Feline Diabetes | Causes | Symptoms | Treatment

feline diabetes

This Article on Feline Diabetes aims not just at talking about cat diabetes because diabetes and a cats life are interchangeable. If we talk about the one we talk about the other.

So when we talk about feline diabetes, we must also talk about a cat’s diet which is strongly related to cat health.

Your cat seems to like it is an impenetrable fortress, but a cat, cat health and therefore a cat’s diet can be understood.

What does a cat eat and do in the wild?

Because we have humanized the cat too much we have actually lost the initial benchmark of the cat- what actually makes it “tick” in the wild. Therefore cat health can deteriorate by no fault of its own because we have “domesticated” them.

Once we have that base benchmark then we can tailor everything else around that. This is a key point in understanding why a cat has feline diabetes in the first place.

Did they have it in the wild or is it “human-made”.

I think we will never truly understand why, just like in humans, but what we can state is that cats are becoming more diabetic. In other words, the incidence of cat diabetes has increased as the cat has become domesticated.

We can not just isolate cat Diabetes

Types Of Cat Diabetes

Types Of Cat Diabetes

Just like how diabetes affects humans, cat diabetes comes in 3 different forms.

1. Type 1 Diabetic Cats

These are cats which are Insulin dependent. They need daily Insulin injections to survive. this is because the pancreas- where Insulin is produced, is not producing enough Insulin for the cat to survive.

2. Type 2 Diabetic Cats

The cat’s pancreas is producing enough Insulin but the cat’s cells are not recognizing the Insulin or not using it as required. This is the most common type of feline diabetes.

In time the cat might go all the way over to Insulin only, or in the majority of cases. just have tablet therapy to control blood sugars and dietary changes. Unfortunately, about 70% of all diabetic cats will require some form of Insulin later on in life.

3. Transient Diabetes

In humans, there is a term called pre-diabetic. The person shows all the symptoms for being Diabetic, but once they turn their lifestyle around they can drop away from that term- and if kept under control they might not become diabetic.

In the cat world, transient Diabetes occurs where type 2 diabetic cats require Insulin initially. But, over time their systems re-regulates so that they can come of insulin- especially when they change their food diet to a high protein/ low carbohydrate diet.


Symptoms of Feline Diabetes

symptoms of diabetes in cats

Oddly enough  Symptoms of Feline diabetes mirror that of humans. they follow roughly the same type of symptoms.

But what is cat diabetes?

Feline diabetes occurs because either:

1- there is not enough insulin being secreted from the pancreas of the cat

2- the cats own cells just do not recognize the Insulin being produced.

It is a serious condition which can cause the cat to have convulsions and even death.

It is important that you do not ignore the symptoms of feline diabetes.

Not only that it can be a direct killer but it can cause the cat to have an enlarged liver (to where the liver can double in size), kidney damage and cataracts (which is rarer in cats than dogs).

Your cat’s appetite can be an issue. They might become a glutton. At the time that they are eating more (this is because they are trying to compensate for the inability to metabolize glucose), they might even be decreasing in weight(because of indirect malnourishment).

Your cat might even develop an increase in thirst to combat the excretion of excess sugar which will show in increased urination that the body is trying to accomplish. It can be noted that the cat will spend longer at the water bowel, lapping furiously.

In more advanced cases you might be able to see the following:

– loss of appetite

– vomiting

– weakness (because of not being able to extract the energy from its food)

– acetone breath (where the body tries to find glucose, it does by taking fats as a food source, which is not good. It also smells like nail varnish remover)

– dehydration

– labored breathing

– lethargy

– diabetic coma (the end stage of more advanced cases)

muscle weakness has shown usually by an unusual stance in the rear with the cat walking down on their hocks instead of up on their toes.

It is worthy to note that…

Some cats will show high blood glucose in their urine and blood due to stress. Defects in the kidney function, sometimes from antifreeze poisoning may also cause high glucose levels in the blood and urine.


The Diabetic Cat Diet

In the past, a diabetic cat was usually put onto a diet consisting of high fiber which was thought to slow down the nutrient uptake- thus stabilizing blood sugars.

Recent research has shown that this is not ideal for a diabetic cat.


Because cats metabolize proteins rather than carbohydrates for their glucose. Therefore a high protein low carbohydrate diet seems to be more effective and a greater control in a diabetic cats diet.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support S Dry Cat Food 12 ozYou can actually get prescription diabetic cat diet food which has been produced by the main cat food companies: Purina, Royal Canin etc.

Some vets will even state to increase protein in their diet and reduce the dry food content- because this is carbs.

In some instances, a cat is over its own weight. This can be managed by a weight reduction diet that is specifically created, by the vet, for your cat.

