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How To Tell If Your Cat Has Diabetes

Are There Different Types Of Diabetes Mellitus In Cats

What If My Cat Is Diabetic?

Diabetes mellitus is usually classified into three types of disease:

Type I diabetes mellitus results from total or near-complete destruction of the beta cells. This appears to be a rare type of diabetes in the cat.

Type II diabetes mellitus is different because some insulin-producing cells remain, but the amount of insulin produced is insufficient, there is a delayed response in secreting it, or the tissues of the cat’s body are relatively insulin-resistant. Obesity is a predisposing factor in type II diabetes, which appears to be the most common type of diabetes in the cat.

Type III diabetes results from insulin resistance caused by other hormones and can be due to pregnancy or hormone-secreting tumors.

Feline Diabetes: Symptoms Treatments Prevention And Diet Tips

Thomas Graves and WebMD team up to provide feline diabetes information and tips for treatment or prevention.

An alarming number ofcatsare developingdiabetesmellitus, which is the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar, or glucose, levels.Left untreated, it can lead to weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting ,dehydration, severe depression, problems with motor function, coma, and even death. To find out why so many cats are being diagnosed with diabetes, and what owners can do, WebMD talked to Thomas Graves, a former feline practitioner who is associate professor and section head of small animal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Graves research focus is on diabetes and geriatric medicine.

Q: How common is feline diabetes?

A: The true incidence isnt known, but its estimated at 0.5% to 2% of the feline population. But its also probably under diagnosed.

Q: What are the signs of diabetes in cats?

A: The main symptoms are increased thirst and increased urination. And while we do see it in cats with appropriate body weight, its more common in obese cats. Some cats with diabetes have a ravenous appetite because their bodies cannot use the fuel supplied in their diet.

Q: Whats the treatment for a cat with feline diabetes?

Q: Will I have to test my cats blood every day and give them shots?


Q: If caught early enough, can my cat be cured of diabetes?

Q: Should I only feed them dry food or just wet food or both?

Caring For A Diabetic Cat: The Good And The Bad Of Diabetes Care

No, diabetes is not a death sentence for your cat. Heres what you should know, including symptoms, treatment and the cost of insulin for cats.

Many people hear the news their cat is a diabetic, and they think its a death sentence.

This is not true. Dont panic.

Diabetes is a complex condition, so treatment can seem daunting. But take things a step at a time, and the problems shrink down to size.

In this expert guide to caring for a diabetic cat, well discuss:

  • The upsides to having a diabetic cat
  • The cost of insulin for cats
  • Other costs to consider when you have a diabetic cat
  • And why diabetic cats need extra care when youre away

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Key Symptoms Of Diabetes In Dogs And Cats

When the disease first develops, most diabetics dont feel sick. The most common signs noticed by owners are: Excessive drinking, excessive urination, weight loss despite good appeite, weakness or muscle loss. Regulating the diabetes is the only way to stop or stabilize these symptoms and their underlying cause.

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

Things to Know When Your Cat Has Diabetes

Cats are moody creatures. You would definitely know if you own a cat. Well, of course, you do! Thats why youre here. Another reason is that you care about your cat, and you want it to stay healthy. Isnt 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. Lets face it, peoples 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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Home Monitoring Is Possible

Home monitoring devices are available for pets, just like human diabetics use.

These cut down on vet visits and are great for the cat who is anxious at the vets office.

Some cats wont let you prick their ear for a drop of blood. Home monitoring is certainly not for everyone, or every cat. But its worth discussing with your vet.

What Is Cat Diabetes

Like humans, cats can develop diabetes mellitus, also known as sugar diabetes, a disease that occurs when the body can no longer produce or use insulin properly, says Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, controls the flow of blood sugar, called glucose, to the body’s cells to provide energy. Without sufficient levels of insulin, glucose doesn’t reach the cells like it should, so instead the body starts breaking down fat and protein cells to use for energy, while unused glucose builds up to excessive amounts in the bloodstream.

As with humans, there are two types of feline diabetes insulin dependent, or type I, in which the body is no longer capable of producing any insulin, and non-insulin dependent, or type II, in which either the body can’t produce sufficient amounts of insulin, or the organs and tissues have become insulin-resistant, meaning that they need higher-than-normal amounts of insulin in order to properly process glucose. Occurrences of type I diabetes in cats is rare, says VCA Hospitals.

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What Causes Diabetes In Cats

Not dissimilar to type 2 diabetes in people, most cases of diabetes in cats occur when a cats blood sugar rises because its body is no longer responding to insulin in a normal manner. The pancreas can initially respond by producing more insulin, but the cells that make insulin eventually wear out.

While diabetes is more likely to happen in obese, middle-aged, indoor cats, it can affect any feline at any age and weight.

