When my cat Rikki was diagnosed with diabetes last year, there were a number of considerations and decisions to be made. What type of food was best for diabetic cats? Was there any kibble that was appropriate, or were we going to have to move to a purely canned-diet? Were there any pet sitters in my area who were willing to administer insulin and who understood enough about the disease to be alert to warning signs of hypoglycemia and who knew how to respond? How on earth was he ever going to allow me to stick his ear with a needle to test his blood glucose to make sure his insulin dosage was in the right range? I knew that if I was going to have a shot at accomplishing this last one, I was going to need to have really delicious treats on hand. But what sort of treat is OK for a diabetic cat? Back when I used to have to administer subcutaneous fluids to a cat with kidney disease, I used to keep fresh shrimp on hand. But Rikki isn’t into shrimp, and quite frankly, I didn’t want to have to deal with always having fresh fish or meat in the house. Also, these types of treats didn’t lend themselves to being tossed down a hallway to encourage exercise, which is an activity that Rikki has always adored and that we always performed with Temptations or some other dry treat, which were off-limits to him now.
As luck would have it, I have since stumbled onto two great diabetic-friendly treats via recommendations from friends who don’t even have diabetic cats.
Pure Bites makes these 100% chicken breast treats for both cats and dogs, the only difference between the two being the size of the treats and packaging (the cat treats are much smaller, as are the packages in which they are available). A friend at work turned me onto these and recommended that I buy the dog treats and just cut them into smaller pieces, since this turns out to be much less expensive. I’m happy to report that Rikki loves them (as do some of my canine clients), and that they are well-suited for being chased down a hallway.
These are not fit for throwing down the hallway, but they are really good for sprinkling on top of DM canned cat food to make it more palatable. I discovered these when a friend in Oregon sent me book on clicker-training your cat, and it contained a small packet of bonito flakes in addition to a clicker. (If you have time, check out the story behind this product…it’s quite inspirational!).
I have been buying both of these from Amazon and my local Petco, but just learned that they are also available from Chewy, which is where I get Rikki’s DM canned food and where I prefer to shop for my pet food supplies whenever possible because of their outstanding customer service and user-friendly website.
As always, check with your vet before adding anything new to your pet’s diet!
We got lucky with Rikki; his diabetes went into remission after just three months on insulin, and we are now able to effectively manage his blood sugar levels with diet alone. But it was quite stressful at the outset and I’m grateful that there are some good online resources for diabetic cats; one of the best is FelineDiabetes.com. If you find yourself with a newly-diagnosed diabetic kitty, or “sugar cat” as they are fondly referred to on this forum, take some time to check it out.
Please also feel free to reach out to me – I’ll be happy to share whatever knowledge and resources I have. If you are in my service area and need a pet sitter for a diabetic cat or dog, let’s talk! You can reach me at 202-999-8206, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.