The most nutritious diet for diabetic cats (2023)


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Dear Dr. Fox:

Even though I know you advocate feeding pets — especially diabetic ones — homemade food, I wonder whether you’d consider this question.

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My geriatric cat has been insulin-dependent for more than five years. I started him on Fancy Feast Classics, but I got shamed into changing him to Hill’s m/d. In the summer, I ventured back to Fancy Feast because he likes it so much better. Suddenly, his blood sugar dropped like a rock. On a schedule of 7 a.m. and 7p.m. insulin glargine injections, his glucose would be 70 to 100 at 1 or 2 a.m. Unusual behavior caused me to get up and test him.

Could m/d have been keeping his blood glucose elevated? If I were to cook food for him, what should I give him?

M.J., Cheyenne, Wyo.

DF: As I repeatedly stress in this column, avoid feeding cats high-carbohydrate treats, as well as regular cat foods. I invited veterinarian Greg Martinez (visit to offer his opinion because I am impressed with his nutrition-first approach to animal health issues, which I have long advocated, and now I feel less alone professionally!

(Video) Diabetic Diet for Cats : General Cat Health

“Diabetes in cats is thought to be caused by too many calories in the diet and too little activity. Overweight, sedentary cats develop Type 2 diabetes, which is the insulin-resistant type also seen in people. A diet with fewer calories per ounce, less fat and fewer carbohydrates will obviously have more protein, just the mix of ingredients that cats evolved to eat (rodents or other prey). That same mix of ingredients will also help cats lose weight and regulate their blood sugar.

“Hill’s m/d diet is formulated to have fewer carbohydrates and less fat than other cat foods, but it still may have too many simple carbohydrates for some cats. The reason Fancy Feast Classics worked so well is that the ingredients are also high-protein, low-fat, high-moisture and lower-calorie ones.

“It could be that your cat does not tolerate the cornstarch in the m/d, which may elevate his blood glucose more than the type of carbohydrate in Fancy Feast Classics — the only one listed is guar gum, which is a soluble fiber known to help with regulating the blood sugar.


“Individual cats may just do well with different ingredients, and it sounds like Fancy Feast agrees with your cat, where Hill’s m/d doesn’t. You may try asking your local pet store for a grain-free quality canned cat food with a similar high-protein, low-carbohydrate, medium-fat mixture.

"If you are going to make your own cat food, veterinarian Lisa Pierson has lots of good info on cooking for your cat: 'Making Cat Food, by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM' at The basic recipe calls for 90percent low-fat meat and keeps the carbohydrate level at less than 10percent. This high-protein diet is not appropriate for cats with kidney issues.''

I would urge against feeding animals carrageenan, which can be found in the Hill's prescription cat food. Read more at my website,


(Video) 😺 The Best Diabetic Cat Foods - An Useful Products Guide!

Dear Dr. Fox:

I read your column regarding German shepherds and waiting to spay until after a year because of an issue with their bone health. I gave the article to my daughter, who has a 5-month-old rescue German shepherd.

Now I’m reading about how important it is to spay dogs before the first heat cycle to help prevent mammary gland cancer.

What is the best way to go in this case? My daughter was going to wait until her dog was a year old but has changed her mind to have it done at 6 months old, which is in a month.

K.K., Fargo, N.D.

DF: It is a long-held view that spaying dogs before their first heat will help prevent mammary gland cancer. Although this is generally true, several other health issues can arise after early removal of the ovaries and which, in the final analysis, negate the benefits of early neutering.


My advice is to wait until the dog is closer to maturity — at about 2 years — before having the operation.

Some veterinarians now leave the ovaries intact to prevent the hormonal deficiencies and imbalances associated with the adverse consequences of a complete ovariohysterectomy. This topic is controversial, and more clinical studies and long-term evaluations of various breeds and the risk-to-benefit ratios of complete or partial removal of the reproductive organs are called for.

