What Causes Feline Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, which is rare in cats, involves an inappropriate immune response to the pancreatic beta cells that initiate insulin release.
Type 2 diabetes, also called idiopathic hyperglycemia, has a range of root causes. These include obesity, a high-carbohydrate diet, inactivity, and genetic factors. Male cats, indoor cats, and those middle- to older-aged cats are also at increased risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes is more common among some populations of Burmese and Siamese cats around the world.
Of these causes, diet and obesity are the easiest to control and the most related to treatment.
Diabetes is an endocrine condition and deeply connected to diet. Though we dont know how much of an impact diet has on your cats chances of developing diabetes, several things are clear.
Cats are obligate carnivores with a metabolism optimized for meat, meat, and more meat. Every aspect of their physiology, from saliva to pupils to claws to intestines and stomach acid, is characteristic of an animal-eating machine. As an animal optimized for this type of high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, cats are capable of metabolizing carbohydrates but, compared with omnivores, are less efficient at it.;;;
Metabolically, cats are similar to people with diabetes. Even healthy cats exhibit some insulin resistance, and the gluconeogenic pathway, which produces glucose from non-carbohydrate substances like lactate, is always open, allowing glucose to flood the bloodstream unhindered.
How Often Do You Have To Give Your Cat Insulin
Your insulin dosage frequency depends on which type of insulin youre giving your cat.
If youre using short or intermediate-acting insulin, youll inject twice a day with each injection 12 hours apart. If youre using long-acting insulin, youll only need to give your cat one dose per daymaybe two if your cat doesnt respond well to the once-daily dosing pattern.
If youre doing twice-daily dosing, look at your schedule and choose two times that you can commit to and follow consistently. This might be 8:00 in the morning and 8:00 at night.
The best time to give your cat his insulin injections is just after a meal when his blood sugar levels are the highest. If youre concerned that your cat wont stay still, some experts recommend administering insulin while your cat is in the middle of a meal.
If youre busy and frazzled and always forget things like this, put an alarm on your phone, alarm clock, or watch that will remind you that its time to give your cat the juice. Were trying to space injections by 11-12 hours, so you have a one hour window in which you can safely give your cat his shot. If you get caught up in a conversation with your dinner guests and dont get a chance to give your cat his shot until 10 pm, skip the dose. Its better to miss a shot of insulin than to give your cat one dose at 10 pm and another dose at 8 am the next day.
If youre giving your cat once-daily doses, the rules are the same.
Caring For Your Diabetic Cat
In general, the best glycemic control is obtained in the majority of cats by using PZI or glargine twice daily combined with a low carbohydrate-high protein diet. Therapeutic Goals for Otherwise Healthy Diabetic Cats
Your diabetes control strategy has several primary facetsglycemic control through insulin and diet combined with weight loss.
While diet and insulin management are both essential, weight loss isnt. Although obesity is a major contributor to diabetes, not every diabetic cat is obese and, in some cases, weight loss is not a good idea. Note that weight loss is one of the symptoms of diabetes, so some cats may even become underweight.
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Treatment Begins With Consistent Blood Glucose Monitoring
Some people opt to have their cats blood tested during regular vet visits, but this might not be the wisest approach. Your cats blood sugar soars when under stress, so the environment at the veterinarians office will cultivate unrealistically high blood sugar test results. You dont want to give your cat too much insulin based on stress-induced high blood glucose, so control for stress by testing at home.
If youre serious about reversing your cats diabetes rather than just controlling it, you cant wait three or four months until your next vet appointment. You need to know how much glucose is in your cats blood all the time. Without close attention to changing blood glucose levels, you cant adjust insulin to meet your cats changing needs. Administering too much insulin could lead to hypoglycemia.
