Diabetes and Cats

Patapsco Valley View

Volume 8

Fall 2012

Diabetes Affects the Sweetest Cats

....and the Sour Pusses Too!

It’s a phone call that we get regularly, kip radiator 5x7_1.JPG

and one that sends up the red flags!

“My cat seems to be losing weight, and he’s drinking a lot of water and peeing all over the place!!”

These can be the signs of a number of issues, including urinary tract infections or kidney disease, but often the diagnosis is diabetes.

Which is why it’s very important if your cat is having these symptoms to get them into the veterinary hospital as soon as possible to make the diagnosis and start the treatment process.

Diabetes is an insidious condition where the pancreas stops producing enough insulin to control the ‘sugar’ or glucose level in the blood. As the disease progresses the body starts to break down muscle tissue and excretes the ketones and excess glucose in the urine. If left untreated cats will develop complications like kidney failure, infections, and toxic conditions which can quickly cause their demise.

Now cats, unlike humans, do not develop diabetes by having a predisposition to twinkies and soda. In fact there are many studies trying to determine exactly WHY cats develop the condition. Diabetes seems to be an equal opportunity attacker, selecting cats from all breeds, shapes, and sizes. Although overweight cats and cats that eat a higher carbohydrate diet are more predisposed to developing the disease.

There are oral medications that can be used to stabilize their glucose levels. But most cats require insulin injections.

You may shudder at the thought of having to give your cat insulin injections. But with most cats it can be done and often, once you both get used to the process, it becomes ‘easy’.

One of the most important things to remember with a diabetic cat is that you need a regular routine. Feeding must be done on a strict schedule with injections.

The mainstay of regulating your cat is called the glucose ‘curve’. It is a blood test where the cat’s blood glucose level is tested multiple times in a ten hour cycle and the doctors determine which dose of insulin is best for your cat.

Normal levels of glucose in a cat’s blood run between 75 and 150, although a level approaching 260 is not unusual in a stressed cat. Levels in a diabetic cat can exceed 600!

Once the cat’s glucose level is regulated, many owners can monitor their pet at home. There is an at home glucose meter (Alpha Trak) especially designed for pets. You prick a small spot on your cat’s ear and then use the glucose strips and the meter the same way a human test kit does. Once you have the numbers, your veterinarian can interpret the results and make any changes necessary.

Most cats require two doses of insulin daily, however the amount of insulin depends on the glucose levels of the last ‘curve‘. (NEVER change your cat’s dose without input from your veterinarian, as this could be very dangerous for your cat.) Cats normally get a dose somewhere between one UNIT and three UNITS twice daily. A unit is a very small amount, much smaller than a CC or an ML. The insulin syringes are designed for these specifically small doses.

Once your pet is regulated you will likely need to see the veterinarian twice yearly to check a long term glucose (fructosamine) level to make sure that the treatment is working for your cat. This also gives your pet’s doctor the chance to observe any changes in you pet that may indicate illness or infection. Diabetic cats are much more likely to develop infections, due to the immune issues related to diabetes.

With treatment you cat may be able to live a healthy and happy, normal life.

Just remember, if you have any questions, that’s what we’re here for…to help you help your pets!