(Video) Diabetes In Cats: Best Home Remedies

This may contradict animal shelter policy of neutering all animals before adoption, especially in areas where there are too many animals multiplying in the community, and adopters cannot be trusted to prevent their animals from reproducing by keeping intact females restrained when in heat.

Dear Dr. Fox:

Although I love the outdoors and I am sympathetic to wildlife and the environment, I disagree with your recent statements regarding “re-wilding’’ public lands.


My objection is not made to support trappers, hunters or mining concerns, but to maintain some of these areas so that my grandkids and I can hike or camp without fear of attack or death from one of a few deadly predators that are being reintroduced. My thoughts on a couple of the issues usually mentioned:

1. Putting things back as they were: This can be completed with or without adding deadly predators in the mix. The environment must be fixed in a variety of ways, regardless of whether predators are there.

2. No need to worry because bears, wolves and cougars are afraid of people, and if we don’t bother them, we’ll be safe. This is blatantly false. Cougars and bears already kill a few people each year, and any fear they have will rapidly vanish, as bears in state parks keep proving.

J.P., St. Charles, Mo.


(Video) Caring for Your Diabetic Cat Part 4 - Nutritional Therapy

DF: Many people share your fear and concerns over human safety in those parts of our National Park System of public lands designated as national parks and wildlife refuges.

Remember that state and federal agencies have waged war on natural predators for decades, their extermination causing great harm to these ecosystems. Their natural recovery or carefully conducted reintroduction is much needed.

Already, our national parks are suffering from the impact of too many tourists. More people are injured and killed by falling trees, snakes, lightning and climbing accidents, as well as by their own dogs, cattle and horses on home base, than by wolves, lions and bears.

Despite the general impressions that human deaths are regular and imminent, this is not true. I recently corresponded with Will Stolzenburg, author of "Heart of a Lion," who said, "The last person killed by a mountain lion was in 2008. And in fact, a recent study showed that people's lives are actually being saved by mountain lions, by preventing fatal vehicle collisions with deer (which now kill about 200 people each year). The study further estimates that if mountain lions were allowed to return to the eastern forests, they could save upwards of 155 people over the next 30 years.


“Another point: Many of the aggressive encounters between people and bears or lions stem from our hunting of the animals, by wounding and incapacitating otherwise healthy, well-behaved animals, and by orphaning cubs and kittens who grow desperate. Or, in the particular case of bears, our ill-advised feeding of them primes the possibility for bad encounters. Again, our fault.’’

So hikers and campers, beware. Take along a can of pepper spray, keep dogs on a leash, and children, too. And let's give equal consideration to the endangered children of other species that have no less a right to be than we, as I emphasize in my book "Animals and Nature First.''

Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Send letters to or write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.

©2016 United Feature Syndicate

(Video) Feline diabetes Q&A #1: Food


The most nutritious diet for diabetic cats? ›

Good options like freeze-dried chicken, beef, salmon, tuna, and liver are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, just like the foods recommended for diabetic cats. Stop giving treats if they interfere with your cat's appetite at regular mealtimes.

What type of food is typically best for diabetic cats? ›

Good options like freeze-dried chicken, beef, salmon, tuna, and liver are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, just like the foods recommended for diabetic cats. Stop giving treats if they interfere with your cat's appetite at regular mealtimes.

Do cats with diabetes need a special diet? ›

Though diet needs to be tailored to a cat's individual needs, high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods are ideal for many cats with diabetes. (Typically a diet with less than 10% total calories as carbohydrates.) If feeding dry food, ideally a prescription diet formulated for cats with diabetes should be fed.

What can I give my cat naturally for diabetes? ›

Natural foods that will help you manage diabetes in cats
  • Apples help bring down blood glucose levels. ...
  • Avocados help boost insulin sensitivity. ...
  • Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that improve glucose metabolism. ...
  • Fatty fish help bolster insulin sensitivity. ...
  • Lentils help keep blood glucose levels normal.
Oct 12, 2022

Why is Fancy Feast good for diabetic cats? ›

“Hill's m/d diet is formulated to have fewer carbohydrates and less fat than other cat foods, but it still may have too many simple carbohydrates for some cats. The reason Fancy Feast Classics worked so well is that the ingredients are also high-protein, low-fat, high-moisture and lower-calorie ones.

