Everything you need to know about feline diabetes

Feline diabetes? Yes it’s a thing. And something even more shocking is how common it is. Maybe you already have a cat with this problem, maybe you’re suspecting your cat might have it OR maybe you’re just finding out that it exists. Whatever one of these applies to you, keep reading and you might find the answers you are looking for.

Veterinary professionals say that 1 in every 230 cats are affected by this condition, which is quite a lot considering there are an estimated 600 MILLION cats in the world. Although this sounds scary, it’s okay because it is a treatable and manageable disorder. It all starts with sugar, everybody needs a certain amount of sugar to produce enough energy which then in turn keeps us alive. The same goes for cats! When a diabetic cat consumes glucose, and cannot process it properly it can lead to a build-up of sugars in the blood stream which can result in a life threatening condition if it begins to spill into the cats urine.

What causes it?

Diabetes can occur in cats of any age though it is most commonly seen to appear in cats over the age of 6.  Some of the more common causes can include obesity, pancreatitis, genetic predisposition or Cushings Syndrome (elevated blood sugar levels). Like human diabetes, some cats may need insulin (insulin dependent) and some may be non-insulin dependent and potentially only need insulin when stressed.

So what are the symptoms?

The most common signs of diabetes in cats are increased thirst and increased urination as well as an increase in appetite and sometimes weight loss.

Less common but equally as serious symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dull coat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fruity smell on the breath
  • Straining to urinate.

These symptoms can come on rapidly and appear suddenly so it is best to seek urgent medical treatment when noticed, and the diagnoses are normally based on elevated blood sugar levels.

So what if your cat has feline diabetes and what are some of the treatment options available? Common treatment options can include a modification to their diet, increasing exercise and the addition of specific medications which aid in reducing glucose levels or the administration of insulin if insulin dependent.