If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, there are several factors that could have led to the development of the disease. Koble explains that some of the causes include, genetic predisposition, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diet , and the deposition of amyloid in the islets of the pancreas.

Koble notes that diabetes in cats is not just caused by one of these issuesit is usually a combination of multiple problems.

Should I Euthanize My Cat With Diabetes

Feline Diabetes, What you need to know about your diabetic cat

It is never easy to say goodbye to a pet, and almost harder when you have to make the decision yourself. Your choice to euthanize your pet can be a very personal one, although it should be made with the thought of quality of life for the pet.

Once diabetes is diagnosed and treatment has begun, your cat should resume fairly normal behavior.

You will need to administer insulin once or twice a day and regulate their diet. But beyond this, your cat can live many more years with proper care. Their quality of life remains essentially the same. Obviously, your cat should not be put down if they are happy.

What you need to evaluate is if their life has gotten significantly worse. Perhaps you caught the diabetes quite late and they are suffering from the side-effects of that.

It may also be reaching the natural end of their life. You wonder, Should I euthanize my cat with diabetes?

Ask yourself these questions. Can your pet still eat, drink, and go to the bathroom normally? Do they seem comfortable when sleeping, snuggling, or walking? Have they started hiding more or being less social? Are they still doing the things that make your cat YOUR cat? Once any of these areas of their life start to change, you need to decide if your cat is still living a content, peaceful life or if they are suffering. Then you will know what to do.

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How Is Diabetes Mellitus Diagnosed

Diabetes mellitus is diagnosed by the presence of the typical clinical signs , a persistently high level of glucose in the blood, and the presence of glucose in the urine. Diabetes is the most common disease that will cause the blood glucose level to rise substantially.

To conserve glucose within the body, the kidneys do not filter glucose out of the blood stream into the urine until an excessive level is reached. This means that cats with normal blood glucose levels will not have glucose in the urine. Diabetic cats, however, have excessive amounts of glucose in the blood, so it spills into the urine. Once blood glucose reaches a certain level, the excess is removed by the kidneys and enters the urine. This is why cats and people with diabetes mellitus have sugar in their urine .

Definitive confirmation of feline diabetes mellitus may require a specialized test called a serum fructosamine test. This test tells us average blood glucose levels over the past 7 -14 days.

Its Relatively Easy To Find A Pet Sitter Friend Or Kennel To Give Injections When Youre Away

If youre used to leaving your cat for long weekends with a big bowl of food and a see you later, your life is going to have to change.

If your cat needs insulin injections, youll need to find a reliable pet sitter familiar with diabetics, a family member or a pleasant boarding situation.

If you travel constantly, caring for a diabetic cat will not be easy. But for most of us with average home/work situations, being home morning and night for 2 kitty meals and 2 injections shouldnt be that difficult.

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Symptoms Of Cat Diabetes

It is crucial that cat owner understand how to spot the symptoms of cat diabetes. Eventually around 1 percent of all cats will suffer from diabetes somewhere. Diabetes is a disease in which the body produces excess glucose levels, either because it does not produce enough of the hormone insulin or because the body does not respond appropriately to the insulin .

Type II is the most common type of feline diabetes, and it develops over time. The good news is that cats with diabetes have plenty of treatment options and many can lead long , healthy lives.

Initial Screening And Stabilization

How do I know if my cat has diabetes?

Screening Tests

Recognizing complications at the beginning makes for smoother stabilization.

When you go on a long journey, you check your vehicles tire pressure, the oil level and that theres sufficient gas in the tank. This helps reduce the risk of breakdown en route.

The same goes for the newly diagnosed diabetic cat.

When finances allow, let your vet run a barrage of bloods tests to help identify issues that could make stabilizing the cat difficult.

One example is screening for high levels of growth hormone in the cats bloodstream. The latter is a condition called acromegaly, which afflicts around 25% of cat diabetics and can make their care more difficult.

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Treating Your Cat For Diabetes

Treating cats for diabetes involves several steps. Often, the first step is changing your cats diet. There are several prescription diets that can help to stabilize blood sugar. Feeding canned food rather than dry kibble may also be beneficial. However, do not change your cats diet without first consulting with your veterinarian.

In some mild cases, an oral medication like glipizide, can be used to lower blood sugar. However, most cats will require daily insulin injections to control their diabetes. There are several forms of insulin available, and your veterinarian will discuss the best option for your cats condition.

You will also need to treat any concurrent conditions, like urinary tract infections or hepatic lipidosis . These conditions may require medications like antibiotics, or in the case of serious conditions hepatic lipidosis, an esophageal tube to get food in your cats system as soon as possible.

Can Diet Improve My Cats Diabetes

If you’re careful about diet and insulin therapy, you may notice that you can start lowering your cats insulin dose.

