How You Can Help Your Cat Beat Diabetes Naturally
My beautiful Maine Coon cat, Dexter, died almost 8 years ago from diabetes. He was 9. The hole he left in my heart will probably never be filled, and even now, 8 years later, I’m still tearing up a little thinking about him.
He was amazing…friendly, playful, smart, and funny. Dexter was one of those souls that got along with everybody and that everybody gravitated to. He was also, like so many cats out there, a victim of his diet.
Doing What I Thought Was Right
I free-fed Dexter and my other 2 cats what I thought was a “high-quality” kibble diet. But what I didn’t know was that the diet I was feeding was loaded with carbohydrates and toxic fillers. Dexter, like every other cat (and dog) was a carnivore. His body wasn’t adapted to digesting carbs. And he was on the heavy side (again, because of his diet).
Because he was overweight, his body was less sensitive to the effects of insulin. Just like us, when a cat eats starch, it converts to sugar, which results in an increase in blood sugars. Over time, given that he was eating a processed-food diet (which means, in most instances, a high-carb diet), he had insulin resistance and diabetes.
I took the vet’s recommendation and began feeding Dexter a prescription kibble diet, and giving him twice-daily insulin shots. This worked for a while, but about a year after being diagnosed, his body couldn’t hold out anymore, and I had to euthanize him. It was heartbreaking.
Use Diet to Address Diabetes
If I knew then what I know now, I would do things very differently. I would transition him to a wet food with less than 10% carbohydrates and low fat. I would also make sure he was being fed 3 or 4 times per day, instead of leaving down an “all-you-can-eat” buffet of food. Even if it took weeks or months to transition him from the dry food to the wet, I would make that my focus.
Once he was on a wet food diet, I would transition him to raw. I would choose a raw food that had no (or a very small percentage) of fruits and vegetables. I would continue to feed him 3 or 4 times per day. I would make sure he got exercise every day too.
By ensuring that he was no longer being flooded with carbs, and by using portion control and scheduled meals to help him get to and maintain a healthy weight, there’s a very good chance that Dexter would have gone into remission from diabetes, and maybe he would still be around today.
How to Calculate Carbs
Figuring out how to help your cat beat diabetes starts with getting a handle on their carb intake. Now, if you’re wondering how to figure out how many carbs are in your cat’s food, you can use a simple equation to find out (it’s not going to be listed on the bag, so you have to determine it for yourself). It’s a two-step process to get the most accurate answer, so stay with me.
First, add up the protein, fat, fiber, ash, and moisture from the nutrient profile on the bag or can. Subtract that total from 100. For example, say your cat’s food had the following numbers:
Crude Protein (min): 37%
Crude Fat (min): 8.5%
Crude Fiber (max): 4.8%
Moisture (max): 12%
Ash (max): 6% (note that if there is no value listed for ash, it’s OK to estimate about 3% for canned foods and 6% for dry)
When you add these numbers up, they come to 68.3. Subtract that from 100, which gives you 31.7. That’s the carb content in your cat’s food (31.7%).
Next, you need to convert the result to a “dry matter” result (this goes for canned food or kibble). To do so, subtract the percent moisture from 100. That’s the percent dry matter of the kibble or wet food.
Then, divide the carbohydrate percentage by the percent dry matter for the food, then multiply by 100. The number you get is the nutrient percentage on a dry matter basis. Using our above example, the moisture content is 12%, so subtract 12 from 100 and you get 88.
Lastly, divide the carbohydrate percentage (31.7) by the percent dry matter (88), and multiply by 100. The answer—36.02%—is the amount of carbohydrates in the food on a dry matter basis. When we realize that cats can handle, at most, about 2% of their food being carbs, we can see that 36.02%, day after day, meal after meal, is way too high.
Add Years to Your Cat’s Life
That’s why it’s so important to take steps now to get your cat off of dry food and onto a wet food (and, ultimately, raw). Diabetes kills way too many of our beautiful feline friends. But, by switching them over to raw, you can help your cat beat diabetes naturally (or avoid it altogether), and add years to their life!
To learn how to switch your cat to raw food and his natural menu, read the how-to here!
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