Cats don’t differ dramatically from humans when it comes to diabetes, it is to do with the hormone insulin which helps to remove sugar from the bloodstream into the cells.
Cat type 2 diabetes can be caused by a number of factors, including cats being overweight. There has been a sharp rise in obesity levels amongst pets which goes some way to explaining the sharp increase is cat diabetes in recent times*. There are also a few additional factors that can make cats more prone to developing diabetes. Older cats are more vulnerable, whilst diseases like chronic pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism as well as medications such as corticosteroids may also make cats more prone.
Some of the signs are easier to spot than others, however if you are aware what to look for – spotting the condition isn’t too difficult. One of the most obvious symptoms is an increase in thirst and urination. The high levels of sugar in the bloodstream are filtered out by the kidneys and transferred into the bladder. However, glucose carries water with it, meaning the cat is losing more water through urine than usual and is forced to compensate by drinking more.
As with many illnesses, it is also important to keep an eye on your cat’s weight and appetite, if they are feeling unwell due to diabetes – they may be put off their food. You may also notice that their activity levels have declined and in severe cases they may be vomiting.
If the cat in question is in fact over-weight, losing weight is certainly a healthy course of action. By dieting, the cat will gradually lose weight which will help the body use insulin, which lowers blood sugar.
Otherwise the key treatment is insulin therapy. Work closely with a veterinarian to establish the correct dosages, and it is important to inject the insulin exactly as the veterinarian instructs. There are also some medications that can be taken orally, however they are not without side effects and are usually only employed when the cat is unable to receive insulin shots for whatever reason.
Regular blood tests are also required with a veterinarian to keep an eye on blood sugar levels and ensure the insulin intake is at a good level. Some pet owners can be nervous about giving their cat the insulin shots, however once they have been taught how to do it, it’s something people find quite easy.
Cat diabetes isn’t a condition that cab be ‘cured’ as such, however with correct diet and insulin treatment the condition can go into remission, or partial remission. In these instances the illness can be absent for months, or even years, although this is rare. Cats with well-adjusted Diabetes have a good quality of life over many years.