Diabetes in CatsLast updated: August 02, 2016
Although diabetes can be a serious and scary condition, most cases of feline diabetes can be effectively managed. With the right care and management, your cat has a good chance of living an active and healthy life. Some cats even go into remission and no longer require insulin injections.
What is It?Diabetes mellitus results from either a shortage of insulin in the body or if the body has trouble using insulin. Unlike dogs who are more likely to have type I diabetes, cats more commonly have type II diabetes, similar to people. However, by the time cats are diagnosed, many have progressed to type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin production, while type II diabetes results from ineffective insulin or the body's inadequate response to insulin.
Feline diabetes is typically diagnosed in older cats and neutered male cats. However, diabetes can affect all breeds and ages of cats, both male and female.
The key risk factors for feline diabetes include genetics, chronic pancreatitis, obesity, physical inactivity, and an indoor lifestyle.
Clinical SignsThe symptoms of diabetes in cats include increased thirst, increased urination, more "accidents" outside of the litter box, increased hunger, weight loss, lethargy, depression, vomiting, and thinning, dry or dull hair. Some cats may develop a plantigrade stance, causing him to stand and walk with his hocks touching or almost touching the ground.
DiagnosisFor veterinarians to diagnose diabetes in cats, they typically have to take a couple of tests, including a urinary analysis and blood glucose concentration test. Diabetes is usually diagnosed when there are high glucose levels found in the blood and the urine.
TreatmentIt may be necessary for your pet to see the veterinarian more frequently when first diagnosed. This will allow your veterinarian to closely monitor your cat and develop an effective treatment plan.
Although there is no way to specifically treat diabetes, the condition can usually be managed with insulin injections, blood tests, and changes in diet. Testing your cat's blood regularly will help you identify if blood sugar levels are too high or too low. Insulin is given by an injection under the skin, usually twice a day. Your cat will also need a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrate, and if he is overweight, weight management may also be necessary. Each cat is different, so your veterinarian will be able to find the correct insulin dose and diet for your pet.
After some treatment, some cats might reach a period of remission in which their blood sugar is stabilized and they no longer need insulin injections. This doesn't mean that the cat is cured of diabetes—you will still need to closely monitor and manage his diet and lifestyle.
Further ComplicationsCats with diabetes often develop other problems, as a result of prolonged high blood glucose levels. High levels of glucose can damage nerves over time, resulting in weakness and muscle wasting, especially in the hind legs.
PreventionFeline diabetes cannot be prevented, but you can reduce the risk of your cat getting diabetes by feeding him a proper diet, managing his weight, and encouraging exercise.
Although diabetes is a serious condition, the disease is usually manageable with the right care and treatment. If properly managed, many diabetic cats have normal lifespans and are able to live a healthy and happy life.
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-The Revival Education Team
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.