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Symptoms of Feline Diabetes

Updated on January 14, 2009

Learn how to recognize warning symptoms

When 8 year old domestic short hair Tiger began exhibiting a ravenous appetite, his owner simply thought that the chilly fall weather approaching was the primary cause. He had heard about animals and people needing more calories and energy to fight the dropping temperatures, so he compensated by feeding his cat more often than before. However, when Tiger later on began to unexplainable lose weight, drink more and refuse food he called his veterinarian for a routine check up.

Tiger as many other cats affected by diabetes may exhibit subtle signs at first that may go unrecognized in many owners. Most owners tend to see an increase of appetite as a sign of good health. However, they may be surprised when their cat instead of gaining weight actually begins to lose it and even considerably. There are other typical symptoms suggesting diabetes in felines. Acknowledging them may cause attentive owners to seek veterinary care promptly for their care resulting in a better prognosis.

Symptoms of Feline Diabetes

Most cats will exhibit an increased appetite at first. Because the pancreas of diabetic cats does not produce sufficient quantities of insulin, sugar levels in such cats will be elevated. The cat's body therefore, may attempt to compensate the excess sugar by sending messages to the brain for the cat to eat more. At the same time the cat may feel like drinking more in an attempt to flush the excess sugar out of the system. Increased urination therefore develops as a result. However, ultimately, the cat becomes malnourished and the cat will begin to vomit, lose weight and refuse food.

In some cases, cats may develop " peripheral neuropathy" where the rear legs may weaken. The cat may walk "funny' and lose control of its hind legs. This condition suggests that the diabetes has begun to cause nerve damage. Some cats may also be prone to bacterial infections and their wounds may have difficulty to heal. The affected cat may also have a poor coat.

As the diabetes progresses, special acids called ketones form in the blood as it accumulates. Cats may at this point develop a sweet smelling breath resembling the smell of nail polish remover along with labored breathing, lethargy, weakness and ultimately coma as the diabetes advances.

Treatment of Feline Diabetes

When caught at its earliest, dietary management may suffix in some cases. Because the majority of diabetic cats are obese, special diets that focus on weight control such as Hill's R/D may be necessary. However, most cases require both dietary management and insulin injections. A blood glucose curve requiring one day hospitalization at the veterinarian may help assess the appropriate dosage of insulin, however, repeated blood glucose curves may be necessary throughout the cat's life.

While giving daily injections to your cat may feel intimidating, the good news is that the cat will very likely cooperate and that with proper management most cats are still able to lead many more happy years to come.


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