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How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Diabetes

How To Spot Feline Diabetes


This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 25,386 times.

Feline Diabetes is a common condition amongst cats of all ages although it tends to be more prevalent in older cats and male cats that have been neutered. It is important to know what to look for and what to do if you think your kitty could be diabetic. Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice weight loss, excessive thirsts and/or excessive urination. With early intervention, you could potentially save your kitty and enjoy a long and happy relationship with your furry loved one.

What Might A Cbc Indicate If My Cat Has Diabetes Mellitus

The complete blood count evaluates the red blood cells, the white blood cells, and the platelet components of a blood sample.

With uncomplicated diabetes mellitus, these components are often within the normal range, but changes may occasionally be seen in the red or white cell values.

Despite drinking large quantities of water, diabetic cats lose body water because they produce such dilute urine. Therefore, your cat may actually be dehydrated. Dehydration can be indicated on the CBC by increases in the packed cell volume , as well as increases in the total red blood cell count.

In some severe diabetic states, lysis of red blood cells within the blood stream may occur because of the loss of electrolytes resulting in reduced red blood cell numbers .

Infections, particularly urinary tract infections, are common in diabetic patients. Increased numbers of white blood cells typically indicate the presence of infection or other inflammatory diseases such as pancreatitis.

Why Diabetic Cats Need Extra Care When Youre Away

Sick pets require additional mental and physical care than your average pet.

Our best buddies are sentient, feeling beings they thrive on routine and the security of familiar surroundings and family members.

So keep your diabetic cats routine as stable as possible while youre away. Besides their medical conditions, these pets may have anxiety disorders. Any changes in routine can cause them dangerous stress.

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Is My Cat At Risk Of Developing Diabetes

Some cats are more at risk than others in developing this health issue. Obese cats are four times as likely to develop diabetes, while older cats and male cats are at higher risk. It is also common for diabetic cats to suffer from other diseases too, such as inflammation of the pancreas or urinary tract infections.

What Is Cat Diabetes Mellitus

Did You Know That Cats Can Have Diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitus is a condition where your cat has difficulty using sugar as an energy source. It changes the way their muscles use energy, and if left untreated can lead to weight change and further illness.

Normally, after your cat eats, their digestive system should break down their food into the different things its made from. One of those components is sugar . After the food is eaten and the glucose is extracted from it, your cats body should absorb the glucose; it goes from their digestive system into their bloodstream, where it is carried around the body. The glucose then reaches various organs in your cats body the heart and other muscles, for example and is used as energy to fuel their climbing, pouncing and playing!

Before your cats body can use glucose as fuel it needs insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. If for some reason your cats pancreas doesnt produce enough insulin, or the insulin cannot be used properly, that glucose wont pass from your cats blood into their organs.

When this happens, the glucose stays put so there is too much sugar in your cats blood, which we know as diabetes in cats. When your cat has diabetes, their organs dont get enough glucose to use as energy, so instead they use fat and protein to power them. Because of this, they lose weight and even muscle mass.

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Life Expectancy In Cats With Diabetes

The life expectancy of cats with diabetes varies depending on the specifics of their situation. For a cat that is otherwise in good health, diabetes that is well-regulated may not shorten their life.

However, some cats are more difficult to regulate or have an interfering disease, so their prognosis may be different depending on the illness.

What Might A Urinalysis Indicate If My Cat Has Diabetes Mellitus

A urinalysis is necessary for the diagnosis of feline diabetes mellitus. Urine from healthy cats typically does not contain any glucose . Occasionally a small amount of glucose may be found in the urine of a highly stressed cat because its blood glucose values were temporarily increased.

Glucose in the urine , as well as persistently increased blood glucose levels , in a cat with appropriate clinical signs is diagnostic for diabetes mellitus.

The presence of glucose in the urine makes conditions ideal for bacterial growth, so urinary tract infections are common. Urine is evaluated for the presence of red blood cells, white blood cells, and bacteria. If a bacterial infection is identified or suspected, a urine culture is indicated to identify the types of bacteria and determine the most appropriate antibiotics to treat the infection.

The presence or absence of ketones in the urine should be evaluated in diabetic cats.;Ketones are byproducts of fat metabolism. Increased mobilization of fat occurs in diabetic cats because their insulin deficiency causes poor use of carbohydrates as an energy source. Depending upon your cat’s clinical signs, the presence of ketones in the urine may indicate a more severe or long-standing case of diabetes mellitus.