What Are Glucose Testing And Fructosamine Testing
In diabetic patients, spot-checking the blood glucose is a quick and direct way to tell what the level is. The rapid result permits quick detection and management of a dangerously low or an extremely high level. However, blood glucose testing provides only a snapshot of the total blood glucose picture. The test result does not indicate what the blood glucose level will be 2 hours later, 8 hours later, or the next day. Your veterinarian needs to do other testing to obtain this information.
Performing a blood glucose curve can provide some of the missing information. A blood glucose curve involves repeatedly measuring the blood glucose level every 1 to 2 hours over a period of timeusually 12 to 24 hours. Like a regular blood glucose measurement, a blood glucose curve also directly measures the blood sugar, but it tells your veterinarian more information about how the blood glucose level may be changing over time.
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How Is My Cats Condition Monitored
One of the most important aspects of controlling a diabetic cat is monitoring that you do at home. If the cat is monitored closely, the early signs of loss of improper regulation can be detected early and appropriate adjustments;
made. Monitoring should occur in two ways:
Can Diabetes Be Cured
It is possible for most diabetic cats to go into remission, provided that their blood glucose is tightly regulated through the right diet and a good insulin regimen. But most doesnt mean all. Some cats need to be on insulin for the rest of their lives.
Cats with blood glucose values of 190-270 mg/dl before treatment are great candidates for diabetic remission, as its unlikely that their pancreas has been poisoned out of commission. If the cat has higher blood glucose, remission is perhaps less likely, but possible. Remember that your cats initial blood glucose values may be unrealistically high due to vet-induced stress.
While some cats have temporary diabetes and go back to normal after a simple dietary change, some cats might take six months of aggressive dietary changes, weight management, and insulin therapy before they go into remission.
Even after your cat has healthy blood glucose levels without any need for insulin supplementation and appears to be cured of diabetes, the first time he eats a carbohydrate-laden dry food, he could go right back to full-on diabetes and youll have to start all over again.
An estimated 25% 35% of cats in diabetic remission will relapse. A second remission is possible, but unlikely. Thats why its critical that you continue to control your cats insulin through an extremely low-carbohydrate diet and periodically test his blood glucose to ensure that hes still in remission.
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What Might A Serum Biochemistry Profile Indicate If My Cat Has Diabetes Mellitus
An elevated serum glucose concentration is vital to the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. However, cats present us with a unique challenge because their glucose levels can become markedly increased simply due to stress. The stress of a veterinary office visit or the mild restraint associated with obtaining a blood sample may significantly increase your cat’s serum glucose value. Blood glucose will also be mildly elevated for several hours following a meal. Therefore, confirmation of diabetes may require more than one blood sample collected over a period of several days.
“Cats present us with a unique challenge because their glucose concentrations can become markedly increased simply due to stress.”
If there is a question that the high blood glucose concentration is related to stress or diabetes, diabetes may be diagnosed by an elevated serum fructosamine test. This test is described below.
What Are The Benefits Of Glucose And Fructosamine Testing
Diabetes is a complicated illness, and there are many approaches to managing diabetes in pets. Whether your veterinarian prefers to use blood glucose spot-testing, a glucose curve, fructosamine testing, or a combination of these, he or she will consider these results along with other valuable information, such as appetite consistency, weight gain or loss, and frequency of drinking and urination, to determine if your pets diabetes is being well managed. If your pet is receiving insulin, this information will help your veterinarian determine if the insulin dosage is acceptable or if an adjustment should be made. Your veterinarian will also discuss with you how often monitoring tests should be repeated. Your veterinarian may recommend additional testing to see how well your pet is responding to diabetes management.
This article has been reviewed by a veterinarian.
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.
Obtaining The Blood Sample
Wash your hands before beginning. Then hold the cat firm while talking in a soothing voice.
Diabetic cats should have their blood drawn from the ear or paw. If the ear or paw looks dirty, use a cotton ball dipped in clean water and wipe the area.
Start by warming the paw or ear with a small heating pad to increase blood flow. Microwave-safe gel packs work well because of their small size.
