diabetic cat food options

Maura63September 3, 2008

Since January I have been feeding my cat Purina DM canned cat food.

As with everything else, prices jumped significantly. I just returned from the vet with my usual 3 cases and paid $101. for the same order that cost $72. less than 3 months ago.

With this increase, along with medication and syringe expenses, it is becoming borderline prohibitive to be a pet owner.

I have read that any canned food is better than dry. With 9-lives costing under 40-cents a can it is hard to justify the expense of the DM.

There have been occasions where I didn't have DM on hand and fed 9-Lives. The difference I find is that the cat is hungrier than usual throughout the day when fed 9-Lives vs the DM.

Does any diabetic cat owner here feed their cat successfully on commercially available canned food? If so, I would appreciate knowing which brands....


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Chicken Soup for the adult cat light canned. Where I work we sell it for $25.00 a case. My cat is 21 years old.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 2:40PM
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Acorn's right Chicken soup in itself is WAY better then Purina and 9 lives, these bad foods can cause the very diseases/and issues so many on here gripe about, its almost funny in a twisted way because your trying to help them and they buck out and deny or think your bad, won't solve anything.

Prehaps re homing the cat with a friend who can afford to feed and take better care of the cat would be best IMHO

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 6:47PM
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The Purina DM is a prescription-only canned food prescribed by the vet. I thought I was feeding her appropriately.

In my reading about feline diabetes, I got the impression that there are commercially available canned products I could use as an alternative.

I will look into the Chicken Soup option since $25.00 a case is about what I used to pay for the Purina DM, before the increased price. At 2 1/2 cases a month, it is an extra $25. That's on top of an already expensive tab for treating a diabetic kitty.

I do appreciate the help offered on this board, and not to worry, my cats don't need to be "taken better care of". I am giving them the best I can within my means. (Not all of us have unlimited funds.)

I simply wanted to know if there were more cost-effective options. Acorn, I appreciate your response.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 2:17PM
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Hi there, Maura - I haven't posted in a long time but I come out of hiding for the sugarcats!

I do believe that canned beats dry hands-down. I've seen the difference in my boy first hand. I feed my sugar-boy (dx 2/06) fancy feast (any flavor under 10g of carbs). I know it isn't the "best" food out there, but we've tried the "top tier" human-grade foods and he will take a few bites but thats it...for days, which is not healthy either. So, FF it is. He seems to do ok (at 23 lbs) with the low-carb flavors, fairly predictable glucose rises, so I can shoot based on where he will be when the insulin kicks in.

Do you test your fur-kid before shooting? What kind of insulin are you using?

I've linked to a great site/community of diabetic-kitty parents. You may have already found the site, but because I said that I feed food under 10g carbs I wanted to post it as they have a list of various cat foods with the nutritional stats (carbs/protein/fat etc) that is very useful... and of course I just really think its great informational site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Feline diabetes

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 11:18PM
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I was surprised also this month!
I used to pay $26.00 for a case of 24 and it has gone up to $36.00 a case.
Wish I had stocked up!

Our vet says we can also use fancy feast some of the time, but only those without gravy. So none of the sliced etc. types.
But fancy feast is small cans and likely come up to the same or more cost than the DM.

If you find a DM source online, let me know, and I will likewise.

I am using glargine /Lantus insulin and we are up to 8u twice a day now. We finally (4-5 months) have the 4 hr and 8 hr sugars in the 230-260 range.
The 12 hr/fasting was still high, but he got very upset with the blood draw at that time. We are repeating tomorrow AM to see.
We are doing blood draws from the vein in the inner leg and it takes two of us to do it. sometimes I get it really quick and othertimes it just doesn't come out! We are using the ultrafine syringes that we use for the insulin.

How are you doing your sugar checks?
Any tips are appreciated. Thanks

Judy in Seattle

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 1:37PM
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One word... EVO

My cat is diabetic and has done awesome on EVO dry. It's a high protein natural diet.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 7:40AM
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Not sure if it's safe to change a successful diet on a diabetic cat. There is a very tenuous balance in medications a food for diabetics, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Maybe you can get the food cheaper elsewhere?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:21AM
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Heres an idea- go to your neighbor/friend/ect and ask if there's anything she/he needs done around the house thats she's willing to pay you for ( weeding garden/cleaning house, lawndry, raking leaves,shoveling walkway)/- you help/get a friend in the process and get more money.

Good on ya your stepping up to a better food. Hope the above plan works out.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 4:41PM
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Timbulb - If I were able to feed any dry it would certainly be EVO. It is a great food as far as I can tell. That is the first thing we tried after 'Mo was dx because he HATED wet food. My boy simply can't have it (dry) without a bs spike. So he learned to eat wet food @ 10 years old.

