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Cat diabetes – it’s a real thing

August 27th 2018

Author: Sarah Butler

Approximately 500,000 people in Australia have type 2 diabetes, but did you know that your cat could have it too? It is thought that 0.5-2 percent of the feline population has the condition and being aware of the signs may just prove helpful for those who are unsure about what is wrong with their cat.

Many cats are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar levels. While some pet owners may think the condition is a death sentence, it can be anything but, when managed correctly.

Diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in obese cats, but cats in a healthy weight range can also have it. If your cat is drinking more water, is urinating often, or has an increased appetite, pay attention. It may be helpful to take your cat to the vet for a professional opinion and diagnosis of what the problem is. If you fail to do so, and your cat does have diabetes, it may experience weight loss, dehydration, depression, motor function problems, a loss of appetite, coma, and even death.

If a diagnosis of diabetes is made, you may feel overwhelmed by what that means for you and your cat. It’s important to understand that while your feline now has a condition that requires monitoring, it’s entirely manageable.

Your vet may recommend a low carbohydrate diet, followed by insulin therapy. They will then carry out urine tests, exams and take note of behavioural signs to design a treatment plan to best suit your cat. Blood tests are taken during regular vet visits, and you may also be required to give your cat insulin shots. Your vet will instruct you on how to do this.

It can seem like treatment is intensive, but once blood sugar levels are under control, body condition has improved, and your cat is on a healthy diet, diabetes has been known to go into partial or full remission for months or even years. It’s not guaranteed, but it is possible.

The primary concern for owners of cats with diabetes is whether it can affect their lifespan. While diabetes is entirely manageable, it can shorten your cat’s life. Poorly controlled diabetes can be fatal, as can infections and nerve disorders associated with the condition. However, with a daily commitment to treating your cat, there’s every possibility it could make it into its late teens, living a full and happy life.

If you have reason to believe your cat may have diabetes, make an appointment with your vet immediately. The sooner you can receive a diagnosis, the sooner your cat can receive help.