Number Of Cats With Diabetes Increasing

Cat DiabetesExperts say the number of cats with diabetes is soaring.

Francis Kallfelz, a professor of veterinary nutrition at Cornell University, said, “The literature shows that there is a huge incidence of overweightness in our pet population that’s getting to be a bigger and bigger problem. Just like it is in the case of human beings.”

Some animal health experts state that the reason for the rise in numbers of cats with diabetes is because dry cat food is too high in carbohydrates and too low in protein.

Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, a vet in Yorba Linda, Calif., said feeding cats dry food is like feeding children sugarfrosted flakes. Hodgkins said that diabetic cats need to change their diets. If cat owners do not switch their cat’s food, she said, “it’s akin to treating a child for lead poisoning while continuing to feed them paint chips.”

Kallfelz disagreed that feeding dry food to cats is the reason for increased cases of cat diabetes.

Kallfelz, a member of the National Pet Food Commission, stated, “I have seen no published evidence to the effect that feeding cats dry foods is a risk factor for diabetes. To make the leap of faith … that dry food is causing the problem is not a rational leap of faith.”

He said a recent study from Utrecht University’s Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals in the Netherlands concluded that indoor confinement and inactivity were the biggest factors to cat diabetes.

One veterinarian thinks that both theories are valid. Cats need to both watch their diet and get enough exercise. She recommended moving a cat’s bowl around every two or three days to make a cat hunt around for it in the house and get more exercise.

Source: Chicago Tribune

(Thanks Carol)

68 Responses to “Number Of Cats With Diabetes Increasing”

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  1. Barb says:

    Chris, there is a very good, ready to serve, raw food available from Felines Pride www.felinespride It is tested regularly for salmonella and is always clear of it. It’s 100% nutritionally complete, with no grains, veggies, or fruits, and comes in chicken, turkey, cornish game hen and duck. It is far and away the best ready made raw diet on the market today, and is heartily endorsed (and used and sold) by Dr Hodgkins.

    And in case any one is wondering, Dr Hodgkins breeds Ocicats for show, and all of her cats are weaned off of mothers milk and onto raw, which they get for the rest of their lives. And she has some of the best Ocis in the country!

  2. Nikki says:

    Barb wrote:

    “I much prefer the recipe from Dr Lisa Pierson, at It contains nothing but meat and supplements”

    Barb, do the wild cats get supplements? No…so why the need to feed it to their domestic cousins? Just asking…

    The point is to keep the cats’ diet natural. Supplements are most often synthetic, not natural. So why would you want to feed synthetic chemicals to your cats if there is the potential for toxicity and/or contamination, as in the case of the Chinese food additives?

  3. chris says:


    Where can I email you?

  4. chris says:

    Thanks Barb for the info.

  5. Nikki says:

    Hi Chris,

    You can contact me through my website at:

  6. furmom says:

    After my cat had a serious urinary problem from dry cat food, the vet prescribed a canned food which my cat wouldn’t eat, even though he was starving by that time. So I had to experiment, and the vet said it had to be a wet food, and couldn’t have calcium in it because of his urnary stones.. I was finally able to get him to eat beef heart, and some liver(not too much, but for vitamins), which he now loves. He gets both raw and had no urinary problems since. The vet okayed the diet because he wouldn’t eat the canned prescription stuff, although it is very limited it does cover the basic requirements (i.e. no dry, little calcium). It was very hard for Radar to switch from dry but he’s quite happy with his diet now, and will eat a few other things like cooked egg, fish or chicken occasionally. Beef heart is rich in taurine which is a special protein not found in all protein sources and cats especially need. He does hunt outside and eats grass occasionally.

  7. Cate says:

    My two 2 1/2 year old cats are kibble eaters only. They used to eat wet but began refusing wet food about 6 months ago. They love Innova Evo kibble and will only eat that.

    I have been trying many different types of wet food (I am selective though because I am concerned about the quality). Nothing I give them entices them to eat more than a few bites.

