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Cat Diabetes: What Colorado Pet Parents Need to Know

November 3rd, 2014 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Muffin is a bit overweight and is at risk for cat diabetes.

“Does my cat have diabetes?”

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Normally, we associate diabetes with people. Believe it or not, though, cats can get diabetes too. Here’s an introduction to cat diabetes, including signs to look for in your feline friend and how to prevent the disease.

The basics on cat diabetes

Typically, cat diabetes is a disease related to your cat’s diet. Your cat may be on too high of a carbohydrate diet (which can happen with dry foods), and your cat may not be getting enough exercise.

Cat diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes in people. Your cat’s body can’t produce enough insulin to move sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into cells to get turned into energy. As glucose builds up in your cat’s bloodstream, the complications build as well.

What are some common cat diabetes symptoms?

We usually see diabetes in older, overweight cats, but it can affect younger cats too.

Initially, your cat may drink a lot of water, urinate a lot, have an out-of-control appetite and even lose weight unexpectedly. If you start to notice any of these symptoms of diabetes, it’s time for a visit to our Castle Rock veterinary clinic!

If you don’t take action, your cat will grow malnourished. You may notice your cat’s appetite plummet. In extreme cases, your cat may develop weak muscles, lethargy, vomiting, labored breathing and other life-threatening complications.

So now are you ready for the good news?

Cat diabetes is preventable, and many cats that are diabetic can return to normal health with the right care.

Cheers for that!

To help reduce the chances of cat diabetes, Shadow is enouraged to play outside.

How to reduce your cat’s chances of getting diabetes

Here are some things you can do to help ensure your cat doesn’t come down with diabetes:

  • Diet. Look for cat foods that are high in protein and low in carbs. Cats are meat eaters by nature, so it’s helpful if you can provide protein-rich cat foods at mealtime. If your cat is overweight, you also may want to look for reduced calorie foods.
  • Portion control. Aren’t sure what the right daily portion size is for your cat? We can help you figure it out based on your cat’s age and body condition. Ask us at your next vet visit.
  • Playtime. (Translation: Exercise.) Now we know what you’re thinking. Really? You want me to get my cat to exercise? The more you can stimulate your cat to play, the better off he or she will be. Cat perches, playing hide and seek for treats, chasing strings and other cat toys that encourage your cat to actively move are all good alternatives to sleeping!

The goal here is to prevent your cat from gaining fat.

What’s the right body condition for cats?

Cats should have a little bit of a waist with no excess fat on their abdomens. And you should easily we able to feel your cat’s ribs.

Clarie wants to make sure her kitty doesn't develop signs of diabetes in cats.

Treating cat diabetes

Okay, let’s say your cat has diabetes. Now what?

If your cat is diabetic but his or her glucose isn’t too high yet, we can put your pet on a diabetic diet. The new diet, combined with active playtime, may be all you need to make a difference.

If your cat’s glucose level is too high, it’s time for more aggressive measures. You’ll need to give your cat two injections every day and come in for regular visits. We know injections may sound scary, but we can show you how to do them to minimize discomfort for your cat (and you).

Initially, you’ll need to make veterinary visits fairly often until we can get your cat’s blood glucose regulated. When we get the glucose in check, veterinary visits will drop to once every few months.

How quickly will things turn around? Ultimately, that depends on your cat. Some cats regulate very quickly. Other cats take a long time.

Wondering if it’s time to bring your cat in for a nutrition checkup?

With a checkup, we can give you an answer to: “Does my cat have diabetes?” Give us a call or request an appointment online.

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Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on cat diabetes. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call.)

© 2014, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

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