Diabetic Cat Food

by Michael
(London, UK)

Cat eating balanced diet -- photo by by fofurasfelinas under CC license

Cat eating balanced diet -- photo by by fofurasfelinas under CC license

I've been searching for diabetic cat food as my cat may be a bit diabetic (2008 but see my updating comment). She has some signs of it. She's overweight and she drinks lots of water. It's a worry to me. I thought, if I could find something that might help, why not try it.

The trouble is I am a bit skeptical about the idea of diabetic cat food. I am not sure it really exists. Then I spotted a book in Foyles (London's most famous book shop) by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, called "Your Cat". This is a book about cat food and cat health, it seems to me.

Anyway, she has a chapter on Feline Diabetes, which she calls a man made killer. What does that mean, I thought? Well at the beginning of the chapter she has inserted a picture of dry cat food in a large bag. That tells me what the chapter is about; that dry cat food contributes to feline diabetes.

On the inside cover of the book it says that Elizabeth Hodgkins, a veterinarian since 1977, worked as a director of technical affairs at the largest proprietary pet food manufacturer worldwide. So, she has a good, if not excellent, grasp of the manufacturing aspects of cat food. She knew that modern dry cat food used ingredients necessary for the manufacturing process that were high in refined carbohydrates.

She starts by saying that feline diabetes is on the increase in America (reaching a possible 1.5m cats with diabetes at the time of publication - 2007). Low carbohydrate, wet cat food diets, are much less likely to result in overweight cats, she says, because dry cat foods cause wide changes in blood sugar levels resulting in sluggishness.

Ms Hodgkins rejects the conclusions of research carried out in the 1980s that high fiber, high carbohydrate diet combined with insulin injections would control diabetes. When her own cat, Punkin, developed diabetes she decided to revert to a wet canned food diet, low in carbohydrate and higher in protein. Punkin's condition improved and no longer needed insulin. The same result occurred with other cats.

In her book, she says that obesity and diabetes have the same cause, meaning obesity does not cause diabetes. Cats predisposed to getting diabetes (and/or becoming obese) are more likely to get it if given dry cat food. Add to this indoor living and obese diabetic cats can result. Of course, cats are individuals. Some cats will respond better than others.

What are the signs of diabetes? Look for a diet centered around dry cat food. Most often, diabetic cats are neutered overweight males, she says. Diabetic cats drink more water than usual, which will lead to more frequent trips to the litter and they may go outside the litter box. They may eat more than usual and may vomit and begin to lose weight. A visit to the vet might be needed.

So, what is the conclusion? Dr. Hodgkins says stop feeding dry food. It is better to feed wet canned foods avoiding foods with corn, rice potato, carrots, apples and fruit. She says that if your cat needs insulin ask for animal sourced insulin called PZI.

Her thoughts are still controversial, as I understand it. Your vet may well disagree. For me, I modified my cat's diet. I now feed lots more wet canned cat food. My cat still eats some dry cat food but much less. My target is a diabetic cat food diet. My girl is still overweight and still drinks lots of water. And I am still skeptical. But what Dr. Hodgkins says makes sense so I follow her advice but not completely.

Here is some more advice on cat food generally and diabetic cat food. Feed good quality wet cat food and vary the cat food diet. I feed wet food, some dry food, some human food (cooked plain fish/prawns, for example) and some treats. Dry cat food should be as good a quality as can be afforded.

Update: Taurine as a supplement may assist in prevention of diabetes in cats. Commercial cat food has or should have taurine added. Bengal cats, it is thought, require more than the usual amounts. If you make homemade cat food it should be added in a multi-supplement or separately.

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Diabetic Cat Food

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May 06, 2011 Would love to talk to Kizzie's owner
by: sandi

My cat became diabetic also and his back legs went out on him also. We had him on insulin shots twice aday and I started him on high protein and low carb but after two months he went down hill and could no longer walk at all. I just put him to sleep two weeks ago. And I cannot find peace with this at all. I would love to talk with you. What insulin was your cat Kizzie on?


Apr 24, 2011 For Kizzie
by: Joe

Dear Anonymous,
I am very sorry about your Kizzie. My 12 year old male cat also has diabetes. My Vet suggested the same food. R/D wet and W/D dry. There was no improvement until I took him completely off of the dry food. Carbohydrates are the main culprit in diabetes in cats and it is high in dry food no matter what the manufacturer says. No dry food, ever. And read all labels on wet canned food. Avoid corn, rice, potatoes, carrots and fruit or minimize them as much as possible. There is good info on the Diabetic Cat forums. I hope this helps you and I hope you find another cat to replace your loss of Kizzie.
-Joe


Mar 21, 2011 thanks
by: SEO

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Jan 08, 2011 Kizzie, a 10 year old calico cat
by: Anonymous

Our cat became diabetic in the beginning of August. Her back legs were weak so she scooted around with her front legs. We put her on Hills W/D diabetic food and she received insulin shots twice a day. A month later her back legs didn't work at all. We were told she had neuropathy. We even tried a few sessions of acupuncture with no results. Her appetite was huge, but we limited the amount of food so she would lose weight....which she did. Her blood sugar was under control. After 4 1/2 months her front paws started turning in and she was unable to hold her head up to eat or drink. We had to help her do that. We bathed her daily all those months because she would get UTI's from sitting in her own urine. We did use Pee Pee Pads and changed them often. We had her put to sleep a couple of days ago because she was getting weaker and weaker and it wasn't fair to her. She had no quality of life. I would love to hear from anyone who went through the same thing we did to learn more about what went wrong with Kizzie.


Nov 18, 2010 RE: Get More Information by: Natalie Taylor, RVT
by: Kimba the White Lio-- err Cereal Eater

Although this information is somewhat helpful, a single book does not contain all the information needed to make a well-informed decision about your pet's care.

