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Feline Diabetes: Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention, and Diet Tips

Thomas Graves and WebMD team up to provide feline diabetes information and tips for treatment or prevention.
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Q: If caught early enough, can my cat be cured of diabetes?

A: It’s usually not cured. Some cats, when you start treating their diabetes and you get their blood sugar under control and get them on a reasonable diet and get them in a better body condition, their diabetes actually goes into remission or partial remission. There are cats that stay that way for many months. Some might even stay that way for years. It can happen. But for the most part diabetes is a disease that we control and don’t really cure. 

Q: Can I prevent my cat from getting diabetes with diet and not letting her get too fat?

A: Nobody can tell you that you can prevent your cat from getting diabetes with diet because those studies haven’t been done. There are some commonly held beliefs, based on a handful of clinical studies, that support the use of low-carbohydrate diets in helping diabetic cats control their blood sugar better. And we do know that obesity is a risk factor. But there also are some breeds of cats that get diabetes more than others do, so that suggests there may be a genetic component involved as well. 

Q: Will it be better for my cat if I cook for her instead of buying her food?

A: It’s hard to make a decent, balanced diet for a cat if you’re cooking it. You have to make sure they get all the amino acids that they need, and their needs are different from dogs and people and other omnivores. You have to know what you’re doing. 

Q: Should I only feed her dry food or just wet food or both?

A: That’s the raging argument right now. It’s fairly controversial. If you think about what a cat’s natural diet would be, they’re carnivores. So the diet they would eat, if they were running around outside eating the animals that they prey upon, would be a very high-protein, very low-carbohydrate diet. So the argument is, that is what they have evolved to eat and that is healthier for them. So why do we have dry food for cats? Because it’s more convenient for people. Some people just don’t like dealing with canned food. And there are a gazillion cats that eat dry food and don’t get diabetes. We see 20-year-old cats that eat dry food. 

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