Feeding Tips for a Cat With Diabetes
Like people, cats can get diabetes. WebMD explains cat diabetes symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Will I Need to Start a Special Diet for a Diabetic Cat? continued...
This is especially true for diabetic cats. “The ideal diet for a diabetic cat is one that has increased protein and decreased carbohydrate content,” Nelson says.
Most canned cat foods are already high in protein and low in carbs. But many dry cat foods are made with starch, which makes them higher in carbohydrates. Your vet may suggest that you switch to a specially formulated cat food or an all canned-food diet.
As you watch the type of food you give your cat, you’ll also need to keep an eye on her weight.
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].”