Feline diabetes, which is also known as diabetes mellitus, is a common condition in cats. Typically cats that are older and overweight are most likely to develop feline diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is the inability for a cat to produce enough insulin to balance their blood sugar or glucose levels. Feline diabetes is not always easy to diagnose; however, if your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with diabetes, you will need to create a plan to help manage the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats
There are some common symptoms you may notice before your cat is diagnosed with diabetes. The following symptoms could also be a sign of other medical conditions, so it’s best to contact your veterinarian right away if you notice any of these changes in your cat.
- Weight loss
- Drinking more water than normal, or drinking from unusual places
- Increased appetite, or begging for food
- Decreased ability to jump
- Walking on heels instead of toes
- Decreased activity, or more lethargic than normal
- Sticky urine that is difficult to clean
- More frequent urination, or urinating outside of the litter box
Your cat’s kidneys will attempt to get rid of the excess glucose in the body through urinating. The high concentration of glucose pulls excessive amounts of water into the urine. Increased urination can potentially lead to dehydration, so it is important to keep an eye on your cat’s restroom and drinking habits.
Types of Diabetes in Cats
Diabetes is typically classified into three types: type I, type II and type III.
Type I diabetes is rare in cats. It is caused by the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. The destruction of these cells is not reversible, so cats with Type I diabetes must be treated with insulin.
Type II diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar due to the body being resistant to insulin. With Type II diabetes, a cat does not produce a sufficient amount of insulin. Obesity is a predisposing factor in Type II diabetes, which is the most common type of cat diabetes.
Type III diabetes results from insulin resistance caused by other hormones. This can be due to pregnancy or hormone-secreting tumors.
Diagnosing Cat Diabetes
Your veterinarian will need to examine your cat and run some laboratory tests to be able to accurately diagnose your cat with diabetes. Blood and urine tests will allow your veterinarian to rule out other diseases or medical conditions. These types of tests will allow your veterinarian to see if there are repeatedly abnormally high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia) or if there is glucose (sugar) present in the urine.
Treatment for Feline Diabetes
The good news is that diabetes in cats can successfully be managed with proper treatment, diet, and exercise. It is not something that can be completely cured, but your cat can still live a happy, normal life. When treating cat diabetes, the main goal is to keep glucose concentrations regulated so you can avoid high spikes and low drops.
Insulin Therapy for Cats
After your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with diabetes, your cat’s weight will be used to determine the insulin dose needed. Your veterinarian will help teach you everything you need to know about administering insulin as well as monitoring your cat’s blood or urine glucose levels at home.
Sometimes cats can be taken off insulin after a few weeks or months of treatment. This doesn’t mean their diabetes has been cured, but it does mean that their levels are stable enough that they don’t need insulin. Your cat will still need to be seen by their veterinarian regularly for checkups.
Monitor Your Cat
Monitoring your cat closely will be one of the most important things to do. Partnering with your vet and making sure their glucose levels, diet and activity are at a healthy level is ideal.
Monitoring your cat’s glucose levels is a vital part of managing cat diabetes. There are two ways to do this: blood tests and urine tests. Monitoring the glucose levels in your cat’s blood is the most accurate method. This can be done at the vet or at home with the proper equipment. Urine tests check your cat’s urine for the presence of glucose and ketones.
You will also want to monitor your cat’s blood glucose level and urine glucose level to make sure their insulin dosage is appropriate. With this information, your veterinarian may need to adjust your cat’s insulin dosage.
A healthy diet is an important part of keeping feline diabetes under control. Choose cat food with high quality proteins and that is low in carbohydrates. Feeding your cat at the same time each day is also helpful. Some cats prefer to always have food out so they can eat small amounts as they please throughout the day. If this is how your cat typically eats, talk to your veterinarian to see how you can manage this type of feeding schedule.
It’s no secret that cats enjoy sleeping and relaxing. However, cats with diabetes need to have consistent exercise and movement. Their exercise should be monitored since it can affect their blood glucose levels. A cat that suddenly expends more energy than normal will burn up more glucose which can result in an extremely low blood sugar level.
Cats that are at a healthy weight should continue with their normal amount of exercise. Overweight cats may benefit from more exercise, but it is important to talk to your veterinarian first before starting any exercise plans.
Partner with Your Vet
Keep up with regular visits to the vet with your cat. This is the best way to keep your cat’s diabetes managed and stabilized. It can also prevent complications that can be caught early.
About Birch Lake Animal Hospital
The staff at Birch Lake Animal Hospital seeks to provide the best possible medical care for our highly-valued patients and clients.