November is American Diabetes Month, and my friend Parker always asks us kitties to help increase diabetes awareness this time of year. But I thought I would take a slightly different approach and talk about feline diabetes. Yes, we kitties can suffer from this too, even die from it if it is not properly controlled. And like humans, obese kitties on a poor diet seem to have it more frequently than those with normal weights who eat a species-appropriate diet. Diet and weight are not the whole story, of course, but they are important factors, and something that is easy for humans to control (in their lives and their cats’ lives).
Most feline diabetes resembles human type 2 diabetes: although your cat’s body is still making insulin, the insulin is no longer helping glucose, or sugar, move from the bloodstream into the cells. When sugar builds up in the bloodstream, the cat will start having symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, and increased appetite. If nothing is done about her condition, she will lose weight, lose her appetite and become lethargic. The longer a cat goes without treatment, the more dangerous it becomes for her, and she could go into a coma and die.
It is important that you take your cat to the vet if she is displaying these symptoms, and if she is diagnosed with diabetes, it is crucial that you follow the vet’s orders about treatment and diet. Usually, the treatment involves giving the cat insulin and a high protein, wet food diet. Yes, you will probably have to give your cat shots, but I will tell you a secret — it is nowhere near as bad as giving shots to humans! With our fur and looser skin, we don’t feel it anywhere near as much. Your cat’s feeding schedule must be regulated around these injections.
Here is something you should also remember: diabetes and insulin resistance do not stay the same, so your cat’s blood glucose levels should be tested regularly. Your vet should be doing this once diabetes has been diagnosed, but you can also do it at home. In fact, if your cat is going through a radical diet change — say, from low-quality, dry kibble to high-protein, grain-free food — you should have her retested right away, not days or weeks later. Sometimes a cat’s metabolism will respond quickly to a diet change, and if the insulin dosage is not adjusted right away, it could cause a hypoglycemic crisis that may result in brain damage, or even kill your kitty.
In spite of all my dire words, the truth is that once your cat’s diabetes is under control, it is not that big a deal. With proper treatment (that is not all that complicated) and good communication between you and your vet, your cat should remain healthy and happy for many more years. In fact, some cats, once they lose weight and eat better, go into remission and no longer need insulin injections. But — again, just like human diabetes — they are not considered cured. You still need to keep an eye on her for any symptoms that show that diabetes is acting up again.
Here are some great online resources to read more about feline diabetes. They are not meant to replace your vet’s care, but they may prove helpful:
Feline Diabetes — there is a lot of good info here, plus a message board that serves as a support group
Feline Diabetes page from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (they also have a video)
Feline Diabetes article by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM
We lost our guardian angel cat Maxfield ::bows head in honor:: to diabetes. This was before I was born, so I never got the chance to meet him, but mom said he was a really cool cat and he was the best friend and buddy of my mentor and best friend Jonathan ::bows head in honor::….so I know I would have loved him lots.
Mom said this was back in 2004 and they had great difficulty regulating his blood sugar. It still makes mom and dad sad.
I feel bad for any animal, human, dog, or cat, that has diabetes. It is getting out of control. I hope someone comes up with a cure instead of more ways to make money from it.
This was very informative Sparkle and something efurryone should know. Our Uncle Samy has diabetes. He’s a woofie but still people are surprised that any animal can get diabetes. He has to have his insulin shots twice a day and be monitored regularly. We wish one day no animal or human has diabetes. Thank you for bringing awareness to this important matter.
The right TYPE of insulin is critical too! Human insulin (namely Lantus) is way more expensive than Vetsulin, but it is much better at getting newly-diagnosed cats into remission and, because it’s a human insulin more subject to FDA regulation, the quality is much better and identical from vial to vial. Many a vet are calling for Vetsulin’s recall altogether because of it’s irregular quality and ineffectiveness. Also, those with Diabetes need to also know they are much more prone to UTI’s and URI’s. These will screw with your kitty’s glucose readings (which in many cases will be the first sign of the infection in the first place). Vet communication is CRITICAL to your kitty, especially in the first place. TSB was on the phone with my vet daily for probably the first 6 months almost as we went thru the Vetsulin and then the switch to Lantus and the regulation process. It’s not that big of a deal but good vet supervision is definitely needed. But also know any pre-existing conditions can complicate things. My final infection stirred up my heart as fluid built up into my lungs and it was a massive chain reaction that TSB STILL blames herself for not being able to get under control nearly 9 months after she had to send me OTRB.
Great post Sparkle, and full of great info. We sure hate that the beautiful Parker is going through this.
Pricilla - Famous SpokesGoat says
Very informative Sparkle. Thank you
What yous said and how yous said it has really resonated with me! Me is sharing this one for sure!
Thanks Sparkle, you explained it really well. Hopefully my kitties will never have to go through this but at least I have some knowledge now just in case 🙂
Prancer Pie says
A very informative article. Thank you Sparkle.
Little One says
Thanks Sparkle, for the very informative article.
Cats of wildcat woods says
Our Mom’s mom had a dog with Diabetes and she lived well with insulin and diet. Good info on the post Sparkle!
Cathy Keisha says
The peeps always thought Nicky had diabetes cos he was overweight and drank tons of water but the vet said no. If I, OTOH, started drinking water again, they’d be deliriously happy. Great post! Very informative.
Venita Wood says
Thanks, Sparkle, for spreading the word. Diabetic Cats in Need is a rescue specifically to help diabetic cats. Please check us out. On Facebook—>https://www.facebook.com/DiabeticCatsInNeed.
Hannah and Lucy says
Thanks for letting us know about this Sparkle – we have made mum read it too.
Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx
The Kitties of Purring Pines says
Thanks fur the excellent info Sparkle!
Never really knew before that kitties could also be insulin dependant. They can also suffer from diabetes..going through this post helped me to be aware of such information and i would definitely share it with others in my cirlce. Thanks.
Huffle Mawson says
Thanks for sharing that info, Sparkle!
Milo and Alfie says
Perhaps by raising awareness kitty lives will be saved ~ as they may be diagnosed early enough to receive treatment. Thanks.
We just read on FB that Chrystal won the 1000 post donation! YAY! Thank you so much! xx
Mark's Mews says
Yeah, STOP that vishus Diabetes… But um, how?