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Life Expectancy For Cats With Diabetes

I recently was forced to put my cat down because her diabetes got too bad. I first learned of her diabetes when she was 5 and had it pretty under control for 9 years. She found it well, but with her again her body could not maintain it anymore and she became very weak and a failing liver. My vet told me that only option would be to put her down, and even though I tried to push for some kind of medicine or surgery, but the vet said nothing would help, so I put her down. If correctly treated and maintained, the cat can live a long life with diabetes. I’ve got a 17.5 year old cat who has lived with diabetes for the past twelve years. He’s near the end – in too much pain from osteoarthritis and neuropathy – but with twice daily insulin and diet changes, he’s been my happiest, most long-lived cat to date. I watched him being born in April 2000, so we have a special attachment…not sure what I’ll do without him. But this goes to show that with loving care a diabetic cat can thrive and be happy. Please don’t put your cat down or worse, leave the diabetes untreated . If you can’t afford or commit to treatment, you might be able to find someone who is willing to care for a diabetic kitty. Best of luck.Continue reading >>

Is Diabetes In Cats Expensive To Treat

Insulin Basics for your Diabetic Cat

Theres just no getting around it, Cohn says. The costs of treating feline diabetes are not insignificant.;

Four types of insulin are commonly used to treat cats with diabetes mellitus, she says. Two are veterinary formulations, and two are from human medicine. The insulin thats preferred by most veterinarians is one thats made for humans, and the price has shot up over the last decade, Cohn says. The good news is that one bottle of insulin can last multiple months when treating a cat. Its meant to be used for a month and is marked that way for use in people, but it will stay good with appropriate handling and storage for much longer.;

The costs associated with diabetes treatment go beyond insulin. Repeat veterinary appointments, blood glucose monitoring, special foods, and syringes should be factored in.

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Early Signs And Symptoms Of Diabetes In Cats

  • Excessive thirst : Many owners report their cat drinking from the dogs water bowl, or the sink, bathtub, or toilet. This sign could also indicate kidney disease, certain liver disorders, and certain other hormonal disorders, amongst other conditions.
  • Excessive urination : Often the first indication that a cat is urinating excessively is that there are more and larger clumps of urine in the litter box or urine spots outside the litter box. It is important that cats with excessive urination be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.
  • Increased appetite often accompanied by weight loss: Many diabetic cats have a ravenous appetite, often pestering their owners for more food after clearing out their bowl. What many owners may not immediately realize, especially if their cat has long fur, is that in spite of their cats limitless appetite, they are actually losing weight. This is very dangerous regardless of the cause, so if you are noticing this sign, have your cat evaluated by your veterinarian sooner rather than later.

Communication Is Essential For Treating Feline Diabetes

The most important step is maintaining good communication with your veterinarian. Talk to your vet about any changes you observe in your cat. Ask questions about anything you do not understand; theres a lot more to properly caring for a diabetic cat than is described here.

Communication between family members is also important. Who will give the cat insulin and when? How will you record when your cat has received insulin? What does your cat eat and when? How many and what kind of treats? What are the symptoms of an insulin overdose, and what should family members do to help?

Taking care of a diabetic cat is a lot of work and needs to be taken seriously. Once their blood glucose is managed, they can go on being a happy cat, and that is the most important thing.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetes In Cats

The symptoms of feline diabetes can start gradually and get worse over time. Signs may also be subtle and hard to notice since sick cats tend to mask or hide their symptoms when they dont feel well. Initial signs of feline diabetes can include the following symptoms:

  • Increased appetite
  • Urinating in areas outside the litter box
  • Unkempt fur
  • Lethargy

As the disease progresses, cats can get very skinny and show signs of weakness in their back legs. Eventually, ketoacidosis can occur, which requires immediate medical attention.

What Are The Signs Of Diabetes In My Cat

What Can You Do When Your Cat Has Diabetes?

The signs of diabetes can be similar to a number of other diseases and include:

  • increased thirst and or appetite
  • passing more urine
  • vomiting
  • being more prone to infections
  • some affected cats may have sunken back legs so the cat is standing on its ankles, as a result of nerve damage.

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What Are The Signs Of Diabetes In Cats

Cohn says cats with diabetes may exhibit these signs:;

  • Weight loss. Your cat may lose weight despite eating well, she says. Without insulin, your pets body has to break down other sources of energy, like fat. So while she may be obese when she develops diabetes, Cohn says your cat will eventually lose weight.;
  • Increased drinking and urination. You may notice that the litter box has to be changed more frequently and that its heavier and wetter than usual, Cohn says. Extra sugar in the blood leads to extra sugar in the urine. Sugar draws water into the urinea process called osmotic diuresiswhich can increase urine volume and cause cats to have to drink more water to keep up.
  • Plantigrade stance. This is a fancy way of saying that your cat starts walking on her heels, or hocksa condition caused by nerve damage, Cohn says.

