Diabetes in Cats

You’ve got that lazy house cat that has gained more and more weight over the years.  She’s the perfect lap cat.  But lately, you’ve noticed she’s started losing weight.  And you cannot keep her water bowl filled.  And that litter box!  It’s always soaked!  Diabetes in cats is an all too common problem now, especially in our indoor cats.

For years we have rightly advised cat owners to keep their cats indoors.  That’s because the life expectancy of an indoor cat is about twice that of an outdoor cat.  But now that we’ve started keeping them inside, we beginning to see more and more diabetes occur in our feline friends.

Diabetes in cats is somewhat similar to type 2 diabetes in people.  It is seen more in our chronic overweight cats that stay inside, eat lots of kibble, and get little exercise.  In recent years, it’s been discovered that these chubby cats are eating way too many carbs.  It turns out that cats need a high protein, low carb diet.   All the extra carbs these indoor cats eat are not being burned off with exercise.  And that can stress the Islet cells in the pancreas which produce insulin, thus raising the glucose levels and causing diabetes.

 

Signs of diabetes can include strong appetite and heavy weight (often regressing into appetite loss and extreme weight loss), extreme thirst, and hence, large volumes of urine.  At first diabetic cats act normally.  But as the toxins from insulin loss build up in the bloodstream, these cats become very sick.

Early diagnosis is really important in this disease, because in some cats, if caught early and treated, we can actually see remission of the diabetic state.  Treatment does involve twice daily injection of a special insulin, and dietary change to a high protein, low carb diet.    If they respond to treatment and there is still good pancreatic tissue remaining, some cats will require less and less insulin to the point of not needing it at all.

For other questions or for an appointment, call the Rannals Small Animal Hospital at 903-839-7235.