Questions and Answers on Feline Diabetes (Cat Diabetes)

What is feline diabetes?

Feline Diabetes is a medical condition in cats in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin or doesn’t respond to insulin produced by the body to maintain blood sugar/glucose level.

What are different types of Diabetes?

There are two types of Diabetes.

  • Type-1: In this type of diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin to regulate blood glucose level, thus elevating the sugar level in the bloodstream
  • Type-2: In this type, the body cells are unable to respond to insulin being provided thus raising the sugar level.

Is there any difference between feline diabetes and human diabetes?

In terms of causes, development and symptoms, there is no difference between human diabetes and pet diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus. In cats, type-2 diabetes is common. Type-1 diabetes is very rare in cats.

What causes diabetes in cats?

The exact cause is not known, but it seems more likely to affect obese and older cats. Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for maintaining blood sugar level. In feline diabetes, sugar buildup in the bloodstream is due to lack of response of body cells to insulin. Cats suffering from diseased conditions like pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism are more at risk of developing diabetes.

How do I know if my cat has diabetes?

The typical signs of diabetes are:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Look for any of these signs in your cats since the disease remains undiagnosed in many pets.

What are the adverse effects of feline diabetes?

Long-term complications of diabetes in cats are not so common. The possible undesirable effects caused by diabetes are:

  • Diabetic Nephropathy: change in the filtering unit (glomeruli) of kidneys.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy: change in the nervous system caused by diabetes that affects the cats walking and standing behavior. It may occur either as an early sign or at a later stage.
  • Infections: cats with diabetes are more prone to infections like urinary tract infection.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders; like diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Hepatic lipidosis: fat accumulation in the liver due to diabetes that affects the functioning of the liver.
  • Blindness.

cat diabetes questions and answers

How should I treat my cat’s diabetes?

Treatment options for feline diabetes are:

  • Insulin therapy
  • Oral medications
  • Dietary modification
  • Weight loss

Insulin therapy

It is the most effective treatment for type 1 diabetes. Insulin is injected subcutaneously (under the skin). Many insulin preparations are available. Your veterinarian will guide you about the dose and frequency of injection.

Oral therapy

Hypoglycemic agents such as glipizide are used for oral therapy, but are not as effective as insulin.

Dietary modification

  • Protein-rich and
  • Carbohydrate-restricted diet is recommended for diabetic cats

How should I monitor my cat’s diabetes?

Monitoring a cat with diabetes require special care. You can manage your cat with the help of a veterinarian. You should take care of

  • Daily water intake
  • Appetite
  • Urine excretion
  • Activity level
  • Blood glucose level
  • Insulin administered

What are some of the recommended foods for a diabetic cat?

The ideal food for a diabetic cat is low carbohydrate and protein enriched food. Cats are carnivores which mean that they acquire a significant portion of protein through meat. Dry food is not recommended as it is high in carbohydrate and it mostly contains plant-based proteins which are insufficient to meet the protein requirement. Canned cat food formulas containing high protein and low carbs (i.e., less than 10% of calories) are available.

What useful cat diabetes accessories should I consider buying?

Home monitoring is encouraged by pet owners. You must have such accessories to monitor sugar level and maintain a healthy lifestyle for cats.

  • Pet glucose meter
  • Pet lancet
  • Pet needles and syringes
  • Pet glucose test strips

Can you recommend some further reading on the topic?