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Food recommendations for diabetic cat?

cheriliko
July 31st, 2012, 04:54 PM
Hello!

My 13 yo cat was diagnosed this morning with diabetes. I've done a lot of reading today and am reading that beside the prescription food being expensive, it's also not necessarily the highest quality. So I'm looking at alternatives for her.

Most of the sites I've found are american based and therefore likely to have american food recommendations. What foods in Canada are ideal?

I'm thinking I'll feed wet (per recommendations) but leave dry out as well. I do have 2 cats - the other one is overweight so I'll switch him to the same diet anyway since he could stand to lose a few pounds and it will be easier. Do you have any thoughts as to which dry foods would be ok as a supplement. I looked at the Purina DM and the dry food was 50% protein base - the highest one I could find at Petsmart (which is American but also Canadian) was Purina One Weight Management coming in at 40%. I was going to go to the Pet Smart to see if I could confirm the percentage tonight and also look at all the foods available.

What about wet food? My cats love wet food - so getting them to eat it won't be an issue. Which ones are the best from a protein/carb/calorie standpoint? My cats seem to enjoy to fish ones more than others - though I haven't had them turn their noses up at anything though...LOL.

Any pointers for this newbie. I've been exploring the felinediabetes site which is great. All this is very new and has incredible timing as we are going on vacation on Friday. Talk about a pain in the but figuring this out now - guess the neighbourhood kid isn't going to cut it this time. I have arranged for them to be boarded at a cat hotel in Oakville for the week. It's not ideal because they are so very rarely out of my house (only to go to the vet) but we were thinking with a pet sitter the cat would just hide as she doesn't like strangers really anyway. So that isn't ideal either. Anyway, I will be getting her blood glucose monitored at the vet tomorrow - I did read that I could do it at home - and the vet was agreeable to this but because of timing and stuff it's not going to work out. Then we'll be starting the insulin. Her blood sugar when tested was 29 which the vet said was quite high - is that correct? Any other pointers?

thanks for your help!!!!
Cheri

sugarcatmom
July 31st, 2012, 05:48 PM
Hello!

Well howdy, cheriliko!!! Welcome to pets.ca, but sorry it's under these circumstances. I just so happen to know a thing or 2 about feline diabetes, having looked after one now for over 9 years :eek:. I'm just about to leave work so I'll try to post more later tonight....

Most of the sites I've found are american based and therefore likely to have american food recommendations. What foods in Canada are ideal?

Most of what you can get in the U.S., you can also get in Canada, depending on your local pet food stores. Some high quality brands to look for are grain-free Wellness, Nature's Variety Instinct, By Nature, Precise, ZiwiPeak, Weruva, Merrick.... If you can't find those, gluten-free Classic pate Fancy Feast flavours will do for now (although not the best quality, they are at least low-carb).

I'm thinking I'll feed wet (per recommendations) but leave dry out as well.

Honestly, the best way to get your kitty regulated and possibly even eliminate the need for insulin injections is to ditch the dry food altogether. Even the low-carb kibbles like Innova Evo and Wellness CORE tend to have quite an impact on blood sugar levels. Plus, they're very high in calories and will pack on the pounds (thinking of your overweight guy) if they aren't dispensed in carefully measured portions. If you want to leave food out, I suggest either putting out extra wet food or freezing some canned in an ice-cube tray and plopping a couple out for the kitties to snack on as it thaws.

Gotta run, but I'll be back later.....

cheriliko
July 31st, 2012, 10:30 PM
Thank you for your recommendations regarding the wet food that we should try. The cats have always had dry food available to them - do you think it will be hard to transition them?

Given the timing, I'm going to continue with their regular dry food for now because she'll be boarded and it's important that she eats at all. The owner talked about how some cats don't eat well while they are there and she's concerned that if we trying to change foods etc while we're there that will make it difficult - which makes sense. So what I'm thinking is I'll send her regular dry food, some new dry food to mix in with it, the regular wet food that we have given them as a treat, and new wet food. And I'll tell them to feed her the new wet food first - if she won't eat it then try the regular wet food. Then I'm thinking I'll ask them to leave a small amount of dry out a mix of regular and higher protein one and hope that she eats enough while she's there. What do you think?

After we get back from vacation then I'll try getting them off the dry food all together. Should I not even bother with a new dry food then? I mean does it really make sense if it's only for a week? Hmmm....

Thanks again for the suggestions on the type of wet food - I'll go look for it tomorrow evening. Any pointers you have would be SO appreciated.

Regarding insulin - do you get that at the vets - or do you get it somewhere else that is cheaper? Where do you get your syringes - I've heard Costco is likely the cheapest? What about testing supplies?

Thanks for your insight!

Cheri

sugarcatmom
July 31st, 2012, 11:54 PM
The cats have always had dry food available to them - do you think it will be hard to transition them?