    Last week my boy was very constipated and had to have enemas to relieve him. I know it is because he is only eating dry. He is also not drinking as much as he used to (I have two Drinkwell fountains). I think it is due to the addition of two kittens to our family.

    Anyway, I am convinced that I have to stop feeding dry and do whatever I have to to get them to eat wet.

  8. Nikki says:


    Just went to Dr. Lisa Pierson’s website,, and read the recipe she advocates. The only difference between her suggested menu and mine is in the source of the supplemental vitamins. I prefer to use natural sources for the “Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin E,” etc. whereas she uses synthetic supplements. As I indicated previously, I prefer to keep it natural. The veggies and grains in my recipe are added to the meat in supplemental proportions and serve to provide the vitamins and minerals not found in cooked muscle meat. Again, in the wild, the big cats consume the entrails of their prey which contain partially digested grains and grasses. So the proportions used in my recipe are intended to provide the trace minerals and essential vitamins which muscle meat alone does not provide.

    As far as feeding raw…I have a B.S. in Microbiology an M.S. in Biochemistry (with a strong emphasis in nutrition). Because of my training as a microbiologist, I am not comfortable feeding my pets raw meat. This is a personal opinion - you and others are entitled to your own. The argument that in the wild, cats and dogs eat raw meat as part of their natural diet, is only a valid argument if you intend to feed your dog or cat live prey. When live prey is eaten, it is eaten immediately after the kill, before pathogenic bacteria has an opportunity to colonize. Meat purchased at the local supermarket, on the other hand, is butchered in a rather unsanitary environment (ever been in a slaughter house?), processed and shipped…it is days before the meat is available on the shelf to buy. It is for this reason we humans do not eat raw meat — because of the potential for harmful bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella –and it is for this reason I do not feed commercially bought raw meat to my pets. It’s risky. Secondly, some stores and distributors (such as Safeway) treat raw meat prior to packaging with carbon monoxide, in order to greatly extend its shelf life by artificially fixing the meat’s pigment (keeping it unnaturally red). So while the CO (carbon monoxide) maintains the meat’s freshness of color, it does not inhibit bacterial growth. So we end up buying meat that looks fresh but has been sitting on the shelf for up to two weeks or longer, allowing for the growth of the bacteria responsible for spoilage. A number of consumer groups have petitioned the FDA to ban the use of CO as a “color fixative” of raw meat. Unfortunately, such a ban has yet materialized and until it does, I simply do not trust the freshness or safety of the meat sitting on the shelves of this nation’s grocers. Cooking at a heat high enough to destroy harmful bacteria is presently our only defense against CO-treated meat.

  9. Velvet's Dad says:

    Nikki, you should write a recipe book. Thanks for the post.

    Based on my own extensive research and experience, I still endorse both Natura’s Innova Evo and Wellness (grain-free) for those whose schedules do not permit home cooking. Neither has been involved in any recall and Natura has its own plant. Both foods are human-quality meat-based, grain-free, no by-products, no artificial preservatives, very high protein and very low carbohydrates.

  10. Barb says:

    Nikki, if we were feeding live prey, with fresh warm meat and all the blood still intact, then we would not have to supplement. But we are using meat that has been slaughtered and stored, often frozen, and without all the blood and the nutrients it carries. So additional supplements are necessary.

    But they are limited - we add only wild salmon oil for the Omega fatty acids, taurine, Vit E and Vit B.

    And all you have to do to get decent supplements is read the labels. Every bottle I have says right on the label “Made in the USA” Just learn to read labels. I use only supplements made by Sundown or Now, as both are products of the USA.

    And what is natural about feeding a cat carrots or oats? I have never seen a cat digging up carrots - those fuzzy things are rabbits! And oats? Kinda out of the reach of most cats, huh, even if they could remove the outer husk.

