Diabetes can affect your cat's quality of life and longevity if not addressed with veterinary care. Today, our Stockton vets explain risk factors for diabetes in cats, treatment options, and when to seek assistance from your vet clinic.
Diabetes in Cats
As in humans, cats' pancreases produce insulin in order to control the flow of glucose to cells throughout the body. When your kitty's body is unable to either produce or use insulin effectively, they may begin exhibiting symptoms of diabetes mellitus as their body uses protein cells and fat for energy and the unused glucose in the bloodstream builds to excess amounts.
Types of Cat Diabetes
Cats can suffer from one of the following two types of diabetes:
Type I (Insulin-Dependent)
This means that the body does not produce or release enough insulin in the body.
Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent)
Although the body may produce enough insulin, tissues or organs resist insulin. They need more insulin than a healthy cat’s body would need in order to produce glucose properly. This type of diabetes is common in overweight male cats over 8 years old, and cats that eat a high-carbohydrate diet.
Cats with type II diabetes sometimes have a huge appetite, since their bodies are unable to use the fuel in their food.
Diabetes Signs & Symptoms
Since a diabetic cat’s body breaks down protein and fat instead of glucose, even cats with a healthy appetite and regular eating patterns will lose weight. If left untreated, diabetes in cats can lead to other health complications and symptoms, such as:
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Lethargy or weakness
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Unhealthy coat and skin
- Bacterial infections
- Liver disease
- Decrease in physical activity (unable to/reluctance to jump)
- Walking flat on the backs of their hind legs (from nerve damage)
Treatment Options for Cats with Diabetes
There is currently no cure for cat diabetes; treatment usually consists of disease management after an official diagnosis from a professional veterinarian. Depending on the type of diabetes, your vet may train you on administering daily insulin injections.
Potential changes to your feline companion’s diet may be required to make sure they’re getting the right combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. Your cat may also receive a prescription food for diabetes.
What You Can Do
Cat diabetes must be closely monitored, but that doesn't mean that your feline friend won't enjoy a good quality of life with disease management. Wellness cues such as appetite and litterbox use should be tracked, and any complications will need attention right away.
See your vet regularly to have your cat’s blood sugar and response to treatment monitored or ask your vet if testing your pet’s glucose at home is an option.
It’s best to diagnose and treat diabetes in cats early. If any symptoms mentioned above appear in your cat, bring them in as soon as possible.
For senior pets, physical exams are essential to maintaining good health, and spotting issues early so they can be treated.