Cats can sometimes develop a complication called diabetic ketoacidosis, but this only occurs in those that have been diabetic for a while but no ones noticed the signs. This is probably the worst case scenario, Cohn says. Cats with diabetic ketoacidosis are very, very sick and can die.

How Often Should You Feed A Cat Even If It Asks For More

Cats are moody creatures. You would definitely know if you own a cat. Well, of course, you do! That’s why you’re here. Another reason is that you care about your cat, and you want it to stay healthy. Isn’t that true? I know it is!

Talking about keeping a cat healthy, feeding your cat can be confusing if you dont know how much you should feed it and how often you should feed it. Let’s face it, people’s hearts melt extensively whenever their cats make those big adorable eyes and ask for more food.

But that is a TRAP! Do not give in. And heres is what you need to follow:

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Is My Cat At Risk Of Diabetes

Diabetes can affect cats of all ages and breeds, but it is more common among middle-aged and older cats, those that are overweight and inactive, and males. There is also some evidence that certain breeds, such as Burmese, have a genetic predisposition to the condition. Those that are on long term courses of certain medications can also be more at risk of developing the disease.

How To Prevent You Cat From Developing Diabetes

How to *Reverse* your cats Diabetes

Dont let your cat become overweight! There are dry food dispensing toys to slow your cats mealtime intake that force them to play/exercise to obtain their meal. There are low-cal and prescription metabolic diets that can aid your furry friend to lose a few pounds. Try to keep indoor cats exercised and entertained with wand toys, lasers to chase, and balls to play with.

Please understand that some cats that develop Type I diabetes may never have been overweight, and may still always need insulin.

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Diagnosing Diabetes In Cats

Diabetes Mellitus is diagnosed by having a repeatedly high glucose level in the bloodstream, glucose present in the urine, and other changes in bloodwork, combined with the clinical signs mentioned above. If you suspect your cat has diabetes, its important to have them diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible.

How Did My Cat Get Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus occurs either when your cats pancreas doesnt produce the amount of insulin your cat needs or when your cat doesnt respond appropriately to the insulin that is being produced . Just as with people, high glucose levels produce adverse effects that can be life-threatening if not treated.

Common causes:

  • Destruction of pancreatic beta cells

  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas

  • Obesity

You may be familiar with type I and type II diabetes. Cats more commonly suffer from type II diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas becomes less sensitive to insulin. Type I, conversely, occurs when the body stops producing enough insulin.

Diabetes insipidus, which as mentioned above is extremely rare in cats, is caused by congenital defects or results as a complication of another condition, like a brain tumor.

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What Are The Treatments For Feline Diabetes

If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will work with you to create a treatment plan, which usually involves a combination of diet and insulin therapy.;

Diet. Because obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, its important that overweight diabetic cats get to an ideal body weight. Your veterinarian can help you determine the ideal weight for your cat and develop a plan for reaching it. Because cats with diabetes tend to benefit from a diet thats low in carbohydrates, your veterinarian will likely recommend a high-protein, low-carbohydrate food. Usually a canned food diet, both prescription and over-the-counter options are available, Cohn says.;;

Insulintherapy. Most diabetic cats will need two insulin injections a day. It sounds kind of scary at first, Cohn says, but I tell owners that its far easier to give a cat an injection than a pill. If you feed your cat at the same time you deliver the insulin, theres a good chance he wont even notice, she says. Plus, the needle is tiny. Its much smaller than what we use for vaccinations, Cohn says. Cats may not even realize theyre getting an injection. Still, you should let your vet know if you feel uncomfortable. Cohn says your vet can help you get used to handling the needle by having you practice injecting water into a piece of fruit.;

Your veterinarian will also teach you how to properly handle and store insulin, monitor blood glucose, and recognize the signs of hypoglycemia .;

Sometimes Diabetes In Cats Is Reversible It Goes Away

Do you know how much your cat should weigh? Find out what ...

With proper diet and the correct insulin therapy, a significant number of cats can go into remission or have their diabetes reversed.

We dont completely understand this, but we are getting better treatment results with low-carb/high-protein diets and early insulin intervention.

Diabetes is more common in male cats, and the statistics show that males have a slightly better chance of reversing their diabetes.

Anywhere from 3090% of cats will return to normal with early diagnosis and treatment.

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