What are the symptoms of feline diabetes?
Q: My cat has been drinking a lot of water lately. My friend said this could be diabetes. What other signs would my cat have if she had diabetes?
by Dr. Bari Spielman
Feline diabetes is one of the most common endocrine diseases seen in cats. Diabetes usually affects cats over 8 years old and is most commonly seen in obese, neutered males. It can be detected at any age, breed, body condition or gender.
Common signs of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, and weight loss in the face of a good appetite. Some cats will develop an unkempt, flaky or oily hair coat. Diabetes can affect the nervous system of some cats. These cats may have hind-limb weakness and may walk with their hocks (ankles) touching the ground. Diabetes can lead to the precipitous decline of overall health and eventual death of the patient if untreated.
The signs associated with diabetes in cats result from the inability of the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin and/or the tissues ability to respond to insulin properly.
Diabetes is diagnosed based on several factors, including medical history, clinical signs, physical examination and various tests. Standard laboratory tests for diabetics include a blood chemistry and urinalysis. An elevated blood sugar as well as the presence of sugar in the urine is seen in cats with diabetes. Certain factors, including the stress of a car ride or veterinary visit, may temporarily affect the blood sugar in cats. It is important that a veterinarian look at all of the information in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Appropriate home care of diabetic cats consists of a diet change and daily administration of insulin. Diets that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates are recommended. These diets help control the cat's blood sugar and promote weight loss in obese cats. Insulin is used to keep the cat's blood sugar under control. There are several different types of insulin available. Your veterinarian will recommend the type of insulin he or she feels is best for your cat. Insulin is administered subcutaneously (under the skin), at the scruff of the neck and shoulders. Your veterinarian will show you how to handle and administer the insulin.
Cats with diabetes need to be evaluated by your veterinarian frequently, especially early in the diagnosis. Once it is established that the patient’s disease is under control, follow-up monitoring is still indicated, however, over longer intervals of time. This is done to evaluate the cat's response to insulin as well as to assess all other body functions that can be affected over time.
If properly managed, a diabetic cat can live a long and healthy life. It is important to regularly monitor your cat and work closely with your veterinarian.
Dr. Bari Spielman, DVM, Diplomate American Veterinary College of Internal Medicine, is
Internal Medicine Department Head at VESCONE. VESCONE doctors provide emergency care, internal medicine, surgery, radiology, ophthalmology, cardiology. Check out VESCONE’s Facebook page and go to www.vescone.com for more information.
Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 11-14-2011 at 05:33 PM.