Our cat, Henry, is diabetic. A few months ago he dropped half of his weight and was walking as if he had had a stroke (only not side-to-side, his back half wasn't working right). The vet called his "neuropathy" - nerve damage due to diabetes. With insulin he might improve or he might not. He did improve, but not much.
THEN...we put him on a pretty strict low-carb diet and he put his weight back on (with less fat, more muscle) and his walking is nearly normal. You would not notice his limp-i-ness unless we point it out.
(my favorite information page: Binky's.)
Cats are carnivores in the wild! God designed them to eat meat. In fact, their "perfect" diet is the exact ratios that you would find in the carcass of a mouse (3 percent carbohydrate, 40 percent protein, and 50 percent fat).
Recent studies show that cats with diabetes can be better and even sometimes brought into with a low-carbohydrate (sometimes called "Catkins", though more properly Hodgkins) diet. ( It's hardly surprising for cats, who eat about 5% calories from carbs in nature. Veterinarians are gradually switching their recommendations to a low-carb diet as well. The Feline Diabetes Message Board discovered the benefits of this diet along with "Zone" author Dr. Barry Sears and bestselling author Sherry Sontag, back in 1999.
There are a lot of vets out there that will tell you that a high-carb dry food diet is the #1 cause of diabetes in cats. In the summer, when Henry goes in for his checkup, I will not be surprised if his diabetes is well under control, or even in remission.
Dry food is a great convenience and may be necessary in some cases when the guardian is gone long hours or cannot feed on a regular schedule. But at least 50% of the diet (preferably 100% if you want to ensure optimum health!) should be a high-protein, high-moisture, low-carb diet such as canned or homemade food. Your cat will be healthier, and while you'll spend a little more on food up front, ultimately you'll save hundreds, if not thousands, on veterinary bills!
There are very few low-carb dry foods and some of them are very expensive.
The Eukanuba is $15.99 for 7 pounds at PetSmart (and if you order through AA.com, you can get 4 sky miles for every dollar spent. I do this on the first of the month).
ChowHound carries Innova Evo food for cats and dogs.
* EVO Cat and Kitten Food is made WITHOUT GRAINS!
* EVO Cat and Kitten Food has the HIGHEST MEAT CONTENT of any dry cat food!
* EVO Cat and Kitten Food contains 50% PROTEIN, 22% FAT, and only 7% CARBOHYDRATES, the lowest in the industry!!
* EVO Cat and Kitten Food is made with the same ingredients as you might find in a typical ''wild'' feline diet - RAW, MEATY BONES & cartilage, veggies & fruit.
Evo for cats is $36.09 on Amazon (but you have to pay $12.00 in shipping). If you have a ChowHound, you can get it there and you can see the price is comparable). It is about 8% carbs, so it is in a pretty good range...the best for a dry food.
HERE is a chart for dry cat food by nutrition.
A couple of the best low carb cat foods are from...Walmart. At least carb-count wise. We've found that the most economical way to handle the cat feeding issue is to feed canned most of the time (two or three cans a day) and to let him graze on the dry in between.
HERE is Binky's chart for canned food by nutrition.
I have a list of the preferred foods that I keep in my planner (including wet and dry food, taken from Binky's lists). My preferred foods include dry food at less than 25% of the calories coming from carb and canned foods at less than 5% of the calories coming from carb.