Dietary issues are frequently ignored or not properly addressed. However, nutritional support can play an integral role in the successful management of many feline conditions, including Feline diabetes.
Nutrition can be integrated into the management of diabetes. The goal is to use the cat’s diet as a means to support its overall body health and metabolism and, therefore, help manage any underlying condition.
Diet plays a key role in the successful management of diabetic cats. In some cases, this does need to be used in conjunction with long-acting insulin treatment, both to improve diabetic control and to help induce diabetic remission.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, diabetic cats are carbohydrate intolerant and respond best to a low-carbohydrate diet. This is one reason why a raw meat diet can be so important.
Weight loss, muscle wasting, and poor muscle condition are common in diabetic cats; therefore, feeding high-protein diets is recommended to help maintain muscle mass.
In cats with diabetes, a primary goal of dietary therapy is to feed a diet that reduces marked fluctuations of blood glucose and minimizes the demand on cells to produce insulin, and improves insulin sensitivity. By doing this, the effect of glucose toxicity is decreased and it is hoped that the pancreatic cells are allowed to recover, leading to remission of the diabetic state.
A secondary goal is to provide a diet that helps to normalize body weight and maintain and/or restore lost muscle mass. Feeding a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet improves insulin sensitivity, helps stabilize glucose metabolism, and can therefore reduce or eliminate the need for insulin injections in many cats.
Changing to a low-carbohydrate diet, in a diabetic cat already stabilized on insulin, is likely to result in a reduced daily insulin requirement. However, when changing from a high-carbohydrate to a low-carbohydrate diet, the insulin dose should be gradually decreased to help avoid low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which occurs when there’s too much insulin and not enough sugar (glucose) in the blood.
Even when the cat starts to improve, it is essential to continue feeding a diet containing adequate amounts of protein to maintain the improved state and help restore some of the lost muscle mass in these cats. In addition, higher protein diets are essential to increasing metabolism to help promote fat burning and normal insulin function. Also, the higher fed protein is used to provide needed glucose in cats.
Protein is the primary nutrient responsible for maintenance of muscle. Restoring and preserving remaining muscle tissue in diabetic cats, an obligate carnivore, depends on the cat consuming a diet with sufficient amounts of high quality protein.
A high protein, raw meat diet, such as Purrform can be ideal for cats with diabetes to re-balance the glucose levels. The higher fat content can also help cats who have suffered muscle mass loss.
Moreover, a cat fed a species appropriate, raw diet can help prevent a cat from developing diabetes in the first place.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian.