Before you start handing out snacks to your feline, pause and ponder – is this the ideal food for cats with diabetes?
You want to feed your little furball the most delicious cat foods, but you have to be more cautious if they are diagnosed with diabetes.
As a feline parent, it's normal to worry over your cat's health when diagnosed with diabetes. However, there is nothing to worry about if you know how to make the disease manageable!
The first step is to prioritize the diet your cat will follow. Diabetic food you choose for cats should be healthy and high quality, made with wholesome ingredients.
Keep on reading to find out everything about diabetes in cats and how to pick cat food for diabetic cats.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disease. Here, the body cannot regulate glucose levels since the body is not responding to or producing insulin. It is one of the most common chronic conditions that humans suffer from.
It might come as a surprise to you that cats are not immune to this disorder either. In fact, 1 in 230 cats has diabetes! Feline diabetes is similar to human diabetes, meaning it also relates to blood sugar levels and insulin.
The lack of enough insulin in the feline's body results in blood sugar or glucose levels skyrocketing. If not properly managed, your cat's happy-go-lucky life will come to a standstill with the health risks developed from diabetes.
What Do You Need To Know About Diabetes In Cats?
So what exactly is happening in your diabetic feline's body that calls for concern?
Even if your cat likes being a couch potato, they need the energy to get through the day! Their body's cells require sugar in the form of glucose. Insulin is the hormone attached to the cells that signal your body the right time for glucose absorption.
The insulin transfers the glucose from the bloodstream to the cells, giving your cat the vital fuel for their body. Without enough insulin, there will be a buildup of glucose in their bloodstream.
At normal glucose levels, the kidneys can reabsorb this glucose. However, in a diabetic animal like your cat, the kidneys cannot absorb the extra glucose, which instead enters the urine.
The excess glucose in the urine pulls in fluids. Your furball will become more thirsty from fluid loss, stuck in a cycle of drinking and urinating frequently!
That may not strike you as harmful at first. However, diabetes in your cats will make them feel tired, weak, and lethargic. It can even lead to serious medical complications later in life if not dealt with early on.
Let's see what these complications are.
If glucose cannot reach their body, your diabetic cat's condition can progress to DKA. It happens when your cat's body starts relying on burning fat for energy to help the starving cells. Burning fat also produces ketones, which are toxic for the cat's body, preventing a healthy body function!
Diabetic cats are detected with glucose in their urine which increases the risk of bacterial infections. The infection can spread across your cat's organs, affecting their body's ability to regulate the diabetic disease.
Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar, another common complication found among diabetic cats. The loss of sugar and thereby energy will make your little feline friend dizzy and weak. That is why pet owners should always be attentive to the cat's enthusiasm for diabetic cat food.
It is essentially the opposite of Hypoglycemia. Your cat will experience soaring high blood sugar levels! They will produce more urine at a quicker rate than when they drink water. In such cases, you must seek a doctor's attention.
Treatment of Diabetic Cats
Research has found that feline diabetes is quite easy to keep in check! The most effective form of treatment is insulin therapy.
There are several insulin options for your kitty, like Glargine, Detemir, and ProZinc insulin. Which one they should take, and the dosage will be taken care of by your vet!
It is also recommended that you pay special attention to the feline’s diet. You will need diabetic food that best meets their energy requirements.
Last but not least, have your vet regularly conduct urine screening and blood tests. This way, you can rule out any extreme complication or start the treatment before it's too late.
With your safety measures, your cat will be in good hands and continue purring without a care in the world!
What Causes Diabetes In Cats?
As already mentioned, cats typically develop diabetes due to irregular glucose concentration in the blood. There is no exact cause for this irregularity.
That is why maintaining a healthy weight with all-organic diabetic cat food is even more important. So if your furball is not so little, make sure you have them screened for diabetes!
Other risk factors linked to feline diabetes are old age, male gender, and physical inactivity.
Before figuring out the food for diabetic cats, you need to figure out what type of diabetes they have. Like humans, cats can develop two types of diabetes.
In Type I diabetes, your kitty’s body is unable to release or produce enough insulin. Therefore, the glucose does not reach the cells and leads to high blood glucose concentration.
Type I diabetes is not very common among cats.
Cats with Type I diabetes get treated with life-long insulin therapy and a low-carbohydrate or low-glucose diet.
Type II diabetes is more common among cats. In Type II diabetes, the kitty's body does produce insulin. However, the cells and tissues become insulin resistant.
As a result, the insulin amount has to be higher than the normal count for glucose absorption.
Similar to Type I diabetes, injectable insulin and a proper diet will help manage the symptoms.
