Treating feline diabetes

Diabetes is a common hormonal disease seen in cats

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 the 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. 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.


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  1. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Diet change to low carb diets can help MANY cats. I recommend staying away from dry, carbohydrate rich roods. I would also work with a holistic vet on improving health

  2. Hi Dr . Dym
    I just got back from the vet with my 10 yr old cat Sara . We use to call her fat Sara because she was heavy . ( we have 4 cats so it is hard to see who is eating what ) . Sara had lost a lot of weight and she was making me nervous , so i took her to the vet . She has Diabetes . I am to give her Lantus ( generic Glargine . ) 2 times a day . Took the prescription to my pharmacy and he said it was going to cost $200.00 every 28 days . Wow , i was shocked . So i decided to see if i could find it cheaper on the internet . 1800petmeds does not carry it . Is there a different one that will work just as well ? The vet visit , her medications for a ear infection , drops and antibiotic’s and her special food cost me $350.00 today . Help ! Lol ! Any suggestions ? I love my cat !

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Kathleen I am not fan of these prescription commercial diets anyway. I prefer preferably a home made proper meat based, LOW carb diet. To learn more, see book The Natural Cat By Anitra Frazier. Also there is info on line OTher options include low carb, low grain diets like eve, or wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds. As for insulin choices, Lantus is good one for cats but there are MORE economic options including Novolin N which is VERY Cheap at local drug stores, as well as Protamine Zinc, which is a bit more expensive from your vet. Must pick one and a vet who will work with you. Consider consulting with holistic vet who can help make her healthier over long period of time through diet, supplements, etc To learn more go to my website Many homeopathic vets like myself offer phone consultations.

  4. My cat was lost for four years. He is now 14 and was turned into our humane society a few months ago. We have a chip in up him so we were called and happy to have him back.
    He is very thin and diagnosed diabetic, we’ve had him in hospital numerous times. The vet ordered insulin -3units twice a day. I have tried to keep him from the others food ( I rescue kitties and have several) and I feed him the WD hard food.
    He is not improving. He is lethargic and at times I force water down him when he won’t drink. I have almost $2000. In vet and insulin bills and am ok with that however I would like to see an improvement. I would like to have just one food for all if possible and I would lie to know if I can feed him meats like chicken or tuna-cooked?
    I also noticed he would become more lethargic when given the insulin. Pease advise me on how I can help Johnny Cat.
    We love him and do not want to put him down.

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    HI Erminia. I am not a fan of this dry prescription food for diabetics as too high in carbohydrates in my opinion to help with diabetic control. I would look for a low carb, low grain diet. Wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds is an excellent one. I would also consider home made diet as described in book The Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier. I think cats on proper home made diets do much better with their diabetes. INsulin adjustments need to be made at local vet. He may need more insulin or a different insulin type. A blood fructosamine and/or blood sugar curve at local vet may be helpful here. I would also work with a more holistic veterinarian on improving his health. To learn more about holistic medicine, see my website Many homeopathic vets offer phone consultations. Merry Christmas and good luck with his care.

  6. Dr, Dym,

    My 10yrs old little boy Outboard has recently been diagnosed as diabetic. He has been an inside cat since he was 4 months old and was always feed Authority Sensitive Solutions dry along with wet canned 2-3 times a week. Back in 2010 he got a sever respiratory infection and had to stay in vet hospital for 3 days.(we almost lost him). After that time, he refused to eat anything he used to eat, so I started trying every brand dry/wet and he would only eat Fancy Feast Appetizers (tilapia flavor only). That diet went on for 3yrs but he got sick again and a new vet working at are regular pet clinic gave him a shot of steroids and antihistamines which did clear up the current problem, but then he started to not eat, urinating constantly and lost 2lbs in 1 month. We took him back to the clinic and the vet we saw last time was gone and our regular vet tested him and we got the news he was diabetic. While reviewing his chart the vet told us the drug combo he received last visit was known to cause diabetes in about 30% of cats. Now he get 2 units (U-40) PZI insulin at meal time with his Fancy Feast Appetizer but he looks and acts as if starved and is having problems with his back legs. He no longer can run or walk on the pads of his back paws like a normal cat. He lays back on the back paws and looks like a duck walking. We are terrified we are not doing enough and will loose him before his time. We are at such a loss as to what is causing this new issue with his legs and how we can help him manage his diet. He just flat out refuses to eat other brands except he will some times nibble on Purina One – salmon & tune dry which we found out accidently.

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 8, 2014 at 12:55 am

    HI Paul Best to get him on preferably a home made meat based raw diet if possible as best food/medicine for this. See book The NAtural Cat by Anitra Frazier for more details. I know Anitra very well, and she works with clients over phone. Feel free to call her at 212-663-0122. Also I would consider working with a homeopathic vet. To learn more about homeopathy go to as well as my website Many homeopathic vets do offer phone consultations. Also try wet food pet guard

  8. My cat Boots is 3 yrs old now. He was diagnosed diabetic at about 3 months. His treatment was Lantis then and it was too expensive to keep giving to him. I have given him Evo Chicken and Turkey dry food since then. I know he needs another check-up and has for sometime. I do test his sugar, protein and according to the test strips the sugar levels are slightly high but the other levels are not. I can’t get him to eat wet food (or home made high protein food).
    Any other suggestions. I will check the homeopathic suggestions you offer. Since he was diabetic at such a young age, do you think he is a Type 1 diabetic? His weight is about 9 or 10 lbs and looks about right for his size. He still drinks too much and liter box changes are way too frequent. Thank you.

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Hard to say if type I diabetic or not. When you get chance best to have vet check and blood fructosamine level to see how sugar control is going with your kitty. Consider book The Natural Cat by anitra Frazier, who is personal friend of mine for dietary tips. Anitra is also available by phone at 212-663-0122. I also think vaccinations play role in diabetes in both children and animals. I would avoid them if possible.

  10. My cat has diabetes and has been prescribed Lantus as his insulin. The problem with Lantus is it is $250 a glass bottle and within the past two months between me and my husband we have dropped 2 bottles. Is there a substitute for Lantus or a generic brand?

  11. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    No generic brand that I am aware of. You could ask your vet about alternative such as Protamine Zinc insulin, which I have found quite effective in many cats, as well as you could ask about Novolin N or Humulin N, which is the cheapest option, but often not as effective.

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