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I am very sorry this is so long and I REALLY appreciate anyone who reads it and any/all feedback!! It's a problem about my 10 year old male cat Trey who was diagnosed with diabetes.

Background info:
Trey was adopted from a pet store by my brother and his ex-wife. Other than acute asthma, he was relatively healthy, active, and had been neutered. My brother and his ex got divorced when Trey was about 4. He seemed to have taken the stress pretty hard because he turned to eating his emotions and became EXTREMELY overweight. I was still a teenager at this time, and I lived with my brother and spent a lot of time with Trey. After noticing different drinking/peeing patterns and vomiting, the vet gave him a blood test and diagnosed him as a diabetic. At the time, the vet said he didn't need any insulin or anything.. he just needed to lose the weight. He struggled with diets (eating Science Diet Lite) and getting the weight off for about 4 more years. Since my brother is now remarried and just had a baby girl, we thought it would be best if I took Trey in as my own cat about a year and a half ago. Unfortunately due to financial issues, Science Diet was out of the budget and I switched him to Purina Cat chow. I put him on a very strict diet which really helped. (when he wasn't breaking into the garbage can while no one was looking anyway..) He went from 19lbs to 14lbs. Which I am VERY happy about!

My problem/question:
I know it was a lot to ask for the diabetes to just go away.. But it just doesn't seem to have helped that much. He is still drinking crazy amounts of water and peeing what seems like gallons! Although he has lost the weight, he still has the eating habits that he had before like eating more than he needs at one time or eating too fast. And he is still vomiting a minimum of once a week. I can tell when the vomit is because he ate too fast because it has undigested pieces. But most of the time the vomit is pure liquid but colored like food and does not contain hair.

The vet said that vomiting is a common symptom for diabetes but I'm not so sure what I think anymore. I would say it could maybe be a food allergy because sometimes the litter box activities can REALLY stink up a good part of the house (which is a whole different topic which also concerns me). But he gets sick no matter which food he is eating! I feel absolutely horrible because our financial situation took a turn for the worst right after we took in/rescued our new kitten Pancakes so a vet bill is just something we can't afford for a couple of months. So I just don't know what to do anymore. I figured maybe I could ask and see if anyone knew or had any similar problems since his story is somewhat specific.

Also, does anyone know a good way to help change his eating habits? I give him 1/3 cup 3x/day. I try to be as consistent as possible but it gets hard sometimes because my husband and are usually very busy during the day with work. Every time he gets fed, he gobbles as fast as he can.. and then goes to eat Pancakes food after that! which of course is way more fattening. Her bowl isn't even anywhere near his. This also creates a problem with Pancakes not getting enough. She eats less now even when there is food in her bowl! :( There are just so many issues!

Someone please tell me you can help! I'm ready to just cry from writing this! :(

My big baby boy Trey
 

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From what I understand, fat is less of an issue for cats than carbohydrates are. They need some fat (animal fat, specifically) for maintenance, and while they can gain weight if they get too much, more often overweight cats are such because there are too many carbohydrates in their diet.

I have never personally dealt with a cat that has diabetes, but I've done a lot of reading on it in non-cat contexts. I adopted a diabetic dwarf hamster once, prompting my study of the issue, and I have a medical condition that's affected in similar ways (hypoglycemia, which is an overproduction of insulin rather than an underproduction like diabetes, but both require a lot of the same eating restrictions).

Basically, a quick overview of what diabetes is to help you understand it better:
When you consume sugars, your body helps moderate these sugar levels by producing insulin. Too much blood sugar or too little blood sugar can affect the health of the body. Diabetes can develop one of two ways: sometimes it's genetic (I am personally less familiar with this variety), and sometimes it's related to diet. Diet-triggered diabetes develops when the body is constantly bombarded with too much sugar. Eventually it becomes desensitized to this and stops producing enough insulin. This means it's no longer properly regulating blood sugar, and sugar levels rise to unhealthy levels.

So avoiding sugar is the most important dietary concern in managing diabetes. Sugar, however, comes in many forms. You have refined manufactured sugars like white sugar or corn syrup, you have natural sugars like fruit sugars, and then you have things like carbohydrates, which are rapidly converted to sugar by the body (complex carbs are converted to sugar at a slower pace than simple carbs, which is why you'll always hear them recommended as a healthier option for people).

With humans, this all gets a little complicated since we have a fairly varied, complex, omnivorous diet that requires a certain proportion of carbs, many of which for us are grains. Thankfully with cats, it's far simpler. Cats are carnivores. They don't need any of the foods that are diabetes triggers. This is probably why diabetes is so common in cats - their bodies really aren't designed to deal with a lot of the ingredients that are in commercial pet food as cheap filler. They're way less likely than us to be able to handle those kinds of sugar loads from all the carbs in their commercial diets.

