Diabetic Barn Cat

My beloved barn cat was losing weight but otherwise no symptoms but I took her in a little early for her semiannual checkup and she was determined to be diabetic. Per vets instructions I immediately put her on the Purina DM feed. Took her in two weeks later for another test and her levels had dropped enough that vet felt diet might work for management. My question is has any other person here had a cat successfully managed with diet and not need insulin when diagnosed with diabetes? TIA

I didn’t use DM because there are cheaper foods that are lower carb. You want pate, no gravy. Fancy feast or Friskies worked for us.
Getting carbs super low and just, I think, four tiny insulin* doses, and he was in remission.

Home Testing is critical, and easy. Doing testing only at the vets is expensive, and not the best diagnostic/ management tool.

He was in remission for about a year before he started showing issues, and testing showed his blood glucose was really high. In the end, he had acromegaly, which I encourage you to keep on your radar. It wasn’t too expensive to do the test, and its believed more cats are actually acro, not just diabetic or will turn acro.

Seriously, testing twice daily and free feeding low carb was easy and successful.

  • lantus, Glargine pens used as a vial with syringes with 1/2 unit measures and short needles (I had a problem not shooting through his tent). I got my lantus pens via CVS at Target using a program from the company that made it cheaper. I had huge issues with getting insulin online in a timely manner and not set in the sun to bake.


@Angela_Freda Thank you for your reply. Yes testing at vet’s office is expensive. I didn’t ask specifically about home testing but I asked about frequency and vet said 1 to 2 months. I agree with your suggestion of home testing and daily monitoring. I also found lower price - cat food that was not prescription and just as low in carbs as DM.

I had to look up acromegaly - I am so sorry. I hope that my kitty will be OK but good to know. Thanks again for your informative response.

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Excellent news on the food!
We did a diet change and waited to see results before adding insulin, so you’re on the right track.

If you’re on Facebook there’s a good page for diabetics cats with excellent advice.

I have no personal experience with diabetes, but I can tell you that I have noticed a lot of user reviews for the Fancy Feast classic pate flavors that state it was all they needed to keep their diabetic cats within limits. I hope it can work for yours!

(ETA: the “it” that can work meaning diet, not FF specifically)

Wet food only if possible, the fancy feast works well.

If caught early and with using glaring (lantus) many cats can go into remission.

Check with your vet about a freestyle libre sensor. It’s a human continuous glucose monitor that you can use for cats. You scan it and can then download several days glucose readings.


@avjudge Thank you for the information on Fancy Feast classic pate. My barn cat is ranked up there with her equine buddies so I will work hard to find information. My equine vet has remarked many times that the barn kitty thinks she is a “horse!” :slight_smile:

@kmwines01 Thank you so much for your input. My barn cat has only eaten dry so this is new for all of us. She eats in the tack room on the counter but I’m afraid to the moist food too long as it will attract ants but I want her to have an opportunity to eat as much as she wants. I keep the DM dry out for her as free choice. I will check out the freestyle libra sensor but not sure how that would work but I’ll definitely discuss with my vet.

My barn cat is only 10 or 11 and such a wonderful cat. I’ve tried to see if she would like to live in my house but she “stated” she prefers to be an “only cat” and live in the barn. This is new diagnosis so I appreciate the input.

Something else I just thought of – if you go to chewy.com and read the consumer questions/answers, for a lot of foods somebody has asked about the carb content and Chewy has answered that question. Even if you don’t buy there, it can provide a lot of good information.

I know keeping wet food out is always hard, but if ants are the only concern, I’ve had phenomenal luck with this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MR7NRJ5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


@avjudge. Thanks for the info. This is so helpful. I believe knowledge is power.

@SMK. OMG! I never in a million years would think that something like this exists. I’m not sure how she will deal with it but it would help solve my ant concern. I’ve seen a stink bug on her wet food plate but that isn’t of as large concern. I’m pretty much bug free and no known rodent issues in over a decade. My kitty might not be the best mouser but her presence is a deterrent so largest concern is ants. Thanks again for the link!

Calculating carbs is fairly easy to do from the label

Add the percentages listed on the label for :
protein, fat, fiber, moisture and ash.
Subtract this number from 100
The result is your carb.

There’s a fairly comprehensive list out there too, I’ll see if I can find the link.

Here it is


The prescription diets are listed at the end, I believe.

The FDMB and it’s FB page is a wealth of information on diets and home testing.

There are plenty on non-Rx canned diets that are low carb. Dr. Elsey’s dry food is low too, but fairly spendy. Some diabetics run a bit high on the Friskies pates, per anecdotes in the FB group and my tricky tabby.

Chewy’s Tiny Tiger canned food is low carb and affordable (even the chunks in “gravy.”) My boy is obsessed with the Tiny Tiger turkey pate.

@Angela_Freda. Thank you!

@BootsAndCoffee. Thank you. I find it interesting that so many options are available that are lower carbs than prescription. Glad your boy has a favorite food. My kitty has never been a big eater and trying to encourage wet food Isi tough. I am slowly finding her choices.

Update: Barn kitty is doing well with diet change and is in “managed” area and hopefully still dropping. The suggestions for OTC foods and various sources were so helpful. n @SMK the suggestion for “anti-ant/bug” platter was ingenious! I purchased and kitty didn’t hesitate and haven’t seen even one ant. I’m still not leaving wet food for long periods of time but it allows me to leave for longer periods.

Hopefully the downward trend will continue. I guess it “takes a village” to control a beloved barn kitty’s diabetes. Thanks again!


I’m so happy to hear that!

And it is so nice to hear about someone going so far to care for a farm cat. Recently, this forum has been warming my heart when I hear about the care members are giving their barn and feral cats. I need more of that in my life.


I was also pleased to hear of other barn cats that had dealt with diabetes and been treated. I think those with horses are a special caring breed. I lost my last house cat last year and tried to get barn kitty to come into house (have two dogs) but she said “thanks for the offer - but NO” so she remains at the barn with her equine friends.


Not exactly what you’re looking for regarding diet, but I just wanted to share our childhood cat lived for 7 years after diabetic diagnoses - right up to his late teens. Was as simple as an insulin shot twice a day. Needle was so small he never felt it.

@c0608524. Great news. Thanks for sharing the success of your childhood cat. I’m hoping for same with my barn kitty. We have a new routine and she is adjusting well to diet changes.