As cats age they are prone to some of the same degenerative medical conditions as humans are. Two of the more common hormonal diseases seen in cats include diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism. The most common form of diabetes seen in the cat is where the ability to produce insulin has been transiently or permanently reduced. One of the biggest and most important factors as to the high incidence of this problem in cats is the exclusive feeding and recommendation of dry food only diets to our feline friends.
Most dry cat foods are full of processed carbohydrates, which allow them to be made into a dry kibble form. Not only are such foods a big risk factor in developing feline urinary tract disorders (known as FUS or feline urologic syndrome), chronic dehydration, kidney failure and obesity, but feeding such diets to a naturally meat eating species like a cat is certainly a recipe for disastrous health. Even domesticated cats are obligate carnivores, whose digestive tracts are designed to eat mostly meat. The consumption of so many carbohydrates puts tremendous strain on the liver and other metabolic pathways, and has been shown to play a direct role in various pancreatic, digestive and liver disorders in cats.
In fact, once a cat is diagnosed with diabetes, one of the first steps a veterinarian will take is to put a cat on a “Catkins” (no carb, high fat, high protein meat-based) diet. Sadly, this should be a preventative recommendation given by most veterinarians BEFORE such a severe pathology develops. If caught early enough, diabetes can even be sometimes reversible by changing over to a non-carbohydrate diet for the cat. And while in humans and to lesser extent dogs, oral prescription drugs such as Glipizide can sometimes be helpful in managing diabetic individuals, these oral drugs are much less successful in cats. Current insulins used by many veterinarians include Humulin N insulin, Lantus/Glargine insulin and ProZinc insulin for cats. While most of these insulins require prescriptions for U-100 insulin syringes, the newer Vetsulin insulin requires special syringes called U-40 syringes.
Amongst the more superior diets include homemade meat-based diet recipes, as described in the book by Anitra Frazier called The Natural Cat, or the more natural commercial canned pet food diets by Wysong or Pet Guard. There are many useful supplements for diabetic cats including Proanthozone, NaturVet Enzymes and Probiotics and Super Pure Omega 3 by 1800PetMeds. These products make up the Endocrine Package Deal. In addition, the supplement DMG liquid or Vetri-DMG is also wonderful in helping balance blood sugar levels.