What Are Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes mellitus in cats is a complex disease that is characterized by the inability to produce or use insulin. The hormone, insulin is released by the pancreas and is responsible for regulating blood glucose. If insulin is absent from the body or the body is not reacting to insulin, the glucose that the cat is putting into the body by eating is not used for energy. To make up for the lack of energy the body needs to function, the felines body targets its protein and fat reserves. As a result, the cat will quickly lose weight as more and more of the fat storage is being used. Eventually the protein and fat storage will run out, resulting in a terminal condition that must be addressed by a veterinary professional.
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Making Messes Outside The Litter Pan
If your cat has been urinating more and sometimes outside the litter box, this could be a sign of diabetes in cats.
As cats with diabetes urinate more frequently, they take more trips to the litter pan and this excess urination can cause a cat to make mistakes outside the pan for a few reasons.
Sometimes kitties cant help making a mess.
Your cat might be having accidents outside his litter box because he cant hold all the excess urine caused by diabetes and just goes where he makes it to.
His sudden aversion to the box might be from his repeated trips to the litter. Cats are notoriously persnickety about their litter pans. Picky paws dont care to dig in soiled litter. If indeed your cat is peeing more frequently, then the box is getting dirtier faster, which can lead to outside the box accidents.
Stress can also cause a cat to urinate outside their litter pans. The constant urination could be stressing kitty dear as the constant sensation of a full bladder isnt something hes accustomed to. Or, the general sense of feeling unwell that can arise with diabetes might be causing him to feel discomfort, which he expresses by urinating outside the litter pan.
Whatever is causing your cat to urinate outside the litter pan, the behavior is one warranting a trip to the vet.
Causes Of Type 1 And Type 2 Cat Diabetes
There often isnt one direct cause of diabetes. It is more appropriate to talk about what factors predispose a cat to develop diabetes. The biggest factor under our control is a cats weight. Overweight cats secrete too much of some hormones and not enough of others, causing the body to not respond as well to insulin.
Feeding a high-carbohydrate diet can also predispose a cat to becoming diabetic. Cats are obligate carnivores and their metabolism is geared toward a diet thats high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Eating too many carbohydrates leads to chronically elevated blood glucose levels, which can lead eventually to lower insulin secretion, causing glucose levels to go even higher. A low-carbohydrate diet is more easily achieved with canned food rather than kibble.
Other diseases that are untreated can also predispose a cat to diabetes. An overactive adrenal gland, an overactive thyroid gland, a chronically inflamed pancreas and acromegaly can all contribute to a cat becoming diabetic. In addition, male cats are more likely than females to be diabetic.
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Are Some Cats More At Risk Than Others
Yes, studies have shown that some types of cats are more at risk of developing diabetes than others. Although any type or breed of cat can develop this disease, studies have found that older, overweight, male cats are more at risk of developing diabetes. The average age for diagnosis of diabetes is around seven years old. Burmese cats have also been found to be at a higher risk of developing the disease too.
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy
This condition is characterized by nerve damage occurring in diabetic cats because high blood glucose can harm and eventually damage the nerves throughout the body especially in the feet and legs.
If you notice a change in gait, such as when hes walking as if hes sitting, you dont have to worry that this is already a case of diabetes. You may want to take him to your vet for correct diagnosis. Such gait change may also be from an injury.
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy vary based on the scope of the affected nerves. A few include numbness and pain in these areas. Other signs may also include problems with the urinary tract, digestive system, heart and blood vessels.
Other cats may have mild symptoms, but the rest may suffer from disabling and quite painful symptoms that need urgent attention.
You should take your feline friend to the veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs.
Over time, the high levels of blood sugar and triglycerides and other types of fat collected in the blood gradually damage the nerves .
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What Is Feline Diabetes
When cats suffer from diabetes, it means that their pancreas doesnt produce enough insulin, or their body has an inadequate response to the hormone. Insulin is needed to absorb glucose into the bloodstream after eating and transport it to cells around the body to enable them to thrive and grow. So a cat with diabetes will not be able to control the level of glucose in its blood. When blood sugar levels become dangerously high, its known as hyperglycaemia, and when glucose levels are too low, its known as hypoglycaemia.
Type 2 Feline Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes in cats differs from Type 1 in that the pancreas is still producing insulin, but the cats body is not able to use it properly.
Type 2 feline diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in cats and is often caused by insulin resistance, which can be related to cat obesity. In addition to feline diabetes, an obese cat can also suffer from heart issues, joint problems, and other comorbid cat diseases, which are two diseases that occur together.
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The Sitter Should Watch For These Signs Of Trouble
If your diabetic animal will be in a pet sitters or kennels care, make sure the caretakers will call your vet if there is any change in behavior, such as:
A pet sitter should spend at least 1 hour twice a day in your home.
Just feeding and giving insulin injections is not a sufficient level of monitoring for a diabetic animal:
- Make sure the caretaker knows your cats daily routine and personality.
- The cat must be seen eating, walking around and exhibiting a bright and alert demeanor.
- If your cat is sleeping every time the pet sitter visits and the sitter just refreshes the food and water and gives the required insulin, this cat could be on their way to a diabetic crisis.
Too often, a client tells the vet that the pet sitter couldnt find the cat and left. This is bad in any case, but it could be life-threatening to a diabetic cat.
This may be a tough topic for many of you who love your pet dearly but are also in desperate need of a vacation. Take the time to find a solution that prioritizes your pets health so everyone can have a pleasant time while youre away.
