Diabetes can severely threaten your cat's quality of life and longevity. Today, our Charlotte vets discuss the types, signs, and treatment of diabetes in cats.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that can develop in cats when blood sugar, or glucose, cannot be effectively utilized and regulated by the body.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and controls the flow of glucose to the body's cells to provide energy. If your cat's insulin levels are too low, glucose is unable to reach the cells as it should. When this happens, the cat's body begins breaking down fat and protein cells to use for energy, while the unused glucose gradually builds up in the cat's bloodstream.
Type I & Type II Diabetes in Cats
- Type I (Insulin-Dependent) - While rare in cats, Type I Diabetes occurs when the cat's body is unable to produce or release enough insulin into the body.
- Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent) - Type II Diabetes is most common in overweight male cats over 8 years of age, and those cats which eat a high-carbohydrate diet. A cat with Type II diabetes produces enough insulin, but the tissues or organs do not respond appropriately to insulin and have become insulin-resistant.
Signs & Symptoms of Cat Diabetes
A diabetic cat’s body breaks down protein and fat instead of using glucose as a healthy cat's body does. This meant that even cats with a healthy or ravenous appetite will often lose weight. Untreated diabetes in cats can lead to several health complications and symptoms, such as:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Increased appetite
- Lethargy or weakness
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Walking flat on the backs of their hind legs
- Unhealthy coat and skin
Untreated, diabetes in cats can lead to a variety of debilitating, expensive, and potentially fatal conditions. If your cat is showing symptoms of diabetes it is important to seek veterinary care. There is no cure for diabetes in cats, however, the condition can often be managed through treatment.
Treatment for Feline Diabetes
Your cat will first need to receive an official diagnosis from your veterinarian, who will then prescribe daily management of the condition with insulin injections (which they may train you to give at home). You may also need to make changes to your cat's diet to ensure that they’re getting the right combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. In more severe cases, your vet may recommend a special prescription food to help manage your cat's diabetes.
If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, regular visits to the vet for blood sugar tests will be essential, or if you prefer, ask your vet if testing your cat’s glucose at home is an option. You may also find it helpful to keep a diary of your cat's appetite and litter use so that any changes are spotted early and checked out.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.