Your Cat and Diabetes: Everything You Need to Know
Did you know that your cat can get diabetes? Though hereditary diabetes (i.e. being born diabetic) is extremely rare in cats, they can develop a type of diabetes during their life time. This is often described as being akin to Type II diabetes in humans. And, just as with humans, type II diabetes in cats can be caused by a range of factors, including diet and life style.
Can I protect my cat from diabetes?
Fortunately, the answer is usually yes: you can greatly reduce your cat’s chance of getting diabetes by ensuring that they do not become overweight. It is a simple matter of making sure that they have a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Do not overdo it on the treats, and if in doubt about how much your kitty should be eating make sure to consult with your veterinarian.
Diabetes is significantly more common in cats that are overweight (it is also more common in overweight cats). Leading a sedentary life style is another key cause of feline diabetes. So, as well as managing your fluffy friend’s food intake (for instance by carefully weighing out their daily food amounts for each meal rather than tossing a random amount into their bowl), you can also do them a great favor by ensuring that they get plenty of exercise.
Having trouble getting your cat to exercise? Invest in some fun toys for them to chase – you do not need to spend a lot of money. A ball with a little cat nip will do, or even the light of a laser pen (which they can chase as you whizz it around the room). They will be running round in no time!
What is my cat gets diabetes?
The first thing is: do not worry. There are a number of ways of treating and managing feline diabetes simply and effectively. Your cat can live a totally normal life with diabetes and enjoy every day that they spend with you. First things first, though, it is good to know the signs of diabetes in cats.
What are the main symptoms of feline diabetes?
There are several symptoms to look out for, and your cat may not display all of them at once. If you notice any of the below, make sure to head straight to the veterinary practice, so you can get a diagnosis of what is going on:
Urinating more frequently than usual.
Drinking more than usual. This symptom is highly linked to the first listed symptom (precisely because they are urinating more frequently, cats with diabetes often feel more thirsty)
Weight loss. Though diabetes often (but not always) starts to develop in cats that are overweight, these cats often also start to lose weight noticeably once diabetes has developed.
Eating more than usual. An increased appetite is another warning sign of diabetes. This symptom is not always present in diabetic cats, though.
Are there any other symptoms?
Yes, there are. Other symptoms of diabetes include:
A poor quality coat – one that loses its shine, softness and strength.
Weak legs, especially weak back legs.
Greater vulnerability to bladder infections (such as cystitis).
An enlarged liver. This is something your vet will often be able to feel with their hands.
Your vet will usually test for diabetes by performing a blood test and or a test on a urine sample.
How can the diabetes be managed?
The most important thing that you can do yourself at home is to keep your cat at a healthy weight. You can do this by giving them a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Your vet will be able to give you advice on how much to feed your cat, and which types of food are best for their condition.
In addition, your vet may well opt to control your kitty’s diabetes with medications. As very often feline diabetes is a hormonal issue, these drugs will target the pancreas where hormones are secreted.
So, what is the bottom line?
Managing your cat’s weight and ensuring that they get lots of exercise is always a good idea. Though by doing so, you will reduce your kitty’s chance of developing diabetes, you cannot completely eliminate it. Sometimes, it’s just the luck of the draw, and some cats (for instance, Burmese cats) are thought to be genetically more likely to develop diabetes. So, if you do wind up with a diabetic cat, don’t beat yourself up about it!
Remember, feline diabetes is a totally manageable condition. Keep a look out for the warning signs and catch it early – that way, it will be easier to manage.
Do you have any experience with diabetes in cats?
Download our 10 fun exercises you can do with your cat.