In this article, we will explain what cat diabetes is, focusing on the care that a diabetic cat has to receive and the best diabetic cat food.
Cats can also suffer from diabetes, a disease that will require treatment and a strict veterinary follow-up. In addition, it is a condition with which the animal will have to live, so it is imperative that as caregivers, we know and understand this disease in order to help our cat have the best possible quality of life.
Diet plays an essential role to help control your cat’s diabetes and maintain its quality of life. Different types of diabetic cat food have been created specifically for pets with this disease. However, the best cat food for diabetic cats could not necessarily be the right choice for every cat.
To suggest a feeding plan for your cat, the veterinarian will consider other medical conditions that the cat may have along with diabetes. For example:
- If a cat is overweight, it will be more difficult to keep its blood glucose level within a healthy range. The vet can suggest you feed it less or put the cat on a special diet to lose weight.
- If it has cat pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), you may have to feed it with a low-fat diet.
- If a cat has kidney disease or is very prone to ketoacidosis, a low protein diet can be appropriate and beneficial.
Diabetes is a disease that is characterized by a problem in the production of insulin, which is the hormone that will regulate the amount of glucose in the body. It is worthy to note that insulin, itself, is produced by the pancreas, and when we eat, we might eat foods with glucose which creates more of this compound.
At this moment, insulin intervenes and allows glucose to enter the cells where it is transformed to produce energy, but when this is missing, the glucose remains in a high quantity in the blood, and this will generate a symptomatology and complications, which if left untreated, can lead to the death of the animal.
Among the symptoms of diabetes include the following:
- Increased thirst and, consequently, water intake (polydipsia).
- Increase in appetite that results in a voracious appetite (polyphagia).
- Inexplicable thinning, as it increases the amount of food eaten.
- When drinking more fluids, the amount of urine eliminated will also rise, and we will see that the cat goes to urinate more frequently (polyuria), thereby causing dehydration.
- In advanced cases, the cat will appear lethargic and will experience loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration or general weakness.
Read also: Diabetes in Cats: What You Need to Know.
Low in Carbohydrates and High in Protein Diet
Cats have evolved as carnivores entirely. Their body is designed to digest foods that are high in animal protein. The body composition of a mouse provides an excellent guide to a healthy cat diet: approximately 45-50% protein, 40-45% fat and only 3-5% carbohydrates.
Preliminary clinical trials have investigated the use of low-carbohydrate diets with high protein content in diabetic cats. And the results have been encouraging in many of the cats, with improved clinical signs, reduced insulin needs and better control of blood glucose levels becoming apparent.
In general, most canned cat foods sold in supermarkets are low in carbohydrates. The distinctive diabetic cat food that is sold by veterinarians is exceptionally high in protein and low in carbs.
Tips to Feed a Cat With Diabetes
As we have said, diabetic cat food will play a crucial role in the treatment of this disease, so it is so important to know what a cat with diabetes should eat. Luckily, nowadays in the market, we already have a range of feed and wet food formulated to control diabetes, and these are the best cat food for diabetic cats that balances the amount of glucose without losing nutritional quality.
We can follow these tips to get our diabetic cat to accept the new food:
- For a specialized food such as diabetic cat food to be effective, it must be provided exclusively, but if we see that our cat does not eat it, then we can start mixing it with its usual feed.
- In the beginning, it may be necessary to offer the food in its wet version since it is usually more palatable than dry feed and with this, it will be easier for the cat to eat it.
- We might have to consider the possibility of heating the food, as this spreads its aroma better and perhaps make it more attractive to the cat.
- We can even mix the feed with water to turn it into a paste if the cat enjoys it.
- In the last case, if the cat does not accept the special feed under any circumstances, then we will have no choice but to return to its usual food, and ensure that it is high-end. Likewise, animals with other serious diseases will preferably eat a specific feed for them, rather than the diabetic cat food.
- We must give the recommended daily amount, divided into several servings a day without exceeding it. It is essential to maintain the routine in the feeding and administration of insulin.
The diet has to be low in carbohydrates and high in protein to facilitate glycemic control and promote the remission of the disease. These tips will help to achieve and maintain the cat’s ideal weight. It may take some time to find food for your cat, but it is worth the effort. Remember: a meal is only useful if your cat is willing to eat it regularly.