Sick Cats That Have Diabetes

by Melodie Anne Coffman, Demand Media Google
    Your diabetic kitty needs extra TLC.

    Your diabetic kitty needs extra TLC.

    Whether your feline pal has been suffering from diabetes since his youth or he was recently diagnosed, he'll need some extra care. Diabetes in cats is perfectly manageable. You'll just need to monitor his diet, take him to his scheduled doctor's appointments and perhaps administer insulin at home.

    What Happens

    Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which your kitty's body doesn't produce enough of the hormone insulin. In some cases, cats do have adequate amounts of insulin, but their bodies are unable to use it. During digestion, carbohydrates from your feline's food turn into glucose to fuel every cell in his body. Insulin helps pull glucose, or blood sugar, into cells, but when he doesn't have enough or when insulin doesn't work properly, glucose levels peak to dangerous levels. Diabetes can occur at any age, but typically overweight older cats have a higher risk, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Male kitties have an even greater risk of developing this condition.

    Warning Signs

    With inadequate or poorly functioning insulin, your cuddly companion's system automatically turns to burning protein and fat for energy, which can damage his vital organs. You may notice that Scruffy is eating more, but he seems to be losing weight. Additionally, he'll probably drink more water and urinate frequently as his body attempts to flush out the excessive glucose in his blood.

    Stages

    As much as 75 percent of felines diagnosed with diabetes have insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or IDDM, while remaining cases result in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, known as NIDDM, reports the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. If your fuzzy family member has IDDM, you'll have to give him insulin at home. Even if he has NIDDM and doesn't need insulin right away, eventually he'll most likely require insulin injections to manage his blood glucose. Your best pal can live a long, happy life if you help him manage his diabetes, but without proper care, diabetes can ultimately be fatal.

    Management

    While there is no cure for diabetes, weight loss and insulin injections can improve symptoms. Switch to a weight-management or low-calorie diet, under the supervision of your veterinarian. Changing Scruffy's diet and monitoring portion control aids in getting him down to an ideal weight. Purchasing interactive toys and playing with him gets him active, which also helps him lose weight. If your feline requires insulin, he'll probably need injections twice per day to keep his blood glucose under control. As your cuddly companion continues to drop excess body mass, he may eventually become healthy and no longer need his insulin, explains the Onion River Animal Hospital.

    Considerations

    You'll need to watch for signs of hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia occurs when he gets too much insulin in his system. He'll become weak, uncoordinated and can have convulsions. Give him food immediately to bring glucose levels back up. If he can't eat, rub corn syrup onto his gums or feed it to him through a syringe if he is able to swallow. The high sugar content of corn syrup quickly brings his blood glucose back up into a normal range. Notify your vet immediately to see what else might need to be done.

    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.

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