How does a cat become diabetic?
Cats are diagnosed to be diabetic by a veterinarian if the cat is producing normal levels of insulin but he or she is still having trouble controlling the blood sugar levels because the body’s sensitivity for insulin has decreased.
The exact causes for feline diabetes is not yet known but certain risk factors point to a high carbohydrate diet, obesity and old age. When a cat is eating a high carbohydrate food such as dry kibble, their blood sugar levels experience frequent spikes because carbohydrates releases sugar much faster and readily than proteins or fats. Combined with having free access to a bowl of kibble through out the day instead of only eating at designated meal times adds to this effect and increases the risk of diabetes to the cat and also cause unnecessary stress on their pancreas.
What are the symptoms if my cat has diabetes?
- Increased thirst and urination
- Inappropriate elimination
- Sudden and prominent weight change
- Ravenous appetite
- Decreased activity
What is the treatment for feline diabetes?
Upon diagnosis by a veterinarian, you could get subcutaneous injections for insulin for your cat. But foremost, the diet is very important. You want to give as little carbohydrate you can, and zero carbohydrates if possible.
Carbohydrate free diet
Dry Kibble Foods: Here at True Carnivores, we do not endorse any dry kibble food for cats or dogs. It’s because as our name suggests, we believe that cats and dogs are carnivores and cats go a step further to be “obligate carnivores” where they do not have any need for vegetables or fruits. Dry kibble food as many of our readers know, must use some kind of starch or carbohydrate to bind the ingredients together to form a ‘kibble’. Because of this, even the most grain-free and high protein kibble product inevitably have carbohydrates. Another thing to note is that Prescription Diets that are only sold at veterinary offices that read “for diabetic cats” that a veterinarian may recommend, also has a significantly higher amount of carbohydrates than you could have with alternative foods. The recommended levels are < ~10% carbohydrates.
Wet Canned Foods: Canned foods come in various quality levels. Lower quality canned foods will have a substantial amount of carbohydrates or starches in the form of grains such as barley, brown rice, carrageenan, guar gum, or potatoes. Most higher quality canned foods will have higher protein, low carbohydrates and use peas as the starch source but it still has enough carbohydrates to make a difference (This includes the prescription diets that are available at veterinary offices). There are a few excellent brands that have zero carbohydrates such as ZiwiPeak or Almo Natural.
Raw Foods: Raw food for cats will have zero or the least amount of carbohydrates compared to other mediums of foods. We believe that in nature, no cats would have ever suffered from diabetes since they wouldn’t have been eating foods that are high in carbohydrates at all! They would have been hunting their prey and eating it whole including the prey’s skin, bones, organs, and of course, the meat. Many cat owners report their diabetic cats going in to complete remission after switching their diet to a raw, biologically appropriate diet.
The switch to a raw diet with little to no carbohydrates has such a rapid positive impact in their body that continuing to give them insulin after the switch can actually harm the cat. For this reason, we recommend making the change slowly and always be sure of their blood sugar levels by performing checks diligently.
Freeze-Dried or Dehydrated Raw Foods:
Freeze dried or dehydrated raw foods are a great alternative to feeding fresh raw food to cats. Since they are also a zero to low carbohydrate diet, you can feed a biologically appropriate diet without having to deal with handling raw meat. Since they are recommended to be rehydrated with water before serving, cats will also be able to hydrate from eating their food as opposed to drinking water from a bowl or fountain.
Along with feeding a zero to low carbohydrate diet, we recommend two things:
- Weight loss by increased exercise – Laser pointers or wand toys are great ways to get your cat jumping and running around!
- Adding probiotic supplements to their diet to promote a healthier digestive system and better absorption of nutrients.
How Raw Food can Help in other ways
Aside from being a little to no carbohydrate diet, raw feeding also helps cats by:
- Helping them stay hydrated – intracellular moisture of raw meat is better absorbed than drinking water by cats. Urinary Tract Infections and other Kidneys or Bladder related problems are mostly due to dehydration. Even if you feel that your cat drinks enough of water, it is not enough.
- Providing them with naturally balanced nutrients by eating organs such as heart, liver, tripe, etc.
- Cleaning their teeth naturally – as raw meat has no carbohydrates, which is one of most attracting thing for gingivitis and plaque causing bacteria, teeth stays cleaner.
- Promoting a healthier digestive system by being more easily digestible compared to dry kibble food or canned foods.
- Lowering the risk of developing a food allergy – as kibble and canned foods are cooked at high temperatures, the protein strands of the meat changes form while being heated and increases the chances of the immune system mistaking it for harmful pathogens and triggering an allergic response.
- Making it easier to control weight – Since a raw food diet is already a zero to low carbohydrate diet, it is much easier to manage weight gain in cats (and dogs!) than with kibble or canned diets.
If you have any other questions about diabetes in cats, please always feel free to contact us for a consultation by email or phone during our business hours or better yet, visit us in store!
-The True Carnivores Pack