Cases of diabetes in cats are on the rise, and left untreated can threaten your cat's quality of life and longevity. Today our Cordova vets explain some of the symptoms of diabetes in cats, and the available treatment options.
In cats, diabetes mellitus is a condition where blood sugar, or glucose, cannot be effectively utilized and regulated by the body. Insulin which is produced by the pancreas, controls the flow of glucose (blood sugar) to the body's cells in order to provide energy. If your cat's insulin levels are too low, glucose doesn't 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 unused glucose builds up in the cat's bloodstream.
Type I or Type II Diabetes in Cats
- Type I (Insulin-Dependent) - The cat's body can no longer produce or release enough insulin into the body. This form of diabetes is relatively rare in cats.
- Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent) - With this form of diabetes, the cat's body produces enough insulin, but the tissues or organs do not respond appropriately to insulin and have become insulin-resistant. This type of diabetes is common in overweight male cats over 8 years old, and those that eat a high-carbohydrate diet.
Common Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats
Because a diabetic cat’s body breaks down protein and fat instead of using glucose, cats with a healthy appetite, or even those with a ravenous appetite, will lose weight. Untreated diabetes in cats can lead to other health complications and symptoms, such as:
- Increased urination
- Increased appetite
- Lethargy or weakness
- Increased thirst
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Unhealthy coat and skin
- Walking flat on backs of their hind legs (from nerve damage)
If left untreated diabetes 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 as soon as possible. While there is no cure for diabetes in cats, treatment is available.
Diabetes Treatment Options for Cats
Your cat will first require an official diagnosis, then daily management of the condition with insulin injections, (which your vet may train you to give at home). Your vet may also recommend that you make changes to your cat's diet to make sure they’re getting the right combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. In some cases your vet may recommend a special prescription food to help manage your cat's diabetes.
If your cat has 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. It may also be helpful to keep a diary of your cat's appetite and litter use so that any changes are spotted early and can be reported to your vet.