Today’s article is for our cat lovers. There is no known benefit to restricting carbohydrates for diabetic dogs provided they are complex carbohydrates and fed primarily at mealtime (when the insulin is given). Diabetic cats are a different story. Many vets, including myself, have found low carbohydrate diets extremely successful for managing diabetic cats.
Canned foods in general are much lower in carbohydrate content than dry food. I will provide a link at the bottom of this article by a veterinarian who charted the carbohydrate content of many over the counter and veterinary prescription cat foods. You might peruse it to find the carb content of the cat food you are feeding.
Clearly every patient is different and may have complicating disease processes that can affect dietary recommendations, but in general for diabetic cats we like a carb content less than 7 to 10 percent. You must speak with your veterinarian regarding your cat’s best recommendations. Or, veterinary teaching hospitals often have nutritionists on staff that can take referrals. If you are near a vet school, consider this option if you have a complicated pet nutrition questions or a finicky eater.
There are some cats who just don’t like canned food. I can understand. I love ice cream but dislike milkshakes. It’s a texture thing for me. Cats can be very finicky with textures and flavors. One of my own cats refused canned food until this year. He is 8 years old! As I feed my voluptuous cat (the one who is always hungry, not diabetic but perpetually battles the bulge) canned food only, my middle aged kibble-loving cat has only now (for no apparent reason) started to take an interest in canned food.
There are several veterinary prescription DRY foods made for diabetic cats. They still have a higher carb content than ideal for diabetics, but the companies understand that some cats refuse canned food. Purina DM dry feline (designed for diabetic cats) contain 13 percent carbs. Nonetheless, these diets are low carb relative to most dry foods. As expected, the manufacturers are able to make the canned versions of these foods lower than the dry version.
Another benefit of canned food over dry food is that there is a higher water content in canned food. The pet will feel full sooner eating canned food than a comparable calorie portion of dry food. This is important because many of our diabetic cats became diabetic from glucose toxicity and obesity. If your diabetic cat is overweight, we wish to control carbs AND limit calories for a gradual controlled weight loss. Feeling full (satiety) is a good thing for those who tend to overeat and need to lose weight.
I urge you to speak with your veterinarian if your diabetic cat doesn’t like canned food or has complicating issues. Hopefully I gave you food for thought.
As promised, here is the link to Dr. Pierson’s nutritional chart. Look up the carb content of your cat’s food!
NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.