Diabetes in cats


 Diabetes is a serious disease that requires skilled and expensive treatment. Fortunately, diabetes in cats, unlike diabetes in people is treatable in most cases. However, it is important to go to the clinic on time and strictly follow all the recommendations of your vet.



 Diabetes is characterized by an abnormally high level of glucose in blood and urine, caused by lack of insulin in the body. Insulin deficiency provokes impaired fat, carbon and protein metabolism that eventually degrade the performance of all the organs and body systems. Diabetes mellitus in cats can be of three types: insulin-dependent (IDDM), noninsulin-dependent (NIDDM) and secondary.


Insulin dependent diabetes – the first type


 The reason for the IDDM development is pancreas impairment. Secreting cells responsible for insulin production gradually get eroded. The most dangerous thing is the diabetes of the first type is that the first signs of diabetes in cats appear when a large part of the pancreas is already affected. Fortunately, the first type of diabetes in cats is relatively rare. The main symptoms of diabetes in cats are: thinness, thirst, frequent urination, acetone odor from the mouth, abnormal appetite (some cats eat too much, others refuse to eat).


 This is the most dangerous type of diabetes, as there is always the chance of ketoacidosis development – a condition requiring immediate intervention of a vet. Symptoms include palpitations, vomiting and/or diarrhea, staggering gait, loss of consciousness. Without emergency treatment coma may develop and, as a result, the animal dies. Ketoacidosis occurs on the background of a sharp drop in insulin levels. With a deficit of insulin, glucose cannot saturate the cells and is accumulated in the body. Over time, the glucose level in blood increases, but the cells don’t get enough nutrition. The blood thickens a the body defense mechanism starts releasing liquid directly into the bloodstream to reduce blood viscosity. Now the cells are deprived both of energy and moisture. Kidneys are trying to clean the body from accumulated glucose, bringing it in the urine, which leads to further dehydration. Cells are still “demanding” nutrition and start processing fatty tissue – during this process the ketone bodies are formed. They accumulate in the blood and literally poison it.


Noninsulin dependent diabetes – the second type


 About 70% of cats with the diabetes suffer from diabetes of this type – NIDDM. Unlike IDDM this type of diabetes can be completely cured when the disease is detected at an early stage. The causes of NIDDM are the following: resistance to insulin produced by the pancreas under normal or in reduced amounts. Signs of diabetes in cats: enhanced appetite, constant thirst, and malaise. Sometimes the symptoms may be imperceptible for many years. Typically, such cats suffer from excess weight. With this type of diabetes ketoacidosis doesn’t develop.


The third type


 The so-called “secondary diabetes” of the diabetes of the third type is a complication of chronic disease. Glucose level returns to normal after recovery from chronic illness or as a result of complex therapy. In most cases, secondary diabetes develops in the hormone therapy or as a complication of pancreatitis. Symptoms are usually mixed and depend on the underlying cause.


Factors increasing the risk of diabetes


 Diabetes mellitus in cats may occur for various reasons:


  • genetic predisposition;
  • hormone therapy;
  • wrong feeding;
  • obesity;
  • viral infections;
  • chronic stress;
  • lack of exercise;
  • pathology of internal organs.



 Diabetes mellitus in cats often occurs against a background of constant hormonal stress caused by heat, pregnancy and giving a birth. In case level of glucose in blood and urine is increased in most cases vets recommend sterilization. If the diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed, the removal of the uterus and ovaries is mandatory.


Diagnosis and treatment


 Diabetes is diagnosed based on the results of biochemical tests of urine and blood, hardware research and general examination. Blood and urine tests often have to be passed more than once. For example, if the has eaten something unnoticed before the tests the results will be incorrect. Glucose levels can also increase due to stress caused by the trip to the veterinary clinic. There may be other possible causes.



 After diagnosing the type of diabetes the vet appoints the individual treatment: selects the insulin dose, diet recommendations and, if necessary, appoints symptomatic agents. For treatment of the diabetes of the first type short-acting insulin is prescribed. For treatment of the diabetes of the second type the average or long-acting insulin is prescribed. It gently lowers the level of glucose (in the early stages instead of injections the vet may recommend oral administration of the drug or even replacement of insulin with another drug that acts more delicately.


Diet for cats with diabetes


 Without complying with certain rules when feeding your cat is it almost impossible to cure diabetes. It is extremely important to avoid both exhaustion and obesity of your pet.



 Diet for cats suffering from diabetes is a high-protein diet with low carbs. You should exclude foods containing large amounts of sugar. Typically, veterinarians recommend switching to ready diets for diabetics, so it is very difficult to stick to a balanced diet cooking for your pet natural food at home. It is also of great importance to stick to the regime that you should discuss with the vet, as insulin injections are usually giving before or after the meal. The scheme is developed individually depending on the type of diabetes and diet therapy goals.


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