Diabetes is a chronic disease in cats, whereby either insufficient insulin response or insulin resistance lead to persistently high blood glucose concentrations. Diabetes could affect up to 1 in 230 cats and is becoming increasingly more common.
Risk factors for diabetes in cats include obesity, increasing age, physical activity, male gender and steroid therapy. The purebred Burmese have been reported to be at higher risk.
Weight loss is an important sign of diabetes in cats. The cells in the body are unable to absorb glucose from the blood and they become starved of energy. To get the energy it needs, the body turns to other sources, breaking down fats and proteins to feed glucose-starved cells. This breakdown results in weight loss despite increased appetite. Excessive thirst and urination can also signal diabetes in a cat. High levels of glucose in the blood can cause the body to excrete excessive amounts of glucose in the urine. The high urine glucose concentration can actually pull excessive amounts of water into the urine, resulting in increased urine volume. Increased urinary water loss, causes dehydration and compensatory increase in thirst.
When diagnosing diabetes in cats sometimes the doctor may need to have fructosamine blood level measured, fructosamine concentrations are elevated in cats and not significantly affected by stress hyperglycemia brought on by a vet visit.
Once it has been determined that your cat does indeed have diabetes, treatment will be initiated with the goals of:
*restoring normal blood glucose concentration
*minimizing or eliminating signs of weight loss
*minimizing or eliminating signs of increased thirst & urination
*normalizing the appetite
*avoiding inducing inappropriately low blood glucose with therapy
Treatment for diabetes is mainly insulin injections along with dietary modification. (restricted carbohydrates and multiple meals a day)
The doctor may also need to treat any conditions that your cat is suffering from concurrently, such as pancretitis or urinary tract infections. The doctor always has to take into consideration chronic conditions your cat has that may interfere with your cat’s response to treatment such as, kidney disease or hyperthyroidism.
Each pet requires an individualized treatment plan, weekly reassessment and modification of the plan based on the pet’s response.
Successful management of diabetes in cats consists of minimal or no clinical signs, owner’s perception of good quality of life and favorable treatment response. We would also like to see excellent glycemic control and avoidance of complications.
In November alone at Post Pet Hospital we diagnosed these three cats with diabetes and initiated treatment. Let me introduce you to “Buddy”, “Rosie”, and “Toby”.
Rosie - 11yrs old
Toby - 12yrs old
Buddy - 8yrs old