Diabetes isn’t uncommon in our feline friends, and it is often time consuming and costly to treat. This condition is a result of your cat’s inability to regulate his blood glucose levels, resulting in increased thirst and appetite, and more frequent urination. Feline diabetes is very much like type 2 diabetes in people; many cases are related to diet and obesity. It can be treated with insulin injections once or twice daily but recent studies suggest have given veterinarians more information on how to manage diabetes and perhaps even to prevent it occurring at all!
The first thing you need to be aware of is that in cats, there is a per-diabetic state. This occurs when a cat has high blood glucose levels, but isn’t yet showing any symptoms of having the disease. This is a really important and exciting thing, because it suggests that frequent blood glucose measurements (which are quickly and easily performed at your vet surgery) can identify this state. You can then make changes to your cat’s lifestyle to avoid him developing full blown diabetes. These changes involve putting him on a diet so he loses weight, and changing his food to a low carbohydrate diet. Veterinarians have found that the best diet for managing diabetes in cats is a canned or wet food diet. If your cat has a yearly or twice-yearly examination with your vet, make sure you ask for a blood glucose check to identify any changes early.
Another interesting fact that has been discovered is that if your cat has been diagnosed with feline diabetes, it needn’t be a life sentence. Many cats can go into remission. Initially, they’ll need insulin injections to keep blood glucose levels within normal limits but with a strict weight loss protocol and a controlled diet, it’s very possible that they may no longer need insulin at all. This will not only save their owner a lot of money but also stress; nobody really likes to give their much loved feline friend an injection twice a day! Remission is much more likely with an early diagnosis; another reason why regular blood glucose checks are essential.
It’s important that diabetes is diagnosed early and managed properly. If it is left uncontrolled, then it may cause other long term health issues such as kidney disease. This adds a whole new challenge – kidney disease is best managed by diet, but diet is critical in controlling diabetes. It can be challenging to juggle both for the benefit of the feline patient.
The two most important parts of preventing and treating diabetes in cats is firstly, control your cat’s weight so he doesn’t become too fat and secondly, have regular blood glucose tests done to diagnose any changes early. By doing this, you give your cat the best opportunity of avoiding the disease, or recovering from it quickly.