Everything you need to know about diabetes in cats


The symptoms are called "clinical signs" or "signs" in the case of animals. High blood glucose levels give rise to the symptoms of diabetes mellitus.

The "glucose threshold" of the kidneys may be exceeded due to excessive blood glucose levels, which results in the excretion of glucose in the urine. The increase in urination of your dog results in a greater loss of body fluids and makes your pet drink more.

A diabetic animal can lose weight despite eating more than normal due to the loss of glucose, which is an important fuel (energy source).

See Diabetes mellitus in cats for more information on glucose metabolism.

What is diabetes in cats?

As we say, diabetes in cats is increasingly common, this is due to the lifestyle that domestic cats lead, who eat too much food and also very caloric, and do little or no exercise. Diabetes is a really dangerous disease and can significantly shorten the life expectancy of the animal if it is not treated correctly.

Insulin It is a hormone necessary for the proper functioning of the body. With diabetes, the cat's pancreas is not able to generate the insulin it needs, or it generates it but it does not fulfill its function well. Without insulin, the diabetic cat is not able to synthesize and use glucose as a source of energy, so that your body uses other components, such as fats or proteins.

Symptoms of diabetes in cats

One of each 230 domestic cats have diabetes or are at high risk for it, according to an article published in the magazine Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. This implies that, in our country, what is around of 3.5 million domestic cats, more than 15,000 suffer from or will suffer from diabetes throughout his life.

Can you know at home, or at least suspect, if a cat has diabetes? A diabetic cat, Unable to synthesize glucose, it will eliminate it through the urine, this implies that you will urinate more often than a non-diabetic cat. Therefore, you will also drink more to replenish the fluids you expel, otherwise you are at risk of becoming dehydrated. In addition, they usually tend to eat less and lose weight. Of course, If your cat is diabetic, it will collapse when you have low blood glucose.

These symptoms are not exclusive to diabetes, but common to many health problems: you will find that Your cat's coat loses shine and strength, which is tired, or may even have digestive problems.

Does your cat have a good quality of life and feed in a healthy way? If not, you could develop overweight, and with it, diabetes appears. Take care of your cat's diet and don't let him lead a very sedentary life! If you suspect you have a diabetic cat, do not hesitate to go to the veterinarian, as well as if you have doubts about how to give him a healthier life.

Diabetes in cats is a serious danger to the health of your pet! Do not ignore it.

What is feline diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreatic islet cells and its function is to promote the incorporation of glucose from the blood into the cells.

When a cat eats, food breaks down into organic compounds in the small intestine, one of which is glucose. Glucose is absorbed by cells for energy, growth and repair. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas produces the amount of insulin needed to allow glucose to enter the cells, acting as a key to unlocking it. When insulin reaches the cell, it stimulates it to activate glucose transporters, pulling glucose through the cell wall.

In the Diabetes type 1, the immune system cells attack and destroy the islet cells which results in a decrease in the number of insulin-producing cells.

In the type 2 diabetes, the cells develop an insulin resistance, and although the pancreas produces enough insulin, it is not capable of efficiently unlocking the cells to absorb glucose.

When the cells do not have enough glucose, either because there is not enough insulin or because the body has developed resistance to it, they lack the energy necessary for the cat's body to function properly.

What happens in a diabetic cat?

Diabetes has many effects on the cat's body.

  • Glucose builds up in the bloodstream (high blood sugar levels), which is known as hyperglycemia.
  • Deb> The sooner diabetes is detected, the less time the disease has to damage the cat's body, so it is important to seek veterinary attention as soon as you detect any changes in your cat.

    Symptoms of diabetes in cats

    The symptoms of diabetes include:

    • Increased urination and thirst
    • Loss> Keep in mind that, depending on the severity and time your cat has been diabetic, you may not perceive all these symptoms.

