With the increase of high-calorie pet food, snacks, and lack of exercise due to living in small quarters, many cats are prone to becoming diabetic. While most prevalent among older cats, several factors come into play that puts younger cats at risk of diabetes as well.
While there are not enough studies to know exactly why cats get diabetes, we know the various conditions that increase the likelihood of a cat getting diabetes. Thankfully, countless innovations make it possible for cats to live long lives despite diabetes.
If you suspect that your cat might be diabetic, don’t worry. While it can seem terrifying at first, you have everything to gain by finding out as soon as possible. Read on to learn more about what diabetes is, the various signs of diabetes, and the proper treatment for a diabetic cat.
What is Diabetes?
Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter cells. Diabetes mellitus occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin and causes glucose to build up in the bloodstream.
There are two types of diabetes: Type I and Type II. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune response triggered by any virus wherein the body does not make enough insulin. While Type 2 diabetes is when the body cannot use insulin properly with obesity and high blood sugar as an increased risk factor. For diabetic cats, they suffer from Type II diabetes.
Other than obesity, other diseases such as chronic pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism make cats more prone to becoming diabetic.
Signs of Diabetes in Cats
There are several signs and symptoms that your cat may have diabetes. Here are a few of them that you should watch out for:
Similarly to humans, a cat with diabetes will experience excessive urination due to its kidneys attempting to remove excess glucose. With this, you can expect frequent urination in small amounts. Some cats may also not be able to control themselves and urinate outside their litter boxes.
As an effect of frequent urination, many diabetic cats will experience high water loss and dehydration. With this, you can also expect a diabetic cat to be thirstier than usual.
Odd Way of Walking
Due to the elevated blood sugar effects on their nerves, a severely diabetic cat will tend to walk flat on its hind legs. Initially, it may just appear as if they have an off way of walking, but it can lead to paralysis if left untreated.
Extreme Weight Loss
While the risk of diabetes increases when they are overweight, they begin to lose weight once the glucose can no longer be absorbed. Cats with diabetes often experience a loss of appetite and lethargy.
Inability to Jump
The average house cat can jump up to six times their height in a single jump. While it’s true that some breeds are more agile than others, most of them can still do leaps without little effort. If you notice that your cat is unable to jump as high as before, one of the reasons could be diabetes.
How Do You Treat Cats with Diabetes?
To take care of a diabetic cat, you need to take a holistic approach. You need to manage their overall lifestyle that includes diet, treatment, and exercise.
Give Your Cat a Low Carb Diet
Before they became part of our homes, cats were hunters who ate mostly meat. To stay healthy, cats with diabetes need to maintain a low-carbohydrate, high protein diet. Unfortunately, kibble and other dry food are full of starch and can be very fattening to your cat. When given the option, choose canned wet food or fresh meat diets instead.
If your cat is overweight, you should aim to lose weight gradually. Bear in mind that you should always coordinate your feeding schedules with their insulin shots so they can absorb calories when the insulin is occurring. Usually, doctors recommend that you feed your cats twice a day, right after your cat receives their insulin.
Talk With Your Vet Regarding Insulin Therapy
To establish insulin therapy, you should work closely with your veterinarian to find the appropriate dosage. Through a series of blood and urine tests, physical exams, and several days of observation, your vet will be able to establish a sustainable insulin therapy that is safe for your cat. Avoid medicating and changing dosages of your diabetic cat without a proper evaluation from your vet.
For cat owners in the United States, insulin treatments for diabetic cats can cost around $20-30 per month. When administering insulin medication, never re-use syringes, alternate injection sites, and be sure to be consistent with their shots. While it may seem like a lot, preventive treatment is a lot more affordable than treatment for more life-threatening cases.
Encourage Safe Exercise
When it comes to managing diabetes, keeping your cat at a healthy weight is half the battle. While staying healthy is harder as cats age, it’s not entirely impossible. To keep your indoor cat healthy, provide them enough toys to keep them entertained. You may also play with them with strings and laser pointers.
For obese cats, it is best to consult with a veterinarian about exercises that are not harmful to them. When creating an exercise routine for your cat, try to keep the frequency and intensity consistent. Too many variations in your cat’s exercise regimen may disrupt the effectiveness of the insulin treatment of your cat.
Can You Cure a Diabetic Cat?
When it comes to taking care of your cat, the sooner you find out if their condition, the better. While it can be initially stressful, learning how to manage medical needs is critical. Like any chronic illness, early intervention can mean a big difference for the overall health and comfort of your cat.
Similar to humans, there is no real cure for diabetes. With proper diet and treatment, many cats can continue to live decades after their initial diagnosis. Despite an absence of a cure for diabetes in cats, it can go into partial remission and be controlled effectively.
With a good diet, routine insulin treatments, and adequate exercise, your cat can live a long, happy, and healthy life.