Is cooked chicken good for diabetic cats? ›

If you have a diabetic cat, it's important to feed them a carefully balanced diet to help manage their condition. Cooked chicken can be a healthy and appropriate choice for diabetic cats as it is a good source of protein and contains fewer carbohydrates than many commercial cat foods.

Is wet or dry food better for diabetic cats? ›

When choosing a diet for your diabetic cat, it's best to choose wet foods that typically come in cans or pouches. Wet foods are lower in carbohydrates than dry foods and contain more water than kibble.

Is canned tuna good for diabetic cats? ›

If it is a small amount (one level teaspoon) once, maybe twice a day, then it should not adversely affect his blood glucose. However, tuna is almost all protein and very little fat. Excess protein in relationship to low fat will cause the blood glucose of a cat to spike.

Are eggs good for diabetic cats? ›

Some cats should not eat eggs because they may increase your cat's daily caloric intake if you're not counting their calories. For example, cats with pancreatitis and diabetes or those on a restricted diet should avoid eggs. However, healthy cats can consume a small amount of egg in moderation.

What is the best cat food for diabetics and kidney disease? ›

There are three pet food lines that have products that are very effective for CKD management: Hill's Prescription Diet is the best, and Purina Veterinary Diets and Royal Canin are decent alternatives.

How do you keep a diabetic cat healthy? ›

A diet low in carbohydrates has been shown to improve blood sugar regulation in diabetic cats. There are several prescription food options that are available in both wet and dry food forms, though feeding a wet-food only diet may be beneficial for many cats.

What is the life expectancy of a diabetic cat? ›

Cats who are treated effectively for diabetes can live for very prolonged periods after diagnosis. Average length of life after diagnosis is variable dependent on which study is examined, however, average lifespans of up to around three years are reported in some studies.

How can I lower my cats blood sugar fast? ›

They should eat a low carbohydrate diet to reduce the amount of glucose in the body. Even so, most cats require insulin injections twice daily to keep blood glucose in check. These injections are administered under the skin in rotating sites, preferably at the same times each day.

How many meals a day should a diabetic cat eat? ›

Most diabetic cats are fed twice daily. Give ½ of the daily calories approximately 30 minutes before the insulin injection. After your cat eats, his blood glucose will naturally increase. The insulin will help drive the glucose levels back to a normala normal level.

Which Tiki cat food is best for diabetic cats? ›

High Moisture Foods Are Best for Diabetic Cats. Tiki Cat: Ahi Tuna and Chicken in Chicken Consommé Weruva Presents: Love Me Tender Chicken and Duck in Gravy Recipe. Instinct by Nature's Variety: Original Grain-Free Real Lamb Recipe.

Can too many treats give cats diabetes? ›

Cat treats high in sodium/salt can cause your cat to drink excessively. If they are high in calories and/or fat, your cat could become overweight and develop health problems such as bladder stones, skin infections, osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and cancer.

Are hard boiled eggs good for diabetic cats? ›

Yes, cats can eat eggs. Fully cooked eggs are a great nutritional treat for cats.

How much should a cat eat before insulin? ›

Time feedings and insulin treatments so that glucose absorption coincides with peak action of given insulin. In general, feed half of your cat's total daily food right before or with injections.

What is the healthiest way to cook chicken for cats? ›

Experts suggest boiling plain chicken until it is cooked thoroughly, and not give cats extra fat trimmings as that could lead to pancreatitis. Most importantly, do not feed your cat chicken if it has been cooked with onions or garlic, as those are toxic to cats.