Plantknitter - I test Elmo with a human glucometer (Freestyle Flash and/or Truetrack are what I have now). A prick to his ear with a standard lancet. It takes a bit to get used to at first, but then becomes second nature. We use PZI insulin. We started with Lantus but moved to PZI when I started a tight-regulation schedule with Elmo - which, sadly, I can no longer maintain now that I am back to work. But, the interesting thing is that I still get a good 12-14 hour action with PZI, so we didn't have to switch back. PZI is actually a closer analog to cat-insulin that Lantus, which is a human-analog that works acceptably in cats. The site I posted a link to earlier also has great tips and techniques to doing this and the folks there are incredibly supportive.

Maura - how are you and your fur-kid doing?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 3:48AM
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I second the recommendation for EVO. My dear friend's insulin-dependent kitty quit needing insulin after about two months on EVO. That was about three years ago, and he's still going strong. EVO does have a canned food, as well.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 1:56PM
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That's great Holligator! I didn't know EVO made a canned food, the shops I bought from didn't carry it. I'll definitely have to ask about that now.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 8:10PM
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Maura, I feel your pain with the cost of special diets, and need to vent and commiserate a bit. They were always expensive, but I think they have gone up quite a bit too. I just came home today with one case which cost $50 (up to $2.08 per 6oz can). Since my cat is on a highly restricted diet right now due to allergies, I have them all eating it. And, of course, he's the only one who doesn't like it!

I so agree that the cost of having a pet is becoming cost-prohibitive. They get old and even the better quality foods are, apparently, full of bad things that we would never eat (even the prescriptives). The foods are causing all sorts of problems that are becoming known now. We have enough problems with our own quality foods and theirs is our waste and garbage, moreless probably not totally correct for them even when the scientifically researched types. It's not just the food, either. The canning process has been linked to hyperthyroid disease.

What's really killing me, though, is the extensive, excessive, and very expensive diagnostics that are constantly being recommended -- in lieu of clinical assessments and judgment. For anything from routine exams ($400) or the sniffles, to actual problems.

I don't know what people are supposed to do. Even in the old days, people used to dump their animals over a couple hundred dollars, and less. I shudder to think what happens to these animals. I've always taken in 4-5 but will be only able to have two in the future. My brother, who has had 5-6, says he will have none. He can afford whatever, and does, but I think he's finding it to be too much and too complicated, which I can also relate to. I'm a very hands-on, tuned-in Mommy Cat and find it very confusing and stressful -- not being a nurse or doctor and having this little satellite hospital going on here at home. And how many times can you go to the ER for thousands of dollars, when something is going on. I love my cats so much, and at times I have thought I would lose my mind.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 11:30PM
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My 14yo cat was tested on Friday and is now on Science Diet MD (canned) and 1/2tab 5mg glipizide 2x a day. I am having a real hard time getting her to eat the wet food. Ive been on several sites and tried a little bit of ff flaked seafood just to get some food into her. Ive called around to see if anyone had any of the dry formulas for diabetic cats. (to no avail) Is there any types that I can give her just a bit of that will be ok til I can get some of the prescription diet dry food. I feed natural balance lite to my other cats. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 5:47PM
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Squirrelheaven, I agree with everything you wrote. We have lots of rescues and try to feed only high quality food, but it's getting difficult. We also have a cat with diabetes, one with IBD, and a dog who had to have a growth removed from her foot last week (still waiting for the biopsy results) and turned out to have astonishingly high liver values via the pre-surgery blood panel. So she will have to be tested for Cushing's and whatever else. We've literally spend $1000's already this year, and it does not help when vets try to push everything from MRI's to chemo to ultrasounds and you are made to feel like a horrible person if you can't afford it.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 8:47PM
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Kobe, my 7-year-old male cat, was diagnosed with diabetes in early September. He stayed at the vets for over a week, since his blood glucose levels were all over the place. He was sent home with Purina DM in both dry and canned forms. At first he ate both, but wouldn't eat the dry after a couple of weeks. Gradually, he rejected the canned and the vet suggested adding some of the stuff he likes to it. It worked, but I've had to give him a lower proportion of the DM over time so he would eat it. I compared the nutritional value of the different canned Friskies he likes and found a pretty good match with Prime Filets with Ocean Whitefish & Tuna in Sauce. Nutritionally, the Flaked With Tuna & Egg in Sauce is slightly closer, but I can't always find it and the vet said it was important to be consistent. Kobe's blood glucose has been great for the past 3 weeks or so and I think I'll slowly increase the Friskies in the hope that I can stop the DM altogether. Maybe Kobe will be one of the lucky ones who ends up needing little or no insulin. The vet said this sometimes happens with cats, but not with dogs or people. (I have found DM online, but, by the time you pay for shipping, it's not less expensive than from the vet. The free shipping deals don't generally apply to pet food because they're so heavy.)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 1:12PM
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8 yr old half maine coon cat went from purina dm, to evo cat and kitten dry,and is now on evo canned with neg urine and148 bg tonight.....site www.felinedibetes.com lists fancy feast flavors that are acceptable for diabetic cat. vet says most important to be canned and look for "cat and kitten" food, which evo is.....the protein is higher and carbs lower. oops i spelled that site wrong it is www.felinediabetes.com.....good luck,when your furry purry is cuddled up with you you'll know its worth it!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 8:52PM
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My Kissy gets her dry EVO mixed with fancy feast beef or turkey. Since the FF is just for flavoring anyway, she's getting all the best nourishment for a diabetic cat, from the EVO which has very little, if any carbs.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 1:43AM
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On a side note...

