Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition
Since cats are obligate carnivores, the dietary rules for people do not apply. Many cats will lose weight more effectively on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for this reason.
Veterinarians have had better success obtaining diabetic control in cats when using low carbohydrate diets. Most vets think of low carb as diets less than 7% to 10% carbohydrate. This means feeding diabetic cats canned food rather than dry food because canned food in general has a much lower carbohydrate content than dry pet foods. Some stubborn cats refuse to eat anything but dry kibble, so companies have tried to make low carb dry food. Two such “low carb” dry foods are Science Diet M/D and Purina DM for diabetic cats, but they still contain 15% carbs and 18% carbs respectively.
Q: Can I free-feed my cat?
You cannot free-feed any dry food. Carb-laden dry cat food is the cause of feline diabetes in the first place. You can leave canned, pouched, or meat diets down for some period of time (a few hours) if necessary. Actually, however, cats do not need to “graze” on any food. Cows are grazers, but cats eat discrete meals after a successful hunt. Cats are not herbivores like cows are, and their meals are high nutrient-density and less frequent than the meals of herbivores, whose diets are low-nutrient-density.A study comparing the effect of a HC/low-protein food vs. a LC/high-protein food on glucose and fat metabolism in lean and obese cats before and after weight loss. Obesity, but not dietary protein or carbohydrate content, led to severe insulin resistance in cats.We know that feeding a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet can be effective for controlling the glycemic response in diabetic cats and many diabetic cats fed this type of diet will actually go into diabetic remission. Many people make the claim that since feeding these diets to a diabetic cat is beneficial, then feeding a healthy cat a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet should prevent diabetes. However, the situation is actually much more complex than that.According to the , diabetic cats can benefit from and fat and low in carbohydrates. (especially canned kitten foods) can supply high protein and fat for this kind of diet. You can also find really good new diets today that have been made especially for diabetic cats such as . (Don’t look too closely at the ingredients with prescription diets. You probably won’t like some of the ingredients. But prescription diets are often very effective. They are often a food of last resort for some owners and their pets.) Some vets may also prescribe a starch blocker called to help prevent or slow your cat from digesting the starches in their diet. This drug requires a veterinarian’s prescription. Cats fed a high protein/low carb diet that take acarbose can often discontinue their insulin injections (under their vet’s guidance), or have their diabetes regulated on a lower dose of insulin.II. Proper insulin
Protamine zinc insulin is, by far, the most effective form of insulin available for use in the diabetic cat today. Beef and pork insulin molecules (beef is closer than pork) more closely resemble natural feline insulin and give the greatest response for the lowest dosages in the vast majority of feline diabetics. It can be dosed at 6-12 hour intervals and, because many canned or pouched cat foods are supportive of low blood glucose from diet, PZI allows good control of the diabetic cat, far superior to that from NPH, Humulin insulin or the newer human products called Lantus (glargine) or Levemir.
Although one small study has shown that Lantus (glargine) can be used to create remission in new diabetics on low-carb (wet only) cat foods, this study does not really prove that Lantus is superior to PZI as the method of use of the PZI in the study was not optimal and considering that brand new diabetics will readily go into remission regardless of the insulin used as long as low-carbohydrate wet foods are fed to these cats. In my experience with this human insulin, the effects of Lantus in the cat are far more unpredictable than that of PZI, making regulation and remission more difficult to achieve. Further, Lantus is a human insulin product and at least theoretically more antigenic (allergy producing) in the cat than the bovine-origin PZI insulins. Bovine insulin has a much closer amino acid structure to the cat’s own insulin than does human insulin, a likely explanation for it superior results in managing feline diabetics.The two best diets for cats are Science Diet feline growth (chicken or turkey) or Iams kitten foods. However, any brand of canned food is better than the same brand in a dry formula. By putting your cat on the Atkins’ diet (low carbohydrate and high protein), you can help prevent many diseases.