Our Bound Brook Veterinary Clinic vets are seeing cases of cats with diabetes rise recently. Left untreated, this condition can threaten your cat's lifespan and comfort. Here are some signs cat owners should watch out for and some treatments available for kitties with diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that, like most mammals, cats can develop when their body cannot effectively utilize or regulate blood sugar levels.
The pancreas produces insulin which controls the flow of glucose in the bloodstream. If your cat's insulin levels are too low, glucose is unable to reach the insulin 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 builds up in the cat's bloodstream, which can lead to a number of medical defections.
Type I and 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): This type is most common in 1) overweight male cats above 8 years old and 2) 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 it and have become insulin-resistant.
Cat Diabetes Symptoms
A diabetic cat’s body breaks down protein and fat cells instead of glucose cells, which means that even healthy eaters and food-motivated cats often lose weight.
Left untreated, diabetes in cats can lead to several health 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
Without prompt treatment and close attention, diabetes in cats can lead to a variety of debilitating, expensive, and potentially fatal conditions. If your cat displays symptoms of diabetes, seek veterinary care. There is no cure for diabetes in cats but the condition can often be managed through treatment.
Treatment Options for Diabetes in Cats
The first step is to get an official diagnosis from your cat's vet. Your vet will then prescribe daily treatments in the form of insulin injections, which owners can often be trained to do themselves 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 kitty's health.
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.