From weight gain to arthritis, aging isn't exactly the most exciting situation for anyone, whether you're a cat, elephant, human being or space alien. Elderly felines become a lot more vulnerable to a wide array of health ailments -- and diabetes is one of them.
Diabetes is characterized by unusually high levels of blood sugar in the body. The excessive glucose is a direct result of the cat's abnormally low insulin. Insulin, a protein hormone, normally control the blood's amount of glucose. The chronic disease is caused either by the absence of insulin or by the body's insufficient reaction to it.
Diabetes can strike any kitty, young or old. But it's much more likely in geriatric felines, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau and the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. It's not yet certain why. Other risk factors in cats include being overweight, fixed and male.
Health problems become more of a factor as your precious pet ages. The Feline Advisory Bureau recommends regular urine testing for diabetes in cats who are at least 7. Key signs of the disease include loss of weight, appetite swings, going No. 1 much more frequently, exhaustion, unusual thirst, messy fur, blood in the urine, and neglecting to use the litter tray for urination. As soon as you notice any of those symptoms in your kitty, get him to the veterinarian. The sooner you figure out what's ailing your cat, the quicker you can get him back on the road toward feeling good.
Because diabetes is a chronic disease, no cure per se exists. However, that doesn't mean a diabetic cutie is relegated to a life of pain and suffering, or worse, to no life at all. With veterinary guidance, you might be able to successfully manage your older cat's situation. Some common management methods including insulin therapy, protein-packed diet plans, and oral hypoglycemic medication. Speak in depth with the vet about the most appropriate options for keeping your fluff ball as happy and healthy as possible for the rest of his life, whether he has one more year or 10.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Diabetes
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Diabetes Mellitus
- ASPCA: Diabetes
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Managing the Diabetic Cat
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Caring for the Elderly Cat
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: The Special Needs of the Senior Cat
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