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Diabetic Cat Diet

December 9th, 2009, 05:54 PM

The family cat this pass Monday was diagnosed with diabetes. She just came back from the vet today and will need 1 unit of insulin daily. I know thats not a high dose but is that a low dose or average? We caught it early and the vet seems to think she may be able to stop the insulin overtime with a better diet. Right now she is eating, well was eating, purina indoor catfood, i think thats it. I know its crap food but its my dad's cat and he can't afford much. I don't trust vets much when it comes to nutrition so I'm asking here. What is a good inexpensive cat food for a diabetic cat? Also what type of treats can she have?

December 9th, 2009, 07:52 PM
Sorry about the diagnosis, but the good news is that diabetes is very treatable, and like the vet said, some cats actually go into remission where they no longer need insulin, provided they're fed the right food.

Some questions:

How was the diabetes diagnosed? Was a fructosamine blood test done, or just a blood glucose test? Do you know what the values were?

What type of insulin did the vet prescribe?

What is she eating now?

The best diet for diabetics (and ALL cats, actually) is low-carb wet food. I personally prefer Wellness grain-free varieties (and the cost isn't that bad when you buy the large cans by the case), but if your dad can't afford that, perhaps some of the gluten-free Fancy Feast ( flavours, or even Friskies, would be better than kibble. No need to buy the crap from the vet clinic. Here is a chart showing the level of carbohydrates in various canned foods (look for the ones under about 10% of calories):

As for the insulin dose, it's definitely preferable to start low and slowly increase if necessary, so 1 unit is fine. However, there are very few cats that only need it once a day. Even with the very long-lasting insulins like Lantus and Levemir, cats need twice a day (BID) dosing. The best way to find out how a cat is doing on a particular insulin dose is to test its blood glucose at home using a human glucometer (it's also much cheaper than taking the cat to the vet all the time). Just takes a quick prick of the outside vein in the cat's ear using a lancet. There is more info here on how to do it, and I can also give you some tips if needed:

December 9th, 2009, 07:55 PM
Also what type of treats can she have?

For treats, 100% freeze-dried meat is the best. There are several brands available, like Halo Liv-a-Littles (, Real Food Toppers (, Benny Bully's (, or Pure Bites (

Alternatively, your dad can just give her some plain raw or lightly boiled chicken/turkey breast.

December 9th, 2009, 08:35 PM
Thank you.

Right now she is eating the crap from the vet. My dad bought a case of it. She had stopped eating over the weekend, which is why he brought her in, so he wanted to stick with what she was eating and switch later.

Not sure how she was tested or really anything that the vet did. My dad talked to the vet about everything. The invoice says T4 and CBC, not sure what that means. And she was given vetsulin. I'm sure it could change but for now the vet said once per day.

I had read on a website that the walmart brand special kitty was good for diabetic cats. I find that hard to believe but if it is that would be great.
I didnt even think about needing to test her blood, I'll pass the info to my dad.

Thank you again

December 9th, 2009, 09:08 PM
And she was given vetsulin. I'm sure it could change but for now the vet said once per day.

A caution on Vetsulin: there's an FDA warning ( out on the inconsistency of Vetsulin's duration and they're advising people to switch insulins if they're having issues. The vet may not be aware of it, but I personally would pick a different insulin. For one, Vetsulin was actually developed for dogs and doesn't last long enough for most cats (who metabolize insulin faster). It certainly is not a once-a-day insulin for cats and the fact that this vet prescribed it as such leads me to think that this vet doesn't have a heckuva lot of experience with feline diabetics.

As for the food, your dad could probably take it back for a refund and just say that his cat won't eat it. Special Kitty has some low-carb varieties that wouldn't be the worst thing a cat could eat, although they tend to be heavy on the by-products. Remember though, that Special Kitty has been involved in several recalls in the past, so I don't think they're entirely trustworthy. I would recommend feeding a few different brands to mitigate the risk should there be further issues with the food.