    As Dr H says - this is not rocket science. All we need to do is look at what the cat feeds itself in the wild, and get as close to that diet as possible, adding only what freezing and storage takes away. Cats don’t eat veggies, or grains, or fruits - they eat meat and bones.

    I do, however, give you kudos for recognizing that dry is terrible. But once again, I have to disagree with a comment you made - about just picking up the dry. Too fast a diet change will cause upset tummies, diarreah and vomiting. And for a cat who refuses to eat anything but dry, letting it go too long without food is to risk Hepatic Lipidosis - not a good thing,

    A better way to transition is to add canned food to the diet, giving more canned and less dry until the cat is comfortably eating canned only. Then, if the cat will eat raw, do the same thing with raw and canned, removing some of one and raising the amount of the other. If the cat will not eat raw, it can be mixed with canned, a small amount at first, with increasing amounts until it is all raw. This is safe and much more comfortable for the cat. Freeze dried chicken does work well as a topping for stubborn cats.

  11. Barb says:

    Cate, look at for many good ways to transition off of dry to canned. Also, Evo dry is very high in calorie content, so it will put weight on your cats very quickly - be careful with it.

    And I cannot urge you strongly enough to get your constipated boy off dry. I had a megacolon kitty who had to have manual extractions, he would get so bad. The vet put him on high fiber food, and it made it worse. After I got him on canned only, with a little extra water in his food, he never got constipated again.

    You can also add any kind of animal fat to his diet, to help keep things moving. Real butter - a pat a day, or wild salmon oil, or even bacon grease - all will help lubricate and move stuff along. Use whatever he will willingingly eat.

  12. Barb says:

    We were posting at the same time, Nikki, so I did not see your last post.

    Raw is what cats were made to eat. Raw meat has much more of the vitamins and minerals that are lost when the meat is cooked. And for those of us who make raw that I know personally, we either by organic meats, or pre-ground, flash frozen meats from reputable suppliers like Hare Today. i would never buy ground meat from a grocery store, nor would I buy anthing but the very freshest of whole carcass chickens or turkeys - which can be washed under cold water to destroy most bacteria.

    One also has to remember that cats digestive systems are far different from those of humans. They are straight and short, with only a 12 hour transit time, as opposed to the miles of curled intestines and 36 hour transit time of humans. This means that cats can eat bacteria with no harm that we as humans could not, as it does not stay in their intestines long enough to grow enough to cause problems. Think about the feral cat that kills a rabbit, eats part, buries the rest, and eats it the next day. Not only is that meat unrefrigerated for many hours, often in high heat, but it is covered in dirt and bugs when the cat goes back to finish it. The Creator made the cat to be able to survive like this.

    And to date, there is only one recorded, documented instance of any cat dying of salmonella - and that was a pair of cats that belonged to a hoarder, kept and fed in horribly unsanitary, feces-covered conditions, and ill with a number of other life threatening sicknesses. Salmonella and e-coli are far more of a danger to humans than to cats, and proper food handling is the cure for that, just as it is when handling raw meats we prepare for ourselves.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been pretty happy with Wellness Core (low carb high protein and, all animal-source protein). My cat completely refuses to eat canned or raw though I’ve tried just about everything. The only live thing he recognizes as food is grass . Thank goodness for the Core. So far no problems with it. Also, uroliths are not just a calcium issue - to the poster who mentioned that. the higher protein food has a better ratio of magnesium to phosphorous, since meat is high in phosphorous and the higher the phos. the lower the MG. you might check that out. Grains on the other hand are high.

  14. Nikki says:

    Barb, there is no requirement for companies or distributors to label CO-treated meat as such, so regardless of where you are buying your meat from, you cannot be 100% sure of its true shelf life.