I agree!! Hey Natalie, why don't you open up an ENCYCLOPEDIA and look up the entry for either "Cat" or "Feline"? If you are very lucky to be in a grade-school library, they will have PICTURES for you to look at, of the TEETH of a cat!

Guess what, Natalie == there are NO teeth within a feline's mouth which are shaped to GRIND.
LOOK, Natalie -- they are more like scissors -- designed by Nature to shear and tear.

Want more information?

Guess what, Natalie -- a cat's jaws do NOT ROTATE!

Cats can't CHEW!

Now what was that again about (all the) veterinarians being up-to-date on all the Cat information?

HOW can that be, when they apparently didn't even get past GRADE SCHOOL when it comes to COMMON sense regarding an obligatory (STRICT) carnivorous mammal that can't even chew cereal and vets are SELLING cat owners CEREAL for their cats to VOMIT up all the time?!

(Gotta blame Hairballs for that of course, right?)


Nov 22, 2009 find a vet not a food supplier
by: Anonymous

I have changed my vet three time because they are completely under educated in feline diabeties. I now have a vet that keeps herself up to date on new research and has encouraged me to take my cat off dry food completely. She said that if I can maintain a low carb high protien diet the chances of remission are far greater. A bad vet will want you to buy their food so they get more of your money, if they are pushing their food they aren't likely looking out for your cats best interests. What happened to the vets that wanted to help animals, not rob you at your pets expense.
Find a vet that cares and stop being convinced that over priced food is best for your cat. Remember the list of recalled cat foods a few years ago? There were plenty of "vet" foods on that list.

So do your pet a favor, educate yourself on food choices and then make an informed choice for the animal you love. Sometimes the answer may be the vets food, but I bet there are plenty of times other(higher quality)foods will be the answer.


Oct 14, 2009 Update
by: Michael

I just found this:

cat diet information from Nutrient requirements of cats<br /> By National Research Council (U.S.). Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition

cat diet information from Nutrient requirements of cats<br /> By National Research Council (U.S.). Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition

These short extracts come from Nutrient requirements of cats By National Research Council (U.S.). Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition

They support the view that there are high levels of carbohydrates in processed dry cat food and that cats can digest it. It also states that cats don't need it.


Oct 14, 2009 Thanks
by: Michael

Hi, Natalie. I didn't thank you for your helpful comment. When I wrote the post I had hoped a person like you would make a comment and add to its usefulness.

I agree that one veterinarian's views are not to be relied upon completely. That is unwise. I just decided to focus on this aspect.

Just to add another vet's views I refer to the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook (I am not trying to usurp a good vets diagnosis). This book says that sugar diabetes is common in cats (supporting Dr. Hodgkins's views). The cause is an inadequate production of insulin by the pancreas. Dr. Hodkins says that a high carb cat food diet can be a cause in a cat that is predisposed to the disease. The Dr. says she has never seen a diabetic cat that eats a canned food or home made food (raw food diet properly prepared).

These vets are looking at the same problem from different ends of the digestive process. Insulin enables sugar to enter cells. Sugar is metabolised in the body's cells.

If the sugar cannot enter the cells it cannot be used and the high blood sugar levels results in hyperglycemia and the sugar is eliminated in urine (excessive urination). This in turn results in thirst and more drinking that usual both of which are signs of diabetes.

The inability to metabolise sugar also leads to eating more and a lack of nourishment, which in turn leads to weight loss despite a large appetite.

Injections of insulin and a vets advice on diet is the conventional treatment. Vets though have differing views on diet. My vet strongly advised that I feed my cat dry food all the time. He was selling it though so he would. I must say that I have become a little cynical about vets.

I feed my cat a range of foods including wet cat food (decent quality), fish and some dry food for grazing. She looks and acts more healthy than when on dry food only.



Feb 24, 2009 Get More Information
by: Natalie Taylor, RVT

Although this information is somewhat helpful, a single book does not contain all the information needed to make a well-informed decision about your pet's care.

Any cat 8 years or older should have comprehensive bloodwork and urinalysis performed to determine the underlying cause of a cat's change in habits. Kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism are the top three diseases in older cats. Changes in habit or behavior are not a diagnosis.

Well-informed veterinarians, especially those specializing in feline care are up to date on the most current information regarding your cat's health and can provide you with the best treatment options.

Home glucose testing is possible, but many clients choose this option with best intentions until it becomes difficult or unpleasant. Monthly blood glucose testing is necessary to prevent insulin overdoses and to properly manage your cat's glucose levels.

For more information, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss why diabetes so often accompanies obesity and how to prevent it. In most cases, reducing the amount of food your cat eats and increasing the amount of exercise she gets is the best method of prevention!


Dec 30, 2008 Thanks
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the comment - I found it useful.


Dec 30, 2008 changing diet is important
by: Anonymous

I'm glad that you picked up the book and started to change the diet, but if your cat is still showing symptoms I'd encourage you to go a step further.

Check out felinediabetes.com or Dr. Hodgkins site yourdiabeticcat.com

Both sites will encourage that you hometest using a human glucometer that you can get at any drug store. There are videos they can direct you to that will show you how simple the test is.

If your cat is still hungry, drinking too much water and exhibiting signs of FD then your cat is having some problems which may or may not be FD. Hyperthyroidism mirrors some of the symptoms too. By not treated you may be doing some harm.


Dec 18, 2008 Sensible quality diet
by: Anonymous

I think a sensible quality diet is preferable. One problem is that dry food is cheaper on two fronts. First, it all gets eaten and second it is cheaper per portion. Perhaps the second is linked to the first.



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