I've been reading and hearing a lot of stuff about cat food containg fish, not good for them.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 8:11AM
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I have a diabetic cat and have found that you can buy insulin on line for about $40 with shipping. Insulin does not require a prescription per say if you find the right pharmacy. Novoline NPH in 100 iu, 10 ml and Insumane Insulin 25/75 in 40 iu, 10 ml both work very well. You can also buy needles for about $12 to $15 per 100 on the internet. You can also re-use needles two to four times if your cat does not have skin infections and lesions. I use them on average two to three times. You can also use 40iu needles for 100iu insulin as long as you adjust the dose. 100iu insulin is 2 1/2 times stronger than 100iu insulin. So, 1 unit in a 40iu syringe is equal to 2 1/2 units of 40iu insulin. Again, you can find this information on the internet.

EVO Cat food works for my cats and I have 4 who all love it. A source for it is http://www.westcoastpetsupply.com/1/evo-cat-food/.

I also have a cat with a thyroid condition who needs Tapazol and Denamarin. Both are ridiculously expensive at the vet as is insulin, needles and food so, there are other sources. SAME in the dose of 50 mg, 1/2 of a 100 mg tablet once a day is fine and runs $10 or so a bottle. Marin can be found for $12 to $16 a bottle sometimes less plus shipping on the internet. My cat gained weight , calmed down and so did my pocketbook.

Now I am going to say something about this whole business. It is a pure and simple self serving racket promoted by the drug companies and vets! Denamarin is a food supplement and should not require a prescription to buy. Insulin and needles do not require a prescription per say and all of these should be and are available without one if you take the time to look. Cat food needing a prescription is an absolute joke! Who is being conned here?

Remember this, while your vet provides a service and expertise, he is in the business to make money and will recommend products he sells. I will likely catch heck from many vets for posting this but have no qualms about taking them on... A very good retired friend that I implicitly trust with my babies is a vet and that is the basis for what I have done for my babies. I follow his recommendations in what I do and have reflected it in this post. I have a good, new vet since I moved and we are coming to grips with these realities.

My only other advice is to talk to your vet and negotiate with him. If he won't budge on price, find other sources as I did.

Here are two other websites you might like.


My medication and food bills are about 1/4th what they were with the vet supplied stuff and there is no difference.

I hope some of you find this helpful.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:29PM
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Please do not reuse needles. If your pet moves during an injection, yes, finish that one. But don't reuse them a second or third, much less fourth time. Go to the Feline Diabetes message board linked above and you will see what happens to needles when used just once. They become more and more painful with each use.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 10:53PM
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The low carb list of canned Fancy Feast from the Feline Diabetes site was the best thing we ever found for our diabetic cat.

Also, I agree with Allison. Please don't reuse needles.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 11:58PM
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Some of the Fancy Feast flavors are among the best of all the available cat foods for helping control diabetes in cats- one flavor mentioned at a recent conference was Fancy Feast tender beef... this was, according to the lecturer, about as close to the perfect diet as can be found for diabetic cats, even over all the prescription brands. Remember, carbs are the enemy in feline diabetes, so try as hard as you can to get you kitty onto a canned food with low carbs (there is, so far at this time, no low carb dry foods- aren't tolerated by most cats and dont' hold together). Someday they may invent a low carb dry food, but until that day comes around, stick with the canned foods... not all canned foods are low carb, so check you sources.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:02PM
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I,m having alot of trouble with my at Oreo , I found out he was a diabetic a couple months ago, he hates the DM wet and really does not like the Dm dry, I have to feed him friskys before his shot to make sure he has something to eat,I've tried the Wellness and he does not like that either,And I can't any longer afford the high dollar food, it's killing me. When they say be conscistant do they mean the same food every day, same flavor , and he will not eat human food either.
Please does anyone have any help for me ? and really he has not been wanting to eat wet food much either, but love Purina Indoor ,outdoor formula which my other cat eats and I try to keep ot up away from him.
Thank you Mary

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:16AM
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As others above mention - check out felinediabetes.com - their forum is the absolute best, and you can bet that many people have had to deal with exactly that same question.

