Does Dry Cat Food Cause Diabetes | Part 2

lorie hustonSlimKitty was fortunate to have Dr. Lorie Huston, DVM as a guest blogger. Our community mourns the sudden loss of Lorie. Her Pet Health Care Gazette was a extensive resource for all of us and she will be missed. Last week we posted Part 1 of an article Lorie wrote on feline diabetes. We thought it a fitting tribute to post Part 2 of the article today dedicated to Lorie’s love of animals and willingness to share her knowledge with all of us.

Guest Post from Lorie Huston from Pet Health Care Gazette.

Part 2 of a two-part article. Read Part 1.

In 2011, at the World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress, Claudia A. Kirk, DVM, PhD, DACVN, DACVIM presented a session entitled Cats and Carbohydrates – What is the Impact? We covered the first part of the presentation, her summary of findings in Part 1.
Part 2:

Further, she goes on to conclude:
Although some clinicians strongly recommend that diabetic cats be fed less than 7% carbohydrates (DMB), the evidence supports that amounts ranging from 5 to 26% of calories as carbohydrates are associated with diabetic remission and improved glycemic control. In fact, the highest reported remission rate has been associated with feeding 12% of calories as carbohydrates. There currently are no published studies to show that feeding less than 12% of calories as carbohydrates is more beneficial in managing DM in cats. (References: 1. Bennett N, Greco DS, Peterson ME, et al. Comparison of a low carbohydrate-low fiber diet and a moderate carbohydrate-high fiber diet in the management of feline diabetes mellitus. J Feline Med Surg 2006;8:73–84. 2. Frank G, Anderson W, Pazak H, et al. Use of a high-protein diet in the management of feline diabetes mellitus. Vet Ther 2001;2:238–246. 3. Mazzaferro EM, Greco DS, Turner AS, et al. Treatment of feline diabetes mellitus using an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor and a low-carbohydrate diet. J Feline Med Surg 2003;5:183–189.)

These are the currently recognized risk factors for diabetes in cats:

  • increasing age
  • male gender
  • Burmese breed
  • being neutered
  • decreased physical activity
  • obesity
  • Cat at the vet
    I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with choosing a low carbohydrate diet for your healthy cat if that is your preference. In fact, I think that most healthy cats do well on a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet. On the other hand, I recognize that the dietary requirements of a healthy cat can be met in more than one way and I’ve seen many cats, my own included, that do well with a diet that is not truly a low carbohydrate diet.
    One thing that I believe is worth mentioning is that many (but not all) of the low-carbohydrate diets compensate with high levels of fat in the diet. This could potentially lead to weight issues and/or insulin resistance perhaps even more easily than a high carbohydrate level in the diet. Like any other food, cat owners must be careful not to overfeed even with a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet.
    It is also worth noting that not all cats are candidates for a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet. Cats, even diabetic cats, with concurrent illnesses may require a different dietary approach. Your veterinarian is the best source of information about which diet is best for your cat.
    Another fact worth noting is that feeding a grain-free diet does not necessarily mean that you are feeding your cat a low-carbohydrate diet. In many of the grain-free diets, grains have been replaced with other ingredients that may contain similar or even higher carbohydrate levels.
    Obviously, there is a lot of conflicting information offered via the internet. This is a complicated topic and I recognize that many, some veterinarians included, will disagree with the conclusions offered here. However, these are the scientific facts relating to carbohydrates and feline diabetes, or at least the facts as I know and understand them. As a veterinarian, I need to rely on science and facts to make decisions regarding the patients under my care. The latest trends, though often heavily publicized and marketed, are not necessarily what is in an animal’s best interest.

    lorie huston
    Guest post from Lorie Huston | Pet HealthCare Gazette | Does Dry Cat Food Really Cause Feline Diabetes?, May 24, 2013


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  1. I believe the ‘conflicting’ information comes from the fact that we are talking biology and not algebra. Some cats do fine on dry food all of their life. My cat Jack eats one dry food kibble now and he starts producing so many urinary crystals that he ends up in the emergency clinic.

    Just because some cats do fine of higher carbs does not mean that EVERY cat will, and when you are faced with a newly diagnosed diabetic cat, you should err on the side of caution and go with the lower carb food. If you feel you want to start introducing more carbs later, you can, but hopefully at that point you will have a better handle on how the cat deals with food and insulin.

    Btw, I can’t not say this. Cats are obligate carnivores. Not only do they not use carbohydrates for fuel, they lack the digestive enzymes to properly break them down. Cat food companies tell you they include plants for energy, but that is not what they are used for in cats… fat and protein are. There is no biological use for plants in cat food… but there is a huge financial incentive to put them in the food – since they are cheaper than animal based ingredients.
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  2. Pawum posty and gweat twibute.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi
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  3. Every cat is different, but males do seem to have more issues in our house. Every male cat mom has had has encountered food issues and usually urinary issues too.
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