High to low carb cat food

Preparing for TR – Detoxing your Cat from High Carb Food


In order to start TR, two things need to be in place:

  1. You need to be testing your cat’s Blood Glucose (BG) at home.
  2.  Your cat needs to be eating a 100% low carb wet diet.

This article provides information on the steps needed when moving your cat to a 100% low carb wet diet. Please see Testing Your Cat’s Blood Glucose at Home  in the Knowledge Centre for information on home testing of BGs.

If your cat has been on dry food or high carb wet wood (over 10% carbs on a dry matter basis), you will need to “detox” your cat off the carbs. Please see the information on Calculating Carbohydrates on a dry matter basis in the Knowledge Centre for more information to make sure the food you have chosen is low enough in carbohydrates.


Why Detox?

The detox is needed for two reasons:

  1. BGs may drop substantially with the change to a 100% low carb wet diet, and the dose of insulin that you are giving may be too high with change.
  2. The liver, which has not had to do its job of pushing the BGs up should they drop too low as the high carb food has been keeping the BGs high, needs to “wake up” and get back to work again.

The liver usually works in tandem with the pancreas: The pancreas produces insulin to bring the BGs down when they are too high… the liver converts amino acids to sugar and produces glucose to push the BGs back up when they drop too low. When a cat is on a high carb diet, the liver does not need to produce glucose to push the BGs up – the external source of sugar, the carbohydrates in the high carb food, keep the BGs up. It needs to start doing its job of protecting from low BG levels again in order to protect the cat from a clinical hypo.

The detox is an ESSENTIAL step to keep your cat safe and protect it from a clinical hypo as it transitions to 100% low carb wet food, during the period that the liver is “waking up”.


The Detox Process

When moving your cat to a 100% low carb wet diet, you must first be testing its blood glucose at home.

The Detox Process consists of either withholding or reducing insulin for up to 24 hours during the transition to 100% low carb wet food.

Once you do start the Detox, your cat should be given NO dry or high carb wet food again. It is important to remove all dry from your house – dry food is sprayed with a substance to entice cats that has a very strong odour. If you have dry in the house, your cat will smell it, and may hold out for it, refusing to eat the low carb wet food.

Some cats may be very difficult about moving to 100% low carb wet food. Dr. Lisa Pierson has some excellent tips in her article on Transitioning Feline Dry Food Addicts to Canned Food. It is important that your cat does eat – do not try “starving” it into eating low carb wet food. Please do post in Introductions & Questions if you are having difficulty – members will help you with additional ideas

Senior members will help you through detox based on your individual situation.

What situation is your cat in?

There are two general situations when transitioning to the 100% low carb wet diet:

  1. Your cat has just been diagnosed with FD, is on dry or high carb wet food, but has NOT yet started insulin
  2. Your cat is on dry or high carb wet food and IS being dosed insulin

The first situation is ideal: your cat is not yet receiving insulin.

In this situation, you will simply switch your cat to the 100% low carb wet diet, and test at least 4 times a day over the next few days.

In some cases, the diet change alone may be enough for your cat to drop to normal level BGs (45-130 / 2.5-7.2).

In most though, some insulin is needed. Based on the test results that you get, Senior Members will help start you on an appropriate starting scale and TR.

When do you need to Detox?

The Detox is needed if your cat is already on insulin and has been on a dry or high carb wet diet.

In this case you will:

  1.  Give a last meal of high carb food with the shot of insulin
  2.  Immediately remove all high carb and ONLY feed low carb wet food from that point on
  3.  Stop insulin, or dose very reduced amounts, for up to 24 hours

The last step is ESSENTIAL in order to avoid a clinical hypo. The BGs can drop substantially with the change in food and the dose of insulin you are giving may be way too high vs. the lower BGs.

The amount of time that you do stop insulin, and the decision or not to dose very reduced amounts depends on your cat’s individual situation: The BGs your cat has been in if you have been home testing and have that information, whether your cat has ketones or has recently suffered a DKA, whether your cat has been on very high doses of insulin or not, etc.

In most cases, insulin is withheld completely during the Detox period; in the case of ketones or a recent DKA, small doses of insulin may be recommended.

Senior Members will help you with the best approach for your cat.

In all cases you will test your cat periodically over the 24 hour period: tests at around +18 (18 hours after the last dose of insulin if it is completely withheld) to +24 are very important as they will help establish the best starting scale when you start TR.


Back to the DCI Knowledge Centre Back to the DCI Forum



© Diabetic Cat International 2014-2018