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Insulin therapy provides the mainstay of management for most diabetic patients, but management of other factors such as diet and exercise can influence glycemic control.

Dietary control

A diabetic cat’s diet must provide for all nutritional needs and should minimize postprandial fluctuation in glucose concentrations. An ideal diet should be:

  • Consistent from day to day to prevent unnecessary changes in insulin requirements
  • Fat-restricted
  • Contain a high-quality, highly digestible protein source (eg, eggs or meat rather than soybean or corn gluten meal)
  • Of the correct caloric value to help the pet achieve optimal body weight
  • Low in carbohydrates

A number of prescription diets have been specially formulated for diabetic patients. These can help obese patients lose weight. However, most diabetic cats can be stabilized on a carefully controlled program using their normal diet. Stabilization on a non-prescription diet is much easier if a complete, moist food is fed.

Clean drinking water should be available at all times. A reduction in excessive water consumption indicates successful management of diabetes mellitus.

Importance of an ideal body weight

In cats that are underweight or overweight, pursue respective weight gain or loss to help the pet achieve its ideal body weight.

In underweight cats, avoid calorie-dense diets, especially those that are high in soluble carbohydrates.

Obesity contributes to insulin resistance. Overweight cats should lose weight in a gradual, controlled fashion. Weight loss in obese animals decreases the insulin requirement.

More information

See Feeding schedule for specific information on dietary control in diabetic cats.

The following pet food companies produce balanced diets formulated for diabetic cats. For more information, click on each company name to reach its website.