Does Insulin Cause Excessive Hunger in Cats?

by Melodie Anne Coffman, Demand Media Google
    "I'm going to need a refill over here!"

    "I'm going to need a refill over here!"

    If your four-legged family member has diabetes, you may notice that he has a bottomless appetite all the time. Even though he may be rubbing up against your ankles begging for more grub, don’t give in. Eating too much leads to weight gain, further adding complications to his medical condition.

    What is Insulin?

    Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps cells absorb glucose, or blood sugar. Think of insulin as a doorman: When glucose levels start running low, insulin opens up a door in each cell, letting glucose go right inside. This process is vital to life because glucose it the primary fuel source for each and every cell in your furry pal’s body.

    Effects on Hunger

    One of the first warning signs of feline diabetes is a ravenous appetite. This occurs because your pint-size buddy’s body isn’t making enough insulin or the insulin isn’t working properly. So instead of burning up glucose, his body turns to stored fat and protein for energy. You might notice that he’s eating like crazy, but somehow seems skinnier. That’s because his body is quickly burning up fat and protein, which isn’t healthy and can be life threatening if left untreated.

    Overdosing on Insulin

    If your purring chum is on insulin injections to control his diabetes, a hearty appetite could be a warning sign that his insulin dosage is off. Of course, you don’t intentionally give him too much insulin, it’s just that his needs can change. The first thing you’ll want to do is take little Simon to the vet for a complete physical. His insulin requirements could go up or down every few months so regular medical checkups are important. The dosage that was proper for him a year ago might be too much now, causing his glucose levels to plummet and appetite to increase.

    What You Can Do

    You’ll need to plan out Simon’s meals ahead of time to keep his blood glucose in a safe range. Don’t let him free feed because you’ll have no idea how much he ate or when he ate last. If he continues to have a big appetite, split up his food into several mini meals, rather than feeding him once or twice a day. For example, if his particular brand of food suggests feeding him 1 1/2 cups of food daily, put out one-quarter cup of food for him six times per day. That way he’ll have a steady supply of kibble to keep his glucose in line and appetite steady.

    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images