DM for Diabetic Cats: Is it worth it?

Rikki has been on a strict wet-food diet of DM pate ever since he was diagnosed with diabetes around this time last year (the exception being the Pure Bites and Cat-Man-Doo treats I discussed in an earlier blog post, and the occasional no-carb people scraps he successfully begs from time to time like chicken, ground beef, or sauteed spinach).

After just two or three months on insulin and the DM diet, the best result a guardian to a diabetic cat could hope for was achieved: remission. This means that Rikki no longer requires insulin, but must remain on a very low carb, high protein diet for the remainder of his days (kibble is an absolute no-no for any diabetic cat).

Not wanting to mess with a good thing, I have continued to purchase the DM despite its inconveniences: It can only be obtained with a prescription from a veterinarian; it is available primarily online, so if you run out before the next shipment, you’re screwed; and it costs about $42 for a case of (24) 5.5 ounce cans.

So when I recently ran out of our supply of DM a few days before the next shipment was due to arrive, I was stuck trying to figure out what commercially available brand might be a safe substitute for a couple of days. I recalled that Friskies pate was a popular choice among quite a few members on the Feline Diabetes forum, who point out that the patent holder for DM – Dr. Hodgkins – endorses certain commercially available low-carb canned foods like Fancy Feast and Friskies for diabetic cats. But my local grocery stores seemed to only carry the meals with gravy, which aren’t recommended for diabetics due to high sugar content.

Thanks to Pax and his mom for their donation to the Humane Rescue Alliance!

Enter a serendipitous and timely exchange with a new client, who left me a bag of Friskies Turkey & Giblet Pate to take the the Humane Rescue Alliance when I go for new volunteer orientation later this month. I snagged a couple of cans from that bag to tie Rikki over until the DM shipment arrived, and aside from some minor changes in stool, there didn’t seem to be any negative effects. Both cats are clearly bigger fans of the taste of the Friskies, and Rikki’s blood glucose tested well within normal range after two days on the new food. At around $12 for a case of (24) 5.5 ounce cans, this will clearly be better for the health of my bank account, too. My only concern is that the Friskies has slightly more fat and slightly less fiber than the DM, and that it also lists rice as one of its ingredients, which according to Dr. Hodgkins is not desirable. I’m hoping that it’s not a significant enough amount to matter.

So, once this final shipment of DM runs out, we’re going to try switching to the Friskies permanently, monitoring Rikki’s blood glucose closely along the way. I’ll report back in a few months!