Learning that your cat has diabetes may be a shock. You may be worried about what this means for your cat’s quality of life. But as long as you’re willing to put some extra effort into planning his meals and giving him insulin shots, diabetes is a very manageable condition. There are plenty of choices out there when it comes to diabetic cat food. Just make sure you pick the right one that suits your pet friend’s needs.

It may be necessary to change your cat’s diet to help its health. Cats have a hard time digesting carbohydrates, and diabetic cats tend to have even more trouble. Most vets recommend a low-carb diet, so we’ve rounded up a variety of low-carb foods for your cat, starting with the most budget-friendly options.

How Common is Diabetes in Cats?

Many cats are afflicted with diabetes mellitus, a condition in which the cat is unable to produce an adequate amount of insulin to balance glucose or blood sugar levels. When left untreated, diabetes can lead to loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, motor function problems, severe depression, coma, and death. Roughly 2% of cats have diabetes.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats?

The primary symptoms of diabetes in cats are increased urination and increased thirst. Diabetes is common among obese cats, some felines have an excessive appetite because their bodies are incapable of using the fuel supplied by the food. When your cat experiences hyperglycemia, they may also experience increased lethargy.

What are the Types of Diabetes Mellitus in Cats?

Diabetes mellitus classification is complicated when attempting to compare it in cats than in humans. For diabetes in the United States, most veterinary literature adopts the following classifications – Type 1 is insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and Type 2 is non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Type 1 is common among 50 to 75% of cats. In Type one, the beta cells responsible for producing insulin have been damaged; hence, the cat is in need of supplemental insulin. Cats suffering from type 1 diabetes are thin and are likely to develop life-threatening conditions such as ketoacidosis, which happens when the body is unable to use fat instead of glucose for energy.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is common among 25 to 50% of cats. In this type of diabetes, the beta cells are present; however, the insulin exhibits an abnormal response to high blood glucose level. This causes a delay in the secretion of insulin when the blood glucose begins to increase following excessive insulin secretion. Moreover, the body cells fail to respond to the insulin as they usually would. In Type 2 diabetes, despite the damage in the insulin production and its effects on the body cells, the cat still manages to survive even without the addition of insulin. Cats with type 2 diabetes can be treated successfully through the application of changes in the diet and the use of oral hypoglycemic agents including glipizide.

A change in your cat’s diet entails giving them the best food for a diabetic cat. Cat food for diabetic cats includes foods low in carbohydrates. Royal Canin DS and Purina DM are extremely high in carbohydrates and are considered inappropriate choices.

How to Treat Diabetes in Cats

The best treatment for diabetes in cats is a complete change in their diet. A low-carbohydrate diet is noted to be the most ideal type of diet for cats with high blood glucose level in the body. Insulin therapy is another form of treatment. There are also medications available for diabetes in cats; however, their side effects are so great and they are only used when insulin is contraindicated. Veterinarians do not recommend pet owners to adjust the insulin therapy because this can cause complications in cats.

The Best Diabetic Cat Food to Consider

a cute small cat with its tongue out

1. Purina Friskies Flaked Wet Cat Food Tuna and Egg in Sauce

Appropriate for both kittens and adult cats, this diabetic-friendly cat food is low in carbs and high in flavor. Chunks of tuna and bits of egg are combined in tasty sauce your cat will enjoy. Check the price on Amazon.

2. 9 Lives Meaty Pate with Real Turkey & Giblets Canned Cat Food

Who says turkey is just for Thanksgiving? This is an option your cat can enjoy any day of the year. The ingredients here are quite suitable for cats both young and old. It has a smooth consistency that your cat will love. At just nine cents per ounce, this is definitely a budget friendly diabetic cat food choice. Check the price on Amazon.

3. Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast

Instead of being packed in water, this fishy treat is packed in fish broth for extra flavor. It contains ocean fish and shrimp. This diabetic-friendly food choice is free of wheat, corn, and other grains, delivering a great food for a good price. The cost per ounce is about eighteen cents. Check the price on Amazon.

4. Authority® Grain Free Adult Cat Food – Chicken

Here’s a chicken pate option. It’s totally free of grain. This means that you won’t have to worry about any corn, wheat, soy, or other cheap carbohydrates being used as filler. Many dry cat foods and even some wet foods use these fillers, which can mess with your cat’s blood sugar in a bad way. Check the price on PetSmart.

5. Hound & Gatos Pork Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

a fluffy cat eating

This company makes paleolithic pet food. It’s like the popular paleo diet, but for your pets! It’s a gluten, soy, corn, and grain free option to consider. It is totally free of plant protein, making this a super digestible for your cat. Check the price on Amazon.

6. Tiki Cat Makaha Grill Mackerel & Sardine in Calamari Consomme

Made from wild-caught mackerel and sardines, this is a super healthy premium choice for your kitty. It’s free of all grains, with plenty of protein. The recipe used to make this food contains no gluten, flour, or starches, making this a perfect diabetic cat food for your pet. Check the price on Amazon.

7. EVO™ 95 Chicken & Turkey Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food

This is a grain-free diabetic cat food choice. It’s free of all gluten, grains, and also has no potatoes. Looking at the ingredient list of this wet food shows that it’s free of cheap filler foods, and is full of healthy animal proteins and nutrients. Check the price on Amazon.

8. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Beef Pate Recipe

Here’s a beefy diabetic cat food choice to consider. This is a grain-free pate made of beef, and it has no ingredients sourced from China. It’s appropriate for all life stages, so you can use it whether you’ve got a senior cat or a little kitten. Check the price on Amazon.

9. Nature’s Variety Instinct Duck Formula

Made with duck and healthy turkey liver, this cat food is a great choice. It’s free of all gluten and grains and has no hormones or steroids to mess with your cat’s health. Check the price on Amazon.

10. AvoDerm Natural Wild by Nature Sardine Canned Cat Food

This diabetic cat food has been made with ocean fish which were caught from the wild, rather than being farm raised. It’s a grain free choice and includes avocado oil which is said to promote a healthy, glossy coat on your cat. This chopped sardines in consomme cat food is a pricier option, at 63 cents per ounce. Check the price on Amazon.

It’s important to remember that changing your cat’s diet may impact his insulin needs. Home testing can help you monitor your cat’s blood sugar levels. If in-home testing isn’t possible, make sure you vet appointments regular so that your feline friend’s blood sugar can be monitored there. When you know how his diet is impacting his health, you’ll be able to adjust his insulin shots accordingly. Even with a diabetes diagnosis, your cat can still have a long, enjoyable life. Feed him well, and watch him thrive!

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