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Special Dietary Needs: Feeding Cats with Chronic Illnesses

Cats with chronic illnesses often have unique dietary needs. The right diet can help manage symptoms, slow disease progression, and improve quality of life. This article explores some common chronic illnesses in cats and their associated dietary considerations. Always consult with a vet when managing a cat’s chronic illness.


For diabetic cats, the primary dietary goal is to regulate blood sugar levels. A high-protein, low-carb diet is typically recommended. Regular feeding schedules, closely tied to insulin administration if required, are crucial to managing diabetes in cats.

Kidney Disease

Cats with kidney disease often benefit from a diet low in phosphorus and protein to decrease the workload on the kidneys. Increased omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, and additional moisture (through wet food or added water) can help keep the cat hydrated and flush toxins through the kidneys.

Urinary Issues

For cats prone to urinary issues, like crystals or cystitis, a diet that promotes a low urinary pH can help. This typically involves a wet food diet, low in magnesium and phosphorus. Encouraging water intake, either through wet food or water fountains, can also support urinary health.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

For conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, a highly digestible diet with single-source, novel proteins can help reduce inflammation. Added fiber can support regular bowel movements, while probiotics can restore a healthy gut microbiome.


For arthritic cats, weight management is crucial to reduce stress on joints. Certain diets are formulated with joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids.


Cats with food allergies or intolerances may benefit from hypoallergenic diets. These diets typically use novel proteins and carbohydrates that your cat hasn’t been exposed to before, reducing the chance of an allergic reaction.


The right diet can significantly contribute to managing chronic illnesses in cats. However, dietary needs can vary greatly depending on the cat and the specific illness, so it’s always best to consult with a vet before making any dietary changes. Regular check-ups are also crucial for monitoring the disease and adjusting the diet as necessary.

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