Does your cat have diabetes? Did yu even know cats can get diabetes? Cat food can be one of the causes of cat diabetes. As with humans, nutrition is where the health is. If what we feed to our cats is not good for them it might cause health problems for them. This is why those who are unsure if their cat might be affected might want to have it checked out for diabetes, and those whose cats have been diagnosed should take a look at our list of best low carb cat foods for diabetic cats. Even healthy cats can benefit from low carb cat food for the simple reason that cats are carnivores and do not require carbohydrates in their diet.
Best Low Carb Cat Food
We have selected what in our opinion is the best low carb cat food on the market currently. Take a look at our recommendations and ensure proper food for your little carnivores! Our recommendation of good low carb cat food:
- Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Low-Carb Dry Cat Food
- Dr. Tim’s Premium All Natural Dry Cat Food
- Crave High Protein Wet Cat Food
What is feline diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a very common disease found mainly in older and obese cat. The cause of feline diabetes is virtually similar to diabetes in humans. Diabetes is a disorder in which blood glucose or glucose is not utilized correctly and regulated inside the body. During digestion, glucose enters the bloodstream, and the cat’s body then releases insulin to control blood glucose levels.
If your cat is not producing any insulin, it will develop diabetes. Too much build-up of glucose due to a shortage of insulin can also be potentially dangerous. Overweight, neutered cats who eat a lot of high carbohydrate diet are more susceptible to Type II diabetes. In Type I diabetes the pancreas does not produce enough insulin resulting in high blood sugar. But this type of diabetes is rare in cats.
How Can Pet Parents Notice Diabetes in Cats?
Increased thirst and frequent urination
Lack of insulin prevents the cells from absorbing glucose, and the excess glucose in the body of your cat makes him thirsty. The kidneys filter out this excess glucose, that carries water with it, making your cat lose more water through urination.
Eating more and still losing weight
A diabetic cat cannot consume the calories he ingests as energy and so will break down fat and muscle tissue for that purpose. Diabetic cats usually have a voracious appetite and eat a lot of food but would lose weight also at the same time.
Lethargy and weakness
The cat will have less energy if he cannot use the calories he is taking in. Your cat may become weak and lazy and lose muscle mass. Your kitty may also prefer sleeping more than playing.
Vomiting may be an indication of the waste building up in the body as the body breaks fats for energy.
Owing to weakness, a cat with diabetes walks flat on the back of the hind legs. Due to increased blood sugar levels, the nerves in the hind legs are affected and can also lead to complete paralysis if left untreated for long.
If you observe any of the above symptoms in your cat, call your vet who will run a laboratory test to determine how much sugar is in his blood or urine.
How do Cats Digest Carbohydrates like Grains?
Cats mainly obtain the energy they need from fats, proteins, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. They are metabolically designed to derive energy from amino acids and fats and not starch. Due to millions of years of evolution, a cat’s body has lost its ability to produce enzymes such as hepatic glucokinase and hepatic glycogen synthetase, which are required to regulate blood sugars.
Source: US National Library of Medicine
A cat’s body also produces very less pancreatic amylase, which is an enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose. In the wild, the cats would eat a starch free diet that has resulted in a lack of amylase as cats evolved as a species. Therefore, the cat is unable to get much energy from carbohydrates.
General information on cat nutrition and best cat food in all categories.
However, carbohydrates can be good for cats as they protect their muscles and also spares the protein in their muscles from being broken down for energy. Adult cats don’t need carbohydrates in their diet. But simple carb like glucose is essential, as the cells primarily use glucose for their energy needs.
Healthy cats can digest and absorb dietary carbohydrates very easily. While cats have an ancestrally high-meat diet that does not contain any carbs, only plant-based foods do, but a cat can digest plant-based carbohydrates and use it as an energy source. Carbohydrates provide cat instant energy and are beneficial. Healthy carbs like carrots, spinach, broccoli, and others are a great source of energy.
Cats digest carbohydrates differently from other animals. Cats have specific disabilities regarding the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. In cats, the metabolism of carbohydrates does not start in the mouth as they don’t have the enzyme amylase in the mouth; instead, digestion begins in the small intestine.
In cats, amylase is only found in the pancreas and chyme, but the intestinal amylase activity is quite low. But still, cats do need a diet that consists of a balance of fats, protein, and carbohydrates.
However, excess carbohydrates can result in obesity and diabetes in cats. High carbohydrate diet can also cause diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating.
Why is Grain-free Cat Food Better?
