Diabetic Cats

August 8, 2012

Feline diabetes seems to be diagnosed more and more frequently.  I don’t know if it’s actually occurring more or veterinary professionals are suspecting and testing more for it.  Or maybe today’s cats are more prone to obesity, a leading cause of the disease in cats.  Whatever the reason for its more common diagnosis, diabetes is not easy to treat.  When there is an inadequate supply of insulin, the body is not able to use glucose, causing diabetes.

Cats with diabetes tend to eat a lot in the early stages of the disease.  Combined with excessive urination and often unexplained weight loss, a diagnosis is fairly easy for a veterinarian to diagnose.

Diabetic cats are placed on a special diet that may require some adjusting to find the proper amount that works.  Most patients receive insulin injections a couple of times a day and with the small needle, they are easy for a pet owner to administer to the animal.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats

  1.       Excessive consumption of water
  2.       Excessive urination
  3.       Unexplained weight loss
  4.       Increased appetite
  5.       Enlarged liver
  6.       Bloody urine from a urinary tract infection
Caring for a cat with this disease requires commitment, but it isn’t difficult.  Feeding schedules and injections must be adhered to, so the cat doesn’t have fluctuations in sugar.  You must watch out for hypoglycemia – or very low blood glucose levels.  Signs of hypoglycemia are disorientation, lethargy, strange behavior or loss of consciousness.  Should any of those occur, contact your vet at once.  You can’t hire just any pet sitter if you need to leave town.  It may be best to board the cat with your veterinarian to ensure the proper delivery of medication while you are away.
I have known two cats with diabetes.  One lived several years after his diagnosis but since he was found wandering a neighborhood, who knows how long he had been harboring the disease without treatment.  His previous owners had moved away and left him, so the little guy was foraging for food any way he could find it.  When he passed away, it was from a secondary infection, but he had several good years filled with love and attention.

The other feline I knew with the disease was an underweight female about 12 years old when she was first diagnosed.  She thrived on treatment and lived at least 3 more years.  Because her owner moved away, I lost track of the kitty after that.

Your vet will give you specific instructions for caring for your cat, including a feeding schedule, when to administer the insulin injections and how to watch for changes in your patient.  With proper care from you and your animal’s doctor, your diabetic cat can live a long life.


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