Signs Of Diabetes In A Cat
Written by: Dr Audrey Harvey BVSc
A recent study suggested that the incidence of diabetes in cats was as high as 7 in 1000. With over 86 million pet cats in the United States, veterinarians can expect to treat several diabetic cats each year. Its important that cat owners are very familiar with the signs and symptoms of diabetes, so that their furry family member can start treatment as soon as possible.
Diabetes develops when a cats pancreas doesnt produce enough insulin. This means that the glucose from their food cant get into the cells of the body to provide them with energy.
There are four main signs of diabetes in a cat:
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Symptoms Of Diabetes In Cats
If your cat presents with any of the symptoms of diabetes in cats listed below, schedule a vet visit immediately. Feline Diabetes is a life-threatening medical emergency requiring immediate medical treatment.
- Increased thirst
- Weight loss, despite eating more food
- Poor coat
- Behavioural and/or mood changes
- Weakness in hind legs, difficulty walking or jumping
- Breath which smells fruity or like nail polish
- Breathing abnormalities Impaired vision
Some of the symptoms of feline diabetes mentioned above can be the result of other serious medical issues. It is strongly recommended if your cat presents with these symptoms a physical exam including complete blood work and a full urinalysis be scheduled as soon as possible.
How Is Diabetes In Cats Diagnosed
Although symptoms may point to diabetes, tests will be needed to confirm a diagnosis and rule out other diseases with similar signs. Urine samples to test for glucose may be taken if it is present in the urine, thats a strong indication of diabetes as it isnt being absorbed by the body. Blood tests may also show a high level of glucose. Further tests may be needed if your vet is unsure of a diagnosis, as high glucose levels can also be a result of stress. Your vet may need to admit your pet as an inpatient while they diagnose the problem and get their condition stable.
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Do Treated Cats Need To Be Monitored
Yes, it is important to monitor treatment of diabetes mellitus to be sure the cat is doing well. Home monitoring of blood glucose is becoming more popular and more common, although part of treatment monitoring will involve periodic blood samples collected by your veterinarian.
To assist in the care of your cat, it is particularly valuable to keep accurate records of the following information:
- amount and time of food fed and eaten
- amount of water drunk
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 .
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How Do Cats Become Diabetic
The Food Quality. While a minority of the cats may develop diabetes due to genetic reasons or other underlying health problems that can further lead to diabetes, most cats become diabetic because of the commercial cat food thats based on corn and gluten as their main sources of protein for the cats meals.
When To Contact Your Vet
Contact your vet if your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above or you are worried they might have diabetes. The sooner your cat is diagnosed, the better their chance of recovery.
You know your cat best. If they dont have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned its always best to contact your vet.
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Costs Of Diagnosis And Treatment In Cats With Diabetes
If it seems like you need to go in for a lot of vet visits when your kitty is first diagnosed, dont worry the beginning is usually the most time-consuming and financially demanding stage of treatment. Once the best insulin dose and overall treatment plan for your pet are established, maintenance becomes much simpler and requires less check-ins.
The exact cost of treatment may vary depending where in the country you live. Asking your vet about the costs of all the different components of treatment and management can help you get an accurate idea of what to expect.
Costs in the beginning may include all the initial diagnostic tests, purchasing insulin and needles/syringes, any monitoring equipment , and a special diet. If a pet is experiencing complications of diabetes , treatment of these conditions can increase costs, too.
As time goes on, the costs of managing diabetes become much lower, assuming diabetes has been successfully controlled.
Long-term maintenance costs usually involve refills of insulin and syringes/needles , your pets diabetic food, and rechecks with your veterinarian. As a general rule of thumb, rechecks are less frequent the better controlled a kittys diabetes is.
Additional factors to consider include special arrangements, such as making sure your pet gets their injections if you need to go out of town.
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.
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Made A Treatment Mistake
If you make a treatment mistake or something unexpected happens , dont panic. Contact your vet for advice. Treating a diabetic cat requires teamwork between you and your veterinary practice they will always be on the end of the phone to give you advice, support and arrange regular check-ups for your cat.
If you leave your cats diabetes untreated, it will cause suffering, severe illness and eventually be fatal.
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.
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Weight Loss Tips For Owners Of Obese Cats
Have your cats weight checked regularly at a pet slimmers clinic or by a veterinary nurse. Regular contact with the pet slimmers nurse can dramatically help with your pets weight loss. Feeding quantities may need adjusting in order to find the correct amount for your pet.
Weigh out the daily food allowance in the morning, and place it in a container to divide between the allocated meals. This way you are less likely to overfeed your cat. You can take out a few kibbles to give as treats throughout the day.
It is important that no extras are added to your cats daily allocated allowance. This includes milk and cat milk.
Increase your cats exercise levels gently in collaboration with the pet slimmers nurse, who can help to design an exercise programme. Cats can exercise by use of toys, light torches, etc. Remember, little and often is generally more beneficial for weight loss.
Place the food in different areas or hide kibbles around the house/room to encourage your cat to exercise more. A food ball or puzzle feeder is also ideal in these situations making the cat work a little to get its food.
If you have more than one cat, it important to feed them separately and to watch over them when they eat. If just one of the cats is obese, try feeding the others on a high surface that the obese cat cannot jump on to, or perhaps feed them in a box with only a small entry hole that an obese cat cannot squeeze through!
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