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How to treat cat diabetes?

White ginger and grey obese cat with diabetes advice
© Pixabay

If your favourite cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s nothing to worry about. There are several ways to treat cat diabetes which doesn’t have to impact on your cat’s quality of life.

By Dawn Parrish

Just like in humans, there are different types of feline diabetes. Certainly, your Vet will be the person to diagnose diabetes in your pet. He will also suggest the necessary feline diabetes treatment options available.

A diabetes diagnosis

The most common diabetes health condition in cats is known as “Diabetes Mellitus” or “Type II Diabetes”. This condition arises when the blood sugar of a cat rises due to its body no longer responding in a normal manner to insulin.  First of all, the pancreas will react by producing more insulin, but as a result, the cells that make insulin will deteriorate.

Feline diabetes usually affects middle-aged, obese cats but it can affect younger cats too. Diabetes can be a genetic problem and also affects cats who live a lazy, sedentary lifestyle. Likewise, cats fed on a high carbohydrate diet, usually dry kibble, are also prone to this health condition.

What are the signs of cat diabetes?

  • Thirst increases
  • Increased frequency and/or volume of urination
  • Cat has increased appetite
  • Suspected weight loss
  • Smelly urine - because of the presence of infection or ketones
  • Possible tiredness / lethargy

How does cat diabetes affect your cat?

When a cat eats a meal, their digestive system will generally break down the food into various elements. One of these is glucose (sugar). The body absorbs this glucose where it then travels via the cat’s bloodstream to different organs, the muscles and the heart. Glucose provides the cat with energy to fuel their energetic activities.

Medecines for cat with diabetes
Insulin and oral medication can treat cat diabetes © Pixabay

Even more important is insulin, which is a hormone that the pancreas produces. Insulin is required to transport the glucose around the blood. Without insulin, the glucose remains stagnant and the cat’s body needs to use protein and fat instead, to give them energy. As a result of this, cats very quickly lose muscle mass, and weight too.

Feline diabetes treatment options

Obviously, it will be a worry if your cat is diagnosed with diabetes. Above all, don’t panic, as it doesn’t have to mean a death sentence for your pet! With some cats, diabetes is a transient illness that can be remedied with appropriate care and treatment. Possible treatments that can help include diet changes, insulin injections and of course, monitoring via veterinary care.

Insulin to treat cat diabetes

If it seems like you won’t get used to giving your cat frequent injections, don’t worry. You will soon adapt to the routine and get quite comfortable doing this. Insulin treatment is normally given twice daily, every 12 hours, using a fine needle under the skin. The majority of cats will tolerate having an injection without too much fuss. Make sure you give her a treat after her injection. You will probably find that your cat gives you a reminder that it’s time for an injection – purely because she is looking for her next treat. Medical check-ups will be needed to monitor the cat’s glucose levels

Diet changes as a feline diabetes treatment option

You will be advised to change your pet’s diet if Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is diagnosed. The change will be to a diet that includes low carbohydrates and high protein food choices. Of course, weight loss is also required.

Oral medicine for cat diabetes treatment

Some prescribed medications will actually lower the cat’s blood sugar levels. These hypoglycemic agents are easier to administer than injections but might not have the same effectiveness.

Obese cat with diabetes
A cat diagnosed with diabetes can live for many years with the correct treatment © Pixabay

Prognosis for a cat diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus

Because there is no definitive cure for cat diabetes, it is quite easy to manage the symptoms of this illness. Due to the support and the appropriate education of their owners, a feline with well-controlled DM can live for many years. Above all, the importance is placed on the cat’s quality of life. Certainly, in some cases, cats go into “remission” and their need for insulin treatments will subside. However, it’s very important to keep a check on any return of the clinical symptoms of diabetes.

If you suspect that your pet has diabetes symptoms, it’s crucial that you speak to your vet very soon. Ignoring this health condition can have a negative impact on your pet’s health. Certainly, this is the consequence if it’s not treated for quite some time. If diabetes isn’t treated long term, the illness can be fatal.