Cassava and Sweet Potato for Diabetic Cats

Study shows they may help with both glucose and lipid control

If you’ve ever had an obese cat or a diabetic cat, you know first-hand how difficult it can be to get the cat’s weight under control. Cats are notoriously finicky about food choices, and few get into jogging for weight control. Seriously, it’s far from a simple battle, and researchers constantly search for alternatives.

A recent study out of China looked at five carbohydrate sources for cat foods to evaluate digestibility, effects on blood glucose levels and insulin, and the microbiome in the intestines. For one month, 30 cats ate five foods with different carb sources: potato, sweet potato, cassava, rice, and wheat. All five carbohydrate sources were suitable for cat diets, with rice being the most digestible and two of the carbohydrates bringing additional benefits.

The diets with cassava and sweet potato helped control blood glucose levels and blood lipids levels. In addition, they stimulated the growth of healthy bacteria as part of the gut microbiome.

More work needs to be done, of course. We need to determine ideal amounts of these carbohydrate sources in a cat food and to elucidate the exact mechanisms by which cassava and sweet potato have these positive effects. Since they encourage different but good bacterial growth, there may be different pathways. Additional studies will evaluate these carb sources further as possible ingredients for diets for overweight cats and cats with diabetes.ν

Zhang, S., et al. “Effects of five carbohydrate sources on cat diet digestibility, postprandial glucose, insulin response, and gut microbiomes,” Journal of Animal Science, February 15, 2023.