    Also, commercially available raw food sold via the Internet or through pet stores may very well start out “pristine” but often goes through various shipping and storage events before it ever reaches its final destination. Every shipping or storage event poses a risk of quality control failure, i.e., insufficient refrigeration on the shipping van, in a transit warehouse or in the pet food store’s freezer. I did in fact try our dogs on a self-proclaimed high quality raw food, purchased frozen from a local pet store. The first pack of frozen chicken patties posed no problems; the second package we purchased (same manufacturer, same pet food retailer) caused both our dogs severe diarrhea. The diarrhea ceased after we stopped feeding the raw. You should be aware also that Salmonella is not the only pathogen potentially lurking in spoiled or improperly handled meat. So to say that you know of only one instance of a cat dying from Salmonella is hardly reassuring, as such a statistic says nothing of the dogs or cats made ill from Salmonella but which survived, nor does it address the many other pathogens which can also cause illness, such as E. coli, Clostridium, Pseudomonas, Listeria, Campylobacter and others.

    Also, as a microbiologist, I must correct you: “washed under cold water to destroy most bacteria.” Cold water rinsing will remove some, not all, of the surface bacteria. It will not destroy the bacteria. Only cooking to 145-160 degrees or higher will destroy the bacteria.

    And as I biochemist, I must offer yet another correction: “we add only wild salmon oil for the Omega fatty acids, taurine, Vit E and Vit B.” Salmon oil has no taurine (an amino acid found in animal protein) or Vitamin B (sic, as there are many “B” vitamins –B1, B2, etc.– no such thing as simply Vit. B). Nor does salmon oil alone contain any vitamin E, although some manufacturers will ADD vit. E to Salmon Oil capsule preps.

    You also point out that, in the wild, cats get additional nutrients from the blood contained in their killed prey which contains nutrients not present in commercially-available meat. You are correct, and one of those nutrients is glucose (circulating blood glucose). In live prey, glucose is also found in the partially or undigested foods, primarily veggies, grasses and grains, present in the entrails of the prey animal. Glucose is also found in the liver (stored in the form of glycogen). Glucose is the major energy source for all mammalian brains. Glucose is found in carbohydrates (both simple and complex), sugars and starches, but not in fats or proteins. Glucose is also not found in any of the supplements in Dr. Lisa Pierson’s recipe (Salmon oil, B-complex, Vit. E). So unless you are feeding your domestic cat fresh whole blood, entrails and liver with every meal (not recommended), a raw or cooked meat-only diet devoid of some form of complex carbs (not simple carbs), in supplemental proportions, will not provide the glucose your cat needs for optimal brain metabolism. Whole oats and veggies provide this as a SUBSTITUTE for that which would otherwise be obtained from eating a prey animal’s entrails, blood and liver.

    Furthermore, Barb, you completely misuse and twist the word “natural” as referred to in my previous post. I spoke of using veggies and oats as a NATURAL source of vitamins, as opposed to using synthetic supplements such as the Vit. E and/or Vit. B-complex you espouse using. My reference of the word has to do with what is considered natural to mammalian biochemistry and nutrient bio-availability. Vitamins and other nutrients which are naturally-occurring in unadulterated foods are more bio-available, i.e., our bodies absorb and utilize them more readily than they can synthetic vitamins. Most synthetic vitamins are of the wrong stereochemistry (dextrorotary vs. levorotary) to be recognized by cellular receptors and/or enzymes, greatly reducing our body’s ability to utilize them. In other cases, the synthesized vitamins, nutrients or minerals are sold in an artificial salt form in order to make it stable at room-temperature or give it a longer shelf life which, again, can greatly reduce bio-availability.

    I could continue, but I think I’ve addressed enough of the errors in your foregoing posts to sufficiently counter your criticisms, and I endeavored to do so only so people will not walk away from this thread potentially misled by some of the errant and/or inaccurate info contained in your posts.

  15. Barb says:

    Nikki, you misread my comment on supplements, or perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. We add only (menaing nothing more than) wild salmon oil for the Omega fatty acids, (and I should have said) and we also add taurine, Vit E and Vit B. I am quite well aware of the fact that salmon oil does not contain taurine or Vits B or E.