In some cats, diabetes will even go into remission. But that doesnt mean the cat is cured.

I tell the owners that they should still think of their cat as having diabetes — its just controlled, Schermerhorn says. Sometimes cats that have gone into remission will experience flare-ups and will still need to take insulin once in a while to control their diabetes. Owners need to be committed to caring for their diabetic cat for life, he says.

Frostig has kept his cat on a strict regimen of diet and insulin shots, and now its hard to tell that Bill is anything but a normal, healthy cat — or that he is 15 years old. Hes still running around the house like hes young, Frostig says. I have to remember sometimes that he has diabetes.


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Health Implications Of Feline Diabetes

Because diabetes causes the body’s cells to process energy from fat and protein instead of glucose, cats with diabetes will typically lose weight in spite of displaying a healthy appetite. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to a number of health complications, the most dangerous of which is a condition known as ketoacidosis. This occurs when the breakdown of fat and protein cells becomes so great that your cat’s body is effectively starving even though she’s eating regularly. Signs of this condition include appetite loss, weakness or lethargy, abnormal breathing, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea, and without immediate intensive care to provide fluids and insulin, it could be fatal.

Other diabetes-related health complications may include liver disease, bacterial infection, unhealthy skin and coat, and neuropathy, which can cause loss of strength and mobility in the hind legs. Another complication can arise from treatment of diabetes hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can occur when too much insulin is given, resulting in weakness, listlessness and lack of coordination, and in some cases it can cause convulsions and even coma. If your diabetic kitty displays signs of low blood sugar, try to get her to eat something. If she won’t or can’t eat, Cornell recommends rubbing syrup on her gums and calling your veterinarian right away.

Insulin Treatments: A Common Option


While lifestyle and dietary changes may assist a cat in managing diabetes, Koble notes that many cats will need to receive insulin shots before going into remission.

Insulin, as Koble explains, is a hormone that is made in the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels. The more insulin secreted, the lower the blood sugar will drop. The less insulin that is secreted, the higher the blood sugar will remain. When there is not enough insulin, blood sugar remains high, resulting in diabetes.

For cats that do require insulin, most cats need a dose every 12 hours. Koble adds, All insulin is safe when used properly.

Any cat with diabetes will have to maintain visits with their vets based on their diagnosis. Some require frequent office visits for blood sugar measurements and some prefer to empower clients to do monitoring at home, Koble explains. If a cat is well regulated and doing well, there may be up to six months on average between recommended visits.

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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.

Feeding Recommendations And Diet

To help keep the diabetes under control and to prevent further damage, your cat needs to maintain a healthy weight. As with humans, a healthy diet and active lifestyle can make your cats treatment more effective, and improve their quality of life. Your veterinarian will determine your cats ideal weight, then you both can agree on a low carb diet to help your cat achieve and maintain that weight. Try using a baby scale at home for an accurate weight.

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Recovery And Management Of Diabetes

Expect to be managing your cats diabetes for the rest of her life. After her initial recovery, you will need to return for regular, follow-up visits to make sure her blood glucose levels are within an acceptable range. You may even be able to test your cat at home once the initial treatment phase is over and if your cat is cooperative. These tests are essential to your cats health, as unmanaged diabetes can lead to a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis.

Your veterinarian will show you how to administer insulin injections properly. Make sure you read the instructions on the medication, as it may need to be refrigerated in order to remain effective. Dont hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice about how to handle your cat if she resists her injections.

Diet and weight reduction can help your cat manage the disease when used in addition to medication. Ideally, your cat should have meals around the same time as her injections. This could mean adjusting your cat to a new feeding schedule, but with patience, your cat will adapt to these lifestyle changes.

Reasons To Test Your Cat For Diabetes

How do I know if my catâs new diet for diabetes is working ...

One of my least favorite diagnoses to make in cats is diabetes. I have a deep dislike for feline diabetes because of two indisputable facts:

1) Its largely preventable and unnecessary

2) Its a real challenge to treat for many owners

Fortunately, diabetes is also one of those diseases that benefits from early detection. Id like to share my top five reasons you need to test your cat early and often for diabetes:

One of the most interesting aspects of feline diabetes is its potential reversibility or remission, especially when diagnosed in the earliest stages. Over the past twenty-three years, Ive seen scores of kitties weaned off insulin when diagnosis and treatment was initiated quickly. Research has shown up to 60% of cats will experience diabetic remission within the first few months of treatment, reports Alice Huang from Purdue University. Combining strict blood sugar regulation with precise insulin therapy, changes in diet and weight loss are a recipe for reversing diabetes in many cats. Some cats will remain diabetes-free for many months to years. My advice is to have blood work and urinalysis performed yearly, twice yearly if you have a flabby feline.

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