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How to Feed a Cat with Diabetes

Tips on What, When and How to Feed a Cat with Diabetes Mellitus

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How to Feed a Cat with Diabetes

A high protein, low carbohydrate diet is often recommended for cats with diabetes. Photo courtesy of Violette79/Flickr.com

For a cat with diabetes mellitus, controlling the levels of glucose (or sugar) in his blood is the most important part of treating his diabetes. The diet a diabetic cat is eating plays a big part in controlling that blood glucose level.

What Kind of Food Is Best for a Cat with Diabetes Mellitus?

A diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates is the most widely recommended diet for a cat with diabetes. This diet apparently resembles the diet of the ancestral cats most closely and is easiest for your cat to metabolize. When a commercial diet is used, canned food is preferred over kibble or dry food. Examples include Purina DM® and Hill's Science Diet M/D®.

A home-cooked diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrate can also be fed. It is important that the diet be complete and balanced though, so advice from a nutritional expert is recommended in formulating this type of diet.

When to Feed Your Diabetic Cat

The stomach of a cat empties reasonably slowly (at least compared to that of a dog) so the timing of the feeding is less important than feeding your cat a consistent diet. You should attempt to feed your cat the same amount of food every day and vary his feeding routine as little as possible.

Do Not Let Your Cat Stop Eating

It is important that your cat keep eating. Cats that stop eating can develop fatty liver disease (also known as hepatic lipidosis) within a matter of a few days and this can further complicate the symptoms of diabetes.

If you are changing your cat to a new diet, do it slowly and gradually. Offer both the old and the new food until your cat becomes adjusted to eating the new diet. A sudden change in diet can lead to a hunger strike for some cats and this should be avoided if at all possible.

If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes and is not eating, contact your veterinarian. Use caution when giving insulin to a cat that is not eating well. Administering insulin to a cat that is not eating well can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and pose a threat to your cat's life.

What If My Cat Will Not Eat the Recommended Diet?

Cats are creatures of habit and some cats simply refuse to accept any changes in their routine, including a new diet. If your cat is refusing to eat the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that is recommended, feeding his regular diet is preferable to allowing him to stop eating completely. Though the high-protein, low carbohydrate diet is the food of choice, it does your cat no good if he will not eat it.

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