Feline Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas is insufficient. In a healthy body insulin is secreted into the circulatory system and enables the body’s cells to convert sugar into useable energy. Sugar levels in the blood become elevated when there is no insulin. This excess sugar can only be excreted in urine and so is eliminated by way of the kidneys. This results in an increase in urination and thirst. The presence of sugar is revealed by testing the urine of the cat. The cat will become lethargic because the cells in her body are unable to utilize the glucose (or sugar) in the blood. She will also begin to display weight loss even though her appetite has increased.

Diabetes can affect cats of any age, breed, or sex, but is more commonly seen in cats over the age of six. Cats who are obese are also at greater risk for developing diabetes.

The body will begin to use its own tissues for energy when it cannot metabolize sugar. This causes the presence of ketones (or acid) in the blood. If the disease has progressed to this point, the cat’s breath may have an acetone odor. Breathing will become more difficult as the condition worsens and the cat will eventually go into a diabetic coma.

Your vet can determine if your cat is diabetic by testing for the presence of sugar and ketones in the blood and urine.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Fluid therapy will be administered in cases where there is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Insulin injections will be started and monitored. Until the correct dosage has been determined, your cat will remain hospitalized.

Before your cat is discharged, your vet will give you instructions on how to administer insulin injections under the skin. Your cat will need to be closely monitored because adjustments to her dosage may have to be made. Regular vet visits will be necessary. You will also be given dietary instructions as well.

In some cases, diabetes can be controlled through dietary management and oral drugs instead of insulin injections. Every cat is not a candidate for this approach however.

Your vet will instruct you on putting your cat on a calorie-restricted diet to better control her diabetes if she is obese. Her change in diet must be very gradual, so it’s important to follow your vet’s instructions very carefully. A diet high in fiber will help to control glucose levels in the blood as well as aiding in weight loss. The timing of the feedings will need to coincide with her insulin injections. Since insulin requirements vary, her day-to-day meals need to be consistent.

Caring for a diabetic cat at home can be done fairly easily as long as you follow instructions and remain committed. You must also be prepared bring your cat to the vet for regular testing of her blood glucose levels.

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  1. I never knew that cats could get diabetes. It goes to show everydays a school day. This was a great article. I enjoyed reading it and learned a little more about cat health.

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