Symptoms and Treatment for Cat Diabetes
Certain signs of feline diabetes may begin very gradually, but if you are attuned to your cat's habits and personality, chances are you will know something is wrong. A visit to your veterinarian along with laboratory tests will confirm the diagnosis. Although cat diabetes is not curable, it is very treatable. Recognizing feline diabetes symptoms is an important step in catching this disease as early as possible so that your cat can be properly treated.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Feline Diabetes
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination and urinating in inappropriate areas
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Change in walking
- Lethargy, depression and unpredictability
- Vomiting (in the case of severe untreated cat diabetes)
- Feline diabetes dermatitis
- Unkempt fur
Excessive thirst and urination are due to the cat losing sugar through its urine and the sugar molecules taking more water out with them. An increase in urination may cause your cat to urinate outside of its litter box. Some cats with feline diabetes often develop urinary tract infections which can also result in urinating outside of the litter box.
An increase in appetite accompanied by weight loss is due to the cat's body not being able to use the calories it consumes for energy so the body begins to use its own body fat. This can lead to a disorder called neuropathy or nerve damage which causes hind leg weakness.
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Some felines will display cat behavior and personality changes or become lethargic, depressed and unpredictable. Should their hind quarters become weak, they will have difficulty jumping or managing stairs.
Cats that have previously been fastidious in their cleaning habits may develop unkempt fur or may pull out tufts of fur when the matting becomes painful. Your cat may also develop skin conditions. Feline diabetes dermatitis is a common sign of cat diabetes. The primary signs are dry and scaly skin. The skin may become thin, fragile and easily torn, or may produce skin sores that are yellowish in color or form little bumps.
Feline diabetes occurs because the cat's pancreas either does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or because the cells do not respond to the presence of insulin properly (type 2 diabetes). Obesity seems to be the most predominant factor where feline diabetes is concerned. Genetics and poor diet may also cause a cat to develop diabetes. Breed does not seem to be a factor and generally, male cats tend to develop diabetes more often than female cats.
Feline Diabetes Treatment
If left untreated, cat diabetes can be fatal, but with proper treatment, medication, diet and monitoring, the disease can be controlled and your cat can live a long and happy life.
Once your veterinarian confirms the diagnosis of feline diabetes, they will likely suggest insulin shots. Your vet will show you how to administer the insulin shots and there are also many online guides available. Usually insulin shots will be given twice a day. Although it may be terrifying in the beginning, most cat owners quickly find themselves comfortable with the injections when they discover it is painless to their cat, and easier than they thought.
Your veterinarian will advise you about the best diet for your cat. A feline diabetes diet should be high in fiber and low in sugar. Cats are carnivores and their systems designed for food that is high in protein. There are diabetic canned cat foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. If you wish to feed your cat a dry food, there are low-carbohydrate dry foods available from your vet.
You will be able to monitor your cat's progress at home. Urine testing can be done using glucose strips, but the most accurate method is to use a glucometer to test blood glucose levels. This may sound difficult, but many cat owners do it without any problems. Testing blood glucose levels at home provides immediate information and is much more affordable than a visit to the vet.
Another important factor in the treatment of your cat's diabetes is exercise. Strenuous exercise is not an option, but taking five minutes a few times a day for play is reasonable. You can pull a string along the floor, or throw a favorite toy for a short game of fetch.
It is very important to educate yourself about cat diabetes so that you can provide the best treatment possible for your beloved pet. Consistency is the key to regulating your cat's diabetes. Caring for a cat with a chronic illness is a commitment of both your time and money but the rewards are well worth it. It is truly a labor of love.