    It is important that you always be aware of the welfare of your cat in general, as well as its eating habits and when going to the bathroom, if you see anything out of the ordinary, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

    Causes of diabetes in cats

    There are several reasons why a cat can become diabetic:

      The obes> As a fact, it should be noted that male cats have twice the risk of females suffering from diabetes. The greatest risk is found in neutered male cats over 10 years of age and over 7 kilos in weight.

    Diagnosis of diabetes in cats

    A provisional diagnosis can be made based on the symptoms present. Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) due to lipid accumulation, weight loss, poor fur and dehydration can make you suspect diabetes, but keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by other diseases as well, so that a physical examination by your veterinarian is necessary for the correct diagnosis of diabetes in cats.

    The diagnosis based on a single blood test may be inaccurate, as it is possible that elevated blood glucose levels may be shown as a result of tension and stress (known as transient hyperglycemia). Therefore, a diagnosis based on a single blood and / or urine test cannot give a definitive diagnosis of diabetes. There are several solutions to this, such as carrying out several blood and urine tests over time, or trying to collect a urine sample at home, when the cat is not stressed.

    Measuring fructosamine levels in the blood is another method to check for diabetes. Fructosamine is formed when albumin (a blood whey protein) and glucose come together, this measurement gives an idea of ​​the average blood glucose two or three weeks before. Hyperthyroidism can cause a decrease in outcome. Chronic stress can cause a small increase, but usually not in the same range as diabetes.

    The presence of ketones in the urine indicates that the disease has progressed.

    Treatment of diabetes in cats

    There are many possible regimens for the diabetic cat, depending on the severity of the disease. The main objective is to keep blood glucose levels under control. This can be a great balancing act that requires careful control to ensure that the levels are not too high or too low.

    Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections.

    Type 2 diabetes is treated with diet management, obesity reduction and, if necessary, daily insulin injections.

    In mild cases, the disease can be controlled only with diet.

    If the cat is not sick and does not have ketones, it may be possible to control diabetes without the use of insulin, simply by modifying the diet and / or losing weight under the supervision of your veterinarian. Cats that live in the wild, mostly consume protein in their diet, however today's commercial pet food (especially dry food) contains between 30 and 70% carbohydrates. The main objective is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the diet by changing dry food for canned wet food or meals prepared at home. In fact, some cats have reversed their diabetes thanks to the change to a low carb diet.

    Oral hypoglycemic drugs (such as glipizide) may be prescribed. The exact mechanism of glipizide is unknown, but it is believed to stimulate the pancreas to release insulin. This treatment is only effective if the pancreas continues to produce some insulin.

    Control: Although diabetes can be mild, careful cat control is vital. If it worsens, develops ketones or remains constantly hyperglycemic (with high blood glucose), then the next step will be insulin.

    Insulin: Insulin injection is necessary once or twice a day. It is administered subcutaneously (under the skin) in the skin of the neck. This can be done at home, usually at regular times. Each cat responds differently to insulin, and it may be necessary to adjust the doses based on blood glucose profiles, clinical response and urine glucose control.

    The hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a potentially dangerous complication of insulin therapy. This is caused either by an excess of insulin or because the cat does not eat enough. Cat blood sugar levels fall dangerously. Giving the cat small but frequent meals will help avoid this condition, but careful monitoring of the animal's blood sugar levels is very important.

    Signs of hypoglycemia include weakness, apathy, lethargy, wobbly gait, seizures and coma. If left untreated, it can lead to death. If you notice any of these signs in a diabetic cat, you should offer him something to eat immediately. If this is not possible, rub a tablespoon of corn syrup on your gums. Do not force the ingestion of fluids or liquids through the mouth, and keep your fingers placed inside the cat's mouth when you have seizures or are in a coma. You should notify your veterinarian immediately, so you can readjust the dose.

    Cat diabetes, a dangerous disease

    Cat diabetes is increasingly common among domestic cats, who exercise less and eat more than recommended

    The diabetes mellitus in cats is a dangerous, but increasingly frequent, feline disease that shortens the life of the animal without proper treatment. A cat with diabetes does not have the ability to create all the amount of insulin (hormone) that it needs for its body to function properly. On other occasions, what happens is that the insulin it generates does not has learned To work properly.

