Cat Health Diabetes
"Cat health diabetes is usually triggered by weight gain. The body produces insulin to help metabolize the sugar in food. When your cat eats more, the body can't keep up and diabetes sets in. While no one knows the exact cause of diabetes, this is the current thinking. Treatment involves either insulin shots, oral medications. This can be supplemented with homeopathic approaches, exercise and weight loss."
There are two types of diabetes. In type one, the body does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that controls how the body absorbs and uses sugar. In type two, the body does not utilize insulin properly. Either way, the body does not break down and utilize sugar the way it should.
When your cat eats, the carbs, proteins and fats are broken down into parts including glucose. Insulin produced by the body regulates how and the rate at which the glucose is used. When the insulin production doesn't keep up with food intake, then diabetes occurs.
The symptoms of cat health diabetes can be subtle and easy to miss if you don’t know what to watch for. It’s important to catch it early, though, so treatment can begin before your cat becomes very ill. Left untreated, diseases such as ketoacidosis (acid accumulation in the bloodstream) and diabetic neuropathy (pain in the hind legs) can develop as well.
Causes of Cat Health Diabetes
No one knows what triggers the onset of diabetes. Diabetes is usually seen in older female cats that are overweight. Other diseases that are associated with the disease include:
- Acromegaly (limb enlargement)
- Cushing's Disease
- Medications (megestrol acetat, corticosteroids/prednisolone)
Symptoms of Feline Diabetes
If the body can't find glucose, it looks for other sources of energy in proteins and carbs. Your cat will start eating more since the body will be craving more food to turn into energy. Since food is being metabolized faster, your cat will start to lose weight. The glucose that isn't being absorbed by the cells enters the blood causing your cat to urinate more. With more urination, your cat will drink more.
Therefore, the Symptoms of feline diabetes include drinking more water than usual, the need to urinate more than usual (your litter-trained cat may suddenly begin having “accidents” in the house), and weight loss. Your cat may seem more tired than usual. Her coat may grow dull, she may vomit, and may have weakness in her rear legs. If you notice these symptoms in your cat, you should take her to the vet for an examination.
Diagnosing Cat Health Diabetes
Your vet will recognize the symptoms of cat health diabetes. He or she will do a blood test to check your cat’s blood sugar. This test may need to be done when your cat has been fasting for about twelve hours, so ask when you schedule the appointment if you should feed your cat before taking him to the vet. Your vet will also check your cat’s urine for sugar. The presence of sugar in the urine means that the body is not absorbing and using sugar properly.
Treating Symptoms of Cat Health Diabetes
There is no cure for cat health diabetes. Some cats will need lifelong treatment while others may naturally not require care after a period of time.
Daily insulin shots or oral medications (glipizide) will be needed depending on the severity of the condition and what your cat responds to. You may need to check your cat’s blood sugar levels as well. Your vet will show you how to do this. You may also need to test your cat’s urine for sugar at home. Some cats respond well to treatment and others are more difficult.
You'll need to pay close attention to changes in weight and your cats eating, drinking and urination habits.
Cat Diabetes Diet
Special diets have been shown to help in clinical studies. There are two types that are recommended for cats with feline diabetes. The first is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet and the second is a high fiber diet. Cats that respond to one of the diets may not respond to the other.
Ask your vet which brand of food is best for your cat and how much you should feed her. If trying the high fiber diet, then Hill's Prescription Diet w/d is a good choice. For the high protein diet, you can try Purina DM or Fancy Feast. Most name brand canned foods will have the amount of protein needed.
She should eat the same amount of food every day and eat at the same time every day. When you feed your cat will affect when you should give her the insulin, so talk to your vet about your cat’s feeding schedule. If your cat is overweight, it will be more difficult to control her blood sugar, so talk to your vet about the best way to help her lose the extra pounds.
Homeopathic Approaches to Cat Diabetes Treatment
Natural remedies have a history of providing support for maintaining normal glucose levels on healthy pets. There is a growing body of evidence that natural ingredients such as Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry)and minerals such as Chromium picolinate help with the metabolism of sugar. One source for additional research is GlucoBalance. This product is specifically made to naturally treat diabetes in pets.
Cat Health Diabetes and Exercise
All cats need regular exercise, and a cat with diabetes is no exception. However, the amount of exercise she gets affects the amount of insulin her body requires. That means she should get about the same amount of exercise each day, unless you are checking her blood sugar and adjusting her insulin accordingly. A regular playtime for exercise will work best for your cat.
Your cat should be closely monitored by your vet, and monitored daily by you. Let your vet know right away if you begin to see signs of diabetes in your cat despite treatment. A cat with diabetes can live a long and happy life with proper care.
With proper care your cat can live a long healthy life.
Cornell Feline Veterinary Center
Techniques for Monitoring Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats
Nelson, Richard W. DVM
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