Saturday 25 June 2011

Feline Diabetes Dietary Solutions

As at the date of this post the newspapers contain an interesting article about type 2 diabetes in people. Type 2 diabetes is also referred to late onset adult diabetes. The blood is high in blood glucose "in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency" (Wikipedia authors). Inadequate levels of insulin is produced in the pancreas (beta cells).

The news story describes research at Newcastle University, UK. People with type 2 diabetes were put on 600 calorie per day diets with no starchy foods. Within one week the blood sugar levels of the patients were normalised and after eight weeks the body started to produce insulin normally - their diabetes was cured. The study strongly emphasized that diet was the cause of type diabetes in people.

One reason might be that the low calorie diet caused the pancreas to lose "build up fat" that restricted its normal function. Once this fat was removed the pancreas produced insulin normally again.

What has this got to do with cats? Well, I immediately remembered a book by Dr Elizabeth M. Hodgkins DVM called Your Cat. Chapter 21 of this well received book (see Amazon advert on this page) is entitled, "Feline Diabetes - Man-made Killer" with a picture of a bag of dry cat food. That immediately tells you what Dr, Hodgkins thinks is the cause of feline diabetes in a large number of cases.

The authors of Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook (best cat health book) say, at page 291, that sugar diabetes develops in 1 in 400 cats. Dr. Hodgkins DVM says that the number of cases of feline diabetes have "grown tremendously". In her personal experience as a vet she sees about 2.5% of patients with feline diabetes (2.5 in 100 - higher than the above estimate). If her figure is correct for the general population of cats in the USA, 1.5 million cats are diabetic, she says. Diabetes is often fatal emphasizes.

She goes on to say that at one time it was thought that "overweight actually caused diabetes". However, she believes that overweight and diabetes are symptoms of the same cause, which is the high sugar content in dry cat food. She says she has never seen a cat that only eats canned cat food develop diabetes.

So, you can see the connection with the research on humans referred to above and the assessment by Dr. Hodgkins. Her book was first published in 2007.

When a cat constantly eats a high carbohydrate diet it becomes a "carbohydrate cripple" she says. Liver and pancreas function become abnormal. Most cats can be cured of diabetes by dietary change away from dry cat food. This is a very similar conclusion to that of the Newcastle research study.

I just feel that this point needs to be hammered home. Dry cat food is OK for occasional grazing (perhaps!) but as a constant sole feed it is not OK unless it is low in carbohydrates. Some dry cat food does not use carbohydrates as a necessity in its manufacture. See Best Dry Cat Food for a discussion on that and more.

It is surprising to me that so many people just feed their cat dry cat food that is high in carbohydrates. The reason is no doubt convenience coupled with the incessant promotion of the dry cat food by the manufacturers. Dry cat food is convenient for customers and manufacturers too and no doubt produces good profit margins and easy storage etc.

It appears that profit trumps cat health. Even dry cat food that is promoted as having medicinal uses from Hill's promotes this underlying ill health. People should be alert to this. A balanced diet of wet food is the best practical solution and well prepared and properly stored raw food diet is the perfect diet. Few have the time, confidence and skill to make a raw diet for their cat however. Vets recommend that we don't try and prepare our own cat food because of the risks and there are preparation problems (bacteria etc.).

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