What is Diabetes in cats? (Symptoms, Causes, and treatments)

what is diabetes in cats

If you’re asking what is diabetes in cats, you’re probably worried about your cat’s health. Symptoms may be very subtle at first but you notice something not quite right about your kitty.

In this article you’ll discover what diabetes is in cats and why it’s becoming so common. You’ll also learn common signs your cat may be in the early stages of the disease.

Plus, what to expect when you take your cat to vet for diagnosis, and possible treatments. Diabetes is certainly not a death sentence and with proper care your cat can live a long and active life!

What is diabetes in cats compared to humans?

Diabetes in cats is very similar to that suffered by humans. If your cat has diabetes it will most likely be type 2.

Feline diabetes melitus is becoming more common but you’ll be glad to hear it can can be treated and managed successfully. Just as in humans, diabetes in cats is caused by insulin resistance.

This means your cat’s body is unable to manage insulin properly. In the same way as type 2 diabetes in humans, high levels of blood sugar are found.

Is diabetes more common in certain breeds of cat?

feline diabetes is more common in some breeds of cat such as siamese

Some breeds of cat including siamese, maine coon, and burmese seem to to be at greater risk of developing diabetes. Neutered males also have a higher risk compared to females.

Maine coons are more at risk due to their large size, as well as genetically inheriting the disease. If you own a maine coon, keeping an eye on your pet’s weight is essential.

Burmese cats are also genetically predisposed, though there’s no test available for determining which cats are at risk. Siamese also have an above average chance of developing diabetes, something you should be aware of if you’re considering getting one.

What causes diabetes in cats?

One of the main causes of diabetes in both humans and cats is obesity. Lack of exercise and over indulging in food soon piles on the pounds.

Once your cat reaches middle age the chances of diabetes increases. Just as in people, this is often when weight gain starts showing.

Aging kitties may prefer to spend more of their day taking it easy. Lounging around on the sofa all day is just as dangerous for your furry friend as it is for you!

If you have an indoor cat it’s important to get her to exercise. Outdoor cats can be lazy as well but will still get exercise climbing trees or chasing prey.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in cats?

Cats are masters at hiding pain or discomfort making it hard to spot signs of illness. There are a few signs you should look out for though.

Noticing your cat drinking a lot more than usual. Some cats naturally drink water without being encouraged, but you should see your vet if this becomes excessive.

Excessive thirst can also be a symptom of other disorders including kidney disease, so it’s important to get it checked out. If you’re at all worried, keep an eye on the level of water in your cat’s bowl.

Increase in urination is another sign you need to watch for. If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors this will be hard to monitor.

You could always try keeping her in for a day or two just to
keep an eye on the amount of urine she passes in her litter tray. If you have multiple cats you’ll need to make sure they don’t use the same one!

Is your kitty demanding more food?

Increased appetite is a possible sign of diabetes, particularly if your cat is losing weight. As this may be a gradual thing you may not notice straight away.

Long fur can hide weight loss making your cat seem bigger than she is. A good idea is to feel your cat’s ribs as this is the best indication.

Stroke your cat along the ribcage area, and if you can feel her ribs sticking out, she’s probably underweight. In contrast, if you have to apply pressure to feel your cat’s ribcage she’s likely to be overweight.

Is your cat showing signs of weakness?

Weakness is another sign your cat may be diabetic. For example, if you begin to notice her having problems jumping up on the sofa. A change in gait may also be noticeable.

You may also notice her coat lacks lustre and looks unkempt. Lethargy and lack of energy could well be the cause. Spend time brushing and grooming your kitty to help her feel better.

If any of the signs I’ve shared with you suddenly become noticeable you should make an appointment to see your vet. If diabetes is confirmed, you’ll be able to start treatment before the disease progresses.

Sudden weakness or difficulty walking is a sure sign you need to get your cat to the vet urgently! If diabetes is the cause, leaving it any longer could prove very dangerous for your cat.

How will your cat be diagnosed for feline diabetes?

Your vet will do a blood test to determine glucose levels. You’ll probably also be asked for a sample of your cat’s urine. A good idea is to collect a sample the night before your appointment so have it ready on the day.

Get a pack of non absorbent cat litter such as Kit4Cat Hydrophobic Sand. This makes it easy to collect urine, and you could simply pour into a sterilised container.

If your vet may want to carry out further tests to rule out any other causes. You should know the results on the same day if in house testing is done.

What are the treatments for feline diabetes?

One of the main treatments for diabetes in cats is insulin injections. Just as in humans, this hormone is vital for regulating blood glucose levels.

Don’t worry, it may sound scary, but you soon get used to it. Your vet will show you how to use the syringe and give your cat the correct dose.

If your cat is distracted by a tasty treat you should be able to do this on your own. Some cats are more placid than others, and you’ll need to work out a way that works for you both.

The role of diet in treatment

Diet also plays a part in treatment and your vet may suggest prescription food. This will be low in carbohydrates and high in protein.

Never change your cat’s diet without consulting your vet as it may have a negative effect on insulin treatment. If you decide to cook for your cat instead of buying food, you must work out a plan with your vet.

Cat food has been carefully designed to contain all the essential minerals your cat needs. Making your own means you have to ensure your cat gets essentials such as taurine.

Cats only need about 8% of carbohydrates in their diet, and lower amounts require less insulin. It will be hard work getting the right balance, and risk to your cat’s health if you get it wrong.

You could also ask your vet about including a cranberry supplement in your kitty’s diet. Diabetic cats are often prone to bladder infections, and cranberries are known for supporting bladder health.

Not all cats respond to treatment for diabetes, but if caught in it’s early stages your cat has a good chance of enjoying a happy and active life. Ensuring your cat has regular checkups and keeping an eye on her weight will help catch any health problems including feline diabetes.

Know the signs of diabetes in cats and protect your kitty

Your cat is precious and keeping an eye on any changes in behaviour could prove life saving. Feline diabetes could prove fatal if allowed to progress without treatment.

You’ve learned what causes diabetes in cats and why monitoring your kitty’s weight is so important. We’ve looked at symptoms and signs your cat may be developing the disease.

Lastly, we’ve looked at how your vet will diagnose the disease, plus treatments to manage it. As I mentioned, some cats will respond to treatment better than others, and early diagnosis will give your cat the best possible chance.

I’d love to hear of any experiences you’ve had with feline diabetes, as well as any comments you’d like to share.

Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂
Take care
Kathy

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