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Cat Diabetes 101

Diabetes is a serious health concern for both people and pets. Left untreated, diabetes poses a serious threat to your cat’s quality of life and longevity. Today, our Lincoln Park vets explain common risk factors for diabetes in cats, and when it's time for your kitty to see a vet.

About Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes mellitus can become an issue in cats whose bodies cannot produce or effectively use insulin, which is created by the pancreas to control the flow of glucose (blood sugar) to cells throughout the body. Energy is then provided to the rest of the body.

But without enough insulin, the cells don’t receive glucose. Instead, the body uses protein cells and fat for energy.

The unused glucose lies in the bloodstream and eventually builds to excess amounts.

Types of Diabetes Seen in Cats

Similar to humans, it’s possible for cats to get one of the following two types of diabetes. 

Type I (Insulin-Dependent)

  • The body does not produce or release enough insulin in the body.

Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent)

  • While the body may produce enough insulin, tissues or organs resist insulin. They need more insulin than a healthy cat’s body would need to produce glucose properly. This type of diabetes is common in overweight male cats over 8 years old, and those that eat a high-carbohydrate diet. In many cases, cats with Type II diabetes have an insatiable appetite, since their bodies are unable to properly utilize the fuel in their food.

Diabetes Signs & Symptoms To Watch For

Because a diabetic cat’s body breaks down protein and fat instead of using glucose, even cats with a healthy appetite and who are eating regularly will lose weight. Cat diabetes left untreated can lead to other serious health complications and symptoms, such as:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Unhealthy coat and skin
  • Bacterial infections
  • Liver disease

More Subtle Signs of Cat Diabetes

  • Decrease in physical activity (unable/uninterested in jumping)
  • Walking flat on the backs of their hind legs (from nerve damage)

Treatment Options for Cats with Diabetes

Though no cure has been found for cat diabetes, treatment usually involves getting an official diagnosis and managing the illness via daily insulin injections, which your vet may train you to give at home.

Potential changes to your feline companion’s diet may be required to make sure they’re getting the right combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. Your cat may also receive a prescription food for diabetes.

What You Can Do

In order to enjoy a good quality of life, cats with diabetes require careful monitoring. If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, their appetite and litter box use will need to be tracked, and any complications will require veterinary attention right away.

It will be essential to see your vet regularly to have your cat’s blood sugar and treatment response monitored. If you prefer, ask your vet if testing your cat’s glucose at home is an option.

Catching the condition early can help to get treatment started before more serious symptoms arise. If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet right away to book an examination for your feline friend.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Veterinary care is essential for cats with diabetes. Please contact Dix Animal Hospital right away to book an examination for your feline family member.

New Patients Welcome

Dix Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lincoln Park companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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