Diabetes in cats is on the rise. 1 to 1.5 percent of cats in the Netherlands has diabetes. This is a huge number and it continues to grow. How to prevent your cat from developing diabetes? How to help feline diabetes patients? We will explain!
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is an affliction where not enough insulin is produced and/or the body fails to respond to insulin as effectively as it should. Cells contain less glucose (sugar) as a result which means they lack their primary source of energy, leaving glucose behind in the blood. The liver responds to the insulin deficit by producing lots of glucose which causes the glucose concentration in the blood to spike. This is what we call diabetes, or more specifically, Diabetes mellitus.
How do I know if my cat has diabetes?
Symptoms of diabetes in cats are: excessive peeing, excessive drinking, weight loss without loss of appetite, and (very noticeable) collapsing hind legs while walking. Just like in humans, we distinguish various types of diabetes. The symptoms (and treatment) differ per type.
Various types of diabetes in cats
Cats can develop diabetes type 1, 2 and 3.
Type 1: Insulin-producing cells are damaged as a result of an immune disorder. This type is very rare among cats, but affects more than half of dogs with diabetes. It can be treated, but not cured.
Type 2: This type is linked to obesity and insufficient exercise. Both can result in the body producing insulin but the cells failing to respond to it (effectively). This type affects a whopping 70 percent of feline diabetes patients, but it can be cured by lifestyle changes.
Type 3: This type is caused by (extended) medication or an affliction in the body. Something in the body is reducing its sensitivity to insulin. Once the cause is identified, a cat can be cured. In Dogs however, this diabetes type is incurable.
Preventing diabetes in cats
Type 2 accounts for most cases of feline diabetes. It is important to provide your cat with a proper diet and make sure it gets enough exercise and challenge. Cats with diabetes need special diet food. A healthy diet contains few carbohydrates and a relatively large amount of proteins; carbs require a high rate of insulin production. In addition, make sure you stimulate exercise by using a feed ball, playing with your cat or taking it on walks on a regular basis. Provide elevated sleeping spots or place the food in an elevated spot to make it work for it. And reward your cat by giving it the occasional healthy snack.
Consult your vet
Are your concerned that your cat may have diabetes? Always consult your vet. They can diagnose the disease, specify the type and prescribe treatment.