Managing Feline Diabetes with a Low Carbohydrate Diet

A feline diabetes diet that is low in carbohydrates can help control or reverse the disease by preventing obesity and blood sugar spikes that wear out the pancreas. Approximately 40 percent of cats are overweight, and fat cats are four times more likely to develop canine diabetes.

Characteristics of Feline Diabetes

The pancreas releases insulin, which helps cells absorb sugar (converted from carbohydrates). Eating too much carbohydrates causes spikes in blood sugar, overworking the pancreas. When the pancreas cannot secrete enough insulin and blood sugar levels stay elevated, "Type I" diabetes may result. Or, if the body becomes "insulin resistant" due to weight gain, then blocks sugar from entering cell walls, "Type II" diabetes may result.

Why High-Carb Diets Contribute to Feline Diabetes

Cats convert proteins and fats into energy, but not carbohydrates. Consequently, cats need a diet containing only 3 to 5 percent carbohydrates (up to 10 percent is fine, too). Some dry cat foods contain up to 50 percent carbohydrates.

Why Low-Carb Catskin Diets Help Control Diabetes

The "Catkins Diet," patterned after the "Atkins Diet" for humans, is low-carb, high-protein and high-fat. In converting to the "Catkins Diet":

  • DO choose muscle meats
  • DON'T choose meat by-products, soy, organ meats, or meat "flavorings"
  • DO choose "wet" cat foods and fresh foods
  • DON'T choose grains, which turn into sugar in the body

Catskins Diet Caution

Taking the same amount of insulin, but reducing carbohydrates intake, may cause a dangerous condition called "hypoglycemia," or low blood sugar. Always consult your vet about changing your cat's diet.