Diabetes in Cats – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


Diabetes is a disease that requires a lot of care and control to allow the patient to follow a normal life, and not only affects humans, but also various animal species, such as felines.

At SmartPetsWorld we know that when your cat is suspected of suffering from diabetes you may feel worried and distressed, so we will offer you a guide on the most relevant aspects of this disease.

If you want to know all about cat diabetes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment , keep reading this article.

What is feline diabetes?

It is a disease that every day affects more cats around the world, especially those at home. It is the feline organism’s inability to properly process the glucose and other organic compounds in food needed for healthy cell reproduction and energy.

This impossibility is due to a failure in the production of insulin , a hormone generated in the pancreas that is responsible for processing glucose entering the blood.

In this sense, there are two types of diabetes :

  • Type 1 : occurs when the cat’s own body is responsible for destroying the deposits where it produces insulin, so the necessary amount of this hormone is not obtained.
  • Type 2 : The pancreas works perfectly releasing insulin, but the cat’s body resists it, so it doesn’t allow the hormone to work properly. This is the most common type in cats.

By not processing glucose, the cat’s body runs out of energy to follow a normal life, so it begins to take that energy from other cells, which triggers many health problems.

Causes of Diabetes in Cats

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

  • Obesity (over 7 pounds);
  • The age;
  • The genetic disposition;
  • The race (Burmese suffer more from diabetes than other races);
  • Suffer from pancreatitis;
  • Suffering from Cushing’s syndrome;
  • The use of steroids and corticosteroids in some medical treatment.

In addition, neutered male cats tend to suffer from diabetes to a greater extent than females.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in cats?

  • Excessive thirst.
  • Voracious appetite.
  • Weight decrease.
  • Increases the frequency of urination as well as the abundance of urination.
  • Lethargy.
  • Bad appearance of the fur.
  • Vomiting
  • Carelessness in hygiene.
  • Difficulty jumping and walking, resulting in a weakness produced by muscle degeneration, which causes the feline not to rest on its paws but on the back hocks, the area that resembles human elbows.

These symptoms of diabetes in cats may not occur all together, but before 3 of them, you need to see your vet to determine if it is diabetes or some other disease.

With diabetes, it may be that your cat eats more food and yet sheds weight quickly, so this symptom is unmistakable.

If the disease is not treated and controlled, complications such as diabetic retinopathy can cause eye problems and even blindness; neuropathy and hyperglycemia, which is a constant accumulation of high blood sugar levels.

Also, be aware of possible developments of urinary tract infections, kidney failure and liver problems.

How is the diagnosis made?

When it comes to diabetes in cats, blood and urine tests are needed to determine your feline’s blood sugar level. However, for many cats the trip to the vet can be a stressful experience simply because they have to leave home. When this happens, the blood test is likely to show results on glucose levels that are not 100% safe.

This is why, after a first examination by the vet, it is recommended to take a urine sample at home after a few days when the cat is relaxed in its natural environment. This will allow a more accurate diagnosis.

In addition, it is also recommended to perform a test to measure the presence of fructosamine in the blood, which is a determining factor in whether or not a cat with diabetes is present.

What is the treatment?

Treatment for feline diabetes is designed to keep the symptoms that affect the cat’s normal life under control, as well as to prevent complications and prolong the life of the cat, ensuring a healthy existence.

If your cat has type 1 diabetes , treatment requires insulin injections , which you should give him daily. If, on the contrary, you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes , the most important thing to do is to make a drastic change in your diet , and some insulin injections may or may not be necessary, it will all depend on how you progress.

change in the diabetic cat’s diet is focused on lowering blood glucose levels. It is no secret that most processed feline foods that are marketed today contain high amounts of carbohydrates, while in reality cat food should be protein based.

This is why diabetic cat diets are 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.

For insulin injections , only the vet can determine the exact dose your cat needs. It should be given a maximum of twice a day over the neck skin. The idea of ​​insulin treatment is to provide the cat with the tools necessary for her body to perform its functions as normally as possible, avoiding complications.

The veterinarian’s instructions regarding insulin dose and frequency should be strictly adhered to for effective treatment. Before reaching a definitive dose, the cat needs to be monitored for a while to determine the behavior of its glucose levels.

There are also oral medicines called hypoglycemic drugs that are used to replace insulin, but only the vet can tell you which of the two treatments is best for your cat.

This article is for informational purposes only. At PeritoAnimal.com.br we are unable to prescribe veterinary treatments or perform any type of diagnosis. We suggest that you take your pet to the vet in case of any condition or malaise.