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Everything you need to know about diabetic cat food

cat eating from a bowl advice © Shutterstock

Diabetes in cats is much like the human version: it’s an insulin issue related to diet. Keeping a sick cat well thus requires a special diet of diabetic cat food.
Part of a diabetic cat’s dietary needs are to deal with its weight issues.

By G. John Cole

It’s also important that a diabetic cat has a diet suitable to treat the disease itself. And finally, you’ll need to make extra sure your cat’s diet is conducive to general good health.

Diabetic cat food: why?

Diabetes is a common cat sickness where a cat either can’t produce enough of the insulin hormone, or can’t use what it does produce. Insulin regulates how glucose gets from your cat’s blood to its body cells.

When the glucose doesn’t reach those cells, the cat tries to eat more food to compensate – but of course, this doesn’t work. Your cat may also become dehydrated. Eventually, left untreated, diabetes will kill the cat.

Diabetes can be caused by hormone imbalances, other diseases, age, or medication. Some cats are genetically more likely to get it. But overwhelmingly, an overweight cat is far more likely to get diabetes than a svelte moggy.

How do I know if my cat needs diabetic cat food?

It’s important to feed your cat the right food in the right portions from the start. This will keep the creature healthier and make it less likely to develop diabetes. But you only need to begin a specific diabetic cat diet if feline friend is diagnosed with diabetes.

Cats don’t drink much – not when we can see them, anyway. So if you notice your cat drinking more water than usual, or showing other signs of being dehydrated, you can consider it a possible symptom of diabetes. At the other end of the pipes, that means the animal will be weeing more, too.

It takes a while for other symptoms to develop. But eventually, an undiagnosed cat will get an increased appetite – but might be losing weight all the same. Its coat may become dull and matted. And the creature may become even more lethargic than usual.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your cat to the vet. It might be diabetes, or it could be another condition that’s causing the changes.

Diabetic cat food: treating a diabetic cat

So your vet has diagnosed your car with diabetes. She will first stabilize the cat’s blood glucose levels by changing its diet and possibly by giving the creature insulin. 

You have a lot of fun ahead, since your cat may require one or two insulin shots per day. This will be your job. Thankfully, it doesn’t hurt the cat, and is probably easier than if you had to make him swallow pills. Your cat’s vet will monitor the situation at intervals to see what’s working and whether to change the dose.

As for diabetic cat food, moggy’s vet will advise you on how best to bring the creature’s weight down to a healthy level. It should be done gradually, as sudden changes (or starving your cat!) rarely work out well. Where losing weight is concerned, it will require a balance between reducing the carbs and increasing the fibre in your cat’s diet. You can work it out as you go along, depending on the results you see.

Higher protein levels may also improve your cat’s health. But if your cat also has kidney problems, it might be better to limit the proteins in order to protect the cat’s kidney health. Whatever happens, you need to make sure your cat eats enough (and not too much), so the food you prepare needs to be reasonably tasty.

You can find these foods in pre-packed wet and dry formats. Ask your vet for a recommendation, but also be aware of what you’re giving your cat – especially as you’ll need to adapt it, depending on the results. 

Wet foods are often tastier, and can also help rehydrate a cat. But they may contain sugars, so check the label carefully. A quality brand with a high meat percentage may be best for moggy. When you find something that works, try to stick with it as varying the brand can play havoc with your cat’s digestive system.

Remember that food isn’t the only element of keeping a cat slim and healthy. The beast also needs exercise. If you have a lazy house cat, find things for it to do. Games, or a dog to play with. Just like you would with a diabetic human.