Diabetes can be controlled and the prognosis for a managed diabetic cat is very good. Typically, diabetes is a problem of middle aged and older cats. Male cats get the disease about twice as often as females… and the usual feline diabetes patient is overweight. However, unchecked diabetes will cause weight loss over time.
Weight loss results from the diabetic cat’s inability to manufacture or respond properly to insulin… the hormone that allows body cells to take in blood sugar (glucose) from their food. The hormone insulin is produced by beta cells within the cat’s pancreas. Instead of supplying energy to the cells, glucose builds up in the blood. This is called hypoglycemia. Unchecked, it spills out into the urine and this is called glucosuria. Glucose in the urine causes excessive urination (polyuria) and the cat experiences a tremendous thirst which is called polydipsia. Also, because diabetic cats can’t use the energy they are ingesting via their food intake, they develop an insatiable hunger which is called polyphagia.
Unfortunately, many cat owners won’t notice these signs and usually they finally take the cat to the vet because of either the weight loss becoming extremely visible or the cat urinates outside the litter box which is assumed to be a behavioral issue. It is even more difficult to notice the symptoms if the cat is usually outdoors and the back yard is their litter box so the weight loss is then the compelling reason for the vet visit.
The vet will measure the glucose level in your cat’s blood and urine. He will also check for other diseases that could possibly be the culprit. However, even if your cat does have high blood sugar, it doesn’t necessarily mean diabetes is present. It is not unusual for animals under stress or on medication to develop a temporary elevation of blood glucose and this condition is called transient hyperglycemia. Often, the vet will suggest running the tests again in a couple of days.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are different categories of diabetes. Cats with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus require daily insulin injections because they are unable to produce sufficient insulin while cats with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus are able to produce their own insulin but they don’t respond to insulin as well as they should… this is called insulin resistance. These cats may do well with only dietary management and oral hypoglycemic agents which are drugs that stimulate the body’s own production of insulin.
Your vet will determine by the tests which category your cat falls into. Unfortunately, a high percentage of feline diabetes patients have persistent and pronounced hyperglycemia and require insulin. Your vet will have to work out the regimen and usually will do a glucose curve. This involves several measurements of the important levels of a cat’s blood glucose over the course of 12 to 24 hours and the cat may have to stay at the clinic overnight. Balancing the dosage is critical because an insulin overdose can lead to life-threatening hypoglycemic shock.
So to be safe, always make sure your cat is interested in food before you administer insulin. You also have to keep track of injections so you don’t give your cat a double dose. If you have doubts it is better to give no insulin than too much. In the event a cat gets too much insulin and acts sluggish, appears to be having a seizure or is unconscious… it is mandatory that you raise maine coon kittens for sale near me its blood-glucose level immediately. If you are able to get your pet to eat… do so. But if your cat is unable to eat then dip your finger in Karo syrup (or maple syrup in a pinch) and spread it on your cat’s gums. The gums will absorb some of the sugar which will help bring your cat out of shock. Once your cat is responding get it to the vet immediately.
But, daily insulin injections aren’t as hard to administer as you might think. The needles are very small and as long as you reward your cat with something it enjoys like extra playtime or lots of hugs, you may find that it’s preferable than trying to give a pill. You have to remain alert to changes in your cat because insulin requirements may shift. Too little insulin will result in excessive eating, drinking and urination while too much insulin results in lethargy, lack of coordination and vocalizing.