There are some (not many but a few) regular canned cat foods with no grains or very minimal -(have to read the labels. The thing is the corn in dry cat food can be addicting to some cats (sort of like me and tortilla chips, can easily devour a bag of those things) so if you introduce new food it has to be done very gradually - combine the two and very gradually reduce old food.

Taste of the Wild seems more affordable than EVO - I use that mixed with a SMALL AMT of purina kitten chow which has 40% protein. Both of those are high in calories from oil/fat so feed less- but it seems more satisfying to them so they seem content with smaller amounts.

I have heard about a supplement mix that can be combined with meat (either cooked or raw) to make your own catfood, which is supposedly very affordable - but haven't looked into it yet.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:52AM
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ty kashka cat , Ijust am at my wits end ,,I also looked up EVO and it has some very bad reviews cats getting sick and so on,So I'm not going there.I have seen where some are going to kitten food but I did that once and it gave my cat dirria, well I will keep searching thank you.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Do NOT feed your diabetic cats the foods specifying they are for diabetic cats. They are too high in carbs. Important information. I feed my diabetic cat only Wellness no grain chicken or no grain turkey canned foods and I buy chicken livers and chicken hearts on occassion to cook and feed my cat. He is doing so much better and does not need insulin or meds because of this diet change. The rest of most of the cat foods are too high in carbs. Read this from a vet that specifies NOT to buy the diabetic prescription foods for diabetic cats as they are too high in carbs:
Diabetes cat foods IMPORTANT Dec 2012

Here is a link that might be useful: What to feed diabetic cats

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 12:32AM
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I know I'm late to this discussion, but wanted to add that I also have a now 11 y/o diabetic cat who was dx 3 years ago. My vet of course prescribed Hills Prescription Diet for diabetic cats and this did nothing to help his BG as it is NOT a low carb food. I requested a prescription for Purina DM (another local vet carries Purina Rx foods but not mine), which was a bit better but more than I could afford long term. DM is actually a better prescription food than Hills' (which is HORRIBLE for feline diabetes) as it is lower carb but the vet nutritionist who helped formulate DM recommends Fancy Feast as an alternative. I also tried Wellness and some of the other grain free premium brands and even they still kept my cat's BG too high.

My cat has been on Fancy Feast Classic varieties only since 2 months after dx and it didn't take long afterwards for me to regulate his BG. It rarely goes over 130. It is usually in the 75-125 range. He's on Lantus which is an expensive insulin but works well and if you keep it refrigerated and only draw with sterile syringes lasts a long time. ONLY USE STERILE SYRINGES. I use Walgreens brand 30 unit which are around $17 for a box of 100 and are also calibrated in .5 unit increments--helpful for small dosages as we give our cats (my cat is now on .75 unit 2x day which is down from what I was giving him at dx).

Make sure to get Classic varieties only. No gravy, shreds, grilled, "florentine," cheese, etc. They all have wheat gluten and other carb sources and frankly are meant to be appealing to the humans who buy them and not the cats who eat them! But almost all the FF Classic varieties are grain and gluten free. In fact, I have to be careful with 1 of the flavors (Cod, Sole and Shrimp) because his BG tends to go too low if I feed it more than 1 or 2 feedings in a row. This is more dangerous short term BTW than high BG. But I can't remember the last time his BG was up over 200. Probably when he got into "contraband" (food for the other kitties).

Prior to dx the cats were eating a mix of Wellness wet and CORE dry.

As an added bonus, I changed his obese brother's diet at the same time to Fancy Feast and no dry, since they eat at the same time and routinely switch food dishes no matter what I do. At his heaviest he was almost 25 lbs, even when closely watching his calorie intake and feeding only 2x/day (no free feeding)! Prior to changing him to his brother's diabetic diet I was able to get him down to 21-22 lbs. but still far from a healthy weight. He was the one I was afraid would become diabetic, btw. The last time he visited the vet he came in at just under 14 lbs. and she said that he was now a healthy weight. Yes, he is a big cat but no longer obese.

Non-fish flavors are the best overall (poultry and beef varieties especially). Unfortunately, my cats are somewhat addicted to the fish flavors plus the 36 can club pack at our local Sam's Club is by far the cheapest I can find them (Walmart 12 can packs next cheapest if I want to get poultry/beef varieties) so I'm aware I'm trading one risk of feeding a fish based diet to my cats for the very real one of losing my cats to either diabetes or other weight complications.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:42AM
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