Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes in Cats

By Karen Decker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Sadly, feline diabetes rates have skyrocketed over the last decade. The disease is most often seen in overweight and obese adult cats who are fed biologically inappropriate dry food diets and get little to no exercise.  However, this is not always the case!


Feline diabetes is almost 100 percent preventable, so for the sake of your precious kitty, I hope you’ll give serious consideration to the importance of nutrition, exercise and maintaining your pet at a healthy weight. Tips for preventing diabetes in your cat:

  • Avoid dry food. All dry foods require starch (carbs) for manufacturing. Avoid canned cat foods containing grains (e.g., corn, wheat, rice, soy, millet, quinoa). Also avoid starchy “grain-free” high calorie, high-glycemic diets containing potatoes, chickpeas, peas or tapioca.

All the carbs (starch) in your cat’s food — which can be as much as 80 percent of the contents — break down into sugar. Excess sugar can result in diabetes.

Help your cat stay trim by feeding a portion controlled, moisture-rich, balanced and species-appropriate diet consisting of a variety of unadulterated protein sources and healthy fats, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary.

  • See to it that your kitty gets a minimum of 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise.
  • Don’t allow your cat to be over-vaccinated. There’s a growing body of research that connects autoimmune disorders to diabetes in dogs, and the same may be true for cats. If your kitty has had vaccines in the past, there’s a high likelihood her immunity will last a lifetime.

Each time a fully immunized pet receives a repetitive set of vaccines, it increases the risk of overstimulating the immune system.

If you’re concerned about your cat’s disease risk, I recommend you find a veterinarian who runs titer tests to measure antibody response from previous vaccinations. Titer results will tell you whether vaccination is necessary, and for which specific diseases.

One of my friends was able to turn around the diabetes in her cat with diet changes—here is her story:

Case Study- Bonnie’s (Diane’s friend) Cat

Caressa is Bonnie’s cat who was diagnosed with diabetes.  Bonnie fed Caressa only wet cat food with the highest amount of meat and the lowest grains and veggies.  She chose Fancy Feast Classic and she stayed away from the fish variety.  The cat was fed only two times a day -morning and night – as close to the same time as possible.

Bonnie feels that if you catch the diabetes early enough sometimes just switching the cat to only moist food will bring them back to a normal blood glucose reading.  But with Caressa she had very high numbers and had to be on insulin.  She followed her vet’s tight regulation protocol.  With this protocol you draw blood and test it with a glucometer and then determine the amount of insulin to give your cat.  This was done twice a day, morning and evening.

It took a while but in time we no longer needed to give Caressa any insulin and her body stayed in a good range.  She remained diabetes free for almost 6 1/2 years before she ended  up with hyperthyroid.  One thing that is super important is that if your cat is ever diagnosed with diabetes you must always feed her the moist food, giving them any form of dry food can send them right back into the diabetic state.

Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing your experience with Caressa’s diabetes.  Caressa has transitioned into spirit but she was a sweet, darling girl and I was so glad you were able to keep her comfortable in your last few years together.