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Diabetes in Cats - Signs & Treatment - Feline Diabetes

Updated on January 26, 2009

Cats with Diabetes

Feline diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is actually a pretty common condition in bet cats , and even dogs. Like in humans, diabetes in pet cats is a condition caused by the body's inability to produce the proper amounts of insulin to properly balance the body's blood sugar levels.

Glucose is very important to the body as it is processed into energy, and in a healthy body insulin is secreted to signal the cells to convert the sugars into energy after food is digested. The more food that the cat digests, more insulin is secreted, and more glucose is consumed.

The pancreas is the organ that secretes the insulin, and if the pancreas is not working properly, that's where the cat will have too much (hyperglycemia) or not enough (hypoglycemia) blood glucose levels.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, and type 2 when the body's cells don't respond well to insulin. Both result in high blood sugar levels because the body is unable to process the available glucose. In the early stages, diabetics may gain weight as appetites increase and their insulin levels rise and fall. However, in spite of maintaining a good appetite, diabetics ultimately lose weight since the body isn't able to process sugars into energy. Essentially, diabetics begin to starve to death.

For the most part, older and/or overweight cats have a higher risk of developing feline diabetes; male cats are more common than female cats to develop the condition.

The exact cause of feline diabetes is not 100% known, but it is thought to be caused by genetics, obesity, pancreatic disorders, hormonal imbalances, and come medications.

Diabetes is not a death sentence.

Signs of Feline Diabetes

The signs of feline diabetes are typically pretty subtle and build up over a period of months or years. Your cat may not show any signs of diabetes until the condition is in a chronic condition of high blood glucose and sugar in the urine. At this point, you may notice your cat drinking a lot more than normal and urinating more; the cat may even act sad because its body is using up fats and muscle proteins for energy. In the chronic stage, the cat may even start to lose weight even if it has a huge appetite.

Cats with diabetes often develop muscle weakness because of nerve damage. They may have problems climbing stairs, jumping, and getting in and out of the litter box.

Another sign of diabetes in cats is a sign of nerve damage, that leads the cat to walk on its back elbow joints instead of the back toes. These cats typically have "frosty paws," where the cat litter will stick to the hind legs and paws.

Common signs of diabetes in cats:

  • Extreme weight changes, either towards obesity or emaciated depending on the cat's insulin production.
  • Extreme thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive urination
  • Big appetite
  • Weakness
  • Unkempt coat
  • Difficulty climbing and jumping
  • Abnormal walking position

Supplements for Cats with Diabetes

Feline Diabetes Solution
Feline Diabetes Solution

Healthy Pet Solutions Diabetes Solution for Cats works to rebalance your cat's body, balancing your cat's pancreas functions and promote healthy sugar metabolism.


Feline Diabetes Treatment

After your veterinarian determines that your cat, in fact, does have feline diabetes by checking the cat's blood, urine, and other clinical signs, he will be able to help you find the best treatment options for you and your cat.

Remember that diabetes is treatable, and you can control your cat's diabetes for years.

Although, you may be reluctant to give your cat insulin injections, it is the most common treatment for feline diabetes. Typically, the cat will need one or two insulin injections each day. Sometimes though, you can help control the condition through a controlled diet and oral medications.

As for insulin injections, your vet can show you the proper way to give your cat his injections. Just remember that the needles are small, and your cat usually won't even notice the shot.

In addition to any medications or insulin injections, you will want to make sure that you can keep your cat's weight in check, as an overweight cat will worsen the condition. Cut out table scraps and fatty treats, and make sure that the cat's staple diet is high in fiber.

You also want to spread out your cat's meals throughout the day. Instead of one or two big meals, provide several small meals throughout the day to help keep your cat's sugar levels in check.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.


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    • pippap profile image

      pippap 7 years ago from Surrey, BC

      My beloved Mordred had diabetes; but, I was able to catch it in time to give her 2 1/2 more precious years with me. This hub is incredibly informative and contains vital information for any cat owner. Well done, hub.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      Good luck at the vet. Please let us know whta the results are.

    • girly_girl09 profile image

      girly_girl09 8 years ago from United States

      My cat Bentley just had a seizure today (it only lasted about 5 seconds...nothing major). He has an appointment tomorrow morning to get blood work done as they think he might have diabetes. He is not overweight and is a younger cat; age 4....Anyways, thanks for this info - it will be helpful for when I talk to the vet tomorrow!

    • diabetesresearch profile image

      diabetesresearch 9 years ago

      Useful information. Thanks for giving good information on diabetes.

    • Marlene F. profile image

      Marlene F. 9 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      As an owner of 5 cats, this information is so important. Though all of mine are young and my have a few years left, I am bookmarking this Hub for future reference. Thank you!

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 9 years ago

      This is something I was not aware of, showing people what signs to look for in their cats to check to see if they have feline diabetes is really useful information. I always enjoy reading your hubs.