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Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes is a disease that can seriously impact your furry friend's health if not treated properly. Here, our vets in Bedford discuss the causes, symptoms, treatments for diabetes in cats, and advice on when to seek veterinary attention.

What is cat diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus can become an issue when your cat's body can no longer effectively produce or use the insulin created in the pancreas. When used effectively, insulin controls the flow of glucose (blood sugar) to cells throughout the body, providing energy to the rest of the body.

Without the correct amount of insulin, the cells don’t receive glucose. Instead, the body uses protein cells and fat for energy.

The unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream over time.

Types of Cat Diabetes

Similar to humans, cats can get one of the following two types of diabetes. 

Type I (Insulin-Dependent)

The body does not produce or release enough insulin.

Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent)

While the body may produce enough insulin, tissues or organs won't use insulin. They need more insulin than a healthy cat’s body would need to produce glucose properly. This type of diabetes is most common in overweight male cats over eight years old and those that eat a high-carbohydrate diet.

They sometimes have an excessive appetite since their bodies cannot use the fuel in their food.

Cat Diabetes Signs & Symptoms

Because a diabetic cat’s body breaks down protein and fat instead of glucose, even cats with a healthy appetite and who regularly eat will lose weight. Cat's with untreated diabetes can display health complications and symptoms, such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Unhealthy coat and skin
  • Bacterial infections
  • Liver disease

Subtle Signs of Diabetes

  • Decrease in physical activity (inability/disinterested in jumping)
  • Walking flat on the backs of their hind legs (from nerve damage)

Treatment Options for Cats with Diabetes

Though no cure has been found for cat diabetes, treatment usually involves getting an official diagnosis and managing the illness with daily injections of insulin, which your vet can train you to give at home if you are comfortable.

Your vet might recommend switching your cat's diet to one that contains carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. There are prescription foods for diabetes.

Managing Diabetes in Cats

Though cat diabetes must be closely monitored, your fur baby can still enjoy a great quality of life if the disease is well managed. Appetite and litter box use should be tracked, and any complications will immediately need attention.

See your veterinary internal medicine specialist in Bedford regularly to monitor your cat’s blood sugar and response to treatment. Glucose testing at home is an option; ask your internal medicine vet for more details.

Like many illnesses, it’s best to diagnose and treat diabetes in cats early. If any symptoms of diabetes in cats appear, bring them in as soon as possible. Physical exams are essential for senior pets to maintain good health and spot issues early so they can be treated.

Preventing Diabetes in Cats

While obesity and age play a role in the development of diabetes, it can impact cats of all breeds and ages. There is no way to prevent diabetes; early detection can provide the opportunity to address and manage it before it causes serious complications.

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.

Is your cat showing symptoms associated with diabetes? Book an appointment with our Bedford vets today to get your feline friend feeling better again.

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