So what you want to do, first and foremost, is try to reduce the carbohydrates in Trey's diet. The easiest way to do this is removing all grain from his diet. Definitely avoid corn. This is one of the sugariest grains out there and really terrible for any cats, especially diabetic ones, but unfortunately it's frequently used in commercial pet food because it's so cheap. In fact it's frequently used in human food too. Check a few labels on premade foods in your house and you're liable to find corn starch, cornmeal, cornflour, or corn syrup in most of them. It's a cheap, readily available filler with a great lobby backing it in the US that ensures it gets waaaay overused in our food industries.

But besides corn, it's best to avoid all grains in general, as a cat really has no need for them, and any of them will contribute to spikes in blood sugar. Off the top of my head, a few good grain-free brands of cat food are Wellness (check labels, some of the flavors do have grain in them, but most don't), Blue Buffalo Wilderness (only the Wilderness line, the other lines contain grain), Merrick Before Grain, and some of the Merrick Gourmet Entrees (again, check labels here), Evo, and Orijen.

You also probably want to try to get him on canned food if you can, because of the increased thirst and urination involved in diabetes. Cats can get dehydrated very easily since they're naturally designed to get most of their water from their prey. You need to make sure he's eating a nice moist diet to help with his water intake.

Another option besides grain-free canned is to go the raw route. I've heard some very good things about how diabetic cats fare on it, but I'm still very new to it myself, so I'll let one of the more-informed members talk about that.
 

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Diabetes in cats can sometimes resolve with diet if it's addressed very quickly from onset. Since Trey has been diabetic for so long, it's very unlikely that a diet change will fix things...it will help, but the reality is that without daily insulin, Trey's body will continue to sustain damage.

Grain free dry food is an improvement over what you're feeding, but a diet of grain free wet food (or raw) is the best food for a diabetic cat. Not only to prevent dehydration but also because it contains the least amount of carbs. High protein grain free dry foods have less carbs that other dry foods, but there are still a significant amount of carbs.

Trey is sick, years of untreated diabetes is now taking a toll on him and he needs to see a vet, he needs insulin and he needs a major diet change. You may be able to get help with the vet bills through some of the organizations in this thread:

http://www.catforum.com/forum/60-sticky-forum/107503-help-veterinary-bills.html
 

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I wanted to comment on Trey going into the other cat's bowl. I have a little blue tabby who if left to her own devices would dominate everyone's food bowl so I feed her in a separate room, and once the other cats are finished, then I let her out as well. You might want to feed Trey in a confined area until Pancakes finishes to control his rations more closely.
 

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I have no experience with diabetes, so I can't advise you on that. But, there are several things you can do to slow down Trey's eating pace. First, feed him in a larger bowl (or on a larger plate) that will allow you to spread the food (wet or dry) over a large area...if the food isn't all piled up together, he can't take huge gulps. Second, you can try raising his food bowl...perhaps put it on top of an old phonebook or something similar.
 

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My son's cat was diagnosed borderline/pre-diabetic several years ago. I did a lot of research, changed her diet and her numbers are fine.

Limit the carbs is the critical issue. For the most part, dry food is high in carbs (it's also known as kitty crack). There are a few exceptions, such as EVO. Even a cheapo wet food has less carbs than most dry. We feed our cats wet, with an occassional sprinkle of dry on top - we like to know they will eat dry in an emergency.

There are forums especially for those with diabetic cats. There are sites listing the calorie, carb, fat, and protein content of most cat foods. One thing I learned is that cats are able to go from depending on insulin for years to requiring no insulin at all - that is totally not true for people and a huge surprise for me.
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all very much for the advice. I took Trey to the vet today and his glucose level was dangerously high. They gave me w/d prescription food and prescriptions for insulin and needles. They said he also has some cataracts forming and I need to bring him back once a week for tests until he gets regulated.

Not that I had no idea.. but it's still a lot to take in at once. I wish he weren't so sick. Or at the very least, the food wasn't $15 for a 4lb bag! :(
 

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Your vet should NEVER have prescribed dry kibble for a diabetic. Diabetic cats should eat exclusively canned or raw diets. The following link will take you to a website about feline diabetes written by a veterinarian who specializes in this disease. It goes into great depth about dietary recommendations and treatment protocols. I think you will find the information very helpful and encouraging if you read through her website carefully:

YourDiabeticCat.com - Helping and Preventing Feline Diabetes
 
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