To draw a cat sugar level blood sample, hold the lancet pen above a vein or capillary. You may need a flashlight to illuminate one. Push the button on the lancet pen. This propels the lancet tip into the skin.
You can use lancets without a lancet pen. It requires a little more care, especially if you use the ear as the test site. Always hold a lancet at an angle when doing it by hand. If you hold the lancet straight up and down to avoid piercing all the way through the ear.
Touch the test strip at an angle to the blood spot and insert it into the glucometer. Watch for the error code signaling the blood sample is too small before releasing your cat. If you haven’t drawn enough blood, you will need to repeat the test.
If there is enough blood, the glucometer will list the cat sugar level found in the blood. Write down the date and time in a journal. Even if the glucometer stores the readings, it is best to have a back-up source to take to your vet.
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Hyperglycemia And The Sick Cat
In hospitalized sick cats, it can be unclear whether stress or diabetes is causing an elevated blood glucose concentration. If hyperglycemia persists for longer than 46 hours, low-dose insulin therapy should be given. Exogenous insulin lowers blood glucose and helps overcome deleterious effects of hyperglycemia on -cell function. Glucose concentrations should be monitored closely and insulin adjusted accordingly.
Glucose And Fructosamine Testing In Pets
- Blood glucose and fructosamine tests are helpful tools for monitoring diabetic patients.
- The results of glucose and fructosamine testing can help your veterinarian ensure that your pet’s diabetes is being adequately managed.
- Only small amounts of blood are required to perform these tests.
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How Do I Make A Proper Injection
Reasons To Test Your Cat For Diabetes
1);Its largely preventable and unnecessary
2);Its a real challenge to treat for many owners
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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How To Detect Feline Diabetes
Diabetes can affect cats of any age, although it mostly commonly presents after the age of 6 or 7, with males being more susceptible.
When we cats have this disease, in which the pancreas stops working properly and produces an unusual amount of insulin, the normal warning signs are the following:
- Frequent visits to the litter box
- Loss of weight despite increased appetite
- Bad breath
- Cataracts and loss of vision
- Symptoms of ketoacidosis, such as weakness, dehydration, vomiting, fainting and the risk of coma
How Is Diabetes Diagnosed
The four clinical signs of diabetes are also present in other feline diseases. Therefore, clinical signs alone are not sufficient to make a diagnosis. The two most important laboratory tests are the blood glucose level and a urinalysis. The normal blood glucose level is 80-120 mg/dL . Diabetic cats often have levels over 400 , or even 600 mg/dL . Diabetic cats also have glucose present in the urine. The combination of these two findings in a cat with at least two of the clinical signs of diabetes is sufficient evidence to make a diagnosis of diabetes.
A cats blood glucose level can be influenced by excitement. Stress hyperglycemia can result from a ride in an automobile and a visit to the veterinary hospital, especially in an excitable cat. This can confuse the testing process for diabetes. When this is suspected, another test, the serum fructosamine, can be used. This test gives an average blood glucose reading for the last two weeks. It will be clearly elevated in diabetic cats.
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Signs Your Cat Has Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic, and potentially debilitating, condition in cats. The disorder is most prevalent among obese cats, male cats over eight years old, and those on a diet high in carbohydrates.
Cases of feline diabetes are on the rise, and given the severity of the condition, it is important to take early measures to prevent or manage the health of your diabetic cat.
Typically, diabetes mellitus is a disorder that results when the cells develop a resistance to insulin, a hormone that aids the entry of glucose into the cells. This causes a build-up of the glucose levels in the bloodstream.
Diabetic cats mostly suffer from Type II diabetes, where the body cells can no longer adequately respond to insulin, leading to elevated levels of glucose.
A complete diagnosis always requires a visit to the vet, but a closer look at your cat at home can tell you if theres a problem. Bring your cat to Dr. Minta Keyes for a check-up if you notice any of these signs: