Signs of Diabetes in Cats

Cats can develop diabetes similar to people. The signs of diabetes in cats can be similar to those in people.  Diabetes is a condition of insufficient amountSigns of Diabetes in Cats of insulin being produced by the body.  This causes the blood sugar level to become too high which is unhealthy.  This causes many things to happen to the body which adversely affect a cat’s health.

The classic signs of diabetes in cats are excessive thirst, urination, and appetite, and weight loss and a decrease in energy level.  A cat with diabetes will have to drink and urinate large volumes due to large amounts of sugar being filtered into the urine.  This causes more water to be excreted into the urine and the cat will in turn drink more to prevent dehydration.  They will eat more because their feeding center in the brain requires insulin to turn it off, therefore, a cat with diabetes doesn’t have the switch to stop eating.  Despite eating more, then a cat would normally eat, they lose weight because insulin is needed to utilize the calories and create energy.

As the diabetes progresses a cat can develop other conditions secondary to the high blood sugar.  A cat with diabetes can develop a neurologic condition that causes weakness, primarily in the hind legs.  The classic sign of a diabetic neuropathy in cats is the inability to jump.  They will often stand with a plantigrade stance with their hind legs.  This is reversible with proper treatment.  Urinary tract infections are more prevalent in cats with diabetes due to the sugar in the urine being conducive to bacterial colonization of the bladder.  It is important to know that cats with diabetes don’t always show signs of a urinary tract infection when they have one.

Diagnosing a cat with diabetes is not difficult for a veterinarian.  It will require the veterinarian taking a history from the owner, doing a physical examination, and performing bloodwork and a urinalysis.  After the diagnosis has been made your cat should be started on insulin therapy and possibly change the diet.

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Dr Peter Nurre

Peter Nurre, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board- certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include internal medicine and cardiology.

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