While all cats are prone to a myriad of different potential health problems, overweight cats are singled out as being more likely to develop serious conditions – especially as they grow older. One such challenging, and particularly dangerous malady, is diabetes. While cats with diabetes can be treated and the disease easily kept under control, it is important to understand the problem, the symptoms that you need to keep an eye out for and also how to properly treat your cat, once diabetes has been diagnosed.
What Is Feline Diabetes?
Feline diabetes is a disease in which your cat’s body either stops producing any or enough of the hormone insulin, or it simply stops being as receptive to the hormone as is seen in healthy cats. Without the regulation provided by the insulin, your cat’s blood sugar levels will continue to climb higher, causing hyperactive thirst and urination, and then leading to complications of increased severity and danger. Most cases of diabetes in cats often closely resemble what is known in humans as type 2 diabetes .
Is My Cat At Risk?
Cats are prone to developing diabetes, just as we are as humans. While cats of any breed, age or size, have the potential to be afflicted with diabetes, there are some telltale qualities that may have your cat at risk. In fact, many of the factors that make us prone to develop the disease are noticed in felines as well. Older, overweight cats are the most at risk for exhibiting symptoms of cat diabetes. It has been observed that male cats are more often diagnosed with feline diabetes than females are .
How Do I Tell If My Cat Is Sick?
There are many warning signs that pet owners can keep an eye out for, in order to catch diabetes early on. Since older and heavier cats are the most at risk, it is extremely important for you to be more observant of your cat, if they fit those specifications. Most commonly, owners will notice excessive thirst and drinking in their cat, which will in turn lead to a greater-than-normal level and frequency of urination. The lack of insulin in your feline’s body, prevents its cells from properly absorbing the glucose in its blood stream . Due to this, your cat will continue to overeat and drink, all while failing to absorb the nutrients properly, leading to an unhealthy type of weight loss and other issues, due to the lack of absorption. Symptoms of cat illnesses are most often overlooked, due to owners not being familiar with the normal habits of their pets.
How Can I Control My Cat’s Diabetes?
Cat diabetes is most often controlled via two different methods. More subtle cases or ones which are detected early on, are most often treated with modifications to your cat’s diet. Veterinarians commonly recommend that diabetic cats abstain from carbohydrates as much as possible, thus limiting the sugars that are either ingested or broken down from the carbohydrates in normal cat food. Instead, a diet that is high in protein is generally recommended. As most commercial dry cat food is based on a high carbohydrate diet, an often recommended diet is one consisting of high protein wet food. In addition, many food companies produce food for diabetic cats, formulated specifically with diabetic nutritional requirements in mind.
More advanced cases of this disease in cats require not only dietary modifications, but also regular injections of insulin, just as we would need as humans. Regular testing of your feline’s blood sugar level (done with a handheld reader, very similar as one we would use) will allow you to regulate the amount of insulin you give dependent on your cat’s needs. Often, these readings and injections must be done multiple times a day. Once a healthy level is found, you will notice a huge improvement in your cat’s health and activity level. Do not become over relaxed though – your cat’s body is constantly changing and levels still need to be monitored regularly, even when they appear to be doing well.
Contrary to popular belief, the diagnosis of diabetes in your cat is far from a death sentence. In fact, current advances in veterinary medicine provide medication, and dietary supplements, that can allow your cat to lead a longer, healthier life than ever before. While untreated diabetes is nearly always fatal, early and diligent treatment can provide a happy life for your pet. In some cases, after blood sugar has been controlled for 2-3 months, cats have been known to regenerate the cells which produce insulin, resulting in a decreased need for regulatory medication . As with many feline diseases, cats whose owners are willing to go the extra mile, to ensure that glucose levels are maintained appropriately, have been known to live many, many years.
 Causes, Symptoms, Food Guidelines, and Insulin. WebMD. June 8, 2012.
 Quasha, Jennifer. What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetes? Animal Planet. Discovery Communications, LLC.
 Diabetes In Cats. Wikipedia.org. September 10, 2012.