Diabetes mellitus is a potentially debilitating condition in cats. This disorder is mostly seen in obese cats of around seven years old. In addition, cats that diet high on carbohydrates are prone to this disorder.
Typically, diabetes in cats occurs when the cells develop resistance to insulin, a hormone that aids the entry of glucose to cells. This raises the glucose levels in the bloodstream.
Diabetic cats mostly suffer from Type II diabetes. In this case, the body cells no longer respond to insulin which leads to elevated levels of glucose.
Early Signs of Diabetes in Cats
1. Excessive Urination and Thirst
Your cat might be the victim of Type I or Type II diabetes if they urinate very often. After the body produces excess glucose, the kidney tries to remove glucose from the body through urine.
As the glucose level increases in the body, it pulls excess water into the urine. As a result, increased urination can lead to high water loss of the body, resulting in frequent thirst and dehydration.
2. Increased Weight Loss and Appetite
The body of a diabetic cat can no longer absorb glucose from the blood appropriately. As a result, the cells do not get glucose and the starved cells break down the fats and proteins available in the body as an alternate energy source.
In some cases, the cats lose weight in failed attempts to fill the void after breaking the fat and proteins. Again in some cases, their appetite increases to fill the void.
Later Signs of Diabetes in Cats
If your cat shows these symptoms in combination, they are at a critical stage and need special care. The later signs of diabetes in cats are:
1. Inability to Jump and Loss of Interest
You can tell your cat is sick if you properly track their activity. For example, check if they no longer jump over furniture like they used to—Mark the changes.
2. Change in Gait
As the body breaks down fat and proteins, diabetic cats get weak and sometimes walk flat on the back of their legs. In addition, following the blood sugar level, neuropathy affects the nerves in the hind legs. This might turn into a permanent problem if not treated timely.
3. Lack of Appetite, Vomiting, Lethargy
Your cat’s health is quite critical if you notice the later symptoms, so contact the vet ASAP! Hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and gastroparesis might cause nausea in cats leading them to vomit and lethargy.
Some other signs and symptoms include:
- Weight Loss
- Drinking water more than normal
- Drinking from unusual places
- Walking on heels instead of toes
- Frequent urination
- Increased appetite
- Decreases appetite
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Feline diabetes or diabetes mellitus is increasing at an alarming rate in cats. This is common in overweight and obese cats. How to know if your cat is obese? Generally, 3 pounds over its ideal weight is considered to be obese.
Like us, cats have a pancreas that should produce insulin to regulate the sugar in their bodies from the diet. Diabetes occurs when the cat’s body is not able to balance the sugar level in the bloodstream.
If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to work together to treat her well. You are an important part of creating the treatment part for your cat. If diabetes goes untreated, the symptoms will turn worse and this might even lead to death.
Different Types of Diabetes Mellitus in Cats
Diabetes mellitus is typically classified in three forms of disease-
Type I diabetes destroys beta cells. However, this type of diabetes is rare in cats.
This type of diabetes mellitus is different because the insulin-producing cells remain. Still, the insulin production is insufficient in their body, delayed response in secreting or the tissues in the body are relatively insulin resistant.
Obesity is a predisposing factor in Type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is the most common type of diabetes found in cats.
Type III diabetes mellitus results due to insulin resistance caused by other hormones. This can also occur due to pregnancy or hormone-secreting tumors.
How Common Is Diabetes Mellitus in Cats?
Diabetes mellitus is the second most common endocrine disease found in felines. Middle-aged male cats are more prone to it. Female cats have a lower risk of this disorder. According to a survey, 1.5-2% of the cat population suffer from diabetes mellitus.
The following factors should put your cat at higher risk for developing diabetes:
- Middle aged (over 7 years of age)
- Overweight or obese
- Intaking medicines like corticosteroids
- Other problems like infections or renal issues.
If you suspect that your cat has diabetes, take your cat to the vet immediately. They’ll need to do blood and urine tests to diagnose the disease. Even if it is not diabetes, these tests will show results if your cat has any other diseases in its body.
When examining blood tests, your veterinarian is looking for repeated abnormally high levels of blood glucose which is referred to as hyperglycemia. Furthermore, the presence of glucose in the urine is referred to as glucosuria.
Once your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, the treatment is not completely on your veterinarian’s part. You’ll need to work with your vet to create the monitoring and treatment plan. After that, you have a greater role in the treatment.
There are different options to treat diabetes in cats. Moreover, many cats have other diseases besides diabetes which might complicate the treatment. Be honest with your veterinarian about your goals and your ability to monitor and provide time for them.
Goals of Treatment
- Potential remision is the goal. However, it is not possible for all cats
- Blood glucose regulation and stabilization
- Normal body weight
- Reduction of other symptoms
- Avoiding other problems like- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), ketoacidosis (cell starvation), neuropathy (nerve damage).
Feeding Recommendations and Diet
To keep diabetes and sugar levels under control, your cat needs to maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet and active lifestyle can make the treatment process more effective. Therefore, pay attention to your cat’s diet and make sure they’re active as much as possible.
Your vet will determine your cat’s ideal weight and then you can carry out a low carb diet to help your cat maintain that weight. You can also try using a baby scale at home for an accurate weight.
Though insulin is mostly provided by injection, you can provide many insulin types with an appropriate diet. For example, your veterinarian might teach you how to test glucose levels and provide injections to your cat.
Most cats need insulin injections two times a day. However, it can be easy for you to learn from your vet how to provide injections.
An important part of your cat’s treatment is monitoring your cat’s response to insulin and ensuring the necessary assistance as required. Remember, there are three types of monitoring protocols- intensive, standard and loose.
You and your vet have to work out which method is best for your cat. Most diabetes cats can live a happy and long life after the treatment. To help your cat live a healthy and long life:
- Maintain recommended checkups
- Work to keep the blood sugar level stable
- Strive to maintain ideal body weight
- Take control over other diseases
To help your cat’s treatment more effectively, monitor daily and weekly records.
- Time of insulin injection
- Amount of insulin injected
- Amount of food fed
- Amount of water drunk
- Frequency of urination
- Weight of the cat
Remember, the key part of your cat’s diabetes plan is monitoring. Be honest with your vet on your ability to monitor and provide insulin therapy. Each cat is different and your vet will work with you to organize individualized care for your cat.
How to Collect Urine for Testing?
If you want to collect cat urine for testing, the easiest way is to replace normal cat litters with urine collecting pellets or aquarium gravel overnight. These materials will not soak up any urine, which can be collected into a clean container for testing.
Now that you know almost everything about diabetes mellitus in cats, you can know when and how to act. If symptoms of this disorder are found, contact your vet immediately and work with your vet to create a treatment plan. This can turn fatal if timely treatment is not proved. Therefore, don’t let it go unnoticed and unattended.