These days as a discerning pet parent, you try to make similar food choices for your furry pets also. Gluten-free or grain-free cat food has become quite popular. Grain-free foods for cats do not contain any grain. Whereas gluten-free cat food may or may not contain grain as an ingredient.
Gluten-free cat food may or may not be grain-free, but grain-free cat food is always gluten-free.
A grain-free diet is a low carbohydrate diet and high in protein. Some common grains found in cat food are corn, wheat, oats, rice, and barley. But sometimes grain-free cat foods contain more carbohydrates as ingredients such as potatoes, lentils, tapioca replace grains and have high carbohydrate levels. So a grain-free low carb cat food is the best choice for your feline buddy.
Grain-free foods are also higher in fat. Therefore, it is imperative to feed your cat the correct portion size so that he doesn’t become overweight. As per a contrary belief that grains are better for cats – most cats do not require grain-free foods unless they have allergy issues.
Some cats become sensitive to grains and, therefore, a grain-free diet focusses on eliminating the ingredients causing the allergy. Grains play a role in escalating allergies and even acute diseases like diabetes. Grains and carbohydrates can also cause weight gain in your furry companion. I
n the wild, the cats ate more protein and minimal carbohydrates. Their body is designed to derive amino acids and protein in their diet from meat and require just a meager amount of fiber in the form of vegetables.
Why is it Important for Cat Food to be High in Protein and Low in Grains?
Your kitty may not be hunting but still, need his daily dose of protein in his kibble.
Protein has an important place in your cat’s diet as protein is the primary source of energy and are the building blocks of body organs and tissues. Cats have a robust digestive system that can easily digest nutrients from plant-based ingredients.
Cats need a more protein-rich diet and only small amounts of carbohydrates through the protein that they ingest. It is essential to give your cat food that is high in animal protein as they get the essential amino acids from them.
Amino acids create new proteins, fuel other bodily processes, support healthy muscle growth and overall development. So it is crucial to maintain proper protein levels in your cat’s diet. Protein is a part of an excellent nutritional cat diet, but your cat also needs other vital nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals for his optimal health.
How Can You Use Food to Keep Cat Diabetes in Check?
Altering your cat’s diet is a possible alternative to controlling diabetes. A low carbohydrate and high protein cat food is deemed best for cats with diabetes. However, some species of cats are predisposed to developing diabetes. Feeding low carb cat food can keep your cat’s weight in check and is especially important if he is diabetic.
Low Carb Cannet Cat Food Is a Good Choice
Canned foods are considered better than kibble or dry food. A low carbohydrate, high protein diet, along with oral hypoglycemic medications, can further help control your cat’s blood glucose levels. You should not feed dry foods to a diabetic cat as they are not low enough in carbohydrates and usually contain plant-based protein that can’t satiate your cat’s high protein requirement.
The water content in dry foods is also very low. Dry cat foods contain carbohydrates that give them their shape and texture. A high protein, low carbohydrate canned food is recommended by all vets to achieve diabetic remission.
High-quality commercial cat foods are formulated with less than 10 percent ME carbohydrates and are best for diabetic management in cats. Choose a high-quality protein that is also easily digestible like meat or eggs and not corn or soybean.
Low carb canned cat food has relatively more moisture than the dry foods and therefore keep the cat hydrated also. Many vets also advise prescription diabetic foods. But these may not be the ideal cat foods to attain diabetic remission. You can also further choose a diet for your cat that is fat restricted. Fibers also make some diabetic cats feel full with few calories and you can add fibers to your cat’s diet. Feed your cat with the best low carb cat food that has around 50% calories coming from protein and 40% from fat and 10% carbohydrates.
Additional Info on Living With Diabetic Cats
Apart from food, it is also essential to maintain an ideal body weight of your cat. If your cat is on insulin than he should have fixed mealtimes. An underweight cat should not be given high carbohydrates to control diabetes. Obese cats can have insulin resistance and need higher doses of insulin.
Your vet can help you calculate the perfect weight (also see how to do it in our linked article) of your cat and his dietary requirements and also whether your cat needs to lose weight. Cats do not become obese by eating carbohydrates but by not getting proper exercise, spaying, consuming table scraps, and overeating fat.
In the wild, cats whose unique biology makes them true meat lovers would not eat high levels of carbohydrates as we give them in dry and even canned foods. A low carb cat food contains less starch and can be used to mimic the cat’s natural diet. Diabetes is a life-threatening disease but can easily be prevented by monitoring your cat’s weight, and taking good care of a diabetic cat can help him live a healthy, happy, and long life.