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Cat diabetes

Diabetes in Cats:

Diabetes is a well known medical condition among humans, but not many people are aware that it also occurs in cats.

In fact, the incidence of diabetes in cats seems to be increasing of late, although the reasons for this are not yet clear. Diabetes is essentially a condition in which the body either does not produce enough insulin or does not respond to insulin. Insulin is an important factor in the process of converting glucose into energy that the body can use.

If there is not enough insulin in the body, or if the insulin is not working like it should, the glucose remains unprocessed, resulting in high blood sugar levels. In the initial stages, as the body attempts to find its balance, insulin levels and blood sugar levels may fluctuate greatly. At the same time, the cat’s appetite and weight may also fluctuate.

In the long term however, weight loss is bound to occur, in spite of an increase in appetite.

However, these symptoms usually occur considerably later, and in most cases of cats with diabetes, the condition is diagnosed in the course of investigating an unusually high frequency of urination. This is because the excess glucose ends up in the urine, and the body tries to flush it out. Simultaneously, there is typically also an increase in thirst – since the body is constantly flushing out fluid in the form of urine, it needs more water. Other signs of diabetes in cats include lethargy and fatigue due to poor availability of energy to the body, and diabetic neuropathy, which is essentially nerve damage, and typically causes weakness in the hind legs. A condition known as ketoacidosis may also develop, and this usually indicates an emergency. In the later stages, the body starts to break down its own tissues for energy, and you will notice drastic weight loss, weakness, as well as thinning of the skin. This is usually the last stage, and treatment is difficult at this point.

Diabetic cats, if treated early in the course of the disease, can make a full recovery. Often this can be achieved simply through a special diet. It is generally agreed that a low carbohydrate diet works well, most probably by minimizing fluctuations in blood sugar. The standard recommendation is that the cat should get no more than 9 per cent of its calories from carbohydrates. However, you will need to work out the specifics with your vet. Your cat may also need insulin injections and other medications, and it is not advisable to attempt to treat the condition on your own using only diet.

  Submitted on December 8, 2009  

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