    This hormone called insulin, although small, has its importance. Cats, like people, are not able to use the food they eat through diet directly. Your body needs to break the carbohydrates and proteins of the food in simpler components that can be used by the feline organs and muscles. One of these elements is glucose, which gives the animal the energy it needs.

    But, What happens when a cat suffers from diabetes? The cat does not have enough insulin - or it is not effective - to transport glucose to the feline cells. And, when this happens, the animal's body needs to turn to other alternative energy sources: that is, breaker fats and protein stores to use as fuel for your body

    Cat diabetes, being overweight is a risk factor

    Male cats, sterilized and weighing more than five kilos have a higher risk of diabetes

    "Diabetes is a disease that is growing among cats, and feline overweight is the culprit", veterinarian Patricia González warns. The figures are eloquent: one in every 230 domestic cats suffers or is at risk of diabetes, concludes a study coordinated by veterinarian Danielle Gunn-Moore, and published in the scientific journal specialized in cats 'Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery'.

    This data implies that more than 15,000 of the 3.5 million cats that live in Spanish households suffer, or are in danger of suffering from diabetes. "The risk of developing this disease grows for male cats, sterilized, inactive and weighing more than five kilos," says the researcher.

    Cat diabetes, how to recognize it at home?

    A cat that is not able to attack glucose - and break it into simpler components that your body can metabolize - will accumulate this molecule in the blood, and eventually eliminate it with urine. The consequences for the sick cat are: a increased urine evacuations and a consequent increase in cat thirst, since it needs to replenish the liquid it removes.

    These signals are, consequently, keys to recognize the furry friend who suffers from diabetes at home: diabetic feline reduces your appetite, has a tendency to lose weight, you urinate more frequently and your water intake increases dramatically.

    Feline overweight, which affects about six out of ten urban cats (58%), according to the Association for the Prevention of Obesity in Companion Animals, is largely responsible for the growth of this disease among felines during last decades.

    He change in the habits of life of the homemade cats also has its important part of fault: Hairy friends who live in flats have reduced their physical activity, while increasing food intake. "A key to preventing the onset of diabetes in the cat is, therefore, take care of your diet and monitor the cat's weight"concludes González.

    Diabetes in the cat: eight keys

    1. Cat diabetes is a serious disease that can shorten the life of the cat. This medical condition has no cure but can be controlled with the help of appropriate veterinary treatment.

    2. Diabetes in the cat is diagnosed by the veterinarian with the help of an analysis that allows detecting an abnormal presence (due to excessive) glucose in the feline's blood.

    3. A cat with diabetes will be unresponsive, weakened and suffer weight loss, but also urinate and drink water more frequently. Other signs that warn of the disease are cat diarrhea, vomiting, as well as an unhealthy aspect of feline hair.

    4. Cats with diabetes need veterinary treatment or follow-upOtherwise, your life could be shortened as a result of the disease. More than half of felines with diabetes require periodic injections of insulin to keep the disease under control, according to a study by Cornell University (USA).

    At other times the treatment can be reduced to one oral medication which allows you to control the amount of glucose in the cat's blood.

    5. Controlling cat food helps recognize diabetes. The feeding of the cat should always be offered at the same times and in the same amounts. In this way, it will be easier to recognize if the animal has diabetes (or other ailment) at home. Cats with this disease lose their appetite.

    6. Watch the cat water consumption at home. An animal with diabetes increases its water intake: it is the way your body has to eliminate excess blood glucose. Therefore, it is important to control your consumption over a few weeks.

    7. The cat litter also offers keys to recognize a feline suffering from diabetes, since urine evacuations will grow significantly. When there are more cats at home, it can be more complicated to assess this increase, but even so, the increase is usually very striking.

