Diabetes in Cats

It is estimated that up to 1% of all cats suffer from diabetes. As you probably know, this is a disease that affects people and animals alike.

In diabetes, a cat’s pancreas either doesn’t produce a sufficient amount of insulin or the animal’s body is incapable of synthesizing the hormone.

In today’s article, we’re looking at the type of diabetes that cats are likely to suffer from, the symptoms you can see in a cat that has this condition, how it is diagnosed, treated, and whether or not cats that have it can fully recover.

What type of diabetes can cats develop?

There are two main types of diabetes that affect animals — one where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, and another where the body cells can’t respond to it.

Unlike dogs, which can suffer from both diabetes types, cats are more likely to develop Type II Diabetes. This means that their bodies aren’t capable of responding to insulin. Clinically, this type is very similar to what humans that have the same condition can experience.

Signs of diabetes in cats

The clinical symptoms of diabetes differ depending on when they show up. Some early signs are the following:

If the disease goes untreated for several days or even weeks, the cat will develop a number of additional clinical signs, such as:

Cats that have diabetes can also have a poor coat and recurring bladder infections.

Diabetes tends to affect our feline friends depending on their physical condition, age, activity level, neutering, and treatment. For example, corticosteroids, which are commonly utilized to decrease inflammation in a variety of diseases, can inadvertently produce diabetes, especially if the cat is already suffering from other chronic health problems or she is a geriatric animal.

If you are wondering whether there are breeds that are more predisposed to developing this health issue, yes, there is one: Burmese cats are at higher risk of suffering from diabetes.

Diagnosis

Compared to many other conditions, diabetes is fairly easy to diagnose. You might not be able to tell that your feline friend has it, but the veterinarian can find out with just several tests.

When you take your cat to the vet clinic, you can expect the vet to recommend a complete blood count, biochemistry, and urinalysis. A very interesting fact about cats is that they can be stressed when you take them to the vet, which causes their blood glucose to be higher than normal.

For this reason, the vet is likely to ask you to collect a urine sample at home and bring it to the clinic as soon as possible.

Treatment of Diabetes in Cats

Insulin is the medication that you will have to administer your cat as per your veterinarian’s instructions. The dosage depends on how high your feline companion’s blood sugar is. Most cats require two doses about twelve hours apart from each other, so twice a day.

Your vet will also instruct you on how you can measure your cat’s blood glucose level using a glucometer. Unfortunately, few of the veterinary glucometers available for sale these days offer reliable results. Ask your veterinarian what model can offer clear data as you will have to customize the insulin amount based on your cat’s blood sugar.

Following your vet’s advice is very important, and so is sticking to a daily routine. Insulin-dependent diabetic cats that don’t receive their medication for several days can risk going into a diabetic coma.

If you plan to leave town and you want to leave your cat with a sitter or a friend, you have to show them how to give your feline friend insulin injections. Don’t worry, the injection is usually painless for most cats, and the needle of the device is very thin. Most animals don’t even realize that they’ve received a shot.

It’s also essential for you to keep a diary of the time you’ve given your cat the shot and the exact amount of insulin you used. You will also have to measure your cat’s blood sugar level at least once a day (or as per your vet’s recommendation) and write that down for further reference. Every week, you will also have to weigh your cat and write that down in the notebook, as well.

While glycemic control is important, you might have to make several other changes. For example, you will have to normalize your pet’s appetite, and in case he/she is obese, weight loss is highly recommended.

Some diabetic cats can be underweight, which means that you’ll have to do your best at giving your cat some appetizing food several times a day. Overweight cats, on the other hand, have to lose weight so that their blood glucose levels remain as close to normal as possible.

Prognosis

Diabetes is a disease that can’t be cured completely. It’s true that in Type II diabetes, you might be able to decrease the amount of insulin that you administer to your cat to the point that it becomes a minor nuisance every couple of days.

Some cats can end up in remission, meaning that for a period of time, they might not even need insulin shots at all. Others will require daily injections for the remainder of their lives.

The good thing is that with the right insulin therapy and dietary management, most cats can live a long, happy, and healthy life.

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