If your cat's diabetes goes unaddressed the quality of their life and longevity could be threatened. Here, our Lithia Springs vets explain the types and symptoms of diabetes in cats and the treatment options available.
Diabetes in Cats
Diabetes mellitus could be a problem for cats who have bodies that can't produce or effectively use insulin, which is created by the pancreas to control the flow of glucose (blood sugar) to cells throughout the body. Energy is then provided to the rest of the body.
However, when a cat's body doesn't get enough insulin, the cells don’t get glucose. As a result, their body will use fat or protein cells for energy.
The unused glucose lies in the bloodstream and eventually builds to excess amounts.
The Types of Cat Diabetes
Like people cats can develop one of two types of diabetes:
Type I (Insulin-Dependent)
The body does not produce or release enough insulin in the body.
Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent)
While the body may produce enough insulin, tissues or organs resist insulin. They need more insulin than a healthy cat’s body would need to produce glucose properly. This type of diabetes is common in overweight male cats over 8 years old, and those that eat a high-carbohydrate diet.
They sometimes have an insatiable appetite, since their bodies are unable to use the fuel in their food.
The Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats
Since the bodies of diabetic cats break down fat and protein instead of utilizing glucose, even cats that have healthy appetites and eat regularly will lose weight. If your cat's diabetes goes untreated they could develop other symptoms and health complications including:
- Lethargy or weakness
- Increased thirst
- Unhealthy coat and skin
- Increased urination
- Bacterial infections
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Liver disease
Subtle Diabetes Signs
- Walking flat on the backs of their hind legs (from nerve damage)
- Decrease in physical activity (unable/uninterested in jumping)
Treatment Diabetes in Cats
While there aren't any cures for cat diabetes, their treatments will usually consist of getting an official diagnosis and managing the illness with daily injections of insulin, that your vet will teach you to use at home.
You might also have to make changes to your cat's diet to make sure they are getting the appropriate amount of fiber, carbohydrates, and protein. Your furry friend might also be given prescription cat food for their diabetes.
Steps You Can Take
While your cat's diabetes has to be monitored closely, your feline companion will still be able to enjoy a quality life with their condition. You will need to track their appetite and litter box usage and have any complications addressed immediately.
Take your cat to the vet on a regular basis so they can monitor your cat's blood sugar levels and response to their treatment. If you would prefer, ask if it is possible for you to test your cat's glucose levels at home.
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.