Cat Diabetes Symptoms
While the vet will carry out the actual diagnosis, some cat diabetes symptoms can tell pet owners if their cats have diabetes.
Common Symptoms For Type I Diabetes
- Excessive urination
- Increase in thirst
- Increase in appetite
- Moody with short-tempered behavior
Common Symptoms For Type II Diabetes
- Excessive urination
- Increase in thirst
- Increase in body weight
- Appetite loss
- Lethargy and vomiting
Tips For Managing Cat’s Diabetes
As already mentioned, monitoring a diabetic cat’s diet is vital for good health. Here are some feeding tips that will help you effectively maintain your cat’s diabetic condition.
Making Your Own Diabetic Food For Cats
Your vet typically recommends cat food brands that make the food for diabetic cats. In certain cases, they may even give a prescription diet to ease your search for cat food for diabetic cats. However, prescription diets do not always meet the long-term requirements.
That is why pet owners such as yourself can make their cat’s diabetic food that is high quality and organic. Before prepping a new meal, do your research on making a nutritionally balanced meal for diabetic cats.
There will be a lot to consider here – fruits, vegetables, raw foods, supplements like fibers, and probiotics. Whatever you make, be sure that the natural ingredients provide all the key nutrients.
Transitioning Your Cat To New Diet
Furballs are known to purr, hiss, and meow when they do not get what they want. None of this should deter you in your mission to keep your feline friend healthy!
The best way to help your cat transition to the new diet is by doing it slowly and gradually. Add small amounts of diabetic food to their old food, increasing the amount with every meal.
Furthermore, you will have to monitor their glucose levels regularly. This way, you will know if the insulin and new diet are working or not. You can ask your vet what kind of blood sugar monitor is ideal for diabetic kitties.
While insulin is effective in regulating blood sugar, your kitty should not become dependent on it. A proper diet can help them slowly transition away from insulin therapy over time. That means a diet with high protein low carb cat food for diabetic cats.
Give Your Cat Insulin Before Feeding It
You need to have a feeding schedule in place when feeding your diabetic cat. It is to ensure that they are injected with insulin at the right time for glucose absorption. So be sure to give your cat the insulin shot before feeding – stay strong even if they meow!
Insulin shot before feeding time will help with proper glucose absorption. However, once the shot is given, it is up to you to make certain that your cat has their food. Otherwise, the insulin will lead to lowered blood sugar levels.
What To Look For When Buying Cat Food For Your Diabetic Feline?
So what should you look for when buying food for diabetic cats? Listed below are the three key considerations you need to keep in mind.
Buying the best diabetic food is not enough for your feline’s health. You have to ensure the food given is reduced or regulated in portions. Also, make sure to follow a strict feeding schedule.
Free-feeding or snacking is not recommended for diabetics cats unless the vet has given it the thumbs up!
Obese cats are prone to diabetes and other complications related to it. Smaller portions of healthy food will help your feline maintain a healthy body weight.
Lower Carb Intake
Foods for diabetic cats will have low carbs. Low carbohydrate intake will give your little furball the correct nutrition. Carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels that will require your body to produce more insulin. So reduced carbs will allow your cat's body to regulate the glucose concentration better!
Higher Protein Intake
Since your cat will be put on a diet with reduced portions, they need a good source of energy. That is why you should give them food with a high protein count. It will give them the strength and muscle mass necessary for getting over their fatigue.
Benefits Of Low Carbohydrate, High Protein Cat Food Diet
Diabetic or not, all feline pets can greatly benefit from low carb and high protein diets. Here is a list of reasons that will convince you to make this change in your cat’s diet.
- Cat's digestive system breaks down protein better, reducing obesity risks
- Lowers diabetes risk with reduced blood sugar levels
- Better overall health, reducing chances of developing diseases like chronic kidney disease and gastrointestinal problems
- Builds muscle mass for improved strength and energy
- Balanced diet that extends your cat's life
Before panicking over your diabetic cat's health, remember that as long as you have their back, it will be fine.
It would help if you simply worked with the vet to create a treatment plan with insulin therapy and diet management that suits your pet's needs.
Help your precious kitty live their best lives by using your newly acquired feline knowledge on the best food for diabetic cats!
Frequently Asked Questions About Diabetic Cats
The best feeding schedule for diabetic cats is feeding them twice a day with monitored portions. This feeding frequency will vary depending on whether your cat needs to lose or gain weight to normalize blood sugar levels!
Wet canned foods are ideal for diabetic cats who frequently get thirsty. To feed your feline baby the best diabetic food, go for animal-based proteins like chicken, fish, and other meats.
Yes! With the right diet, cats can go into remission with low insulin levels. However, the diet will need to remain in place to make sure diabetes does not make a comeback!
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