If they like wet food already, then no. When it becomes tricky is with cats that have ONLY eaten dry food and don't even recognize wet food as FOOD. I do recommend rotating several different brands and flavours of wet though because many cats can get bored eating the same canned much quicker than they when eating the same dry (which is coated in flavour enhancers and has addicting carbohydrates and/or fish). If you can try to keep them relatively similar in carb % (preferably under 10% of calories), that would be ideal. Here are charts showing the breakdown for some of the more common brands: http://www.felinediabetes.com/diabetic-cat-diets.htm


Given the timing, I'm going to continue with their regular dry food for now because she'll be boarded and it's important that she eats at all.

Excellent plan, that's actually what I was going to suggest. Have your cats ever been boarded before? Do you know if this place has experience dealing with diabetic cats (for instance, can they recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and how to treat it, or what to do if your kitty won't eat? Are they aware that a diabetic cat who stops eating is at serious risk of developing ketoacidosis?). You're right, the timing of this does suck. I don't want to worry you, but if it were me I'd probably be calling the cat hotel every day for a detailed update. Because cats are all about territory, it can be quite upsetting for them to spend time in an unfamiliar place and as the cat hotel owner mentioned, many are too stressed to eat. A serious situation for any cat, it's exponentially more so for a diabetic one.

The other important factor in this is the type of insulin and the dose. If the vet determined the dose based on the current dry food diet, it will likely be higher than it would be if your kitty was eating wet (ie lower carb) food. I wouldn't change the food at all until you're back from your trip and can start testing her blood glucose yourself so you know what kind of impact that diet change will have. My own cat was at one time on 4.4 units bid (2x/day) of a fast acting insulin (Caninsulin) when he was still eating kibble. He only eats wet now and gets less than 1u of a very slow acting insulin (Levemir). Many cats can go into total remission with a diet change. Another reason why hometesting is crucial.



Regarding insulin - do you get that at the vets - or do you get it somewhere else that is cheaper?

Depends on the type of insulin. Caninsulin and ProZinc (which is in short supply these days, but that's another story) you can only get from the vet because they're made specifically for pets. The human insulins like Lantus, Levemir, Humulin, etc you can get at the pharmacy, usually for cheaper than from the vet. In Canada, you don't need a prescription either. I get Levemir from London Drugs and it costs my somewhere around $130 for a package of 5 3ml cartridges. That lasts me more than a year. Humulin N is really cheap, but not recommended for cats because it's too fast acting and doesn't last long enough. Lantus is popular with vets these days and I think costs about the same as Levemir, but has a shorter shelf life.

Where do you get your syringes - I've heard Costco is likely the cheapest? What about testing supplies?

I get all my syringes (BD Ultrafine II 3/10ml 31g shorts) and testing supplies from London Drugs as well (I don't think LD is out east, is it?). It's just easiest for me and I personally can't stand shopping at Costco, but if price is a big concern than Costco is probably your best bet. Whatever insulin your vet uses might also affect where you buy syringes, since the pet ones are U40 as opposed to the people ones, which are U100 and each uses a different type of syringe (U40 syringes can mostly be acquired either through the vet or online). There is a conversion you can do so that U100 syringes can be used with U40 insulin, but I wouldn't go down that route just yet. The first priority is to get comfortable with the injections and the whole new routine you're about to embark on!

Oh, and I should mention that while the learning curve can be a little steep with all of this, there will come a time when it's easy peasy lemon squeezy. :goodvibes: I feed/test/shoot literally in my sleep now (which is useful since Aztec, my diabetic, gets his shot around 5am). Hang in there Cheri! The fact that you're researching everything and taking an active role in your cat's treatment (what's her name, by the way?) is fantastic and bodes well for you both. Looking after a special needs cat, while sometimes scary and frustrating and ulcer-inducing, can also be one of the most rewarding relationships.

Do keep us updated on your progress. I look forward to hearing more about your new adventure with your girl.

cheriliko
August 1st, 2012, 12:25 AM
I had wondered about leaving them on their regular food until we got back because the vet said not to worry about the food before bringing her in tomorrow when he monitors her blood sugar all day - and I had a feeling that would affect the dosage she would receive. Ok - so I think the plan will be that I leave their regular kibble and bring some wet food to make sure they eat (they come a running when I open the wet food!!!). When we get back I'll get the testing supplies and figure that out. Once I've got that figured out I'll change her diet.

As for the cat boarding place - they do deal with diabetic cats on a regular basis. In fact one of the owners cats is diabetic (I picked his brain today!). I'll bring the print out from feline diabetes on how to deal with a hypo episode. I'm slightly concerned that there isn't anyone at this place overnight and what happens if she has a hypo episode during the night? Hmmm...I'm beginning to wonder if I should just not treat the diabetes at all until we get back from vacation? We have the option to board with the vet, but that will be more stressful because my cats won't be in the same cages, and the place that we're going to has a bunch of "perks" too.