    8. When diabetes is a consequence of cat obesity It is possible that the animal loses insulin dependence after months or years of treatment. This will be easier, when the furry partner eliminates the excess weight that harms him, a goal that will be simpler if he has the appropriate feline slimming plan: diet, exercise and many games with his two-legged friend.

    Causes of diabetes in cats - Why does the cat develop diabetes?

    There are some factors that make your cat more likely to develop diabetes, such as:

    • Obesity (from 7 kilos onwards)
    • Age (over 8 years old)
    • Genetic disposition
    • Race (Burmese suffer more from diabetes than other races)
    • Suffer from pancreatitis
    • Having Cushing Syndrome
    • The use of steroids and corticosteroids in some medical treatment

    In addition, neutered male cats usually suffer from diabetes in greater proportion than females.

    What are the symptoms of diabetes in cats?

    • Excessive thirst
    • Voracious appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Increase in the frequency of urine, as well as abundance of it
    • Lethargy
    • Carelessness in grooming
    • Bad appearance in the fur
    • Vomiting
    • Difficulty jumping and walking, presenting the plantígrada posture in the cat (weakness caused by muscle degeneration, which causes the feline not to rest on the legs but on the rear hocks, that area that resembles human elbows).

    These diabetes symptoms In cats they may not all appear together, but before 3 of them it is necessary to go to the veterinarian to determine if it is diabetes or some other disease.

    With diabetes, your cat may consume more food and still lose weight quickly, so this symptom is unmistakable.

    If the disease is not treated and controlled, they can occur complications, such as diabetic retinopathy, which causes vision problems and even blindness, neuropathy, which consists of the aforementioned plantígrada posture, and hyperglycemia, which is a constant accumulation of high blood sugar levels.

    In addition, it is necessary to be attentive to the possible development of urinary infections, kidney failure and liver problems.

    How is the diagnosis made?

    When it comes to diabetes in cats, the blood and urine tests are necessary to determine the level of sugar in your cat's blood. However, for many cats the trip to the veterinarian can be a stressful experience, simply by having to leave the house. When this occurs, the blood test is very likely to yield results on glucose levels that are not 100% safe.

    That is why, after a first test done by the veterinarian, it is recommended collect a urine sample at home After a few days, when the cat is relaxed in its usual environment. In this way, a more accurate diagnosis can be obtained.

    In addition, it is also recommended to perform a test to measure the presence of fructosamine in the blood, determining analysis when checking whether or not you are facing a patient with diabetes.

    Which is the treatment?

    The treatment of feline diabetes is intended to keep under control the symptoms that affect the normal life of the cat, as well as avoid complications and extend the life of the cat, ensuring a healthy existence.

    If your cat suffers from Diabetes type 1, the treatment requires insulin injections, which you must administer daily. If, on the contrary, you have been diagnosed with diabeteskind2, the most important thing will be to introduce a drastic change in the diet, and some insulin injections may or may not be necessary, everything will depend on how the patient evolves.

    A change in diet The diabetic cat is focused on reducing blood glucose levels. It is no secret to anyone that most processed foods for cats that are sold today contain large amounts of carbohydrates, when in reality the cat's diet must be protein based.

    That is why the feeding of diabetic cats is based on minimizing the amount of carbohydrates your pet consumes, increasing their protein levels, either with food you prepare at home, or with wet cat food.

    With respect to insulin injectionsOnly the veterinarian can give you the exact dose your cat needs. It should be administered a maximum of twice a day under the skin of the neck. The idea of ​​insulin treatment is to provide the feline with the tools necessary for his body to perform its functions as normally as possible, avoiding complications.

    The veterinarian's instructions regarding the dose of insulin and its frequency must be followed to the letter in order for the treatment to be effective. Before reaching a definitive dose, the cat will need to be monitored for a certain time, to determine the behavior of its glucose levels.

    There are also oral medications called hypoglycemic agents They are used to replace insulin, but only the veterinarian can tell you which of the two treatments is best for your cat.

    This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

    If you want to read more articles similar to Diabetes in cats - Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, we recommend you go to our Other health problems section.