Should I be feeding my diabetic cat wet or dry food?

Original Question: My question is about food for my cat. To give you some background, we used to feed her primarily dry food (grain free) with a tbsp. of wet at dinner time. She used to get very excited about her wet food and gobble it up – no matter what we gave her. After she was diagnosed with diabetes, we were told to feed her primarily wet food and wean her off the dry. Rather than cut her off the dry completely, we started by giving her more wet food and less dry (less than ¼ cup per feeding). She suddenly became a VERY fussy wet food eater, and sometimes wouldn't eat the wet food at all. So we ramped up the dry a bit so it keeps her eating. Our current regime is to feed her wet first and supplement with dry, twice a day. At each feeding, she gets about 60g of wet food and ¼ cup of dry food. The issues we’re having are: 1. She’s now gobbling the dry food like it’s candy. She eats it ALL once it hits her plate and then has no food left until her next feeding. If I am home, I try to give her more wet food when she’s really hungry (she sits at her dish, waiting or comes into the living room and stares at us while we watch TV.). She sits by her dish just before I go to bed, because she knows she’s getting her dry food that is supposed to last through the night – but is gobbled up before I have finished brushing my teeth! This worries me, as she used to graze her dry food; and 2. The advice we keep getting about what type of wet and what type of dry food to give her is so confusing we're at our wit’s end. On initial diagnosis, we were, of course, pushed to feed her the Purina DM dry and wet. She wouldn't touch the wet, but she liked the dry. I researched online as to what was best to feed her but came up short dealing with foods available in Canada. We recently switched her dry to Orijen Chicken formula because we were told the Purina DM is like eating at McDonalds (and it is very expensive). We're feeding her Almo Nature Chicken Drumstick (also expensive), which is literally just real chicken drumstick with water – this is the only wet food she actually eats when we put it in front of her. If we give her other wet foods, we have to deprive her of the dry until she has no choice but to eat the wet out of sheer hunger. I was recently told weaning her to a diet of only the Almo wet was depriving her of Taurine and could kill her, so we upped her dry food back to ¼ cup per feeding. What are your thoughts? Thanks. - Sylvia

Should I be feeding my diabetic cat wet or dry food? Mar 1, 2018

Hi Sylvia,

There’s quite a few thoughts I have here. It may be better to speak about this in a conversation rather than over email, but I’ll just give you some thoughts.

First, it doesn’t matter at all if you feed wet or dry to a diabetic cat. It makes no difference. You can feed either, or a combination. It only matters how well their glucose control is while they’re on it. The DM had complex carbohydrates that slowly break down and therefore, slowly release sugar over time. This is ideal for a diabetic cat. So a diet with long chain/complex carbohydrates is best.

This insatiable appetite is interesting. My first thought is that she may be more diabetic now since cats that are diabetic eat aggressively. I’d perform a blood glucose curve to check that out. It doesn’t matter what I think about the food, the only answer we need is: what is her glucose control like when she eats it. I would give her a food she likes to eat (preferably a diet for diabetics), then check her blood glucose curve. If you can regulate it well on that diet, then that is a good diet for her.

You are wrapped up in the ‘she eats this but not that’ conundrum. My point is that you should be in the ‘what will she eat consistently so I can regulate her glucose the best’ conundrum. I don’t think it matters if it has 1, 2, or 3% phosphorus or calcium. It matters how well her blood sugar is controlled.

So I say feed her a food she eats well, then adjust her insulin to control her blood sugar. And that’s it.

Hopefully this starts to help.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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