In some circumstances, Insulin injections are not needed, because the weight has been managed and thus the blood sugars are now in control.

Just like in adults, obesity greatly reduces the responsiveness of the cells to Insulin and makes it harder to control Diabetes.

The first action is to reduce the weight that is on the cat. This is easier said than done, and also it depends upon the cat. Some cats are naturally big in size rather than being fat. therefore any weight reduction should be consulted with a vet well before any cat weight control diet occurs.

Daily caloric requirements are determined by the weight AND activity of the cat. once we have a value it is then easy to assume the amount of food the cat gets.

The quantity of food is calculated by dividing the daily caloric requirements by the number of calories per cup/ can of food.

To prevent high levels of blood glucose after eating, avoid feeding the whole days calories in one sitting just by rationing the total amount throughout the day.

If your cat is on once daily insulin, then feed half the food at the time of injection and the rest at peak insulin activity (8-12 hours later). If your cat has twice daily injections, then just half the food again and feeds at each injection time.

Diabetic cats with oral medication should be given small meals throughout the day.


The Best Diabetic Cat Food Brands

Purina Veterinary Diets DM
Dietetic Management Feline
Formula Dry Cat Food 6 lb bag


– use a calculator to work out the nutritional content of the diabetic cat food on a dry matter basis

– only use diabetic cat food if it has been tested out by extensive feeding trials, the label should say “animal feeding tests”.

– even contact the manufacturer to check out the actual ingredients that are not listed on the food packaging

– only buy products from reputable manufacturers who have a long-term research process

– ultimately pay attention to your cat, it will tell you if it likes the food or not. They are not usually finicky eaters, they are trying to eat the best food for their nutritional needs that has evolved over time. Use your cats opinion on food to direct your buying habits.


Most Common Conditions To Affect A Cats Health

Common Conditions To Affect A Cats Health

A Cats health is not that complicated, in some ways Vets see minor conditions and it is actually quite rare to see some major massive problem.

When vets at the University of Minnesota surveyed American vet clinics they found the following:

Cat Health Age 0-7 Years Old.

No medical problems- 34%

Mouth problems- 10%

Ear mites- 5%

Fleas- 3%

Cat bite abscess- 3%

Respiratory infection- 2%

Tapeworm- 2%

Eye inflammation- 2%

Round worm- 1%

Skin problems 1%


Cats Health Age 7-10 Years Old.

Mouth problems- 20%

No medical problems- 19%

Cat bite abscess- 3%

Skin problems- 2%

Overweight- 2%

Animal bite- 2%

Ear mites- 1%

Respiratory infection- 1%

Vomiting- 1%


Cats Health Age 10 Years +.

Mouth problems 20%

No medical problems- 12%

Kidney failure- 2%

Weight loss- 2%

Heart murmur- 2%

Overactive thyroid- 2%

Tumor- 2%

Diabetes- 1%

Cat bite abscess- 1%

Vomiting- 1%


3 Feline Diabetes Imposters

Feline Diabetes Imposters

Sometimes it just isn’t food that causes feline diabetes. Sometimes the vet has to do some detective work to figure out exactly what is going on with your cat.

Here is the most common Diabetes like illnesses for cats.

1- Hypoglycemia

A reduction in blood sugars well below normal- usually caused by an overdose of Insulin. The symptoms for this condition are:

– Confused

– Disorientated

– Drowsy

– Shivering

– Staggers, falls about, collapses, falls into a coma or has seizures.

2- Pancreatitis.

This is an inflammation of the pancreas which usually has an effect on the digestive system and upon Insulin. It can be acute or chronic where the chronic form is more common in cats.

The causes of pancreatitis are varied, ranging from infection, trauma, parasites and even drug reactions.

90% of all pancreatitis cases have no known cause, but they can be genetic, the Siamese cat having a genetic predisposition to pancreatitis.

Vomiting is only shown in 30% of cats who have pancreatitis (within dogs it is much higher).

In more than 50% of cats the following are symptoms:

– lethargy

– poor appetite

– dehydration

– increased breathing

In the hands of an experienced examiner, ultrasound is a great method for detecting this condtion, also a new blood test might help diagnose pancreatitis. But it does sound very much like feline diabetes doesn’t it?

Pancreatic Islet Cell Tumors.

Tumors of the cells that produce insulin are quite rare in cats.

They occur most commonly in older, neutered male Siamese cats. Their symptoms?

– low blood glucose

– weakness

– sometimes seizures.


So as you can see, direct diagnosis of Diabetes sometimes is not always the case, even when symptoms are very much like a feline diabetic cat would show. The best method is going to your vet if your cat does display any of these symptoms or these: feline diabetes symptoms to get confirmation or an “all clear”.

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