Feline Diabetes

By: Dr. Jackie Pulver jlp

One of the diseases processes we see in our aging cats is diabetes. Usually we see this disease in our male neutered cats that are considered adult or early geriatric in age-typically 9-11 years old.  Symptoms that you may notice at home are increased drinking, increased urinations, increased eating, and weight loss. Occasionally you may also see that your cat is not grooming itself as well, is more lethargic, or your cat may show weakness in the hind limb or a “dropped hock” stance.

50-70% of cats have insulin-dependant, or historically type 1 diabetes, at diagnosis. These cats have an absolute deficiency of insulin and require insulin injections to control their symptoms. Approximately 30% of cats with diabetes 100_1137 (2)will have type 2 diabetes.  These animals have a decreased amount of cells in the pancreas producing insulin.  Weight loss, diet, changes in some medications, and treatment of underlying disease processes may control these animals without the use of insulin injections.  20% of cats may have a “transient” presentation of diabetes that will resolve weeks to months after starting insulin therapy. If you have concerns that you cat may have diabetes, we will need to perform several test to confirm this disease. A thorough physical exam, full panel of blood work, and complete urinalysis will be need to confirm the disease.

Once diabetes is diagnosed,  treatment will need to be initiated to control the disease.  If your pet is extremely ill, not eating, dehydrated, or has ketones present, the treatment will start with hospitalization to stabilize your pet and start insulin therapy. If you pet does not have ketones present on urinalysis and is eating and not vomiting, insulin therapy will be started at home.  When insulin therapy is started, we will have you come to our clinic for training in giving insulin injections and handling the medication, and symptoms to monitor.  Once the cat has been treated with 11139_420

insulin for approximately 3 weeks, we will have you bring your cat in for a fructosamine test to see the average of the pet’s blood sugar. This test will be evaluated every 3 weeks until an appropriate blood sugar level is reached.  Once an appropriate insulin dosage is found, your pet will need a fructosamine test every 3-6 months to insure that your pet is being cared for appropriately.

In cats, dietary changes are an important part of managing diabetes.  We will try and correct or prevent obesity by caloric management.  We will also place these cats on a decreased 1333988357_Royal Canin DS Feline Diabetic Cat Food 5 lbcarbohydrate diet and/or increased fiber diet. It is best to feed diabetic cats every 12 hours so you may monitor their food intake and give the insulin appropriately after you pet has eaten.

If you feel that your cat is displaying signs of diabetes, please give our office a call so we can get your pet in for a physical exam, and possible blood work.