Can cats be cured of diabetes?

This is a question for a veterinarian or scientist so what I’ll do is cite some stories about cats being cured of diabetes. Although individual cats respond in different ways, in these examples the cats were cured of diabetes by transferring from dry cat food to wet. That, in a nutshell, was the cure. It is remarkable and it goes against the words of the experts on the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine website in which they say there is no cure for feline diabetes. For some cats there is no cure and they have to be on insulin for the rest of their lives. But in these cats there was a cure so we shouldn’t generalise.

I’m going to refer to the book Your Cat by Elizabeth Emma Hodgkins DVM because she is the acknowledged expert, I would suggest, on treating diabetic cats through diet. She is very anti-dry cat food because it is unnatural and it is high in carbohydrates.

She was surprised, working as a veterinarian, that cats who had been on dry cat food all their lives were able to restart their pancreas to produce insulin once they were transferred to a wet diet. It appears that the conventional wisdom is that cats who had developed diabetes would always need to be on insulin injections at least at low doses. The longer cats are diabetic because of diet and obesity, the longer it takes for the pancreas to recover. That’s my understanding.

Diabetic cat
Diabetic cat. Photo: Dr. Erica Queen on the Today’s Veterinary Practive website.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Male cat

In the first example, an eight-year-old, neutered, male domestic short-haired tabby cat was fed a dry food diet all his life. He was obese at 14 pounds. It was not surprising to Dr Hoskins that he had high blood sugar levels because the food, after all, was high in sugar. In fact, he was very diabetic with a blood sugar level of 490 mg/dL. The normal blood sugar levels for a healthy cat should be between 50 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL.

Dr Hoskins hospitalised him and fed him canned food only. His blood sugar level went down to 300 mg/dL without insulin. The diet was helping. She added one unit of insulin twice daily and on day three the cat’s blood sugar was between 100 mg/dL and 150 mg/dL throughout the day. He was sent home with a prescription for one unit of PZI insulin injection every 12 hours together with a wet food diet only.

After a week, his blood sugar level was down to 60 mg/dL which was in the normal-to-low range. Insulin was stopped for 24 hours. She checked the sugar levels and they had not moved. Insulin was stopped and his blood sugar levels remained normal-to-low. He did not require insulin aftwerwards and remained healthy and happy. Surely, this was an example of a cat being cured of diabetes?

Blossom - a declawed and diabetic cat
Blossom – a declawed and diabetic cat. Photo taken from FB website. This is not the cat I refer to in the case study below.

Female cat

In another example, a female cat of 10-years-of-age had once again been fed a dry food diet since she was a kitten. Occasionally she was given canned food as a special treat. She started to lose weight and her backbone was more noticeable. She wasn’t eating very well and was drinking a lot of water. When the doctor saw her she was dehydrated and underweight. Blood sugar levels were at 410 mg/dL. She was hospitalised and fed canned food only. She loved the food. On day two blood sugar levels were down to 180 mg/dL and on day three at 100 mg/dL. She was sent home with no insulin with instructions to feed canned food only.

After a week she remained normal and the blood sugar level was at 90 mg/dL, on average. She was fed canned food twice a day and she remained normal thereafter. She never required insulin injections. She regained her weight. Another example of a cat being cured of sugar diabetes.

As mentioned, clearly it is individual cat reaction but surely if the ‘cure’ is this straightforward it should be the first step when addressing feline diabetes because the cat has been on dry cat food all their lives.

The doctor said that she has never see a diabetic cats fed on canned food or a homemade meat-based diet only. The combination of a dry cat food diet only together with being indoors full-time can lead a cat with a genetic tendency to become obese towards diabetes because of inactivity and because sugar is a large part of their diet. The cat’s body is flooded with refined carbohydrate, constantly. She believes that this exhausts the small pancreas’s capabilities to produce insulin. The cats are not prepared this constant high sugar diet. The “relentless sugar surges cause the cat pancreas to turn that sugar to fat”. As I understand it, fat around the pancreas prevents the pancreas from functioning normally to produce insulin.

I am not a veterinarian. If you are interested I would advise that you speak to your veterinarian about this subject. I’m not saying it’s a wonderful, magical cure-all, I’m just saying that what Dr Hoskins states should be digested. Excuse the pun.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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