When cats have diabetes, it means that their pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin or that their body has an insufficient reaction to the hormone. Insulin is required to absorb glucose (sugar) into the blood after eating and carry it to cells across the body to allow it to survive and grow. A cat with diabetes would also not be able to regulate the amount of glucose in its blood. When blood sugar levels are alarmingly high, it is known as hyperglycemia, and when sugar levels are too low, it is known as hyperglycemia.
Primary Cause of Diabetes in Cats
The major cause of diabetes in cats is that the insulin their body produces is either inadequate or ineffective. This suggests that insulin either does not help glucose get into the cells to provide energy or that there is not enough insulin to do its job effectively. There are few various ways in which cats can get diabetes.
- Feeding human food
- Feeding your cat too much “human” food can induce inflammation of the pancreas—where you find insulin-producing cells—that can hinder the development of insulin.
- Prolonged use of corticosteroids
- Prolonged use of steroids can even lead a cat to diabetes.
Overweight puts cats at high risk of developing diabetes. Many pet cats gain weight as they grow. If your cat is obese, ask your vet what you can do to help them maintain healthier weights and decrease their risk of developing diabetes.
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Diabetes Signs and Symptoms
Rather than using glucose, the body of a diabetic cat breaks down protein and fat-so even cats with a natural, balanced appetite and eating on a daily schedule will lose weight. If left untreated, cats with diabetes can suffer other health problems or complications, including:
- Unhealthy coat and skin
- Increased hunger
- Bacterial infections
- Liver disease
- Increased urination
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Physical exercise (uninterested or unable to jump)
- Walking flat on the back of the back legs (caused by nerve damage)
Diagnosing Diabetes In Felines
In order to diagnose diabetes, the veterinarian will first screen their urine for glucose, ketones and/or urinary tract infections. If required, a blood test will measure the blood glucose content of your cat. If glucose is present in your cat’s urine, the blood test will assess the concentration of blood glucose and fructosamine. Consistently increased blood glucose levels can mean that your cat’s pancreas does not secrete enough insulin, or that your cat’s body behaves as though it is “immune” to the insulin being generated.
Irrespective of the underlying cause of elevated blood sugar, your cat is suffering from diabetes mellitus. Diagnosis is considered confirmed when glucose levels are regularly elevated in the urine and blood.
How Is Diabetes In Felines Treated?
The key objectives in the treatment of diabetes are:
- Minimize or fix your cat’s clinical signs using a medication regimen that suits your everyday life
- Stop low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Prevent complications from occurring (e.g. diabetic ketoacidosis)
To accomplish the first goal, we need to reduce increased blood sugar levels, usually through dietary change and insulin therapy. Oral drugs used by diabetes patients have been used in cats, but they don’t seem to function well and come with a lot of adverse effects.
Prevent Felines From Developing Diabetes
Ensure that you offer a high protein, low-carbohydrate diet that is similar to your natural diet. It is preferable to offer your cat a tinned food that is high in protein rather than a dry food that is high in carbohydrates. Exercise can help keep your pets weighed down and reduce their stress levels, so make sure you play with them every day.
Take your cat for routine check-ups or every 6 months for older cats, including urine and blood tests. This way, any early symptoms of diabetes, or any other disease, can be identified and caught early. Early diagnosis and treatment could prevent more invasive and costly treatment that would otherwise not be obtained until later.
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