Diabetes mellitus is a chronic, and potentially debilitating, condition in cats. The disorder is most prevalent among obese cats, male cats over eight years old, and those on a diet high in carbohydrates.
Cases of feline diabetes are on the rise, and given the severity of the condition, it is important to take early measures to prevent or manage the health of your diabetic cat.
Typically, diabetes mellitus is a disorder that results when the cells develop a resistance to insulin, a hormone that aids the entry of glucose into the cells. This causes a build-up of the glucose levels in the bloodstream.
Diabetic cats mostly suffer from Type II diabetes, where the body cells can no longer adequately respond to insulin, leading to elevated levels of glucose.
A complete diagnosis always requires a visit to the vet, but a closer look at your cat at home can tell you if there’s a problem. Bring your cat to our doctors for a check-up if you notice any of these signs:
Early Signs of Diabetes in Cats
1. Excessive Urination & Thirst
Your cat may be suffering from Type I or Type II diabetes if they are urinating frequently. The kidneys attempt to remove the excess glucose from the body through urine. The high concentration of glucose pulls excessive amounts of water into the urine. Increased urination can mean high body water losses, possible dehydration, and increased thirst.
2. Increased Weight Loss & Appetite
When a cat has diabetes, cells can no longer absorb the glucose from the blood appropriately. As a result, starved cells will trigger the breakdown of the fats and proteins available in the body as an alternative source of energy.
The cat may lose weight in a failed attempt to fill the void left after burning fats and proteins, and as a result, their appetite increases.
Later Signs of Diabetes in Cats
If a cat displays a combination of the following symptoms, they could be in critical condition and require intensive care. Later signs of diabetes include the following:
3. Inability to Jump & Loss of Interest
While the loss of interest may be a subtle sign, you can tell your cat is sick if you keep proper track of your cat’s activity. If your cat can no longer jump on furniture they used to be able to, they may be sick.
4. Change in Gait
Diabetes in cats can lead to weakness, which makes them walk flat on the back of the hind legs. Following the elevated blood sugar level, neuropathy affects the nerves in the hind legs, and the condition may result in permanent paralysis if left untreated for long.
5. Lack of Appetite, Vomiting, Lethargy
The health of your cat is in jeopardy if you notice these late symptoms of diabetes mellitus. Hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and gastroparesis can cause nausea in cats leading to vomiting, lost appetite, and lethargy.
The Bottom Line on Feline Diabetes
If you suspect your cat is sick, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. Excessive urination, thirst, heightened appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and inactivity are symptoms of diabetes mellitus. At Northwest Animal Hospital, we’re committed to helping pet parents care for their cats throughout their lives. Call us to book an appointment for a check-up and diagnosis of your cat.