Diabetes is one of the most common diseases diagnosed in cats. As with many ailments, the best prognosis comes with early detection and treatment.
What is diabetes?
In its most basic terms, diabetes mellitus is the body's inability to produce or regulate insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas, and it lets glucose (blood sugar) be used immediately for energy or be stored in other cells for later use. Without insulin, a cat's body will raid its stored energy from the liver, muscles and fat. Sugar also builds up in the urine, leading to excessive thirst and urination.
What are the symptoms of feline diabetes?
- Insatiable appetite
- Weight loss
- Marked increase in drinking water
- Excessive urination
What causes feline diabetes mellitus?
Factors influencing diabetes mellitus include:
- advanced age
- sex - males ten to be more prone
- chronic bouts of pancreatitis
- endocrine diseases such as Cushing's disease and hyperthyroidism
To diagnose diabetes, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and laboratory testing on your cat's blood and urine. Without treatment, diabetes can very well lead to life-threatening complications, including ketoacidosis and diabetic neuropathy.
Fortunately, most cats respond well to treatment, especially if the disease is caught early. While the cat will need regular in-hospital monitoring for the duration of its life, the disease can be managed with treatment at home.
How is feline diabetes mellitus treated?
- oral medication that lowers blood glucose
- weight loss for obese cats; there are several prescription foods designed to help diabetic cats safely lose weight, then maintain a healthy weight
- measure blood glucose at home with a glucometer
- monitor your cat's eating, drinking, and litter box habits
As with any medical condition, prevention is the best medicine, but by being aware of your cats habits, regular check ups with your veterinarian (every 6 months at ages 7 and older), and by complying with his or her recommendations, your kitty can enjoy many more years of companionship and well being. With National Diabetes Month coming up in November, make your cat an appointment with you vet to identify diabetes factors before the rush.