Is pumpkin OK for diabetic cat? ›

Pumpkin for Cats and Dogs with Constipation or Diarrhoea

Pumpkin happens to be an excellent source of potassium, with 505 milligrams of naturally occurring potassium per cup. Pumpkin is also safe for diabetic patients.

Can you give catnip to a diabetic cat? ›

Another post questioned whether catnip creates a problem with the regulation of diabetic cats. One feline specialist answered that that they have never seen a problem with diabetic regulation when regular use of catnip was involved.

How do you cook a diabetic cat? ›

Chicken and Rice Diet

Take half a pound of cooked chicken breast, one hard-boiled egg, one half-ounce of chopped clams one-third a cup of cooked brown rice, four teaspoons of butter or oil, and a dash of salt. Serve immediately, or refrigerate. Add in supplements as per your cat's health recommendations.

Is Sweet Potato good for diabetic cats? ›

While insulin may be necessary to ensure effectiveness in managing diabetes in cats, pet parents can also take a natural approach to diet and lifestyle changes following a diabetes diagnosis. Raines recommends a low-carb diet without the addition of grains, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and green peas.

Can I feed my diabetic cat more than twice a day? ›

Number of meals

The usual feeding routine (e.g. food always available (ad libitum), meals/fresh food given twice or three times daily) should be kept when starting to stabilize a diabetic cat.

Are bananas good for diabetic cats? ›

Bananas are high in sugar which can lead to diabetes and weight problems. So, even though cats can have bananas, it's better to offer them in moderation or even avoid them altogether if your pet has certain medical conditions such as diabetes.

What raises blood sugar in cats? ›

Some of the causes for hyperglycemia may be pancreatitis, and the resulting inability to produce insulin; normally occurring hormones, especially in female cats; diet; and infections of the body (such as teeth, or urinary tract).

Can diabetic cats have peanut butter? ›

In the end, cats with any health issues should avoid peanut butter, Dr. Wooten says. “Those with diabetes, kidney problems, or with any kind of chronic gastrointestinal trouble, such as inflammatory bowel disease, need to stay far, far away.” These fur babies can get diarrhea, upset stomach or gas, she says.

What ingredients should diabetic cats avoid? ›

Dry food is typically loaded with carbohydrates and not recommended to feed diabetic cats. Grains like rice, corn, wheat, starches like potatoes, lentils, peas and starches are often found in dry cat food and will raise blood glucose levels. Foods with flours or starches added should be avoided as well.

What foods help repair kidneys in cats? ›

Consider introducing your cat to low-phosphorus, fresh dietary foods like watermelon, apples, bananas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and blueberries. Avoid high dietary portions of cereal grains or animal products known to include a higher ratio of phosphorus, such as rawhides, jerky treats, and real bones.

Is Fancy Feast good for cats with kidney disease? ›

The most important nutritional goal for a renal patient is that the cat eats well every day. You can also use the renal diets to compare nutritional profiles to retail food. Particularly, Purina's retail diets (Fancy Feast, Friskies) will compare favorably to the renal diet's nutritional profile.

Is cooked chicken good for cats with kidney disease? ›

As obligate carnivores, cats need species-appropriate proteins that are easily digestible. Proteins such as turkey and chicken are a safe choice for cats with kidney diseases.

Is 8 units of insulin a lot for a cat? ›

Regardless of the insulin type, most cats require twice daily administration. The maximum total starting dose, even for large cats, should not exceed 2 U/cat BID. Most cats are well regulated at doses from 0.2 to 0.8 U/kg.

Can my diabetic cat go 2 days without insulin? ›

If you must miss a dose or two of insulin (occasionally), do not be concerned. Your cat's blood glucose will get too high for a day or two, but that will not cause great problems. There are two forms of diabetes in cats: diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus.

What percentage of diabetic cats go into remission? ›

Bruyette reported that cats who are started on insulin glargine, and are fed a diet high in protein and low in carbs have an almost 80% chance of going into remission from their diabetes. That's incredible.

