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Diabetes in cats: symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

diabetes cats symptoms

Diabetes in cats, like in humans, is not caused by diet. This is a disease that results in an increase in blood sugar levels, due to a lack of insulin or poor response of the animal’s body to insulin.

What is cat diabetes?

Under normal conditions, during the digestion process, different foods are broken down in the intestines so that they can be used by the body. Carbohydrates, for example, are converted into glucose. This then passes into the blood and then into the cells of the body to provide them with energy or to be stored.

All this is only possible thanks to the presence of insulin, produced by the pancreas, which promotes the assimilation of glucose by cells.

Diabetes is a common disease in cats due to insufficient production of insulin or poor response of cells to it. The consequence is an increase in blood sugar.

Symptoms of diabetes in cats

Diabetes in cats is an increase in the level of glucose in the blood. When this glucose reaches a critical threshold, the kidneys can no longer filter it and this can have serious long-term consequences for your cat. Here are the typical signs of a cat who has diabetes:

  • The cat urinates a lot: the kidneys can no longer filter properly, the glucose goes directly into the urine, which causes what is called polyuria, the cat will urinate a lot more than usual, and sometimes without being able to control itself. Thus, it may happen that your cat urinates in the middle of your living room, which he has never done before.
  • The cat drinks a lot: this excessive thirst is a consequence of polyuria. Indeed, the fact that your cat urinates a lot strongly dehydrates It, which pushes It to drink even more. You will be able to see it drinking from taps, in the toilets, or lapping the water on a flower pot that has just been watered. This phenomenon is called polydipsia.
  • Unusual feeding frequency: a cat with diabetes will most often have a very reduced appetite. However, some will feel very hungry and much more often. However, even if It eats more than before, you will see your cat lose a lot of weight. This phenomenon is called polyphagia.
  • The cat will have a less beautiful coat: this is a consequence of many health problems in cats. It will have an often oily hair, and could even lose the reflex to clean itself.
  • The cat will be very tired: Very tired is also a consequence of many health problems. You will notice a sharp drop in activity in your cat, It will stop most of Its outings and spend the vast majority of Its time sleeping.

Causes of diabetes in cats

The causes of diabetes in cats can be multiple, ranging from diet to physical activity, including genetics. Here are the main causes of diabetes in cats:

  • overweight: an overweight cat (over 14 pounds for most cats) will tend to develop diabetes more often. This excess weight can come from two things:
  • Its diet: pay attention to what you feed your cat, as well as to the quantities. Giving It leftover meals even if It likes it is absolutely not good for It. In addition to being too salty and sometimes too spicy, which can cause digestion problems, human food is far too high in calories for our feline friends. Likewise, be careful not to give It too many small treats, and check the compositions of the croquettes: some, of poor quality, may contain a large amount of carbohydrates, which contribute to causing diabetes, in addition to weight gain.
  • Its physical activity: if your cat does not have the opportunity to go out, think about stimulating It with games. A cat may tend to laze all day, but to maintain good health, It will need to exercise: this will strengthen your bond on the one hand, and reduce the risk of developing diabetes, on the other hand. .
  • Age: in fact, a cat over 8 years old is more inclined to develop diabetes because of Its old age. Continue to stimulate It and make It play when It’s receptive: the more It activates, the less risk It will have of developing diabetes.
  • Race: unfortunately, certain races are genetically more easily affected by diabetes, for example, the Birman.
  • Diseases: Some diseases can unfortunately lead to diabetes. Cushing’s disease or pancreatitis, for example, can lead to diabetes.
  • Heredity: Just like in humans, if one of a cat’s parents has or is susceptible to diabetes, their offspring may be susceptible to the same problems as them.

Treatments for diabetes in cats

Before talking about treatment, we must first talk about the diagnosis. This is usually done at the vet, via a blood test. However, taking your cat to your vet will stress It out, at least for most cats. This stress can cause the level of glucose in Its blood to rise, and thus affect the results.

We will therefore take a urine sample at home, a few days after the blood test, once the cat is well de-stressed and relaxed. This will allow the glucose level to be measured more accurately and thus provide effective treatment.

For the treatment, you should know that diabetes cannot really be cured, it will just be necessary to help your cat to live as well as possible, depending on the type of diabetes:

  • type 1 diabetes: this is the more serious of the two types; As with humans, it will take one to two insulin injections per day under the skin of the neck, according to your veterinarian’s instructions.
  • type 2 diabetes: Insulin injection may be necessary, but not in all cases. It will especially be necessary to change its diet, in order to reduce the level of glucose in your cat’s blood. It will therefore be necessary to choose a diet containing as few carbohydrates as possible. There are even specialty kibbles for cats with diabetes, in which carbohydrates are close to zero.

Prevention of diabetes in cats

There is no real prevention method for cat diabetes. This will mainly involve lifestyle habits, such as stimulating It to play regularly, giving It a good quality diet in which the level of carbohydrates is as low as possible (especially in cats who are predisposed to develop sooner or later diabetes), to avoid giving It leftover meals, or even human food in general, and finally not to give It too many treats.

Written by Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, canine behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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