Cat diabetes is relatively uncommon, but it's worth knowing about so that you can get Kitty investigated promptly if you think he may be showing the signs. The correct medical term for this disease is diabetes mellitus.
Cause, Signs And Treatment
Cat diabetes is caused by a shortage of a hormone called insulin. The basic energy source for cells is a sugar - glucose. Insulin is needed to get glucose from the blood into the cells. In other words, without insulin, glucose can't enter the cells.
Because the cells can't get glucose, they signal for more, and the body responds to this by releasing more. So the glucose level in the blood rises higher and higher. The cells still can't use this glucose, so as far as they are concerned, there is still a lack. They signal for more, the body releases more, and a vicious circle develops.
Eventually, the blood glucose level becomes so high that the kidneys go into overdrive to try to reduce it. They do this by producing large quantities of dilute urine, which will contain glucose. To counteract this fluid loss in the urine, the cat develops a major thirst and starts to drink much more than normal. He'll also eat more, because of the cells signaling a lack of glucose, but he'll lose weight because the glucose can't be absorbed by the cells.
Blood and urine tests will show abnormally high levels of glucose, and will confirm the diagnosis.
Click here for more detailed information on feline diabetes symptoms.
To treat cat diabetes successfully, insulin must be administered. This has to be done via injection, as it's broken down in the gut if it's given orally. Your vet will also advise you on a suitable diet.
If your cat has just been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be understandably extremely concerned about his welfare, as well as the worry of injections and the expense. Caring for a diabetic cat does take commitment and time, but it is do-able. And it's not as ridiculously expensive or difficult as you might think. I had a diabetic cat, so I'm speaking from experience. For advice on health insurance for your cat, click here.
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