May 29, 2008

More About Feline Diabetes & Diet

My first post on Feline Diabetes & Diet is still getting hits in Google searches, so I wanted to update what I've since learned about it ... just to keep the record balanced (or perhaps more muddled).

In that first post, I cited an unpublished study suggesting that carbohydrates weren't less important than weight in treating feline diabetes. Which suggests that carbohydrates aren't bad for cats with diabetes.


I’ve since read Your Cat : Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life, by veterinarian Elizabeth M. Hodgkins (c2007). She has carefully studied diet and feline diabetes in her practice and she strongly believes that cats shouldn't eat carbohydrates at all. Her own practice suggests that diabetes can be completely controlled by diet, and she cites examples of cats she has known who have switched to all canned food and no kibbles ... and who have no longer needed insulin. But this is only her practice and not a solid clinical trial, so your experience may vary.

Hodgkins pokes holes at some mainstream studies showing that cat food is healthy, and overall makes some very compelling arguments. Primarily, she states that "studies" show that for young cats, a short-term diet including a lot of carbs does no harm; she argues that this does NOT show that long-term, carbs do no harm.

Research is starting to support Hodgkins' arguments. Deborah Greco, DVM, PhD, an endocrinologist at The Animal Medical Center in New York, explained a "Catkin's diet" (Google search results) at the 2004 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Her report was cited in a November 2004 article in DVM Newsmagazine:
Greco notes that in a cat's natural environment, mice would be a main staple, composed of roughly 40 percent to 45 percent protein, 3 percent to 5 percent carbohydrate and 40 percent to 45 percent fat.

"Cats should have a diet that is high protein, high fat and low carbohydrate," Greco says. "High levels of carbohydrates in dry food causes overproduction of insulin, increased hunger and weight gain."

Hodgkins' book strongly encourages cat "owners" to remove all carbohydrates from their cats' diet, and feed their cats nothing but canned food (or even raw food). Note that her recommendation is for ALL cats, not just cats with diabetes.

As a science librarian, I would like to see well-crafted, substantial, long-term, large-cat, published clinical studies of carb or no-carb diet in cats, diabetic or not. But until then, I will be feeding my healthy, non-diabetic cats low-carb, high protein diets in the hope of keeping them healthy and non-diabetic.

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Disclaimer:This blog is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.

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