Diabetes is becoming more prevalent in cats. It is estimated that up to 2% of the cat population suffers from the disease which can cause severe damage to their health.
We know that diabetes in humans can be treated very effectively but what happens if your cat develops it?
This week Cats Protection Brighton & District aims to help you understand cat diabetes and spot the signs in support of Diabetes Week.
What is feline diabetes?
Feline diabetes is when a cat is unable to produce the right amount of insulin to balance its blood sugar levels (Type 1) or its body doesn’t respond to the insulin it produces (Type 2).
When cats eat food some of it breaks down to glucose. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is used to carry the glucose to cells in the body to give it energy. But a diabetic cat will fail to regulate its insulin levels, leaving the glucose in its blood stream.
If it is left untreated the consequences can be very painful, causing weight loss, depression, dehydration, difficulties with motor functioning, the potential to fall into a coma and, in the worst cases, death.
What are the symptoms of diabetes in cats?
The most common symptoms are a desperate thirst and increased urination.
But weight loss can also be an indicator that something is wrong and so too an increased or decreased appetite.
Cats who are overweight may be more at risk of getting it because fat cells produce a chemical that reduces the body’s response to insulin. Cats are designed to eat protein and fats, so cats eating too many carbohydrates are likely to put on weight and the risk of developing diabetes is increased.
How is cat diabetes treated?
- Diet: Ensuring a healthy diet is key to helping a cat with diabetes to help them lose weight, if necessary, and help keep blood sugar levels steady. Sometimes this can even send your cat into remission, although usually it cannot be cured
- Insulin therapy: As in some diabetic humans, feline diabetes is treated with insulin injections. This can seem quite extreme to some owners at first but the vet will always show you exactly how to give the cat their shots and the daily occurrence means both you and your cat will soon get used to it. Especially when you notice how much brighter your cat appears
- Oral medicines: Used to treat hypoglycaemia, the medical term for critically low levels of sugar in the blood
How is feline diabetes avoided?
Ensuring your cat maintains a well-balanced diet could help prevent diabetes in your cat. However, some breeds of cats are more prone to developing it than others due to its genetics, so it cannot be prevented. Elderly cats are also more at risk of getting the disease.
If you think your cat is showing signs of diabetes, book an appointment with your vet as soon as you can to prevent it causing your cat pain and suffering. Once your cat is being treated, it can live as normal life as any other kitty out there.