foods are much harder. Many companies just don’t offer them.

How to find out the carbohydrate content of your cat’s food

This is the same method I used above- it may slightly overestimate the true level but should be within a few percent.

Most foods have a Guaranteed Analysis. Weirdly, it doesn’t include carbs, but that’s OK; you can work them out from everything else.

Let’s use the Grain Free Blackhawk as an example. I’m not saying it’s any better or worse than other foods.

  1. Add up the %Crude Protein, Crude Fat, Ash, Crude Fibre and Moisture (34+16+3.5+8+10=71.5)
  2. Subtract this number from 100% (100-71.5=28.5)
  3. The carbohydrate level is approximately 28.5% (It’s not going to be exact but should be close)

This is as fed. To be able to compare wet and dry foods, let’s make it as a % of dry matter.

  1. Turn the moisture percent into a fraction (10% = 0.1. A wet food would be around 80% = 0.8)
  2. Subtract this from 1 (1-0.1=0.9. With wet foods, you’ll get a number around 0.2)
  3. Divide the nutrients by this number (28.5 / 0.9 = 31.7%).Remember these numbers are only estimations.

Now go out and explore. Please leave us a comment with your findings!

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Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!

Date on this page were collected as follows:
Fancy Feast, Purina, Veganpet: from package labels at Foodland Norwood 6/8/18
Hill’s from hillspet.com.au, Royal Canin from royalcanin.com.au, Ziwipeak from ziwipets.com, PRO PLAN from proplannutrition.com.au, Holistic Select from holisticselect.com.au. All accessed 7/8/18.

Andrew

14 Replies to “Carbohydrates In Australian Cat Foods”

  1. I have also been using Dr Pierson’s chart and the FF cod, sole and shrimp is less than 10% on it. I also contacted Purina myself about the Felix Jellies sensation pouches and they said the carbs range from 0.66 to 1.18 g/100g so I thought they were low carb. I also believe all whiskas loaf varieties are low carb. Also, ziwi peak actually state carbs on their website and I think one or two varieties are low. Maybe worth a check. Altogether it’s a minefield, so I’m thankful for your hard work.

    1. Thanks Rowena. Don’t forget with the jellies that their figures probably include moisture, which I have excluded for greater comparability. The Ziwi Peak figures are higher than expected, aren’t they! I also took these from their website but they nicely agree with my calculations for the products I mentioned. Of course it’s possible that they have changed since then. I will look into the fancy feast you mention as well.

  2. Hi Andrew – what a wonderful site you have here. Our 5 yr old cat has just been diagnosed with diabetes. She has always been very thin so there is suspicion she has an underlying issue. My guess is IBD, as she has had gut issues since a kitten. She gets skin sores from itchy skin from certain foods too.
    She was actually in ketoacidosis a few days ago so was/is very unwell. Vets have started her on insulin. They sent her home with a well known brand diabetes food…I am worried this is going to further inflame her gut…she won’t touch the tins, only the dry.
    If I can, I would love to avoid a life of diabetes and IBD managed by steroids and a diet that is not healing her gut.
    May I ask what percentage of carbs is acceptable for a diabetic cat from the above list?
    I had it all planned in my head that I would give her a homemade raw food diet but now you have me questioning everything!

    1. Hi Jane. There is no agreed safe level of carbohydrates for diabetic cats, but some are acceptable. Just go as low as you can practically go while maintaining a balanced diet. You will find in some of the links alternatives such as having a food designed by a veterinary nutritionist, or buying complete and balanced raw foods. However, the proprietary diabetes food is fine as long as a cat tolerates these types of foods. The symptoms you describe have many more common reasons than the food but they would take some investigation of their own.

  3. Hi Andrew,At the moment I am feeding balanced raw,I use Raw Meow mix,you add it to muscle meats.My cats are thriving.Its just costing me soooo much.I also feed cans,but they just not keen on many.My dog is fed Delicate Care dry food made in WA and bones three times a week.Was thinking of moving cats to Delicate Care dental diet,I worked out 42 per cent carbs.Both cats this year have had bloods and both perfect.Such a minefield.Tried Ziwipeak,Feline Naturals,just won’t eat.So basically not sure what to do

  4. Hello, thank you so much for your blog. I’ve been reading all your posts to educate myself as a new kitten mama. I’ve just adopted at 10 week old kitten and have been feeding him Dine Kitten (Tuna, Chicken) and Felix Kitten (variety of flavours). I can’t see these in your list and was wondering if they are ok? If not can you suggest a better alternative?

    1. Hi Tracy. I think from memory Dine didn’t publish enough information on their packets to be able to make the assessment, and Felix is made by Purina, which means you can get an idea from looking for that on the chart. Of course, there is the carb calculator if you have decent information on the packet but you need all of those parameters present.

  5. Hi Dr Andrew,

    Thank you for your informative article. I just have a couple of questions.

    1. What is an acceptable range of carbohydrate content in commercial foods? I assume the less carbs the better but what % is considered too high?

    2. My cats love raw meat. Can I mix raw meat in with a low carb tinned food so that the important vitamins, minerals and taurine missing from the raw meat are included?

    1. Hi Corinne. This is tricky to answer. “Acceptable’ depends a lot on the cat, as most will tolerate carbohydrates even at the extreme levels we see of 35%. Ideally they would be up to 10%. Regarding raw meat, it actually does contain taurine but you are right that too much will cause an imbalance in other nutrients. I would keep this to below one quarter of the diet.

  6. Hi Andrew,
    I was just looking at a Science Diet can for Urinary and Hairball Control. ‘Savory Chicken Entree’
    It says :
    Crude protein 7%
    Crude fat 3.5%
    Crude fiber 1.5% Minimum, Maximum 4%
    Moisture 78%

    Going by the calculations this should be fine?

    Thank you!
    Patty

  7. Hi Andrew, I found your post today and wondered how current it is? An amazingly helpful list, thank you! I have a diabetic cat so have moved her off the dry food and onto FF pate. But I am concerned that you rate the Chicken/Giblet pate as 9% carbs, when other research I have done suggests it is much lower – around 2%. This makes it all very confusing! The USA has so many pate choices, yet here in Aust it is very limited, so good to see the PRO PLAN variety is ok too. I might try it. Thank you again

    1. Hi Penny. The list is less than six months old. If you have conflicting data, I would be very interested to see them, as this is information not usually supplied by the manufacturers. The numbers I report are estimates – I have explained how I arrived at these figures in the text so you can check them yourself.

      1. Hi Andrew, I was going by Dr Lisa Pierson’s chart which I have also found extremely useful – I wonder if you know it?
        It certainly is a minefield out there!
        Thanks again for your time.
        penny

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