An Ultimate Guide to Feline Diabetes

Cats are pretty creatures. There is no greater happiness in this world than to see your beloved furry friend enjoying good health. There are many health conditions which affect the overall well-being of cats. Just like humans, cats are also susceptible to get diabetes that puts a lot of bad effects on their lives. Cat owners ask many questions regarding the evaluation of feline diabetes such as,

 

– How can we know that a cat is suffering from diabetes?

– What are important causes of feline diabetes?

– How can diabetes be managed in cats?

 

In this article we have mainly focus on the key sign and symptoms of feline diabetes.

WHAT IS FELINE DIABETES?

Basically, there are two types of diabetes which can occur in cats viz Diabetes mellitus and Diabetes insipidus. But we will discuss diabetes mellitus in depth.

Feline diabetes mellitus is basically inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin (a glucose regulating hormone that controls blood glucose level) which results in accumulation of high levels of sugar (glucose) in the cat’s body.

*Type 1 diabetes mellitus: In this condition, the body doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of insulin to regulate blood glucose level.

*Type 2 diabetes mellitus: In this condition, the body doesn’t respond to insulin or produces little amounts of insulin. This type of diabetes is common in cats as compared to dogs

Causes:

Diabetes is a multifactorial health condition that arises due to several reasons in cats.

Some important causes have been listed below:

1) Eating too much especially sugary treats especially high carbohydrate/low protein diets.

2) Obesity and other metabolic disorders such as hyperthyroidism or Cushing disease.

3) Pancreatic problems (inflammatory changes in pancreas such as pancreatitis)

4) Autoimmune disorders (destruction of pancreatic cells which produce insulin by the attack of cat’s own body immune cells).

Long-term use of glucocorticoids medications, for instance, dexamethasone and prednisone increases the susceptibility of cats developing diabetes.

Key signs:

There are several signs & symptoms which a diabetic cat shows but here we have summarized some important key signs.

 

  • Anorexia (loss of appetite) or cat may become hyper-anorexic (eating too much).

 

  • Depression and muscular weakness (cat can be seen walking with bent hind legs)

 

  • Troubles with normal motor functions

 

  • Vomiting and diarrhea due to high levels of blood glucose and ketoacidosis

 

  • Excessive urination (you will clearly observe change in the urination frequency of your beloved furry friend. All along with that, increased thirst has also been seen.

 

  • Cats can go into a coma due to excessive accumulation of glucose in the body

 

Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention:

Early diagnosis is better for early and effective management of diabetes. Your veterinarian can help you diagnose diabetes based on signs & symptoms, history, blood testing and urinalysis. Remember, a perfect diagnosis is essential to make an effective treatment strategy.

Treatment includes oral medications to cut down the glucose in the body. But there are a lot of risks associated with oral medications. Additionally, insulin therapy is considered a best option. Depending upon type of diabetes mellitus either 1 or 2, insulin therapy is suggested. Your vet can tell you the best line of treatment according to the condition and thorough analysis of your cat.

Remember, insulin dose must be adjusted by your vet. Don’t take any step without seeking consultancy from a registered cat practitioner.

There are many things which can help in preventing diabetes in your beloved feline friend. As described earlier, diet plays a pivotal role. You should get a diet plan from a registered pet nutritionist. Remember, carbohydrate level should be low as compared to protein in your cat’s diet. Check the nutritional profile of any diet which you offer to your cat. Get regular blood testing and overall health checkups of your cat from a registered veterinary practitioner.

 

Frequently asked questions:

 

– How can I know that my cat is suffering from diabetes?

There are many signs which can help you in diagnosing the feline diabetes such as increase in urination frequency, increase in hunger or abrupt reduction, depression/dullness and progressive muscular weakness.

-Can sugary treats cause diabetes in cats?

Yes, offering too many sugary treats can cause diabetes in your cat. Please monitor the provision of sugary treats in your cat. All along with that, check the glycemic index of a diet/treat before offering it your cat. Or you can talk to your veterinarian in this regard.

-Why diabetes causes muscular weakness in cats?

As you know that, due to improper utilization of glucose (lack of insulin) in the cells, the cells can’t work properly that ultimately leads to muscular weakness.

 

QUICK OVERVIEW:

For the better understanding of readers, we have summarized all important points regarding the feline diabetes below:

1. Loss of appetite

2. Loss of interest (dullness and depression).

3. Frequent urination

4. Progressive muscular degeneration (Loss of weight)

5. Change in gait (due to diabetes –associated neuropathy that affects the nerves of hind legs).

 

REFERENCES

Kirk, CA, Feldman, EC, Nelson, RW (1993) Diagnosis of naturally acquired type-I and type-II diabetes mellitus in cats. American Journal of Veterinary Research 54, 463.

Jacquie S. Rand, Linda M. Fleeman, Heidi A. Farrow, Delisa J. Appleton, Rose Lederer, Canine and Feline Diabetes Mellitus: Nature or Nurture?, ​The Journal of Nutrition,

Volume 134, Issue 8, August 2004, Pages 2072S–2080S.

 Mizisin, A.P., Shelton, G.D., Burgers, M.L., Powell, H.C. and Cuddon, P.A., 2002. Neurological complications associated with spontaneously occurring feline diabetes mellitus. Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology61(10), pp.872-884.

Rock, M. and Babinec, P., 2010. Prototypes Connect Human Diabetes with Feline and Canine Diabetes in the Context of Animal—Human Bonds: An Anthropological Analysis. Anthrozoös23(1), pp.5-20.

Viebrock, K.A. and Dennis, J., 2018. Hypoglycemic episodes in cats with diabetes mellitus: 30 cases (2013–2015). Journal of feline medicine and surgery20(6), pp.563-570.

Thoresen, S.I. and Bredal, W.P., 1996. Clinical usefulness of fructosamine measurements in diagnosing and monitoring feline diabetes mellitus. Journal of Small Animal Practice37(2), pp.64-68.

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