Diabetes is a chronic condition in cats that heavily affects what they can and cannot eat. Luckily, when caught early, it can be managed with diet and (sometimes) medication with few side effects.
However, if your cat is underweight, helping them gain weight and deal with diabetes can be a pain. Many high-calorie foods are simply not suitable for cats with diabetes. Sadly, weight loss is often a symptom of diabetes, so many cats are underweight at the time of their diagnosis.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your cat gain weight without upsetting their blood sugar.
The Top 4 Things to Feed a Diabetic Cat To Gain Weight
1. Freeze-Dried Meats
Freeze-dried meats are a great option for cats with diabetes. A cat’s blood sugar only rises significantly when they eat sugar and other carbohydrates. As you probably know, freeze-dried meats are free from sugar and most carbs.
Therefore, they are safe for many cats with diabetes.
You can purchase freeze-dried cat treats that contain only meat. Be sure to check the ingredient list and nutritional label to ensure that it doesn’t include any carbohydrates. Some freeze-dried meat treats aren’t only meat.
You can also purchase freeze-dried meat toppers for your cat’s food. These toppers are made of only meat (usually) and designed to be added to your cat’s food. Be sure to read the nutritional label to ensure there are no carbs included, though.
2. Some Gravies and Similar Food Toppers
On top of freeze-dried toppers, you can also find toppers that resemble gravy and bits of meat. Often, these contain only meat and broth. Usually, they’re added to increase a food’s taste. However, they are also safe for cats with diabetes.
Some of these don’t include many calories. Therefore, you’ll preferably want to choose the topper that’s safe for your cat and high in calories.
If you have a question about a particular topper, ask your vet. As always, be sure to read the ingredient list and nutritional label to ensure that they contain very few to no carbohydrates.
3. Fresh Meat
All meats are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Therefore, you can add plain, cooked chicken or similar meat to your cat’s food to increase the calorie intake. Plus, your cat may like this fresh meat more than other foods, which may improve the chance of your cat eating them.
However, be sure that you don’t add any seasoning to the meat. Many of the seasonings people like on their meat aren’t safe for cats. Plus, cats simply don’t need them, as they have different tastes than us.
Furthermore, be sure that your cat is still consuming their usual diet, too. You don’t want your cat replacing their usual food with fresh meat, as this may lead to nutritional deficiencies. Instead, we recommend reading them meat after they have eaten their usual portion of cat food.
4. Senior Cat Supplements
Even if your cat isn’t a senior cat, they may benefit from a supplement designed for senior cats. Usually, these supplements are extremely high in calories and nutrients. They are designed for senior cats that aren’t eating like they want to.
Usually, these supplements are liquid and come in a tube. You simply give it to your cat once or twice a day as a treat or add it to their food. Again, you don’t want these supplements taking away from their usual diet, but they can be a healthy way to increase calories.
However, some of these supplements are high in carbs. You’ll need to research the best supplement for your cat or ask your vet for help.
In some cases, it may make more sense to give your cat extra insulin instead of finding a supplement that is completely carb-free.
If your cat has just been diagnosed with diabetes and is underweight for this reason, you may be worried that your feline needs extra food. However, this isn’t often the case with diabetes.
If your cat is diabetic, then they are unable to utilize the energy in their food by themselves. To do so, they need insulin. However, once the insulin is given, they will start utilizing this energy again.
Therefore, diabetic cats will often lose weight without insulin. They may be eating, but their body isn’t using the food. However, when insulin is given, they may start to gain weight again now that their body is using the calories they’re eating.
For this reason, if your cat was just diagnosed, you don’t necessarily need to consider adding calories to their food. Instead, they may gain weight as their diabetes gets treated.
Of course, you should speak to your vet about this, as they know your cat’s situation the best. It is easy to stress about your cat’s weight, especially when they have an underlying condition. However, we’ve found that people tend to stress about their diabetic cat’s weight a little too much.
Can Cats with Diabetes Gain Weight?
Cats with diabetes can gain weight just like a normal cat if they are getting the proper treatment. Without treatment, the cat won’t be able to use the energy they are eating. However, when given insulin or other medication, the cat should start gaining weight back. If they aren’t, it could be a sign that the treatment isn’t working.
The main purpose of diabetes treatment is to ensure your cat is metabolizing the energy they need. If they aren’t gaining weight, it could be that they aren’t doing this. Therefore, you’ll likely need to talk to your vet if your cat starts treatment and continues to lose weight.
Diabetic cats can gain weight if they are treated and fed enough calories. Typically, diabetic cats often lose weight because they cannot use the energy in their food. However, when they start treatments, many of them begin to gain weight as they get insulin injections.
For this reason, many diabetic cats gain weight by themselves and do not need any help. However, if your cat does need some extra calories, then there are lots of foods you can provide them. Most foods should be high in protein and extremely low in carbohydrates. That way, they will not mess with a cat’s blood sugar or require more insulin.
Featured Image Credit: Benchamaporn Kanlapungha, Shutterstock