Cat Diabetes: Symptoms And Treatment

What is cat diabetes?

Cat diabetes or diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease in cats, whereby either insufficient insulin response or insulin resistance lead to persistently high blood glucose concentrations.

Diabetes could affect up to 1 in 230 cats, and may be becoming increasingly common. Diabetes mellitus is less common in cats than in dogs. The condition is treatable, and treated properly, the cat can experience a normal life expectancy.

There are three types of cat diabetes; Type 1, type 2 and type 3:

  • Type 1 form of diabetes is defined as an absolute insulin deficiency. In this form, the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin to regulate the glucose in the bloodstream, leading to persistent high glucose levels in the blood. This type of diabetes is very rare in the cat.
  • Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes in cats, occurs when the cells in the cat's body don't respond to the insulin that is being provided. As a result, the cat becomes hyperglycemic (high blood sugar), which may lead to having excess sugar in the urine.
  • Type 3 diabetes is also less common and may occur due to other conditions (e.g., secondary to another primary disease which may damage the pancreas).

What are the symptoms of cat diabetes?

While your vet can diagnose diabetes with a simple, in-office examination, there are signs that could help you to diagnose it yourself:

  • Increased thirst
  • Sudden increase in appetite
  • Sudden weight loss (despite an increase in appetite)
  • Increased urination
  • Increased lethargy

What are the causes of cat diabetes?

Diabetes in cats is a growing problem. In fact, the prevalence of feline diabetes has increased 18.1 percent since 2006, according to Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2016 report.

Although the exact cause of cat diabetes isn't known, it's more likely to affect overweight cats, as obesity causes the cat's body to be less sensitive to the effects of insulin. It is also more common in older cats.

Certain diseases such as hyperthyroidism, chronic pancreatitis, as well as medications such as corticosteroids, may also make cats more susceptible to developing diabetes.

When a cat has Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), his adrenal glands over-produce cortisol, a hormone that has wide effects throughout the body, including making it less able to respond to insulin. Too much cortisol can lead to diabetes.

Diabetic cat

Source : Pets World

How do you treat cat diabetes?

Each diabetic cat responds differently to different therapies. Some cats are easier to regulate; others require more complex types of treatment. Treatment tends to fall into three categories:

  • Insulin injections: Most diabetic cats will require these once or twice a day depending on factors such as severity, type of insulin used, dose, diet etc. Dosage may change over time as the cat ages.
  • Oral hypoglycemic medications: In some cases, cats may be treated successfully with orally administered medications that lower blood glucose levels. Often, the use of these medications requires frequent glucose monitoring to ensure the best results, and many cats still require insulin injections to achieve the highest level of control.
  • Diet: As mentioned earlier, obesity is a major factor in contributing to diabetes in cats. This is why it is vital that once your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, you pay even more attention to their diet. It is recommended that you talk to your vet and together you can tailor a safe weight loss regime. Some cats respond better to carbohydrate-restricted diets and some respond well to high-fiber, complex carbohydrate rations. If your cat is also receiving insulin injections, then the feeding routine is also important. Ideally, a cat should be fed half its daily food requirement at the time of each injection, with the rest available throughout the day. When and how much you feed your cat should be discussed with your vet.

cat diabetes treatment

Source : Canadian Insulin

How can I prevent my cat from getting diabetes?

There are many steps you can take to prevent your cat from getting diabetes although none are full-proof. The tips are as followed:

  • Watch their weight: Make sure you feed your cat according to the instructions on his food, and if you are going to feed treats and snacks, make sure you compensate by feeding less at mealtime.
  • Exercise and enrichment: Exercise plays a vital role in maintaining your cat's weight so be sure to play with him every day or let them roam outside.
  • Regular check-ups: Regular check-ups may seem like an over-precaution but early detection could save you a lot of money in the long run. They will also give you peace of mind if you are unsure of whether or not your cat has diabetes.
  • Minimise steroid use if possible: Although some chronic illnesses such as allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease are typically treated with steroids, these medications are known to decrease the effectiveness of insulin in your cat’s body. This doesn’t mean you should never use steroids, because they can and do save lives. However, especially if your cat is overweight, be sure to work closely with your vet and do regular monitoring of your kitty’s blood and urine to ensure his little pancreas keeps working well.