Diagnosing & Treating Diabetes in Cats

manhattan beach cat veterinarian diabetesDiabetes is increasing among cats as well as humans. In fact, it’s estimated that 2% or more of the feline population will develop diabetes. Fortunately, our veterinarians can treat feline diabetes. Thanks to recent advancements in veterinary medicine, many cats with diabetes now live longer, healthier lives.

What is Cat Diabetes?

Mammal’s bodies (including humans and cats) use “glucose” (a type of sugar) for fuel. This glucose is obtained by breaking down carbohydrates in their food. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, is what extracts the glucose from the blood for use.  In a diabetic human or cat, the pancreas cells don’t properly produce insulin, so the “sugar” builds up in the blood – to a toxic degree.

Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes can be a silent disease. Cat owners may notice that their pet has a much greater than normal hunger and/or thirst, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, depression, more frequent or volume urination, or even “accidents” in the house. Your veterinarian can diagnose feline diabetes with a simple blood test that measures your cat’s blood glucose level.

Because other diseases sometimes can also sometimes raise a cat’s glucose levels, the veterinarian may want to run some additional tests to rule out other causes.

Once a cat is diagnosed with diabetes, the veterinarian may want to obtain a “serial blood glucose–concentration curve” by measuring the pet’s glucose level repeatedly over many hours. The results will help the veterinarian choose an appropriate type of insulin, dose amount and dosing schedule.

What Are The Types of Diabetes?

Humans are subject to three kinds of diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is hereditary and most often occurs in children – when the immune system attacks and destroys the pancreas’ beta cells, so the body no longer produces insulin. There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes and it must be treated with Insulin injections. Type 2 Diabetes is much more common in humans and is usually the result of middle or old age coupled with dietary factors, excess weight, and a sedentary lifestyle. It can be treated with medication, and even reversed.  Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is believed to be caused by hormonal changes.

Cats also appear to have a form of permanent Type 1 Diabetes (which must be treated with Insulin) and a form of reversible Type 2 Diabetes (which can sometimes be treated with medication, weight loss and lifestyle changes).

Treating Feline Diabetes

Most diabetic cats require insulin injections under the skin once or twice a day, with a very fine needle.  While they may not like this at first, most cats acclimate to the quick injections very soon.

There are several different types of insulin available for use in managing your cat’s diabetes. Some of the most common include protamine zinc (PZI) insulins, lente insulins, Humulin® and other human-type products.

However some healthy diabetic cats (with the diabetes that resembles human “Type 2” diabetes) can be successfully treated with orally administered hypoglycemic medications that lower blood glucose levels.

Ongoing and frequent monitoring of the diabetic cat’s glucose level is important. A combination of urine glucose monitoring and “pin prick” blood tests may be used. Urine glucose monitoring is generally not as accurate as blood testing, due to the lag time for glucose to go from the blood to the urine in the cat’s body.

Our caring veterinarians will help you understand the best way to monitor your cat’s glucose, and will teach you how to use and interpret the test results and administer the Insulin injections.

Changes in your cat’s eating and drinking habits, weight and urine output should also be monitored. And maintaining a proper diet and healthy weight is also important in a successful diabetes treatment program.

Risk Factors for Feline Diabetes

Obesity is a risk factor for developing feline diabetes – but there also are some breeds of cats that simply get diabetes more than other breeds do. So this suggests that there may be a genetic component involved, just as there is for people. As with human diabetes, cat diabetes is still not 100% understood.

There are some who have speculated, based on a few clinical studies, that a lower-carbohydrate diet may help diabetic cats control their blood sugar better.  But there is no fool-proof way to prevent diabetes in cats that is currently known.

Complications of Cat Diabetes

The most common diabetic complication in cats is cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye). If diabetes is not well managed, cats may also develop nerve problems, hardening of the arteries, kidney disease, retina disease or nerve disease. Bacteria also thrives on a high-sugar diet – so cats with diabetes are typically more prone to gum disease, urinary tract infections, skin disorders and other infections.

But with proper care, monitoring and treatment your diabetic cat can still live a longer and happier life. And medical advancements are being made in the field of both human and pet diabetes every year.

Our Veterinarians Treat Feline Diabetes in Cats

If you have a diabetic cat, or if you are worried your cat may be showing signs of diabetes, our caring and experienced veterinarians can help. Remember, as with any disease, early action is important.

Call our office today and we will be happy to test your cat, and prescribe the very best treatments so they can live a long and happy life.

Comments are closed.


          Monday - Friday
        7:30 am - 6:00 pm
 (Closed Thur. 1 pm - 3 pm)
        8:00 am - 2:00 pm


 2705 N. Sepulveda Boulevard
  Manhattan Beach, CA 90266



Sign Up for Alerts: