Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which your cat’s pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin (type I) or where the body’s tissues do not respond to the cat’s insulin properly (type II) or a combination of both which is common in cats.
It is estimated that approximately one in 500 dogs and cats in the UK develop the disease per year.
In cats, all ages and sexes can be affected, however older cats are particularly susceptible is the Burmese breed is particularly at risk
What does insulin do?
Every time your cat eats a meal, glucose is absorbed from the intestines and enters the bloodstream. Glucose (sugar) is the essential fuel of the body’s cells and is needed for these cells to work and so for the body to function.
As glucose enters the blood, , insulin is released by your cat’s pancreas. Insulin allows the glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter cells (for example, liver, kidney, brain and muscle cells) where it can be used for energy and growth.
You can think of insulin as a key that unlocks a door to let glucose into the cells. Insulin lowers blood glucose and allows it to enter cells, where it is used to produce energy.
What happens when your cat has a lack of insulin?
In diabetic cats, the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced is not working efficiently. Without the action of insulin, glucose is no longer able to leave the bloodstream to be used as energy by the body’s cells. Hence, the glucose in the blood will rise to an abnormally high level.
The level could become so high that glucose overflows into the urine and your cat’s urine will contain glucose.
The body’s cells cannot utilise the glucose they depend upon for energy. In order to compensate for this, other abnormal energy-producing processes begin which do not depend on glucose such as fat break-down. Unfortunately, these processes eventually create toxic by-products that can make your cat very sick.
What are the symptoms of cat diabetes?
We recommend arranging an appointment with the vet if you notice any of the symptoms below or if you have any concerns about your cat.
Signs to look out for are:
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- changes in appetite – initially an increased appetite
- weight loss
- deteriorating coat condition
- lethargy or lack of energy
How is cat diabetes treated?
After a thorough examination and diagnosis, the vet will discuss your cat’s treatment options depending on the extent of the diabetes. As well as a consistent and carefully controlled diet, regular injections of insulin should be administered to help control the condition.
Up to a third of insulin-treated diabetic cats may go into remission and therefore come off treatment altogether.
For further information on diabetes, why not speak to our veterinary nurses who run regular diabetic clinics, call today on 01905 355938