And yeah - I was already going to be touching base with them while we are gone. LOL....I'm a bit of a helicopter parent when it comes to this kind of stuff. I went through a lot with my oldest daughter when she was a baby and made me realize that doctors aren't Gods, don't know everything and often make mistakes. Lets just say this vet doesn't know what he's gotten himself into...LOL. I'm a pain in the ass. The one good thing is that I mentioned that I had read online about bg testing at home and whether I should be doing that and he mentioned that I could do the inital bg curve at home (just likfe felinediabetes says!) - so I'm hoping he's good. He also said that he recommends wet food over dry (another point for him!) but that it will be prescription food (boo to him....). But it's a start anyway. He's not completely out to lunch. The real test will be tomorrow when I talk to him about the type of insulin etc (I did a bunch of research on this today).

So we'll see how everything goes tomorrow. Oh, my basic info....I have 2 cats. They are brother and sister (and act like it...LMAO...gosh those 2 can fight but have each other backs too....it's too funny) and look very similar - both are black and white. They are 13 yo. The boy is massive compared to the girl (the girl is the diabetic). She was approximately 10-12lbs before this started but has lost weight to 9.2lbs now. The boy is approximately 16-18lbs I think. Boy is named Chaos and girl is Storm. I'm hoping she weathers this fairly well. She is fairly timid - doesn't really like people except for me. She is just finally letting my daughters touch her now (they are 7 and 11!). But she is very docile so even though she is afraid, she lets me do anything I need to to her. For example she doesn't like to have her nails cut by me but she just sits there while I do it. She knows she has to do it so she doesn't fight it. Chaos on the other hand is a bit more um, well independant minded lets say. If he was the diabetic I suspect I'd have to fight him each time I went to test his bg...LOL. That said, he LOVES people - we call him our affection whore. He's all over everyone that comes into the house. Both are great cats. Even though they were around before the kids, Chaos is very good with them. Storm - well she just runs away from them...LOL. But she's never tried to bit or scratch them. So it's been a nice mix.

I'm totally on board with everything that is happening, the only thing I"m having trouble with is not being able to leave them anymore. We often took day trips overnight and would leave them for a day or two with absolutely no issues. That's not going to be happening anymore without some planning which sucks. I am imagining that once we get settled in with this stuff though that we'll have a professional pet sitter come to the house while we're gone. I'm crossing my fingers that Storm is able to be on a slow acting insulin and only requires dosing once a day - that would be the ideal.

Anyway, I'll certainly be checking in here. Thanks for your information and I'm sure I'll have more questions.

Cheri

sugarcatmom
August 2nd, 2012, 12:28 PM
Hi Cheri, how did Storm's day at the vet go?

I'm slightly concerned that there isn't anyone at this place overnight and what happens if she has a hypo episode during the night? Hmmm...I'm beginning to wonder if I should just not treat the diabetes at all until we get back from vacation?

Because her blood glucose number was so high at 29 (normal is about 3-7), I would start treating the diabetes right away, but depending on what dose the vet comes up with, perhaps lower it a bit while she's being boarded. It could get tricky if Storm doesn't eat there because the usual instructions are not to give insulin in that case. Problem is, that can be a recipe for ketones. Ideally someone would be able to test her bg and determine if she should get a small dose anyway while trying to get some food in her. Definitely leave your vets phone number with the cat hotel people in case they have any questions.

In case you haven't seen this website yet, it has some excellent info on feline diabetes: http://petdiabetes.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

We have the option to board with the vet, but that will be more stressful because my cats won't be in the same cages, and the place that we're going to has a bunch of "perks" too.

Ya, I wouldn't board at the vet either. For one thing, unless they're a 24 hr facility, your cats still wouldn't have overnight care there either. Plus vet clinics tend to be super busy handling medical issues and the pets being boarded there can be a bit of an afterthought. Also the smells and sounds are much more stressful (even if they're in a separate room).

he mentioned that I could do the inital bg curve at home (just likfe felinediabetes says!) - so I'm hoping he's good. He also said that he recommends wet food over dry (another point for him!)

Sounds like a pretty good vet! I frightening number of them either don't know anything about home-testing, or actively try to discourage it, and they're completely clueless when it comes to the impact diet has on diabetes. So your vet is already ahead of the curve!

The boy is massive compared to the girl (the girl is the diabetic).

Funny, that's how it was with my kitties. 2 brothers, one was clinically obese at 18 lbs (that's what a lifetime of "diet" dry food will do :rolleyes:), but the one that developed diabetes was a normal 12lb weight.


I'm totally on board with everything that is happening, the only thing I"m having trouble with is not being able to leave them anymore.

It can be a bit of an adjustment for sure. My hubby and I love to travel, and I mean BIG trips, like 2 months in Africa kinda thing. Thankfully my MIL is amazing and stays at our house while we're gone (we've had to tone it down a bit though, to maybe 3 weeks at a time). There are very few people I know that are not only willing, but I think are responsible enough to look after my cats. If it wasn't for my MIL, Aztec's diabetes probably would have been a bigger pill to swallow.