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When your pets develop conditions like obesity, cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses, it can be quite worrying. Unfortunately, much like humans, pets are always at high risk for becoming ill and therefore it is important to pay close attention to what your pets eat and lead their lifestyle. Cats are at a high risk of getting diabetes and if you happen to have a cat that is diabetic, then you need to take good care of your cat's diet. There are foods that can aggravate your cat's health and there are foods that can help your cat deal with the condition. Cat owners often find it confusing when it comes to the question of what to feed a diabetic cat. Not to worry, we've got it covered. Here is a list of foods that are best for your cat if he or she has diabetes.
Stick to a low carbohydrates and high protein diet
A high level of carbohydrates in your cat's food can lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. These sudden spikes of blood sugar levels lead to an increase in the need for insulin which is harmful to cats with diabetes. In order to avoid this, feed your cat food that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. It is important to note that the protein comes from meat products such as chicken, beef, and fish. If your cat happens to be overweight, put your cat on a diet in which 50 percent of the calories are contributed by protein sources, and 40 percent of the calories are contributed by carbohydrates.
No dry foods
Generally, cat owners do not prefer feeding dry food to their cats although at times it is quite convenient. Dry foods are a definite no-no for diabetic cats. Instead, stick to a canned or raw meat diet that fulfills the dietary requirements of your cat.
If your cat is diabetic, it is best to stay away from foods that are based on white flour. Generally, white flour is not a preferred food for both humans and animals and it should be strictly avoided in case your cat is diabetic. Instead, feed your cat food that is based on whole grains or even no grains. This will keep your cat full and satisfied for a longer period and give it the energy that he or she needs. While choosing food that is grain-free, remember to check the label to find out if grain substitutes like peas or potatoes are being used. If it contains any of these, avoid giving them to your cat.
Will My Diabetic Cat Need Prescription Cat Food?
Was your cat recently diagnosed with diabetes? Even if you’re just delving into the best strategies for managing this disease, you’ve probably gotten a sense of the importance of your cat’s diet to managing feline diabetes. Find out what you’ll need to know about prescription cat food and tips for feeding your cat after this diagnosis.
Will My Cat Need a Prescription Diet?
In general, a prescription diet is not always necessary after a cat’s diabetes diagnosis. It can, however, make feeding simpler. For some cats, even ones on a non-prescription diet that follows all the recommendations, it can be tough to regulate their glucose levels. And for you, it can be a challenge to figure out how ingredients are balanced. Prescription diets remove this guesswork and the need for research. Prescription cat food is more costly, though -- you can expect to pay around $40 to $50 for two dozen cans of wet food.
When Not Using an Rx Diet: Go With Wet Cat Food
If your cat is currently on a dry food diet, a diabetes diagnosis is a cue to switch them over to wet food. As well as helping to keep them hydrated, wet food generally has fewer carbohydrates and more protein. For diabetic cats, the right diet is low in carbohydrates and high in protein so wet food more often fits the bill. Remember: cats are carnivorous creatures, and thrive on meat-based foods, so a protein-focused diet is the best option.
If you do have to switch your cat from one food to another, do it slowly since cats deal poorly with dietary changes. Try serving smaller and smaller amounts of the original food, while mixing in larger and larger amounts of the new food, to ease the transition.
And if you or your cat is set on dry food, take heart -- although it is often recommended to switch to wet food, in today's market there are dry cat foods that are appropriate for diabetic cats. It can take a little searching to find one high enough in protein, but your veterinarian can help.
Consistency Is Key in a Diabetic Cat’s Diet
When it comes to diabetes, a consistent diet can sometimes be almost as important as what’s being served. Unless your cat has a weight problem, it’s generally acceptable for them to graze on food, rather than being served distinct meals with portion sizes. However, feeding them the same type of food, and avoiding any high-carbohydrate treats, is important for their health.
Also aim to put out food for your cat at the same time each day. Let your cat eat shortly before their insulin shot is administered.
What About Remission?
As you may be aware, unlike dogs or humans, cats with diabetes are capable of entering a remission-like state if the disease is caught early on and the glucose levels are stabilized through insulin treatment and dietary changes. Oftentimes this will happen in an overweight cat who loses weight as part of diabetes treatment -- weight loss can help in the remission process.
If your cat is lucky enough to enter remission or partial remission, that’s wonderful! You’ll need to continue to feed them a diet that’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates, but will no longer need to provide daily insulin shots. If your cat enters partial remission, it'll require far less insulin to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels.
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More on Cat Nutrition
Cat Nutrition for Male Cats
What To Feed a Cat: Female Cats
Is Your Cat a Picky Eater?
Maintaining a Healthy Cat Weight
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.