diabetic cat lying down

Nutrition and Your Diabetic Kitty

CATS

25 May, 2022

7 minutes

By now you know that diabetes is about a lack of insulin, either too little or none. Insulin affects how your cat’s body utilizes energy from food. This is why it’s important to balance insulin treatment with proper nutrition, as well as regular exercise. There are some basic principles for the dietary management of diabetes. First, the obvious: your cat must like the food and reliably eat it. A low carbohydrate diet for diabetic cats is the ideal choice. Your veterinarian can determine appropriate caloric intake and advise on a weight management program if your cat is overweight. Weight loss should make your cat’s diabetes easier to manage and appears to be an important factor in cats that achieve remission.

It’s always a good idea to ask your veterinarian about the best diet for your cat, including suitable treats for your diabetic kitty.

Here are some important things to keep in mind:

white diabetic cat

Diabetic Cat Food

These  specially formulated veterinary prescription diets are meant to help minimize fluctuations in blood glucose. Low in carbohydrate and containing high quality, highly digestible protein, these diets can also be useful if your cat needs to lose weight.


Regular Cat Food

A regular or commercial cat food that offers a balanced and complete diet may be suitable for your diabetic cat, but in many cases, diabetic cat food may be a better option. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your veterinarian.


Clean Drinking Water

You should always have clean drinking water available for your cat. You can measure how much your cat is consuming throughout the day in order to monitor his or her progress, since the amount drunk will decrease as your cat’s diabetes improves with treatment.


Snacks or Treats

Your veterinarian can recommend snacks or treats that are suitable for your diabetic cat. These should be included as part of your cat’s daily caloric intake.

underweight cat

Time Insulin Injections and Feeding

You should feed your cat around the time that you give him or her insulin injection(s). This can help manage increases in blood glucose that occur as your kitty digests food.

There are a few schools of thought regarding the timing of insulin injections in relation to feeding:

  • Immediately before meals – allows you to feed your cat as a reward after injecting insulin.
  • During meals – allows you to see that your cat is feeling well and eating normally before the insulin is injected. This also provides an opportunity to distract your cat while administering the insulin.
  • Immediately after meals – allows you to see that your cat is feeling well and eating normally before the insulin is given.

Diabetic cats are generally administered insulin twice daily and they are usually fed ad lib, as they are often fussy and prefer to eat when they choose. Free access to a measured amount of the food is often the best option. Consider using a connected feeder to help you monitor when and how much your cat eats.

Consult your veterinarian for specific questions regarding type, volume, timing and frequency of meals.


I’m Not Sure if My Cat Will Eat a New Diet

Some cats can be fussy and getting them to switch to a new food may seem impossible! It may take a couple of days for your cat to get used to this new diet. You can try mixing the new food with your cat’s previous food, then gradually decreasing the amount of the old food you add in. It is important that your cat eats consistently, so if your cat really does not like the new food, then alternatives will need to be considered. You can discuss your cat’s diet with your veterinarian and should consult him or her before making any dietary changes.


Body Weight and Condition

Maintaining your cat’s ideal body weight will help simplify managing his or her diabetes. Your veterinarian will advise you as to your cat’s body weight and condition and how to manage your cat’s weight.

Underweight Cats – These kitties need a highly digestible diet containing high-quality protein to help them gain weight gradually.

Overweight or Obese Cats – These furry friends require gradual weight loss and careful insulin dose adjustment because of the risk of low blood glucose, a condition called hypoglycaemia, which is a serious complication of diabetes.


This Seems Like A Lot To Remember!

Managing the health and nutrition of your diabetic cat is really important and it can seem like a lot. The good news is that there are several products that can actually make feeding, tracking and monitoring just a little easier for you – plus, provide you with the reassurance that your beloved feline friend is getting just what he or she needs.


Connected Feeders and smart water bowls

App-enhanced feeders and water bowls  are a great way to keep track of how much your cat is eating at each meal and drinking throughout the day. Sure Petcare offers a number of different feeders, such as the SureFeed, which provides many benefits for diabetic cats. Integrated scales help owners accurately weigh food portions and all feeding behaviour is sent directly to the Sure Petcare app. Using the app, cat owners can receive notifications about when their kitty eats and compare feeding patterns and quantities in order to identify changes in feeding behaviour. SureFeed also works well in homes with multiple pets because the feeder is connected to your cat through his or her microchip or special collar. With this, the feeder only grants access to the authorized pet, ensuring that prescription food is consumed by the right pet. It also eliminates the worry over stolen food. Felaqua Connect is a smart water bowl featuring a cat-friendly design which automatically refills as your cat drinks and tells you how often and how much your cat drinks. These products are available on some popular pet e-commerce websites.

cat drinking water

Pet Diabetes Tracker Mobile App™

Using an app-based tracker, such as the Pet Diabetes Tracker Mobile App, also enables you to track and manage your cat’s diabetes. Within the app, you can do things such as:

  • Establish a monitoring routine that works with your schedule.
  • Keep records of everything, from food and water consumption, to blood glucose levels.
  • Record blood glucose measurements and share them with your veterinarian.
  • Create alerts to remind you about routine monitoring, insulin injections, veterinary appointments and medication purchases.

visit https://www.msd-animal-health.co.za/pet-diabetes/ to download the app.


Remember…

Most cases of feline diabetes can be managed at home with insulin medication, proper diet and exercise and play routine, with affected cats able to live just as long and actively as other cats. The most important factor in choosing a diet for your cat with diabetes is that he or she likes the food and is willing to eat it every day.

Also, remember to keep an open dialog with your veterinarian!

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