Cats can suffer both types I and II Diabetes Mellitus but the most common form of cat diabetes is Type II.
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
In simple terms Diabetes Mellitus is a condition where your cat has difficulty using sugar as an energy source. After eating, the digestive system breaks down food into its component parts. One of these parts is sugar (glucose). The cat’s body absorbs glucose from the digestive system into the blood stream and it is then used by the various organs in the body as energy to fuel their activities. However, for the body to use glucose it needs insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. If there is an abnormality with insulin production or usage then glucose cannot be transferred from the blood to the organs in the body. In effect, it stays in the blood and results in higher than normal levels of blood glucose. The organs in the body are starved of glucose they begin to use fat and protein as an energy source instead, which leads to weight loss and muscle wastage.
Overweight cats are very prone to type II diabetes mellitus. The good news is that once Type II diabetic cats lose sufficient weight many cats no longer need treatment, so long as they maintain a healthy bodyweight.
Signs of Diabetes in Cats
Usually your cat will show signs of increased drinking, urinating, and eating while at the same time will be losing weight. Your cat may also have recurrent urinary tract infections. Your cat’s coat may also deteriorate in condition and appearance.
Diabetic Cat Care
If Diabetes is suspected, your vet will most likely take some blood and urine samples from your cat in the first instance. Your cat will usually be admitted as an in-patient for a day whilst tests are carried out. Depending on the results, your vet will then try to stabilise your cat’s blood glucose levels, usually by dietary control or administering insulin or both. You may be given insulin to administer by injection at home on a daily basis and also given some advice about food and feeding times. Veterinary prescribed diets like PURINA VETERINARY DIETS DM have been proven to help reduce insulin requirements in diabetic cats, so follow your vet’s advice about feeding and insulin to ensure successful treatment of your cat. Repeat visits to the vet will be required to monitor progress and perhaps change diet or insulin levels depending on the results. If your cat is overweight, helping them achieve a healthy weight may lead to the necessary insulin injections being halted for good.
Although treatment does need some time and commitment from you as an owner, usually diabetic cat care can be successfully treated long-term and ultimately your cat can lead a happy life.
If your cat was overweight at the time of diagnosis, helping them achieve normal weight may even lead to them no longer requiring insulin injections!