    I’m not going to continue this debate with you. You come across somewhat paranoid and a bit on the fear-mongering side. Sometimes, I think too much education is worse than too little, and you are a case in point.

    BTW, are you a licensed vet?

  16. Annie says:

    Nikki wrote: “So unless you are feeding your domestic cat fresh whole blood, entrails and liver with every meal (not recommended), a raw or cooked meat-only diet devoid of some form of complex carbs (not simple carbs), in supplemental proportions, will not provide the glucose your cat needs for optimal brain metabolism.”

    This is inaccurate, and shows a lack of understanding of the metabolism of an obligate carnivore–I’d expect more from a biochemist! In cats, glucose is produced from non-carbohydrate precursors by a process called gluconeogenesis. This is the normal metabolic pathway for supplying glucose in obligate carnivores–not consuming grains, vegetables, or fruits. Cats have NO dietary requirement for carbohydrates. In omnivores, gluconeogenesis kicks in during starvation conditions, to ensure the brain has glucose. But in obligate carnivores, this is the NORMAL metabolic pathway that is active and functioning regardless of nutritional status. I’d also hate to have people walk away from this thread “potentially misled by some of the errant and/or inaccurate info contained in your posts,” especially since it’s presented as expert advise from someone with an MS in biochemistry.

    And why wouldn’t you recommend “fresh whole blood, entrails and liver with every meal?” Isn’t that just what every mouse, rat, bird, or rabbit that a cat in the wild catches and eats contains at each meal? Whole prey is an excellent way to feed our pet cats and is much closer to a natural diet than your mixture that contains oats and vegetables!

  17. Barb says:

    Oh, wait, Nikki, never mind - I see you are a pet sitter. That explains it….

  18. Tmica says:

    We adopted Pandora from a foster home a year ago. Immediately we noticed that she was drinking large amounts of water and urinating frequently. When we took her to the vet for a routine checkup 3 days after the adoption, we pointed this out, and a blood glucose reading seemed to confirm that she was diabetic (her BGL was 400-ish). The vet wanted to put her on 2 units/day of insulin immediately, in spite of the fact that she didn’t fit the profile of a diabetic cat (i.e., she was only 2 years old and she was not overweight.) I quickly got online and read alot of information. We decided to vet-shop and, in the meantime, feed her a high-protein, low-carb diet. The diet change and forced exercise (as much as you can do with a cat!) was successful in lowering her BGL to around 250 almost immediately. The second opinion, cat-only vet was wonderful, he recommended that we continue that course of non-invasive treatment for 3-4 weeks, and we closely monitored her progress by home-testing her BGL every day. After that time period, when things didn’t improve, he recommended the LOWEST dose of insulin once a day - 1 Liter. After 3 weeks of shots, she regulated, and has been so ever since (with the exception of one episode where she was thrown off by travel and someone feeding her things she wasn’t used to eating - that ended her portability!) There are two points here - one: I am so glad we got a second opinion; had we listened to the first vet and after everything I read online about the dangers of an insulin overdose - I don’t think the outcome would have been good for Pandora; two: a diet change can make a critical difference: NO dry food is good for diabetic cats - even if its advertised for diabetics as “low-carb”. Cats can adjust to being fed high-protein, wet-food only twice a day. They don’t need to “graze” on unhealthy dry food all day, and any cat parent who submits to that theory is just being ignorant or lazy. Make the time and re-arrange your schedule for your health-challenged pet. My husband and I have no children, but two very demanding jobs and feeding time for Pandora - once every 12 hours - is a priority to keep her healthy and regulated. Even though she’s exhibited no symptoms of an elevated BGL in 6 months, we wouldn’t think of breaking her routine or changing her diet. And if we adopted any more felines, we’d keep them on the same diet and schedule, because after doing much research online and talking to vets, we believe that non-diabetic additions to the family would be healthier following her lead.

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