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Diabetes in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

Cases of cat diabetes are rising. Untreated, it can threaten your cat's quality of life and longevity. Today, our Poway vets explain some of the symptoms of diabetes in cats and the available treatment options.

Cat Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus in cats is a disease that impairs the body's ability to use and regulate blood sugar, or glucose. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and regulates the flow of glucose (blood sugar) to the body's cells to provide energy. Glucose does not reach the cells as efficiently as it should when your cat's insulin levels are too low. When this happens, the cat's body begins to break down fat and protein cells for energy, while unused glucose builds up in the cat's bloodstream.

Type I or Type II Diabetes in Cats

  • Type I (Insulin-Dependent) - The cat's body can no longer produce or release enough insulin into the body. This form of diabetes is relatively rare in cats.
  • Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent) - In this type of diabetes, the cat's body produces enough insulin, but the tissues or organs do not respond appropriately to insulin and have become insulin-resistant. Diabetes of this type is common in overweight male cats over the age of eight, as well as those who eat a high-carbohydrate diet.

Common Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats

Cats with a healthy appetite, or even those with a ravenous appetite, will lose weight because a diabetic cat's body breaks down protein and fat instead of using glucose. Diabetes in cats, if left untreated, can lead to a variety of health complications and symptoms, including:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Increased thirst
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Unhealthy coat and skin
  • Walking flat on the backs of their hind legs (from nerve damage)

Diabetes, if untreated, can lead to a variety of debilitating, expensive, and potentially fatal conditions. If your cat is displaying diabetes symptoms, you should seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Diabetes in cats can be treated, but there is no cure.

Diabetes Treatment Options for Cats

Cats with diabetes will need an official diagnosis first, followed by daily management of the condition with insulin injections (which your vet may train you to give at home). Your veterinarian may also advise you to make changes to your cat's diet to ensure that they are getting the proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. In some cases, your veterinarian may advise you to use a special prescription food to help manage your cat's diabetes.

Regular blood sugar tests at the vet are required if your cat has diabetes, or you can ask your vet if testing your cat's glucose at home is an option. Keep a diary of your cat's appetite and litter use so that any changes can be detected early and reported to your veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat has diabetes, or you suspect it may have diabetes, contact Best Friends Veterinary Hospital immediately to schedule an appointment. It can easily become a serious condition that can threaten your cat's life.

New Patients Welcome

Best Friends Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Poway companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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