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Feeding Tips for a Cat With Diabetes

Like people, cats can get diabetes. WebMD explains cat diabetes symptoms, causes, and treatments.
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Will I Need to Start a Special Diet for a Diabetic Cat? continued...

Although the tendency in feline diabetes is for cats to be overweight, some cats may actually be underweight if their diabetes went undiagnosed for a long time. “At diagnosis, some cats need to put on some pounds, some need to lose some pounds, and some need to stay right where they are,” says Thomas Schermerhorn, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM (SAIM), associate professor of Small Animal Medicine at Kansas State University.

If your cat is overweight, your goal should be to help him lose weight gradually. A special diabetic diet will help your cat trim down, and it can actually make the diabetes easier to manage. Losing weight helps the cat's body use insulin, which lowers blood sugar.

Every cat is unique, and the same diet won’t necessarily work for all cats. The diet for your diabetic cat depends on the cat’s health and weight, the severity of his diabetes, and his personal taste. Your veterinarian can guide you in choosing the right nutritional plan.

When Should I Feed My Diabetic Cat?

You might have become used to leaving out the food bowl for your cat to graze whenever she pleases, but you may need to change that routine once your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes.

“It’s very important that you coordinate your meals with the insulin dosing,” says Kathryn Michel, DVM, associate professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “You need to have their meals timed with their insulin, so they’re absorbing those calories when the peak insulin is occurring so they don’t become hypoglycemic [have low blood sugar].”

Typically you’ll feed your cat twice a day, administering a dose of insulin right after those feedings. Frostig feeds his cat half a can of high-protein, low-carb cat food in the morning and half a can at night, following each portion with a shot of insulin.

Your regimen may be slightly different, but regardless of when you feed your cat, it’s important that he eats. Without food in his stomach, he may have to skip an insulin dose, which could be dangerous to his health.

If your cat hates the new high-protein food your vet has chosen, or he balks at eating twice a day instead of grazing, it’s better to go back to your old dietary routine for a while to make sure that your cat is eating.

Do I Need to Monitor My Diabetic Cat’s Health?

Because feline diabetes can have some serious complications, it is very important that you keep track of your cat’s health.

Check her blood sugar levels, either at home or by regularly taking her to the vet. Watch her appetite, weight, and food and water consumption.

Also check the litter box to make sure she’s urinating the same amount. Call your veterinarian about any changes in her normal routine.

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