Over the past 30 years we’ve kept many diabetic dogs and cats at Pet’s Companion Inn, and are accustomed to giving insulin injections. Our only requirement is, that to the best of the owner’s knowledge, their pet is stable in his dosage needs. Recently my own ten year old yellow tabby, who came to live with me last year, was diagnosed as diabetic. So, time for another review on things we, as cat owners, should be aware of regarding our feline family members. Hobbs is a big fellow, weighing in at 16 pounds. “Big boned,” you might say. Within six months of him coming to live with me I noticed a distinct increase in the amount of water being consumed by my clowder of four. I also noticed very large “clumps” in the litter pan. Hobbs never showed any weight loss, so I know that is not always an indicator in all cats. His mood, activity level, and food intake never really changed. Still, I knew something wasn’t quite right, and he was the most logical candidate. A visit to our vet, and some blood work showed that he was, indeed, diabetic. We put him on a diabetic diet for a month…no easy task with multiple cats, I tell you, but after a month his insulin levels were still very high. He is now stable and happy and is being given two insulin injections daily. His next blood work will be done in ninety days. Yes, as the owner of a diabetic cat you will have to make some adjustments to your schedule, but otherwise its just one tiny extra thing to do each day for the pets that give us so much pleasure.
Here is an article from AnimalPlanet.com giving you basic information on what diabetes mellitus is, and what symptoms to be keep in mind. Hope it gives you a heads up.
What are the symptoms of feline diabetes?
Feline diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a common disease often found in older and overweight cats. Similar to diabetes in humans, feline diabetes occurs when there is not enough insulin (a hormone made in the pancreas) in the cat’s body to balance out the glucose (sugar) in the cat’s diet. In normal cats, food is broken down during digestion and the resulting glucose enters the bloodstream. Insulin is then released to regulate the blood’s glucose levels. If your cat isn’t producing enough — or any — insulin, he will become diabetic. And if too much glucose builds up in his body due to the lack of insulin, the disease can become dangerous and even life threatening.
So what symptoms should you look for? Begin by monitoring your cat more closely, especially if he’s older or is overweight. Have you observed him drinking or eating a lot more than usual? Take note if his water bowl goes dry or his food dish empties faster than it used to — especially if he’s eating more and still losing weight. Another symptom to watch for is unusually frequent urination. All of these are key signs that his glucose levels are going unregulated — the lack of insulin is preventing his cells from absorbing and getting energy from glucose, and the resulting excess glucose in his blood is making him thirsty. If you observe these symptoms, make an appointment to see your vet. She can run a laboratory test to check how much sugar is in his blood or urine and make a diagnosis.
According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, about 50 to75 percent of cats with diabetes need to receive insulin injections, and some may also be prescribed pills to help regulate their glucose levels. Crucial to the treatment of diabetes is revisiting your cat’s diet. You’ll need to work with your vet to change and watch his diet, feeding him smaller portions of foods specially designed to help his body handle sugar. Monitoring his food and water intake, waste output and weight will be important in making sure his diabetes is properly treated. Some trial and error might be necessary in finding the best treatment for him, so call your vet right away if your cat’s symptoms return.
Although there isn’t a cure for diabetes, some cats — even after just a few months — will stop needing insulin. This is most common in overweight cats that lose their extra weight — the cat’s pancreas can once again supply the amount of insulin his body needs.
Diabetes is a challenging disease to deal with, and it’s best prevented by keeping your cat at a healthy weight. However, with good monitoring and care a cat with diabetes can live a long, happy life.