When treating diabetic cats, the main goal is to control blood glucose levels and prevent diabetes-related complications, like ketoacidosis (high levels of blood acids or ketones in the body), recurring infections, and hind leg weakness. It is done through dietary modifications, insulin therapy, and in less severe cases, oral anti-diabetic medications. If you have a diabetic cat, your veterinarian will help you create a diabetes meal plan and teach you how to administer the needed medications.
Generally, diabetic cats are put on a diet that is high on protein and low on carbohydrates to help keep blood sugar levels steady and as close to normal as possible. Since carbohydrates are one of the main sources of glucose, eating high-carb foods can cause the amount of sugar in the blood to increase. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that diabetic cats do not consume more than 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates from their daily meals. Additionally, their daily dose of protein should come from animal meat. For diabetic cats, cat foods that get 50% of their calories from protein are the best options.
If your cat is overweight, then it is important for him or her to shed the excess weight through routine exercises. However, it is also not uncommon for diabetic cats to lose a significant amount of weight. If that is the case with your cat, then your veterinarian may recommend feeding him or her multiple times a day to combat unhealthy weight loss.
In addition to dietary changes, diabetic cats will need to receive insulin shots regularly. These injections are normally administered by cat owners at home, after receiving detailed instructions from a veterinarian. However, since insulin comes in different dosages and preparations, it may take a few trials before the right variant is found. In most cases, insulin will need to be injected under the skin two times a day, every 12 hours.
In some cases, cats develop non-insulin-dependent diabetes, which is a type of diabetes that still allows the body to produce small amounts of insulin. Instead of undergoing insulin therapy, these cats may be put on an anti-diabetes medication called glipizide. It is found to be effective in maintaining normal glucose levels and preventing health concerns associated with Feline Diabetes.
For most cats, controlling Feline Diabetes requires a partial or complete lifestyle change. Depending on the most probable cause of the condition, they may need to be transitioned to a healthier brand of cat food or have longer playtime sessions to make sure that the treatment regimen will work. Their blood glucose levels will also have to be monitored daily, on top of regular vet visits.
Prescription cat food is available through veterinarians, but regular canned cat foods also make great alternatives. Since most of them are formulated to be low in carbohydrates and high in animal-derived protein, they can provide diabetic cats with the right amount of nutrition without the excess carbs. However, if your cat is used to a kibble-only diet, the transition may take some time. You may ask your veterinarian for low-carb dry food options that you can mix in with the canned food until your cat gets used to his or her new diet.
If your cat is overweight, it is best to make sure that he or she gets at least 5 to 10 minutes of exercise daily. However, before letting your cat engage in any physical activity, make sure to consult your veterinarian. He or she will help you come up with an exercise program that works for your cat. This is very important because your cat’s size and glucose levels will need to be considered. As your cat loses weight, your veterinarian may add or remove certain exercises and increase the duration of the routine.
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Monitoring your cat’s blood glucose levels is a vital part of controlling and managing Feline Diabetes. Although it can be done at home using a portable glucometer or blood sugar test kit, it should be a team effort between you and your veterinarian. When checking your cat’s sugar levels, make sure to note everything down so you can keep track of any changes.
If you notice any variations or abnormalities, whether in your cat’s glucose levels or behavior (loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, etc.), contact your veterinarian immediately. Oftentimes, this means that the condition is not being controlled properly and changes need to be made in your cat’s treatment regimen or insulin dosage.
Regular Veterinary Checkups
To make sure that the diabetes treatment regimen is working and spot developing complications early, it is important to bring your cat in for regular veterinary checkups. This will make it easier for your veterinarian to keep track of your cat’s progress or make necessary changes to prevent diabetes-related complications and emergencies, such as insulin-induced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Preventing Feline Diabetes can be as easy as allowing your cat to live a healthy lifestyle and taking them to the vet regularly. These two things can do wonders for your cat’s health and keep them from developing not only diabetes but also other medical conditions down the line.
Since cats are obligate carnivores, meat is an essential part of their diet. Although plant-based cat foods have their benefits, the majority of the vitamins and nutrients that cats need to stay strong and healthy can only be found in animal sources. This includes taurine, which is an amino acid (building block for protein) that keeps the heart and eyes healthy, vitamin A, which promotes a healthy skin and coat, and vitamin b12, which improves cognitive, immune, and nervous system function.
It is also best to keep in mind that since cats are, by nature, meat-eaters they do not have the ability to properly convert and digest plant-derived nutrients, like dogs and humans. They will need to consume them from a direct source, which, in this case, is animal meat. Making sure that you are providing your cat with enough nutrients from the right food sources can significantly reduce his or her chances of developing health problems, like Feline Diabetes.
Adequate Physical Activity
In addition to a healthy diet, it is important that your cat gets enough daily exercise, whether in the form of daily outdoor strolls or indoor playtime sessions. This will prevent him or her from gaining unnecessary weight, which can easily lead to a number of health concerns, including Feline Diabetes. When choosing toys for your cat, go for those that will entice him or her to move around, like wand teasers and cat wheels, to burn off excess fat more effectively.
Annual Veterinary Visits
When it comes to keeping pets healthy, we can never forget about vet visits. In fact, it is recommended that pet owners bring their pets to the veterinary clinic for a complete physical exam at least once or twice a year. Through these sessions, your veterinarian will be able to tell if your cat is developing Feline Diabetes and provide treatment right away. This will prevent the condition from getting worse and increase your cat’s chances of making a complete and complication-free recovery.
TOP 5 FAQ
What should I feed my diabetic cat?
To best control blood glucose levels, diabetic cats should eat high-protein, low-carb meals. Since most canned cat foods are pre-formulated to be high in protein and low in carbohydrates, veterinarians highly recommend putting diabetic cats on a canned-food-only diet.
How much should I feed my diabetic cat?
How much and how frequent a diabetic cat should be fed in a day may vary depending on the type of diabetes a cat has and their weight. However, most cat owners are advised to feed their cats twice a day and give insulin shots immediately after each meal.
How often should I test my diabetic cat's blood glucose levels?
Blood glucose monitoring is typically done every one to three months in well-regulated diabetic cats. However, if notice any changes in your cat’s appetite, energy levels, or behavior, you should check his or her blood glucose levels right away. If these changes occur after a meal, make sure that you wait at least 5 to 6 hours to do the testing since food can cause temporary blood sugar spikes.
Why do I need to feed my diabetic cat the same amount of food at the same time every day?
It is important to feed diabetic cats the same amount of food at the same time daily to prevent blood sugar spikes and make the process of monitoring blood glucose levels, as well as appetite or behavioral changes, easier and more accurate.
Is it possible for cats with diabetes to go into remission?
The short answer is yes. About 17% to 67% of diabetic cats go into diabetic remission or a non-diabetic state once they begin insulin therapy.