Wednesday, April 28, 2010 8:21 PM

Treating Diabetes in Cats

Replacing the missing insulin will be a priority in the treatment of your cat's diabetes. However, nutrition is just as important - and not just in the sense of timing meals with insulin injections. There is some evidence that a natural diet can alleviate many symptoms of diabetes, and sometimes even reverse the disease entirely.

The diet, of course, must be homemade. Drs. Donald Strombeck and Richard Pitcairn are both in agreement on this score. A commercial diet full of fillers, toxins and carbohydrates cannot be good for a diabetic patient, so it makes perfect sense. For cats, a homemade diet made primarily of meat (with some grains and vegetables) will often reverse the disease, according to Pitcairn. Cats are obligate carnivores, so it is not surprising that giving them what they naturally would seek out for themselves can also heal them.

In addition to this regimen, Pitcairn suggests supplementing the cat's diet with calcium (a pinch), vitamin E (200 IU per day) and brewer's yeast. I would go even further and suggest a homemade supplement containing all of the above, plus other nutrients, as well. Unlike with diabetic dogs and humans, fiber has no proven value to cats with diabetes. As the cat recovers, you can feed a regular homemade diet; for instance, mine is approximately 15% vegetables and 15% grain, with the rest being made up of meat.

The new diet and supplementation is crucial not only because of the insulin insufficiency but because of the serious nature of diabetes. If supplying the missing hormone was all that was necessary, people and animals would be as well as the unaffected population, as long as they took their medication. We know, however, that this is not so. Pancreatic inflammation is common, and damage to blood vessels and nerves is almost impossible to avoid, given enough time. Small capillaries, such as those feeding blood to the eyes, are often the first to die off, leading to blindness. The best way to put off these complications is to make the animal as hardy as possible, and the best way to do that is through excellent nutrition. With this type of diet, it may be possible to avoid drug therapy entirely!
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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