Are cats in pain when they have diabetes? ›

Diabetic cats are vulnerable to neuropathic pain. It is a condition that affects the body's nerves. This can pain can affect the hind legs and even the spinal cord.

How long can a senior cat live with untreated diabetes? ›

Prognosis for cats with uncontrolled acromegaly and poorly controlled diabetes mellitus is poor to guarded; without treatment most cats are euthanized within a few months of diagnosis.

Can I give my cat insulin 1 hour late? ›

Wait until the next scheduled time and give the injection as usual. If your day's schedule isn't cooperating, it's OK to give the insulin injection as much as 2 hours early or 2 hours late on occasion. Otherwise, try to keep an every 12 (or 24) hour schedule.

What are the symptoms of too much insulin in cats? ›

Symptoms include lethargy, disorientation, nausea, weakness, abnormal behavior, increased appetite, unsteadiness and rapid heartbeat. More severe signs include seizures and coma. Any sign of insulin overdose requires immediate veterinary attention, as it can rapidly lead to death.

How long does it take insulin to lower blood sugar in cats? ›

Do not give insulin to a pet that is showing signs of low blood sugar levels (see side effects below). This medication should take effect within 1 to 2 hours; however, effects may not be noted outwardly and therefore laboratory tests will need to be done to evaluate this medication's effectiveness.

Do diabetic cats need a special diet? ›

Though diet needs to be tailored to a cat's individual needs, high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods are ideal for many cats with diabetes. (Typically a diet with less than 10% total calories as carbohydrates.) If feeding dry food, ideally a prescription diet formulated for cats with diabetes should be fed.

Can I give my cat insulin 2 hours after eating? ›

Mealtime plays a role

Make sure that your cat eats around the time of the insulin administration — up to one hour before injection. This will assure that she has food in her stomach to counteract the action of the insulin to prevent low blood sugar after the insulin injection.

Why is my diabetic cat still hungry after eating? ›

One of the lesser-known symptoms of diabetes in cats is increased appetite. This might manifest itself as your cat seeming hungrier than usual or even eating more than they usually would. Polyphagia is an increased appetite and is one of the important symptoms of cats with diabetes.

What is the best protein for cats with diabetes? ›

Good options like freeze-dried chicken, beef, salmon, tuna, and liver are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, just like the foods recommended for diabetic cats. Stop giving treats if they interfere with your cat's appetite at regular mealtimes.

Is taurine good for diabetic cats? ›

Taurine helps the body regulate blood sugar. Your pet may develop diabetes without sufficient amounts of taurine. Lethargy. Cats affected by the deficiency may appear tired and listless.

What is the most effective insulin for cats? ›

Many veterinary internal medicine specialists recommend glargine (Lantus®, made by Sanofi Aventis) as a first-line choice. Lantus® is a recombinant human insulin which is usually very effective in cats.

Is wet food better for diabetic cats? ›

In general, wet food is better for diabetic cats because it's lower in carbohydrates. There are some dry foods that are especially formulated for diabetic felines. They typically include carbohydrates with a low glycemic index such as lentils, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas.

Does dry food give cats diabetes? ›

Lead researcher Malin Ohlund, DVM, said: “Through our research we found that while obesity is a very important and prominent risk factor for diabetes mellitus in cats, there is also an increased risk of diabetes among normal-weight cats consuming a dry food diet.

Is cheese good for diabetic cats? ›

Additionally, if your cat has health problems, such as obesity or diabetes, any cheese might not be good for them because it's high in calories and may only add to their weight. Even though cheese has protein, there's little nutritional benefit to your cat eating cheese, so they shouldn't eat cheese every day.

Can cat diabetes be reversed with diet? ›

In cats, diabetes mellitus can actually be reversed if there has not been too much permanent pancreatic damage and if blood sugar can be regulated quickly, the cat can become normal. For most diabetic cats, a low carbohydrate/high protein approach is the best route to accomplishing this goal.


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