Diabetes is the inability to produce sufficient insulin to balance blood sugar. It is a serious condition but is less common in cats than in dogs, although more difficult to regulate. When cats with diabetes are left untreated, they can suffer from loss of appetite, vomiting, and dehydration. They can also experience weight loss, severe depression, loss of motor function (diabetic neuropathy), and an ultimately death. So how can you tell if your cat has diabetes?
Before it is too late, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of diabetes in cats.
1. Sudden Weight Loss and Excessive Hunger (or Loss of Appetite)
If a cat has diabetes, it will exhibit sudden weight loss because it cannot use the calories for energy. Its body then starts breaking down fat as a replacement. When this happens, the cat begins to lose weight.
The situation is mirrored in the case of excessive hunger. Since cats do not produce enough insulin to move sugar to the cells, the cat will end up eating more. The cat displays increased appetite but at the same time still loses weight.
However, in the later stage, the cat may start losing its appetite if it is constantly not feeling well.
2. Extreme Thirst and Increased Urination
A diabetic cat will have excess sugar within its body that it is trying to eliminate supposedly through metabolism. However, the lack of insulin makes this impossible. As such, the body will try to excrete the excess sugar through the kidneys through urination. In this case, the cat’s body will go through a cycle of increased urination and thirst.
3. Extreme Fatigue and Mood Changes
When a cat is having difficulty getting enough food and water into its system, it will become lethargic. The cat will then become irritable and grumpy or sleep more than usual because it is not feeling well.
4. Vomiting and/or Diarrhoea
Vomiting and diarrhoea may be signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). However, this is often exhibited by cats that have been diagnosed with diabetes and have been taking insulin. Other factors may also lead to this condition, including kidney failure, stress, and infections in the urinary and respiratory tract. DKA is a dire clinical pet emergency and must be treated immediately.
5. Motor Weakness and Breathing Problems
When cats are not getting enough sugar, they will not have sufficient energy. Thus, if a cat has diabetes, it will feel weak. Other than weakness, poor nutrition can also affect its central nervous system and respiratory system. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy, which may cause loss of muscle function. Watch out for the ‘plantigrade stance’ or when the cat’s hocks are always touching the ground whilst walking.
What to Do When Your Cat Has Diabetes
Now that you know a few telltale signs of diabetes mellitus in cats, observe your cat for a few days. If you are anxious and would want to know immediately, you must visit the veterinarian and have your cat checked. Your feline friend’s pet insurance should cover the costs involved.
Whilst diabetes in cats is not common compared to dogs with diabetes, there are simple ways to decrease the risks. These are keeping up with your cat’s routine veterinary care, maintaining an appropriate weight, and feeding it with proper diet.