I am on an interesting journey as I was diagnosed recently with Type 2 Diabetes and now we have just confirmed that one of our cats is also diabetic. If you have been reading this blog or have joined my newsletter then you are aware of this already; if you have not read my articles, then please feel free to read my pages listed here in the top menu. The articles are sub-menus so take your time and please enjoy your stay while visiting with me.
Our cat has been with us for 8-9 years and we took her in as a soon to be mother with a litter of five kittens. We have two of her beautiful babies who are now 7 years old and very happy and healthy so far. We noticed that Angel was starting to lose weight and had a ravenous appetite, as well, she was going to the litter frequently and was drinking more water. We noticed she was very uninterested and was showing signs of being tired or not moving much. These are classic symptoms of being diabetic which I was personally thinking but we took her to the vet and it was confirmed she is diabetic. Our journey now continues with her and making sure to keep her stabilized and healthy as a diabetic cat.
We have the Alpha track glucometer to test blood glucose and it is made specifically for animals. I have my own monitor and it is not used because it does not have the ability. some human monitors do but the chance of getting an incorrect reading using the humand meter are common. We decided to get the kit because we want the test to be accurate.
The most important thing is to get into a routine to take a blood-glucose level testing of your cats blood. We are just in the process of getting her weight back and feeding her the correct diet so she can gain weight again, the next step we will be doing is the blood-glucose level testing every two hours for 12 hours to let our vet know what her levels are. This is called a blood glucose curve because it tracks the level of blood and gives us the data necessary to be able to keep her regulated. All pets in the beginning need to have this done and if you are not good at testing, then for a fee at the vet clinic they will do this; you leave your pet overnight because of the two-hour testing requirements.
Because I test my blood every day and administer the insulin into Angel, I have no problem doing this and it is a way to learn to do it effectively. Good practice gets you to know how and where to take the blood testing and it gets easier with patience and time. Sometimes there are pets that are ‘difficult’ which might need to be taken in to have this testing done. Keep in mind if your pet lets you give them a shot without fussing, taking a blood sample usually can be done. Our angel is so good and just lets us do it as she sits quietly; that is why I named her Angel. A person who cares about their own safety would never inject insulin without first testing their own blood sugar levels.
Once you have the curve testing done it is just a matter of routine. Make sure you give the insulin around the same time every day for the most accurate testing results. I take my test in the morning before breakfast and after. We give angel her insulin every 12 hours as close to the same time as possible. We test one-half of an hour-after she has eaten.
According to Catinfo.com,
- “Few humans with diabetes would dream of trying to mange their disease without the use of a glucometer (“meter”) to test their blood glucose level prior to injecting insulin. Injecting insulin blindly – into a human or a cat – puts the patient at significant risk for developing life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).This includes feline patients that have their doses determined with glucose curves done at a veterinary hospital. This is because your cat’s insulin needs can change for a variety of reasons (infection, stress, anorexia, etc.) and also because the curve generated at the vet clinic is influenced by stress hyperglycemia which is a false increase in blood glucose due to the cat’s internal reaction to this stress. This can then result in a higher dosage of insulin being prescribed than will be needed by the patient when they are at home.”(catinfo.com,2017)
This website makes a very good argument to consider testing at home because of the increased stress levels that your cat will feel while at the clinic. Taking the blood at home in an environment that they know and feel safe in is the best option in my personal opinion. I certainly do not want to give Angel a higher dose than required.
The same article states quite honestly, “Trying to manage a diabetic cat without home testing is a bit like driving a car with a paper bag over your head.”(catinfo.com, 2017) I find this to be an honest and funny statement because it states the obvious. I think the obvious should always be considered first along with good judgement and decisions. If you cannot test at home because of health or other issues that prevent you from testing, the best and most obvious step is to let the vet clinic do it. You can discuss your concerns about the possibility of higher levels and incorrect readings with the vet prior to having the procedure done.
Each cat that has diabetes is different. Proper results and recommendations with respect to how far to lower an insulin dosage upon beginning to change the cats diet must be achieved first. Not knowing the specifics for your cat results in incorrect data and information for each specific case. There are many crucial factors to be considered:
- carbohydrate content of the original diet;
- carbohydrate content of the new diet;
- how fast the change to a low carb diet is made;
- how carb ‘sensitive’ the cat’s body is;
- how quickly the cat’s body responds to the decrease in carbs;
- how the cat, in general, reacts to insulin;
- has the cat ever been positive for ketones in his urine;
- current dosage of insulin; and
- current blood glucose levels of the patient.
The following data and quotes from the referenced citation show how diet influences the amount of insulin requirements for each specific cat,
- The Carnivore Connection to Nutrition in Cats, Dr. Debra Zoran:
“High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets and low-fiber diets are highly beneficial in the management of cats with diabetes, resulting in a reduction of > 50% in the amount of insulin required in 8 of 9 cats in one study. In another study, complete cessation of insulin administration was reported for one-third of the cats.”
- Update on Feline Diabetes Mellitus, Dr. Claudia Reusch (WSAVA 2006):
“In previous years, when we did not limit the type of food our remission rate was 15%-25%. We were able to increase the remission rate to 50-70% by using a low-carbohydrate high-protein diet.” (Remission refers to no further need for insulin.)
