A Healthy Diet Can Help Prevent Feline Diabetes
According to researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, cats who live indoors and are overweight are three times more likely to suffer from diabetes than their average weight counterparts. Many believe this is due to the fact that cats tend to spend their lives indoors eating and sleeping, with little or no exercise. Being fed an improper diet may also contribute to feline diabetes. Your cat's diet, and ultimately weight and overall health, is something that you can work to improve, thus reducing his risk for diabetes. Here are some important points to remember when selecting healthy food for your cat's diet.
Plant or Animal Protein?
Big cats in the wild, such as lions and cheetahs, are carnivores. They subsist mainly on the flesh of other animals. Your kitty, although domesticated, would benefit most from a high animal protein diet. Plant proteins are often used, especially in dry foods, as they are cheaper, but carbohydrates such as corn, wheat, and potatoes should be kept to a minimum. Dr. Deborah Greco, an endocrinologist for the Animal Medical Center in New York, has recommended a CatKins diet (very similar to the human Atkins diet of high protein and low carbs) to maintain a sleek cat figure and to avoid illnesses such as diabetes.
Wet or Dry Food?
The dry nature of kibble, combined with the high amounts (35-50%) of carbohydrates and plant proteins often make dry food a poor choice when trying to provide your cat with a healthy diet, according to Lisa A. Pierson, DVM. She also advises the use of wet cat food, as it is meat based and may contain 5% (or less) carbohydrates. Canned cat food is also moist; some canned foods may contain as much as 75% water. This additional water content may help your cat to avoid infections in the bladder or kidneys.
Check the Label
Now that we've established that high animal protein and low carbohydrate foods are best suited for your cat, it's time to check the cat food label. When analyzing ingredients, remember that substances that are listed first compose the highest percentage in the product. Avoid foods that list products such as vegetables, rice, corn gluten, flour or any kind of fruits. This is especially true if they are listed first on the ingredient label.
Store Bought or Homemade?
If you can be consistent with the ingredients, portions, and time, your cat will immensely benefit from homemade meals. Many owners do not have the extra time it takes to make these preparations. If that is the case, store bought foods are adequate, as long as they meet the proper dietary requirements as stated above. When you decide to make a dietary change, it's important to make it gradually. This is especially true if your cat is already diabetic. Before altering your diabetic feline's diet, be sure to consult your veterinarian.