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Food for Cats With Diabetes - Diabetic Cat Diet

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. September 21, 2023
Food for Cats With Diabetes - Diabetic Cat Diet

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Cats with diabetes need to eat protein-rich food which avoids nutrients such as high-gycemic carbohydrates. Many of us will not associate diabetes with felines since they generally do not eat sugar. This is a common misconception with cats since diabetes is related to poor diet, especially when it is high in carbohydrates and low in protein. It is also associated with issues such as being overweight and obesity. There are certain breeds which are also more prone to diabetes such as the Burmese, Russian Blue and Norwegian Forest Cat breeds.

At AnimalWised, we discover how to best provide a diabetic cat diet with our list of food for cats with diabetes. This diet is based on general principals for diabetic cats, but it is vital you speak to a veterinarian. Many cats with diabetes may have other issues which they need to consider.

You may also be interested in: Diabetes in Cats
  1. Diabetes in cats
  2. Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in cats
  3. Food for cats with diabetes
  4. What types of food do diabetic cats need?

Diabetes in cats

This disease consists of a problem in the production of or the cell's response to the hormone insulin. This is the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the body and is produced in the pancreas. When we eat, we ingest foods with glucose, producing a peak of this compound.

At this moment, insulin intervenes. It allows glucose to enter the cells, where it is transformed to produce energy. When insulin is lacking or ineffective, glucose remains in a high amount in the blood. This generates various physical and behavioral symptoms, eventually resulting in complications that can cause the death of the animal. For this reason, diabetic insulin deficiency causes hyperglycemia and glucosuria (high levels of glucose in the urine).

Among the symptoms of diabetes in cats, the following stand out:

  • Polydipsia: increased thirst and a consequent water intake
  • Polyphagia: increased appetite that results in voracious hunger
  • Weight loss: unexplained weight loss, despite consistent food ingestion.
  • Polyuria: cat urinates more because they drink more which may cause dehydration.
  • Other: in advanced cases, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration or general weakness will appear.

Diabetes usually affects neutered male cats after the age of 7-8 years. This is why it is important to attend regular veterinary check-ups. Early diagnosis will allow the appropriate treatment to be quickly established.

Since, obesity is a predisposing factor, it is important to know what a cat with diabetes should eat. We also have to provide them with an activity level appropriate to their needs to maintain an optimal weight. Diabetes is recognized as a genetic predisposition, in addition to environmental causes. Inactivity, stress, other diseases and obesity are all important risk factors to consider.

Food for Cats With Diabetes - Diabetic Cat Diet - Diabetes in cats

Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in cats

If our cat presents any of the symptoms described in the previous section, we must go to the veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment can achieve remission of the disease. Through a blood and urine test, the veterinarian will be able to determine the amount of glucose in the cat's blood.

Fructosamine levels are also measured. An increase in this compound's blood levels will be indicative of diabetes. When the diagnosis confirmed, we must begin treatment. This will be based on the veterinarian's recommendation and may require the use of medications to maintain insulin levels. However, providing a diet for cats with diabetes will be an important part of their disease management. Other tests may include physical examination, urine analysis and culture and abdominal ultrasound.

Generally, treatment of feline diabetes is intended to maintain the animal's quality of life for as long as possible. It consists of the following:

  • Insulin injections in doses and guidelines set by the veterinarian. It is normal to have to adjust this treatment, so glucose measurements will have to be taken at regular intervals. Depending on the results, the veterinarian will establish the appropriate regimen for each cat.

  • When having to administer injections, the caregiver must learn how to give their cat a shot, a task that the veterinarian will teach them. We cannot take the cat to a veterinary clinic when wee need to give them daily injections.

  • The caregiver must scrupulously observe clinical instructions, attend checkups and consult with the veterinarian about any alteration in the cat's condition.

  • Therapeutic options include provide an appropriate diet and giving them opportunity to exercise. In extreme cases of obesity, this may require veterinary assistance.

Food for cats with diabetes

As we have said, food will play a crucial role in the treatment of a diabetic cat. It is important to know what a cat with diabetes should eat. Cats in this condition should be fed a food specific to their disorder, but it is important we discuss this with our veterinarian. Our cat may have other conditions or issues which would mean their diet needs to be amended in some way, such as feeding a cat with kidney stones.

Since diabetes in cats is a relatively common disorder, there are commercial feeds which have been specially formulated for this disease. Although not all stores will stock them, they are relatively easy to find. These foods are formulated in such a way they have the right levels of glucose without affecting other nutrient levels. We can follow these tips to get our diabetic cat to accept the new food:

  • For a specialized food such as that intended for diabetic cats to be effective, it must be provided exclusively. However, cats often will not tolerate an immediate change in feed, so we may need to mix it with their previous food and increase the amount incrementally.

  • At first it may be necessary to offer the food in its wet version, since it is usually more palatable than dry food and this will make it easier for the cat to eat.

  • We should consider the possibility of heating the food, since this way it is usually more appetizing to the cat.

  • We can even mix the feed with water to turn it into a paste if the cat eats it better. It is important the cat eats something since not eating at all will also serious harm the animal.

  • If the cat does not accept the specific food under any circumstances, we will have no choice but to return to its usual food, ensuring that it is high-end. Likewise, animals with other serious diseases will preferably eat a specific feed for them, rather than that recommended for diabetic cats.

It may be useful to feed the cat lower amounts of food until they can adapt to their new diet. This is especially important for cats with obesity since losing weight will help them to control their diabetes. We can also divide their portions into smaller amounts throughout the day if it is helpful.

Food for Cats With Diabetes - Diabetic Cat Diet - Food for cats with diabetes

What types of food do diabetic cats need?

Although it is easiest to provide a commercial cat food for cats with diabetes, it should be helpful to know what types of food diabetic cats can and can't eat. This can be for those who need to provide homemade food for their cat, but we stress this must be determined with the assistance of your veterinary professional. This is especially the case with cats with diabetes.

Nutrients that are beneficial for cats with diabetes

  • High-quality protein: look for foods with high-quality protein sources, such as chicken, turkey or fish. Protein is essential for cats and it helps maintain lean muscle mass.

  • Moderate fat content: diabetic cats can benefit from diets with moderate fat content. Avoid excessively high-fat diets, as they may contribute to obesity. However, some fat will still be required for a balanced diet.

  • Complex carbohydrates: choose cat foods with complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested and have a lower impact on blood sugar levels. Examples include fiber-rich ingredients like vegetables or grains. Some specialized diabetic cat foods are designed with controlled carbohydrate levels.

  • Fiber: fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose. It can also promote a feeling of fullness, which may help with weight management.

  • Controlled carbohydrates: many diabetic cat foods are formulated to have controlled carbohydrate levels to help manage blood sugar levels.

Nutrients to avoid for cats with diabetes

  • High-glycemic carbohydrates: Avoid foods that contain high-glycemic carbohydrates, which can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. These include ingredients like corn, wheat and excessive amounts of rice, especially white rice.

  • Sugar: stay away from cat foods that contain added sugars, sweeteners or high levels of glucose or fructose. Do not feed your cat with high sugar content, even if they are vegetables or fruits which are otherwise good for cats.

  • Overfeeding: overfeeding can lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Follow your veterinarian's recommendations for portion sizes to avoid excess calorie intake.

  • Inconsistent feeding: inconsistency in feeding times can disrupt blood sugar control. Ensure that your cat's meals are scheduled consistently.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Food for Cats With Diabetes - Diabetic Cat Diet, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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Food for Cats With Diabetes - Diabetic Cat Diet