- Antech Diagnostic News, December 2003:
“In one study, 68% of cats with diabetes mellitus fed a carbohydrate-restricted canned diet lost the need for exogenous insulin.”
I am learning about diabetes for myself and Angel in leaps and bounds and I have discovered a very important and sad fact: Dry food is not good for cats. The reasons are several and I have written about them in a prior article on my blog. The article is:
For myself, I need to make sure I also eat low carbs, high protein, good fats and lots of greens and vegetables. The adage ‘meat and greens’ basically describes my path while dealing with diabetes.
Cats are different because they are meat eaters. Dogs can eat some vegetables but cats are made differently so the diet of a cat is different from humans and dogs Cats need protein and I am finding out how true this is for us. As soon as we got the diagnosis for Angel, we changed the diet of all our cats. Keep in mind our cats always got wet food as a treat every night but now they are all on a wet food only diet. Angel is voracious and ravenous but that is partly because she is putting weight back on. Angel was quite thin when we took her in to the vet, you could see the results of what diabetes can do to a cat and quite quickly. Angel was also always very quiet when meal times came around. Now she is talking, begging and at the front of the line waiting for her food. I find this entertaining. She even tries to steal the other cats food. We can see the improvement already in her and she is active, vocal, interested, and is cleaning herself again. Angel stopped grooming before being diagnosed and you can see the effects of the illness because her coat became dull, dry and she had a lot of dander. Angels coat currently is getting back to being smooth and sleek, and she is grooming quite a bit.
According to Catinfo.com,
- “Note that I do not recommend any ‘prescription’ diets – including the ones sold for diabetes. They are expensive, low in quality, contain species-inappropriate ingredients, and are not necessarily low in carbohydrates.
- There is absolutely no reason to spend your hard-earned money on veterinarian-prescribed diets.
- Dry food addicts: I do not support the feeding of any dry food to any cat for many reasons (water depletion, high in carbohydrates, high in plant-based proteins, bacterial and fungal mycotoxin contamination, cooked-to-death which destroys nutrients, very calorically dense, etc.)”(catinfo.com, 2017)
Another point that is made by several sites regarding diabetes is that the well known food producers are not upfront about the amounts of carbohydrates in the food they produce.
The following chart link and information details and shows the levels of carbohydrates
- “1) NO DRY FOOD but see Tips for Transitioning Dry Food Addicts to Canned Food if you are dealing with a dry food addict. All cats can be transitioned to an appropriate diet (no dry food) if the owner is patient enough.2) See Cat Food Composition chart and stay below 10% carbohydrate calories (the third column). There are many suitable low carbohydrate choices available depending on your cat’s preference and your budget. Many cats do well on Friskies Classic Pates and Fancy Feast.Stay away from food with gravy – they are high in carbohydrates. The same is true for most food with sauces. Higher protein/lower fat is also the goal. However, you will note that most commercial foods are low in protein and high in fat. Why? Because protein is expensive and fat is cheap This is one of many reasons why I make my own cat food.
3) See Commercial Foods when you are ready to learn more about evaluating pet foods. Cats are obligate carnivores and are designed to eat other animals (meat, organs, etc.) – not grains and vegetables which only serve to enhance the profit margin of pet food companies and load the food up with carbohydrates.”(catinfo.com, 2017)
There are several health issues that can come into play when feeding your cats dry food. One of the most common is Urinary Tract Disease. The following points listed are critical as noted by Dr Lisa A. Pierson, DVM:
- “Any cat that is having trouble urinating may have an obstructed urethra which is a medical emergency.
- “Water” is the most important word when considering urinary tract health.
- Feeding a water-rich diet of canned or homemade food is critical for urinary tract health.
- Feeding dry (water-depleted) food contributes significantly to urinary tract diseases.
- Cats consume double the amount of water when fed a water-rich diet versus dry food. This fact considers both sources of water: food and water bowl.
- Urinary tract infections are significantly over-diagnosed, leading to antibiotic abuse.
- Blood in the urine is not necessarily indicative of an infection.
- Cases of sterile (non-infectious) cystitis (inflamed bladder wall) are far more common than infections.
- It is important to define the “I” in “UTI.” Infection? Inflammation?
- Crystals are very commonly erroneously diagnosed and over-treated with so-called “prescription” diets.
- I do not use any prescription diets other than the occasional use of canned s/d, temporarily.”
I have read many different articles on-line in my search for the best solutions and every one of them backs up what is stated above in varying ways. The main point that keeps popping up is, DRY FOOD = HEALTH PROBLEMS.
Sadly, I had to say goodbye several years ago to my sweet boy Fester because he got a urinary tract blockage and never recovered from it. The only solution was to responsibly euthanize him. I cried and sometimes still cry about it because it was a preventable health problem. If I had known now what would happen I would have switched him to a better food diet. On reflection, I know it was not my fault but I still have guilt over it. I think most people want to do the best for their animal companions and this is why I am including this section in my blog. I feel it is very important to give your pet the best possible life and include in that a healthy diet along with lots of love and affection. Your pets will respond so well to the new diet and will show you more affection in the end.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more articles and information!!