Food for a Diabetic Cat-Any advice?
"You may say I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one"
Hello again @robsings10! My friend just wrote and said she too had her cat on a commercial diabetic diet and also had to increase insulin UNTIL she switched her cat's diet. You are onto something with the excessive carbs in the commercial food, so I think you'll find this very interesting:
My friend said this info was the turning point in her cat's quality of life:
"Most 'Prescription Diets' for Diabetes Are Junk
Diabetes is a complex endocrine disease that is unfortunately very common in cats today. We don't yet know all the causes of the disorder (more about that shortly), but we do know that many diabetic cats improve significantly once they're transitioned to a low-carbohydrate diet.
Many kitties stop needing insulin altogether; others require much less than when first diagnosed.
Unfortunately, many veterinarians recommend prescription diets for diabetic cats that are wholly inappropriate. As cat nutrition expert Dr. Lisa Pierson points out, these diets "… are expensive, low in quality, contain species-inappropriate ingredients and are not necessarily low in carbohydrates."1
"Feeding a high-carbohydrate diet to a diabetic cat is analogous to pouring gasoline on a fire and wondering why you can't put the fire out," says Dr. Pierson.
"While some cats are more sensitive to the detrimental effects of carbohydrates than others, the bottom line is that cats are obligate carnivores and are not designed by nature to consume a high-carbohydrate diet or one that is water-depleted (dry kibble)."2
There are two general guidelines for selecting the best diet for a kitty with diabetes:
Avoid dry food (kibble), including treats
Calories from carbohydrates should be less than 10 percent of the total calories consumed each day
It's not always easy to determine the carb content of commercial cat food, and you won't find the information on the label.
In fact, when I attended an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) meeting last year, I witnessed reps from Blue Buffalo pet food argue against having to list carbohydrates on the label because it may "confuse people."
In reality, pet food companies don't want to list the amount of carbs on the label because you, the pet owner, would be stunned to learn the amount of cheap, unnecessary filler (starch) that is added to premium pet foods to keep costs low and NOT to promote health.
To get a rough estimate of the amount of carbs in dry pet food, add up the percent of protein, fat, fiber, moisture and ash and subtract the total from 100.3,4 Alternatively, you can try searching the manufacturer's website.
Just last week I met a woman who had calculated that her "grain-free" dry food contained 42 percent carbohydrates.
She thought she had done the math wrong and called the company to ask if there was any starch or sugar in the food. The customer service rep said, "Do you see sugar on the label? Of course there's no sugar in our food, it's grain-free."
Unfortunately, the rep either didn't understand that the tapioca in the food is instantly converted to sugar in a pet's body, or she chose not to disclose this fact to the pet parent on the phone.
In any case, you'll find many of the "grain-free" dry foods have a higher carb (starch) content than regular dry cat food, and you can't count on the pet food manufacturer to disclose this fact.
What to Do About a Dry Food-Addicted Diabetic Cat
The ideal nutrition for cats is whole, fresh and unprocessed animal meat, organs and bones, with a small amount of vegetables. Unfortunately, the majority of middle-aged and senior kitties with diabetes are completely addicted to processed pet food, usually kibble.
Despite what many cat guardians believe, it's possible to transition almost any kitty from kibble to a high-quality canned food and/or raw diet with patience and persistence. It can take weeks and even months, in some cases, to make the full transition.
For step-by-step guidelines on how to get it done, see my two-part video/article series "How to Win the Healthy Food Battle with Your Fussy Feline," part 1 and part 2.
Some diabetic cats are always hungry, which works in your favor when transitioning to a better diet. But some diabetic kitties don't have much appetite at all, and it can feel like mission impossible to convince a finicky cat who feels lousy to sample a new type of food.
I recommend sticking with it as long as your cat is eating well each day. If she absolutely must have kibble or she won't eat, try to add as much grain-free, potato-free and low-carb canned food to her dry diet as she'll tolerate.
Meanwhile, continue to try to move her away from the kibble to a 100 percent canned and/or raw diet. It's my belief that for many (not all) diabetic cats who can't achieve remission, or who do but ultimately fall ill again, the problem is often diet-related."
The full Dr. Becker article is here: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/11/29/diabetic-cats.aspx
I hope this helps! ❤️
Oh, wow, that is all SO helpful! Way above and beyond. I am pretty sure you'll understand when I say that he's such a good, sweet kitty, and we will do whatever it takes to help him to feel like 'himself' again. I'm going to dive into the article and do some carb research now!
So much gratitude-thank you!
"You may say I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one"