Diabetes In Cats: How To Recognize And Treat

diabetes in catsNovember is Diabetes Awareness Month.  The signs and treatment are very similar in dogs and cats, but this week Dr. Anna Coffin will concentrate on diabetes in cats.  The major difference between dog and cat diabetes is that cat diabetes if treated properly and quickly; cats can go into remission.



Over the last few years, veterinarians are seeing an increase in pet diabetes.  Dr. Anna Coffin believes this is due to an increase in pet obesity.  Diabetes in cats is the most common endocrine condition.  In fact, 1 out of every 100 cats will develop diabetes.

Risk factors for diabetes:

  • Obesity
  • Genetic
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Indoor lifestyle
  • Physical inactivity

Signs of diabetes in cats:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargic
  • Vomiting
  • Always hungry but losing weight

Your veterinarian can easily diagnose diabetes in the exam room with a small blood and urine sample.  Persistently high levels in the blood and urine lead to the diagnosis of diabetes.

Treatment for pet diabetes involves giving your pet insulin injections once or twice daily, diet modification and exercise.  There are many types of insulin that can be used for the treatment of diabetes.  However, 53% of cats treated with a specific human insulin called glargine can go into remission.

Your veterinarian will determine a starting dose of insulin for your cat.  Giving too much insulin cat cause your pet’s blood sugar to go to low and be a life-threatening situation.  Therefore, your veterinarian will want to perform a glucose curve or fructosamine every few weeks.  Results from these tests help your veterinarian determine changes to the insulin dose.  Typically, it can take two to four glucose curves to get to the right dosage.

Controlling carbohydrates in your cat’s diet affects your cat’s blood sugar.  Therefore, prescription diets low in carbohydrates help regulate diabetes in cats.  Several different prescription diets are available for cat diabetes.  It’s important to slowly transition your cat’s food from the old diet to the new diet.  Never starve your cat into eating a new food as this can lead to another serious health condition known as fatty liver syndrome.  If your cat doesn’t like one brand, try another.

Pets with diabetes are more susceptible to infections.  When your pet gets an infection, blood sugars will increase, and your pet will begin to show signs of diabetes again.  Urinary tract infections are the most common type of infection diagnosed with pet diabetes.  Urinary tract infections can be diagnosed with a urine test and easily treated with antibiotics.

During November, Guthrie Pet Hospital is offering free diabetic testing to any pet showing signs of diabetes.  Each newly diagnosed pet in November and December will receive a diabetes management kit thanks to the Diabetes Pet Care Alliance.

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